October is already here and the year is racing along. I, for one, wish the weather would catch up to the calendar, and am looking forward to the days growing cooler. But that’s another story.
For the Council, moving into the fourth quarter of the year heralds a bustling fall lineup of affinity group meetings, educational programs, funder briefings, and grantmaker convenings — including two signature CNJG events: the Investment Forum for Foundations and Endowments on November 7 and the Annual Meeting and Holiday Luncheon on December 14.
By the end of the year, the Council likely will have offered more than 75 programs for members. Some were exclusively produced and created by CNJG staff. Others came to be in partnership with affinity group co-chairs and other Council members. Some were organized through the Forum network or its partners, and managed by staff to increase members’ understanding of national issues or inform best practices from around the country. And others were a mix of all of the above — especially those that involve engaging with lawmakers, state and local officials, policymakers, and others involved in issues and activities important to New Jersey’s philanthropic community.
It’s worth explaining a bit about how Council programs and events go from conceptualization to execution. Affinity group chairs work with Council staff to plan, coordinate, and host affinity group meetings throughout the year. With 15 different affinity groups, this is both a labor of love and a formidable logistical undertaking that requires robust “calendar skills” — the ability to mesh and reconcile the schedules of numerous busy people. To further maximize time and talent, we appreciate it when two or more affinity groups join forces to create interesting and informative programs and discussions for their respective groups. The Culture Funders and Strong & Thriving Communities Affinity Groups came together to plan Creative Placemaking: Fueling New Jersey’s Communities. We encourage more of this kind of collaborative effort.
Members also often suggest topics and issues for a funders briefing or meeting. While it doesn’t always work that way, typically, a best practice is that three members are on board to help plan and coordinate these kinds of meetings, and help assure there is enough interest to generate a sizable audience. Last year, for example, members from Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The Fund for New Jersey asked the Council to put together a series of funders briefings on the federal budget.
From my new vantage point on the inside of this process, I can see there’s a lot more going on than when my only connection to CNJG was to attend various events as a speaker or moderator. I can’t help but marvel at the collective passion of our members in tackling the issues that improve the lives of all New Jerseyans. I’m impressed with how Council staff and volunteer leaders produce compelling programs and consequential discussions, and make it all look easy. Together, CNJG affinity group meetings, educational programs, funder briefings, grantmaker convenings, and signature events nurture the connection, information, and leadership so crucial for grantmakers to work in concert for New Jersey’s betterment.
Jon Shure, Interim President/CEO
Council of New Jersey Grantmakers