Philanthropy’s ‘network effect’

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”  –Management guru Ken Blanchard

Did you know the Colorado Association of Funders is part of a network of organizations that regularly share expertise so we can all do a better job of serving our members in our respective local communities?
We hosted our colleagues from across the country here in Denver last month for the annual conference of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

Jamie Van Leeuwen, senior policy advisor to Gov. John Hickenlooper, visits with Nancy Roberts, president of Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, after speaking about his work with CAF to build connections between the Governor’s office and cabinet and Colorado’s foundation sector.

We met right downtown, which allowed us to show off the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (Thanks to Buell Foundation for connecting us to folks who arranged behind the scenes tours) and the vibrant restaurant scene (Thanks to Craftworks Foundation and Western Union Foundation for sponsoring a great opening reception at the Rock Bottom Brewery. A bike ride along Cherry Creek on Denver B-cycles and a ballgame at Coors Field were also a hit with our visitors.
Aside from the Rocky Mountain backdrop and sightseeing, the main attraction and reason we all make the effort to get together each year is as simple as Blanchard’s observation above.
Collectively, our 35 associations serve roughly 4,000 foundations and funders. And by connecting almost daily through email discussions and conference calls, as well as at our annual conference, we’re able to exchange advice, stay informed and collaborate on the best ways to provide “on the ground” leadership in our geographic regions.

We all exist for the same reasons — to bring funders together and to strengthen philanthropy in our local communities. That work might involve developing new educational programs, improving our advocacy efforts, or finding more cost-effective, innovative ways of collecting data. If one of our members asks us a question and we don’t know the answer, this is generally the first place we turn for help. In this era of doing more with less, our network has become more relevant than ever. To learn more, go to www.givingforum.org.

Posted by Joanne Kelley, executive director, Colorado Association of Funders