News and Insights

Swimming With the Funders


Kesley Potdevin, Momentum Fellow | “Hi! I’m a member of Glacier Swim Club. I’m collecting pledges for our annual Aqualaps fundraiser. This year, I’m swimming 200 laps. You can make a lump sum or pledge a certain amount per lap to support the team. If you pledge 1 cent a lap, you'll donate $2, if you pledge 5 cents a lap, you'll donate $10, if you pledge 10 cents a lap, you'll donate $20.” A few weeks ago, this fundraising spiel suddenly popped back into head after a 12-year absence. I had just accepted a position as a program associate of grants and impact at The Alaska Community Foundation after two years at Rasmuson Foundation, most recently as one of Philanthropy Northwest's Momentum Fellows. While I knew aspects of my job would be similar — helping disperse grant money around Alaska — the process would be dramatically different as I shifted from a private foundation to a community one. But it turns out that all those years of fundraising for my youth swim team had sneakily taught me about nonprofits, long before I knew anything about grants strategies and governance structures. more »

Making Connections, Learning Together


Audrey Haberman, Interim CEO | From the moment I attended my first Philanthropy Northwest program as a Women’s Funding Alliance staff member in 1997, I have always been personally inspired and professionally improved as a result of time spent connecting and learning with our network. It's so easy, yet also dangerous, to believe our best work is done by working hard and in isolation. We are at our best, as a field and individually, when we take the time to sit with others, learn together, reflect and share with colleagues, mentors and community partners. It may be during a conference plenary or a session when someone else’s story sheds light on one of my own relevant challenges. It may be from side conversation, with someone I’ve known for years or someone I just met, where we trade advice and opinions. Or it may be in stepping back and using reflective practices to unveil what we need to see or know by looking at it “from the balcony.” more »

What's On Your Program Wish List?


Maya Thornell-Sandifor, Learning Strategy Director | Access to skill-building workshops, funder briefings and shared learning opportunities are and have always been a benefit of being a member of Philanthropy Northwest. We make a concerted effort to be responsive to the diverse needs of our members across the six states we serve — while simultaneously getting ahead of developing trends and burgeoning issues in the sector. This summer, we asked those who have attended Philanthropy Northwest programs in the past two years to tell us what they think by participating in a 5-minute survey. And wow: 87 of you responded, including several folks who emailed or called me personally to provide more in-depth feedback. The following topics ranked high on your area of interest for deepening knowledge, expertise and capacity more »

Sharpen Your Strategy With DIY Activities


Jan Jaffe and Mark Sedway, The Giving Practice | When we say “strategic,” what’s the next word that comes to mind? If it’s “planning,” you're like many of our clients. And for many foundation staff and board members, dread is the feeling that follows. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. In consulting with foundations around the Northwest and across the country, we have worked with leaders who are seeing strategy in a new way — as an ongoing practice rather than a discrete planning chore and an opportunity to mobilize continuous curiosity, experiment and learn, and even have some fun. Our new guide contains 10 activities that can help you get there, too. more »

Bright Horizons for Northwest Philanthropy


Kevin Walker, Board Chair | I’ve been a regular at philanthropy conferences of all sorts for more than 20 years. In all that time, I’ve never participated in a conference that illuminated its guiding themes as successfully as Philanthropy Northwest's Under One Sky conference last month in Missoula. Equity and democracy are profoundly important to me and to the organization I lead, the Northwest Area Foundation. The conference was also special for me because I had the privilege of presenting Philanthropy Northwest’s Mary Helen Moore Ambassador of the Year Award to Natalie Camacho Mendoza, a Boise-based attorney and lifelong advocate for an equitable and forward-looking Idaho, and to welcome three new leaders to Philanthropy Northwest's board, representing The Boeing Company, Northwest Health Foundation and Rasmuson Foundation. more »

Who's Coming to the Washington Community Foundations Convening


Gloris Estrella, Program Manager | Philanthropy Northwest coordinates a network of community foundations in Washington state, including our annual Washington Community Foundation Convening, bringing together the leadership of community foundations and other place-based investors across our region. This is my second year working with this network, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and this year's convening will be better than ever! Our gathering in Leavenworth has a great lineup of speakers, facilitators and confirmed participants.   more »

What We Learned Under One Sky


If you joined us for our 2016 conference and 40th anniversary celebration, Under One Sky in Missoula, Montana, you're probably still mentally unpacking all the conversations — particularly around supporting democracy and advancing equity in philanthropy. As we return to our communities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, we will continue sharing detailed notes, photos and recaps from our staff, consultants and engaged members on our website, in our programs and through Philanthropy Northwest's e-bulletins. In the meantime, please enjoy this Storify slideshow of #PNW40 social media activity during the conference and video message from Nancy Nordhoff, one of our founding directors. more »

Who Came to Our 2016 Conference: Under One Sky


Philanthropists from the Northwest and nationwide flocked to Philanthropy Northwest's annual conference last week. Our conference theme, Under One Sky, reminded us that from Alaska to Wyoming, from urban to rural, we remain connected by a greater purpose: our shared commitment to vibrant, equitable and inclusive communities. Leaders from these organizations joined us for an exciting range of session and learning tours, September 13 to 15 in Missoula, Montana: more »

Philanthropy With Balls: What's Unique About Northwest Funders?


Vu Le, Rainier Valley Corps | In the past few months, I have been traveling around the country, speaking with different funders and nonprofit professionals and, when possible, collecting free pens from conference exhibitors for my nonprofit in Seattle, Rainier Valley Corps. Through all the traveling and conversations, I’ve noticed a few differences between Pacific Northwest funders and other funders — some of which are exciting, while others are worrisome. These are all observations from my own perspective, with little formal data behind them and thus subject to biases influenced by the people I’ve talked to and worked with. Please feel free to disagree and push back. I am hoping by discussing what makes Northwest philanthropy unique, we can focus on building on our strengths, minimizing our weaknesses and allowing nonprofits and funders to more effectively reach our goals of building a stronger community. more »