This morning, during the final plenary of the Council on Foundations conference, I had the opportunity to hear from former diplomat and ex-COF president James A. Joseph. “You got to hear the Ambassador!” friends and colleagues told me (Joseph earned that title as the U.S. ambassador to South Africa during the 1990s). They were right. Joseph’s speech was called “Philanthropy and Pluralism: Diversity That Does Not Divide.” Although he took a sober look at the current state of things—we are “a badly divided nation is a badly divided world”—he offered up wisdom about how intentional diversity practices can start drawing us all together. Foundations, he reminded the audience, have much more than conventional capital to offer, listing those additional assets of social, intellectual, moral, and what he called “reputational” capital (using social capital as collateral to “vouch” for organizations).
During these past three days, I heard a good deal of dollars and cents talk, so it was great to receive that exhortation to do that spiritual work of digging deeper for the sake of building more inclusive communities.
Brian Baughan is Director of Communications at Frontline Solutions (helpingchangehappen.com), a social change organization that invests in the pipeline of social change leaders; provides consulting services to institutions in the nonprofit, government, and philanthropic sectors; and engages in field-building in three areas of expertise: Education, Social Innovation, and Males of Color.