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Reflections from Indianapolis

Reflections from Indianapolis

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Look around. Remember this moment.

That was my request to the room of more than 60 CEOs of organizations from across the country that work to advance philanthropy. We had come to Indianapolis for the annual conference of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers  last month. As we gathered together on that first day, it became clear this would mark a defining moment for the country’s philanthropic community. Never before had such a convening taken place bringing together the staffs of 33 regional associations of grantmakers (like CNJG) with over 20 different national philanthropy-serving organizations focused on issues, populations and practices - from GEO/Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and GCIR/Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants & Refugees, to Media Impact Funders network and ABFE/Association of Black Foundation Executives. We even had colleagues from our counterparts in Spain, France, and the UK with us!

I am so enormously proud of our national Forum for it is leading the way for a robust, fully networked infrastructure to address the needs and improve the effectiveness and impact of philanthropy in the 21st century. Leaders from the Forum, both from regional associations and from national affinity and practice organizations, have been working for the past year to design a national network that will better serve all grantmakers by providing needed support, filling gaps, and giving a stronger voice for the overall sector. Ultimately, it means communities where philanthropists are more effective, the social sector gets needed support, and, ideally, overall giving increases. For CNJG it means we have access to programs, tools, ideas, intel and the best thinking from an even broader group of colleagues as we build relationships and foster collaborations. As a Council of members, we have collectively benefited greatly over the years by our place in the Forum Network (the shared technology platform that enables our state of the art website and member database is just one example) but now it seems the sky is the limit. Our reach, our access to the best tools and thinking, our ability to connect you to your peers has just grown exponentially. There will be more to share about this “Woodstock moment” in the field. I’m so grateful I can say I was there. Throughout the entire conference there was a tenable spark of excitement, possibility, and enthusiastic anticipation for the future. The CNJG staff is still feeling the “high.”

Last Friday morning we had our own little “first” for New Jersey’s funding community. It was the inaugural breakfast gathering specifically for Chief Financial Officers and Finance Managers, and in a month full of highs it was an outstanding way to close out July. Once the conversation got going it was clear the group really valued the opportunity to pick each other’s brains, share ideas, even commiserate. We look forward to putting together another breakfast for everyone in November.

In the meantime, I hope this month you’ll have a chance to eat lots of fantastic Jersey tomatoes and corn, and exhale a bit. That is what I’m planning anyway.

Nina Stack, President
Council of New Jersey Grantmakers