Philanthropy Northwest Programs

Our Hunch About Democracy, Equity and Philanthropy


As we mark Philanthropy Northwest's 40th year as a network of family funds, foundations and corporate giving programs, our work in communities is more important than ever. So it's fitting that Philanthropy Northwest's annual conference in Missoula, Montana on September 13-15 — just five weeks away! — will feature a different kind of conversation. Together, “Under One Sky," we will explore the ever-shifting nature of our work and our communities through the lenses of democracy and equity. Are democracy and equity just nice to have? Or in the extreme, can our communities survive without them? We will not be asking you to divert your resources; rather, it is our hunch that you are already supporting these areas as a means to an end. We may not know the answers, but we invite you to lean in with your peers, to question, connect and be inspired. more »

We Need to Talk About Democracy and Equity


Audrey Haberman, Interim CEO | Nationally and regionally, our communities are dealing with the grief, frustration and anger that results from the persistence of fear, injustice and inequity. We know these issues are complicated. We also know philanthropy has an important role to play in the creation of policies and solutions to address these challenges. Many of us have been having conversations with family, friends and colleagues about the community crises we face, but we are also hearing a strong desire from you for a place to talk more formally with others in our field. While the concepts of democracy and equity have always been part of our annual conference planning, we are now focused on creating and holding space for us to step forward together through those lenses, Under One Sky in Missoula, Montana this fall. As your learning network, we are more committed than ever to addressing the real experiences of people in our communities. We hope you will join us on this journey as we continue to create opportunities to think collectively about supporting and investing in strategies to achieve our shared vision: Northwest communities have vibrant, healthy futures the honor our past, our people and our cultures.   more »

What’s Your ‘Why’ for Learning?


Maya Thornell-Sandifor, Learning Strategy Director | Have you heard the story of the “Last Girl?" According to Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy, in order to create compassionate communities with respect, equity and justice, we should think about the person or child who is valued the least, who suffers the most, who comes last. I was introduced to this concept a few years ago, when a nonprofit leader I was working with used it to describe a young girl of color who is poor, a survivor of violence without access to education or adequate health care. Ever since hearing that story, when someone asks me "why" I work on building capacity and effectiveness in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, I share this philosophy. In my new role of developing and implementing learning strategy at Philanthropy Northwest, there are admittedly a few layers between the "last girl" and myself. The purpose of my work remains the same, however: as a trainer, facilitator and strategist, I am helping funders and nonprofits learn to create more effective solutions for those suffering the most from injustice and inequity. more »

10 Things You Need to Do in Missoula


Anne Yoon, Program Associate | I'm a native Washingtonian, but I haven't had the chance to explore much of the Northwest beyond the Puget Sound region yet. Road-tripping to Montana has long been on my bucket list, and with Philanthropy Northwest's annual conference Under One Sky in Missoula this fall, I'm excited to make the most of this experience! Nestled in Montana's Northern Rockies, surrounded by seven wilderness areas and at the confluence of three rivers, Missoula is an outdoor adventure. What should I do first? There's plenty of hiking in the 60,000 acres of wilderness minutes from our conference site. There's also walking tours, art galleries and opportunities to learn more about Missoula's Salish Indian roots. Afterwards, we can cool down with a glass of local craft beer and try the bison burgers. More than 100 people have signed up to attend so far, representing 46 organizations committed to vibrant, healthy Northwest communities. What are you most looking forward to doing in Missoula? more »

The Value of Our Network


Audrey Haberman, Interim CEO | Our board and staff spend a lot of time thinking about ways we can enhance the value of our network. How is philanthropy evolving, and how do we support our members and partners as we navigate this changing landscape? Our hope is that by providing the connections, conversations, tools and spaces to explore the adaptive leadership challenges, we each become better equipped and more effective allies for our communities. more »

What Makes a Good Conference? Five Elements to Consider


Lyn Hunter, Senior Program Manager | Bringing people together across our 1.2 million square mile region (Alaska is really big!) for several days of learning, making it worth their time and money, juggling competing priorities for different types of participants, session proposals, meal preferences and our own goals is always an exciting challenge. I've been planning our conferences for 10 years and every year is different, whether it's the twist of an anniversary celebration or an untested location or a series of five Local Matters convenings instead of one big meeting. So when I attend another organization's conference, while I appreciate being able to sit back and absorb the experience without having to constantly check on vendors, I can't help but actively take in the elements I would like to apply to our own conference. I set a new record for myself in May, attending three major conferences in as many weeks: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, GRANTMAKERS of Oregon and Southwest Washington, and Native Americans in Philanthropy. I didn't know what I was getting into! But each convening had its own distinct flavor: frank and authentic, strong sense of place, urgency and clarity. These five elements are top of mind as our conference committee finalizes sessions for Philanthropy Northwest's 2016 conference and 40th anniversary celebration, Under One Sky in Montana this fall. more »

Better Together: Elevating the Conversation


Audrey Haberman, Interim CEO | I always feel most proud of Philanthropy Northwest when we have created the space for our members and partners to learn together and from each other. On that front, it's been a banner season, and I want to say thank you to each of the emerging and established leaders who have connected with and through us in recent weeks. You have elevated the conversation about meaningful, joyful and effective philanthropy. Highlights include conversations and convenings about public policy, rural communities, arts funding and equity. We look forward to continuing these conversations throughout the year, including at our corporate social responsibility workshop next month and during our annual conference and 40th anniversary celebration in September. more »

Looking Ahead, Gazing Up: Under One Sky


Audrey Haberman, Interim CEO | Thanks to so many of you for your warm welcome and encouragement as I move into the role of interim CEO at Philanthropy Northwest. Our talented staff and thoughtful board continue to be wonderful partners, enabling me to fulfill my commitments to The Giving Practice while taking on additional leadership responsibilities for our learning network. Philanthropy Northwest's 2016 conference theme, Under One Sky, reminds us that from Alaska to Wyoming, from urban to rural, we remain connected by a greater purpose: our shared commitment to advancing philanthropy to support vibrant, equitable and inclusive communities. As interim CEO, I am also guided by you, our members, and I look forward to working with you during our 40th anniversary year. more »

Moving Beyond the Grant: Exploring New Tools Together


Amber Knox, Campion Foundation | What is your foundation's most ambitious goal, and how can you motivate others to aim as high or higher? Are you willing to invest social and reputational capital to solve critical problems — and will you accept the messiness of that process? As grantmakers, it’s easy to view us (and even to view ourselves) as a checkbook, reacting to the crises of the day. But will that mindset effect the systemic changes needed to create lasting social reform? At Campion Foundation and Campion Advocacy Fund, our answer is an emphatic "no!"  For too long, traditional philanthropy has written checks and relegated the responsibility for devising and implementing solutions to the nonprofit sector. That leaves too much leverage on the table, and too many big problems unsolved. Now philanthropists are moving beyond making grants, in search of additional strategies to advance our overall goals and mission. We deploy every tool we have available to create real and measurable good in the world. more »

From Confetti to Ecosystem Change: What's Your Corporate Philanthropy Strategy?


Kristen Holway, Director of Learning Strategy | Corporate philanthropists face a set of unique challenges — internal and external expectations — in our sector. They must balance the desire to support their communities and be a force for good, while continuing to provide value to shareholders, engage employees and demonstrate quantifiable results. For even the most experienced and well-intentioned executives, finding and managing a CSR strategy that shifts these competing priorities into complementary goals can prove complex. These challenges brought executives from a dozen companies together, including Philanthropy Northwest members Bank of America, BECU, Microsoft Philanthropies, Premera Blue Cross and REI, for a workshop on best practices for transforming existing CSR portfolios into results-focused, business-aligned societal engagement. more »