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LLC Coverage: EPIP Conference Reflections: The Emerging Leadership Manifesto in Philanthropy

Source: FSG Social Impact Blog
Date: April 22, 2013
Description: Blog Article


EPIP Conference Reflections: The Emerging Leadership Manifesto in Philanthropy

Hi, I’m Efrain Gutierrez. I work for FSG and I’m the brand new co-leader of the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) Seattle Chapter. I attended my first EPIP National Conference two weeks ago in Chicago and it was an incredible experience. It was energizing to be among a group of diverse and passionate mid-career professionals that will become the future leaders of the philanthropic sector. As I reflected on what I learned during the conference around this year’s theme – LEAD – I identified four recommendations for current and emerging leaders in philanthropy: be humble, know who you are not, listen, learn and adapt. I believe these recommendations represent the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way we exercise leadership in the sector. Let’s discuss each of them:  


1. Be humble – The philanthropic sector is realizing that isolated efforts to solve social problems are not creating long lasting social change. During the conference, I observed many leaders accept with humility that their organizations can’t solve social problems alone. There is a clear need to step back, understand the system your organization is part of, and collaborate with other organizations. The ability to reflect and better understand your limitations, and the implications for collaboration appears crucial for emerging leaders in philanthropy given the resource constraints and increased need in the sector.


2. Know who you are not – Increased collaboration in the sector is requiring leaders in philanthropy not only to be aware of what they bring to the table, but also to understand what they don’t. During a session supported by The Allstate Foundation and facilitated by Deborah Meehan of the Leadership Learning Community around the concept of collective leadership, participants expressed that the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes will be essential as we move to more collaborative philanthropic efforts. This applies at many levels: if you have experience as a funder, you may not fully understand the experience of the nonprofits you are collaborating with; if you are a man, you need to hear the opinion of a woman sitting across the table; if you are white, reach out to people of color to understand their perspective; if you work in a city, hear the experience of organizations in rural areas before making any assumptions. The notion that there are many things we don’t know about the organizations we work with and the people we serve will be crucial for emerging leaders in philanthropy.

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