A Treasure and Two Ecosystems

July 16, 2014

by Jeff Clarke, CEO, Philanthropy Northwest

David Landers: a Philanthropy Northwest Treasure

It’s true. After 16 years at Philanthropy Northwest, Deputy Director David Landers is “rewiring” at the end of August. He arrived as a youngster and will soon conclude an amazing run, having seen and done it all here. It’s no exaggeration to say that David is synonymous with Philanthropy Northwest -- many of us have never known the organization without him.  David has been a constant through my 13 years as a member, volunteer and now staff. Through it all, he has been incredibly committed to this place and this network. Needless to say, he’s made a lot of friends along the way. This month, as our resident historian, David looks back on this incredible journey by sharing his biggest lessons learned. For the record, he remains young and is gearing up for his next series of adventures. Thank you, David, for your dedication to the philanthropic community here in the Pacific Northwest!

Philanthropy, Nonprofits and Their Ecosystems

For those of us who work in philanthropy, it doesn’t take long to understand the important relationship between nonprofits and philanthropists in our shared goal of resilient and vibrant communities. Many people in philanthropy have also worked directly in the nonprofit sector as leaders, donors and volunteers.

Despite our shared purpose and strong individual connections, philanthropy and nonprofits have historically tended to separate into their own exclusive sector ecosystems. While there are some notable exceptions such as Donors Forum in Illinois, many regions of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, lack both structural integration and ongoing collaboration. Over the years, many of us have puzzled over this and asked “is there not another way to think about this?” One of the many examples in our member network is the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, who for many years has partnered with and invested in strengthening state nonprofit associations as a key strategy for strengthening the Northwest nonprofit sector generally.

The good news is that across the country we can see significant momentum to build closer (and long overdue!) relationships between philanthropic networks and state nonprofit associations.

In early May, the Philanthropy Northwest board approved reciprocal memberships with each of the state nonprofit associations in our six state region. While we are working out the details (for example, “membership” is conferred to the executive of each organization as opposed to the nonprofit members themselves), we are already working together across a range of activities including:

  • A jointly planned and delivered Pacific Northwest track at IMAGINE, the Independent Sector national conference slated for November 16 – 18 in Seattle.
  • Coordinated public policy efforts around issues such as H.R. 4719 (which is on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this week and includes a permanent IRA charitable rollover and simplifies the private foundation excise tax) and the recent release of IRS Form 1023-EZ.
  • Thinking about an ongoing series of public policy member briefings within each state in our region.

We look forward to sharing more as these relationships evolve.