Vikki Spruill, the new president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, gives her landscape view of the field as the Council meets for its annual conference.
In a world facing daunting challenges, Spruill advances a call for a philanthropy that sees itself as part of the global ecosystem for greater good:
We have a tremendous opportunity to promote philanthropy’s value as part of a global ecosystem for greater good. Without it, the rest of the ecosystem won’t survive. Which is why, when the opportunity to lead the Council was presented to me, I saw a chance to take on a challenge and address this lack of understanding around philanthropy, what it does, and how it can make the world a better place.
The Economist reported in June that America is the most philanthropic nation in the world, with giving accounting for nearly 2 percent of GDP. As economies are more intertwined and needs know no borders, philanthropy’s influence will grow globally. Yet philanthropy–the love of humankind—struggles as a sector to define and defend itself. Now more than ever, we need to clearly communicate philanthropy’s value and why it matters.
Much has been written to suggest that foundations must think differently about their missions, their practices, and their impact on the world. Perhaps, like everything else in life, we need a little more balance. Maybe we need to think a little less about process and metrics–the how of philanthropy–and think more about the passion, motivation, and desire to make a difference–the why of philanthropy.