Cross-Sector Leaders Needed: Highlights from the 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum

By Kate Chadwick

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

Members of the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts at GPF 2016
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

The 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum took place on April 4th through 6th in Redwood City, California. A mix of donors, humanitarian aid actors, development practitioners, government officials, and corporate representatives descended on Silicon Valley in the hopes of sharing knowledge and igniting partnerships to address the current migrant crisis taking place globally. Whether for security, economic, political, cultural or environmental reasons, currently 250 million people are on the move globally. Sixty million of those individuals are migrating in search of safety.

As a Berkeley-Haas CSSL Philanthropy Fellow with The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and UC Berkeley Master of Development Practice (MDP) alumna, I had the opportunity to attend the Forum. Together, conference participants tackled issues such as peace & security, humanitarian assistance & refugees, and strategic philanthropy. Session themes like “Philanthropy’s Role: Solving for Crisis While Taking the Long View” cross-cut sectors, requiring multi-dimensional solutions. Donors explained how they partner with civil society organizations to respond to crises, including the current wave of migrants fleeing Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries, while also addressing the associated development issues such as education, health & nutrition, and food security. At the same time, field-based aid and development practitioners described their first-hand experiences providing essential support services to individuals and communities forced to migrate, or forced to consider migration as a means for survival.

 

Aid and Development Organizations Must Collaborate

2016 Global Philanthropy Forum

Haas Philanthropy Fellow, Kate Chadwick (far right), participates in the 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum.
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

One major theme emerging from the conference was the need for better collaboration between aid and development organizations to create sustainable solutions to migration challenges. Professor Alexander Betts, the Leopold Muller Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, discussed his work on ‘refugees as a resource’, and the fact that most refugees have an alternative source of income and are not fully dependent on international aid. Professor Betts suggests an innovative solution to humanitarian aid contexts that blur into development challenges, specifically related to long-term refugee situations. That solution is incubator cities made up of semi-permanent infrastructure designed to provide housing, health, educational and economic support services and opportunities to populations in transition. Professor Betts’ inspiration for such cities are university campuses, which manage a fluctuating and transitioning population annually.

Professor Alexander Betts at 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum

Professor Alexander Betts discusses meeting the immediate and long-term needs of the displaced.
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

Proposed solutions such as those provided by Professor Betts cannot be left to aid and development practitioners alone. There is a necessary role for donors, governments, corporations, and civil society actors, as well. The organizers of the Forum, the World Affairs Council, had the foresight to provide seats for all such actors at the conference table. Relatedly, it was suggested that one major role of philanthropy is that of the convener; or in other words, to support civil society organizations while bringing together major players such as businesses and government agencies to jointly tackle social and environmental issues.

 

Local Support is Key to Overall Success

Another common theme that emerged from the Forum was the immense benefit of participation by local community members in developing and managing community driven solutions to migration challenges. It was proposed that all parties working to address such issues should engage and include the local voice from the very start in the design phase of a project. One such participant of the Forum was Ursula Rakova, Executive Director of Tulele Peisa, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) working to relocate Tulun/Carterets Atoll Islanders who are currently threatened by rising sea levels associated with climate change.

Ursula Rakova at 2016 Global Philanthropy Forum

Ursula Rakova discusses the plight of climate refugees.
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

Ms. Rakova gave an emotional account of the work conducted by local community members in her birthplace, with support of the Catholic Church and other local and international NGOs, to relocate and resettle the island population to the nearby Papua New Guinea mainland. Participating in the conference gave Ms. Rakova an opportunity to share her story, and learn from and connect with other organizations also working on climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The need for all actors working on such issues to anticipate, mitigate, and adapt to social and environmental crises was another overarching theme of the conference. In addition to climate mitigation and adaptation, other examples of organizations anticipating versus simply responding to crises, include conflict resolution and building systems of effective governance.

 

The Need for a Social Impact Infrastructure

Additional major conference themes as summarized by Forum President and CEO, Jane Wales, include: building/nurturing/sustaining the infrastructure of social impact that includes a vibrant civil society; the role of youth and the need to invest in them across all conference issue areas; the importance of the open data movement as it relates to program evaluation and sector learning; and that the ultimate role of philanthropy should be to provide people with dignity.

“The ultimate role of philanthropy should be to provide people with dignity.”

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Global Philanthropy Forum President and CEO, Jane Wales

Global Philanthropy Forum President and CEO, Jane Wales, welcomes Forum participants to the stage.
Credit: Global Philanthropy Forum

 

As the Forum was organized around the overarching topic of global philanthropy, the multiple roles of philanthropy were discussed throughout the event, including:

 

  • providing financial resources to civil society organizations;
  • convening major players to address social and environmental challenges;
  • advancing the democratic process;
  • providing rigorous monitoring & evaluation of interventions and open data;
  • supporting the capacity building of local organizations;
  • acting as a laboratory for social justice;
  • incubating and accelerating solutions to social and environmental challenges;
  • integrating culture into such solutions;
  • providing a voice for civil society through advocacy grantmaking and participatory research design;
  • supporting innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • developing human capital through management and training;
  • acting as an endorser to attract additional investments towards potential solutions; and
  • as it was stated several times over the course of the Forum, the idea that ultimately, foundations have the capacity to take on risk and thus, take on the role of risk-taker.

 

As a former humanitarian aid actor, development practitioner, and now grantmaker, it was an honor to participate in a conference that brought together so many like-minded individuals to share their knowledge and experience. Ultimately, woven through my own career is the thread of positive social and environmental impact, and I felt that that thread was stripped apart and thoroughly examined at the Forum.

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Philanthropy University: Magnet for Aspiring Leaders Worldwide

Philanthropy University

By Laura D. Tyson

Philanthropy University, the global online training program for social sector leaders that is anchored at Berkeley-Haas, has achieved even more in its first six months than most of us dared hope. The statistics from the first set of courses are worth mentioning:

• Original course offerings – 7
• Total enrollments – 412,844
• Unique users – nearly 200,000
• Nations represented – 193

Beyond the topline numbers, new data shows a remarkable geographic range and an untapped demand for professional training in leadership skills, organizational management, financing and scaling up of organizations committed to social impact.

Of the 18,000 enrollees who provided geographic data, 13.5% came from the United States but the nine other countries in the top ten were in Africa and Asia. The globally diverse top 10 nations were:

     Top 10 Represented Countries     
1. United States (13.5%)
2. Nigeria (9.2%)
3. India (7.6%)
4. Pakistan
5. The Philippines
6. Kenya
7. Ghana
8. Bangladesh
9. South Africa
10. Zimbabwe

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From Charity to Change: A Dynamic Approach to Building a Better World

By Joe Dougherty

On the first day of December, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan celebrated the birth of their daughter, by announcing their intention to direct 99% of their Facebook shares to a new philanthropic venture, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which will seek to “advance human potential and promote equality.” The announcement was met with a fair amount of criticism, mostly centered on the couple’s decision to make the Initiative a (potentially profit-making) corporation rather than a private foundation, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Critics like ProPublica’s Jesse Eisenger point out that Zuckerberg and Chan did not donate to charity but rather, “created an investment vehicle” which is subject to fewer legal restrictions than a nonprofit or a foundation and thus leaves Zuckerberg “completely free to do as he wishes with his money,” including investing it in profit-making ventures. This observation is certainly true… and it was certainly a good move for Zuckerberg and Chan, if they truly wish to advance human potential and promote equality.

Here’s why: Charity, traditionally, is how the social sector helps meet a need that government or private companies don’t address – like sheltering the homeless or helping former prisoners find jobs, for example. This type of direct charity is important and, unfortunately, still very necessary. But most foundations – even well-established ones like the Rockefeller and MacArthur Foundations – have long since moved beyond traditional charity to seek lasting social change. Instead of just feeding the homeless or helping former prisoners, they are also addressing the root causes of homelessness and asking why so many people are in prison in the first place. Rather than perpetually filling the gaps left by government and markets, modern philanthropists are exploring whether governments and/or the private sector can permanently close those gaps. This is old news, and most people would agree that it makes more sense to look for sustainable solutions rather than stop-gap measures – in other words, philanthropy should not simply apply band-aids to society’s wounds but rather, help create a healthier society.

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Social Impact Consulting Panel

Social Impact Consulting Panel

Jennifer Kawar and Laura Tilghman

Photo by Bruce Cook

November 9, 2015

The annual Social Impact Consulting Career Panel broke our own speaker series attendance record this year! It is always a popular event, and this year more than 100 people filled the room to hear the perspectives of the accomplished panel members. The all female panel was made up of distinct leaders in the social impact space and moderated by Kimberly Wright-Violich, the co-founder and managing partner of Tideline.

2015 Panelists:

  • Alison Colwell, Associate Director, Advisory Services, BSR
  • Jennifer Kawar, Chief Investment Officer, Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • Willa Seldon, Partner, Bridgespan Group
  • Laura Tilghman, Senior Consultant, FSG

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Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to Heal

Armed_Conflicts_Side Image

October 27, 2015 (Berkeley, California): Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to Heal, a research monograph has released at the University of California, Berkeley. This pioneering publication is authored by an interdisciplinary and global collective of experts, and draws on work with women victim-survivors of conflict and mass violence in defining redress.

Gendered and sexualized violence in internal conflict and social upheaval repeatedly mark the reality of several countries that otherwise function as political democracies. Applying the novel conception of the “right to heal,” this publication focuses on the world’s most populous democracy: India. 

The publication carries a statement from Navanethem Pillay, ​United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2008-2014, and a foreword by Veena Das, ​Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology, ​Johns Hopkins University.​ The 432-page monograph is edited by Angana P. Chatterji, Shashi Buluswar, and Mallika Kaur of the Armed Conflict Resolution and People’s Rights Project at UC Berkeley.  The contributors to the monograph are Angana P. Chatterji, Mallika Kaur, Roxanna Altholz, Paola Bacchetta, Rajvinder Singh Bains, Mihir Desai, Laurel E. Fletcher, Parvez Imroz, Jeremy J. Sarkin, and Pei Wu. Continue reading

Practicing What I Preach

Prof. Jane Wei-Skillern

Jane Wei-Skillern listens to understand effective leaders.

Practicing What I Preach:
Creating a network to study and advance networks for impact
By Jane Wei-Skillern

I have been doing research and teaching in the social impact field for fifteen years and have met countless social sector leaders over the course of my career. While I am always impressed by the good intentions and the drive of these leaders, only on rare occasions will I find a ‘needle in a haystack’. A leader that works tirelessly with a single-minded focus on advancing the mission rather than their organization, a leader who is better at being humble than at self promotion, works well with trusted peers and routinely advances the field ahead of their own interests. These are some of the most accomplished leaders that you likely have never heard of. They have helped to generate social impact efficiently, effectively, and sustainably in fields as wide ranging as environmental conservation/climate change, housing, education, international development, economic development, animal welfare, and health, among others. These leaders have achieved tremendous leverage on their own resources by catalyzing networks directly with the communities that they serve and supporting the development of local capacity to serve these needs on an ongoing basis.

Although I am often referred to as an expert on nonprofit networks, I emphasize that everything that I know about networks I have learned and continue to learn from the practitioners who are doing the work in the field. My role has simply been to listen, learn, and distill the patterns and lessons to be drawn from their collective experience and to package these ideas into publications or presentations so that others may learn from these leaders’ wisdom.   It is fascinating to see that while these leaders and organizations played vastly different roles in their networks, some providing funding through philanthropic foundations, others running programs directly on the ground, in different types of institutions some well-established and others fledgling, across different issue areas, they are incredibly similar in their approach. These leaders and their networks routinely demonstrate through their actions,

  • a commitment to an ambitious vision,
  • dedication to the mission before their own organizations,
  • reliance upon long term, trust based relationships to govern the network,
  • humility rather than brand building in their work, and
  • a heightened awareness that they are merely one among countless others that must work in concert to ultimately achieve the mission.

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Was the Walmart Pay Raise Real Leadership?

Walmart made waves last week announcing  pay increases for their workers. The Wall Street Journal cast this as a pure labor market move – prompted by an increasingly competitive environment for retail workers. Walmart, of course, promoted this as a double-bottom line move that reflects the needs of their workers as well as something they need to do to remain competitive.

wmt

So, which was it?.

This shift provides an interesting lens through which to explore what leadership really is, and what meets the test for different types of leadership.

What is effective business leadership when you run one of the largest employers of low wage workers in the world and serve primary segments that are low and moderate income?

What is moral leadership in this context?

Can the two intersect when groups of large shareholders might believe a wage hike to be a violation of managers being fiduciaries? (It’s notable that WMT’s share price took a hit right after this was announced).

I actually believe it was an authentic expression of both effective business leadership and moral leadership. Walmart has taken a beating from the left for years because of the way it treats workers – and rightly so. They have traditionally paid very poorly, and have had a business model with incredibly high attrition rates for workers – signalling that they have a view of their workforce as heavily commodified, perhaps at the expense of being as humane as needed.

To me, the pay increase is a signal of an authentic shift. I believe this for three primary reasons: Continue reading