Great Next Generation Training Opportunity

Emerging Practicioners in Philanthropy is one of my favorite groups and one of my frustrations with the Next Gen track at the Council on Foundations conference last year was that too many of the Next Gen sessions were at the same time, so you couldn't attend the full track. This year EPIP is addressing that concern by hosting an amazing pre-conference for the next geners. From EPIP:

INNOVATION & LEGACY:

The Place of the Next Generation in Philanthropy

 

A High-Value, Low-Cost Training for the Next Generation of Foundation Leaders

Preceding the Council on Foundations 60th Annual Conference

 

In these economic times, investing in the next generation of foundation talent remains a critical strategy for sustaining the legacy and innovation of our field. Yet, for understandable reasons, professional development budgets are being slashed. In response, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) is pleased to provide a new type of training that is highly affordable and offers a unique value proposition for foundation professionals and trustees in the under-40 demographic. This two day pre-conference offers in-depth skill-building workshops from some of the premiere educators in our field such as GrantCraft; semi-structured intergenerational learning featuring esteemed foundation CEOs and leaders; and personalized career services from Idealist.org. This pre-conference is being held in partnership with the Council on Foundations, Resource Generation, and 21/64.

 

Separate registration is highly affordable at $200 per person, with a $150 discount rate for dues-paying EPIP members. Scholarships will be available for dues-paying EPIP members, including from the Professional Development Fund, which supports conference travel for young foundation professionals of color. Email precon@epip.org to request scholarship information. Under-employed foundation professionals, as well as those from public foundations, are encouraged to apply for scholarships. With a start-time after lunch Saturday and adjournment Sunday afternoon, participants need not miss work days and will only need one hotel night. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend the Council on Foundations 60th Annual Conference. Atlanta-based colleagues are strongly encouraged to attend. Information and registration is available on the EPIP.org website here. Online registration is reached directly here.

'Millennials and the Moment'

Entering the 'Millennials and the Moment' session, I scanned the room and noticed a much wider and well-distributed range of generations in the crowd. After a few days milling around in the Gaylord, I realized that I now recognized many in the once-indiscernible herd of philanthropists.


The panelists Cassie, Eddie, Andrew, and Carmen maturely reflected on their leadership experiences. Particularly striking points below:

  • Cassie started Campus Climate Challenge and hosted a conference of over 6,000 environmentalists featuring Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
  • Eddie started an organization for improvement of public housing in Oregon - at the age of twenty.
  • Andrew, a young City Councilperson from Tallahassee, wanted more opportunity to network with other young elected officials so he started an organization that now serves over 400 young elected officials.
  • Carmen is the Vice President of USSA a student-led and -run organization that advocates for educational equality.


Other than talking about their specific experiences, the students made the salient point that ours is the most diverse generation in US history and that it is up to us to reverse the polarization perpetuated by past generations.

Philanthropy 2.0

I'm blogging live from the philathropy 2.0 event sponsored by the Case Foundation, EPIP, and 3rd Wave. Packed, hot, techie. About to break a sweat hot.

Just a quick observation. In today's session on faith and feminism, the director of the Women's Funding Network, Chris, pushed me to present my small group's discussion points. Although the rest of the group urged her to speak, she clearly indicated that she wanted me to present because I am an emerging voice in the feminist movement.

This is not the only time this has happened. Today, in the session I co-designed, Luz gave way to Charles and Trista to allow them airtime. This level of collegiality and respect for the voices of young people in philanthropy is new to me. Just by creating it as a focus area of the summit and by hearing leadership frame the conference on Sunday, people are already taking action.

We are not just here to learn, existing leadership is not just here to teach. It is an exchange.

Give it up to get it done

When I started working with an executive coach, my first painful realization was that I was terrible at delegation. I always thought I was great at delegating because I would fully think out an assignment, including all the steps that needed to be done to get the task accomplished, before I gave them to anyone and I would do it myself if I thought the person I was delegating to was too busy or would find the assignment too hard or too boring. My coach Antoine noticed that this was a pattern and asked me how I liked to receive delegated assignments and I told him I liked hard projects that challenged me and where I had the freedom to be creative with how the project was to be completed. Oh, *#@%&! That is the exact opposite of how I had been delegating. A word of warning if you ever decide to get a coach, they have a way a revealing your deepest imperfections and it really stinks. The upside is that you can learn to fix those flaws, so that's what I've been doing with the delegation issue. After a year of soul searching and practicing on EPIP committee members and our administrative staff has taught me a few lessons that I'll share with you:

Don't delegate what you can eliminate- Before you can effectively delegate, you need to be ruthless with your to do list. Don't give someone else busy work, make sure that you are delegating tasks that will help you complete projects that are important and make a difference to the success of your organization.

Delegate the objective, not how it is done- This one was a killer for me because I had an idea of how a project should move forward and I had the unconscious belief that my way was the only way. When I first started delegating projects without step by step instructions I was amazed at the final results that I got back. New perspectives solved problems that I didn't even know I had and people really shine when you don't hamstring them with a ton of directions.

Delegate authority, not just the work- When you give people the freedom to make decisions you eliminate the biggest bottleneck to getting work done, YOU. Be available for questions but help people get in the habit of coming to you with their recommendations. This moves things along faster because when someone has a question, they usually already have an answer in mind and it is usually better than what you would come up with on the fly, with incomplete information.

Delegate things that you are not good at, and don't want to be good at- Never delegate a task that could help you grow and a learn a new skill, unless it's a skill that you are not interested in having. I could learn to change my oil but it's not a skill that I want to develop, so I delegate it. If someone has a strength in Access or graph-making or statistics and you don't, by all means let them do it. These are things that take a lot of time to learn but can be done quickly by someone who has experience doing it. Save everyone some time and let it go.

Delegate things that you are good at- Sometimes when you are really good at doing something you have a hard time being satisfied with the final result. I am very good at researching program and demographic information on the web. The problem with this is that I am always after the "perfect" statistic that will help me make a case to my board. I'll keep searching until I find exactly what I am looking for, which could take forever. If I delegated that same task to someone else with a time frame, they will find a great quote that helps me build the case. Learn to let things be "good enough".

Delegation is good management practice- I have moved from a position where I was a manager to a foundation position where I don't manage people directly. Delegation is good practice to make sure that I don't lose important management skills. If you are at a small shop where you don't have anyone to delegate to, you can delegate in your volunteer activities or you can even delegate parts of your personal life. A great article about that is here. A few months ago I decided that I wanted to add more substantive content to New Voices but I also knew that with a demanding job and two young kids at home, I couldn't dedicate a lot more time to the blog. That's where Jasmine Hall Ratliff came in. Jasmine was an ABFE Fellow with me and when I sent out a blanket email to hire a researcher for New Voices she answered the call. Jasmine has been helping me do a ton of research that will soon add some great features to this blog, so stay tuned.

Do you have any delegation tips or resources that you use for delegation? One of my new favorites for very specific projects is Elance.

How EPIP saved my philanthropic career, even before I had one

I found EPIP about a month before I started my 1st foundation job. I was doing web searches to find out as much as I could about the foundation world before I started my job as a program officer. The web is a large place but there is very, very little when it comes to how to do the work of grantmaking. I stumbled across the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) website and was so excited because it was a great centralized resource. It was there that I found out about GrantCraft, the Council on Foundations Affinity groups, and the Grantmaking School, which have all been fantastic resources in my 1st year and a half of grantmaking. We didn't have a local EPIP chapter in Minnesota so we started a local affiliate. This has been a great professional network of people that are new to philanthropy as well but are an amazing resource on almost anything that I need to know about philanthropy, from how to handle the politics of grantmaking, to technical assistance on foundation tools, to how to get the most out of professional development opportunities. If you have an EPIP chapter in your community, join and see the benefits right away. If there isn't a local chapter in your community, start one and you'll be amazed at how EPIP will impact your career.

Advice to Those New to the Foundation Field

I have just completed my first year as a program officer at a community foundation. Being a new Foundation staff member is really uncharted territory. There isn’t a handbook that tells you how to be an effective program officer and everyone seems to approach his or her position from a different perspective. I’ve made it my personal mission to try to demystify the foundation field for new foundation staff, prospective foundation staff, grant seekers, and most importantly for myself. In that vein, I have developed 6 pieces of advice for those new to the field that I hope makes your entrance into the foundation field a little less hazy.

  1. Don’t believe the hype- Positions at foundations are few and far between. There was probably a very talented applicant pool for your position and you must be very intelligent and knowledgeable about the nonprofit sector since you were chosen for your position. With that said I can pretty much guarantee that you are not as smart, funny, or as handsome (or pretty) as nonprofit and foundation staff alike may have you believe. Your program ideas are not suddenly brilliant, you are just sharing these ideas with a captive audience. False flattery is an unfortunate by-product of being in a position where you can make decisions about large amounts of money. You can handle this newfound access to wealth with grace and wisdom or you can act like a lottery winner. Please choose wisely.
  2. Treat grantees with the respect and reverence that they deserve- You get to spend your days with grantees and possible grantees that are the best and brightest of the nonprofit sector. They would make a lot more money if they used their immense talents working in the for profit sector but they are so passionate about the mission of their organizations that they choose to work for. Count yourself among the lucky few that get to spend most of your workday with passionate, idealistic people.
  3. Expand your professional network- The best ideas come from having a diverse professional network of people that have different opinions and experiences than you do. Join an affinity group of a different racial group, program area, or geographic interest to learn new approaches to issues that you face in your position.
  4. Get some support- This may be a circle of friends that you can bounce ideas off of, an affinity group like Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, which is designed to provide support and guidance to people new to the field of philanthropy, or a kickball team, where you can burn off some of the stress of your position. Figure out what kind of support would work the best for you and seek it out. If you can’t find that network of support, create your own.
  5. Never stop learning- The nonprofits that you interact with depend on your access to best practices in the field to improve their own work. Thoroughly read the reports from previous grantees. Are there lessons learned that might be applicable to other organizations that you are working with? Then share that information, within the limits of confidentiality. Scrupulously read about areas that your foundation makes grants in. Read about cities or states with similar demographics as your foundation’s geographic area. Are there any best practices from other locations that might be useful for the work that your foundation or grantees are doing?
  6. Extend your hand to those that are interested in the field- When you were thinking about entering the field of philanthropy you either had a wonderful mentor that guided you through the process or you wish that you had. Be that mentor to someone else. There are many students and professionals that just need a few minutes of your time to figure out if the foundation field is a good fit for them. Be open to informational interviews, speaking at sessions about the work of program officers, or being a mentor informally or through a program at your alma mater. You may have also noticed that since you have entered the field you now know about position opening that you never would have heard about when you weren’t in the field. Share those opportunities with your network of people that are interested in starting a career in philanthropy.

Now it’s your turn. What advice would you give to new foundation staff?