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Volunteer Abroad with Your Family & Friends this Summer – Opportunity with Allowance for Good & Spark Ventures

April 16, 2014

Want to grow in service by volunteering abroad?  This summer Allowance for Good is offering youth and families a unique opportunity to build cultural bridges, combining their commitment to global change with direct service opportunities in a global context.

AfG logoThe nonprofit organization Allowance for Good educates the rising generations of philanthropic leaders ages 13-18 who cultivate global citizenship and empower others around the world to achieve their full potential. Through educational programs, training sessions, and experiential trips, AfG educates young people on giving back time, talent and treasure.

On this global expedition to Nicaragua taking place August 4th-10th, Allowance for Good and Spark Ventures will provide a service learning opportunity for individuals, families and friends with  Spark Ventures’ Latin American partner organization, Asociación Las Tías.  You’ll establish unforgettable relationships with the children and dedicated staff at Las Tías and explore the natural beauty of Nicaragua on this exclusive trip curated by Spark Ventures.  You’ll experience first-hand stories of transformation, volunteer in meaningful programs and learn about Nicaraguan history, the effects of extreme poverty and a model for sustainability.

For more information about this opportunity, visit the Allowance for Good site.  Registration is due no later than April 25th.


Families Giving Back Together – the Case for Starting Now

February 14, 2014

I was honored to be asked by Allowance for Good to contribute a blog post about giving back with our families.  In it, we discuss why it’s never too early (or late) to start making your family’s giving plan for the year!

[Crossposted from Allowance for Good]

If you’re like many people, you likely do much of your charitable giving in the last quarter of the year, when you’re thinking about the holidays, the tax deduction, receiving donation requests or attending events and fundraisers that typically fall in the fall/winter.   It’s no coincidence that World Gratitude Day (September 21), World Kindness Day (November 13), Thanksgiving and as of two years ago Giving Tuesday (observed on the Tuesday after the post-Thanksgiving deal days) as well as a host of other holidays that revolve around giving, thanking and gifting all occur during virtually the same time frame.   It’s end of year, when school food drives and coat drives and other collections take place, when nonprofit organizations are doing their year-end appeals and you could essentially be out at a fundraising event every day of the week – it’s just the typical time of year that has come to be known for giving back.

Network for Good reports that a third of all online annual giving (through their system) occurs in December, and 22% of annual giving happens in the last two days of the year.  And while most charities report receiving around 40% of their annual individual charitable donations in the last few weeks of the year [Source: Charity Navigator], here’s a push to start thinking about our philanthropy way before the traditional holiday season begins.  How about committing to set our philanthropic goals at year-beginning and spreading out our giving over the entire year? We’ve all partaken in some form or fashion in making our resolutions, budgeting, travel planning, and setting work, sports or school-year goals as we ring in the new year.  Doesn’t our philanthropy deserve the same planning?

Philanthropy, which quite literally means “love of humanity,” is sharing, helping, caring, showing concern and interest in the well-being of others. By starting the New Year with discussion of what we value as well as goal-setting, we prioritize our philanthropy for ourselves, for our families and for the causes and communities we care about.  We intentionally make space for it in our lives.  We are not rushed to identify organizations or balancing charitable giving and volunteering with budgets and schedules tapped out with holidays, travel, shopping and spending.  Starting sooner and taking time earlier gives individuals and families an opportunity to explore and perhaps be more thoughtful about the practice of not only giving back but acknowledging the deeply critical role connecting, giving and appreciating have in our lives.

Introducing philanthropy – thoughtful actions, meaningful impact

In our family, we have taken the approach of utilizing teachable moments vs.  one or repeated conversations about charity/giving back.   Philanthropy is not something you can just teach with words, it needs to be demonstrated.  I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin:  “Tell me and I’ll forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

At the beginning of last year, my family set aside a specific place for the kids to collect toys and clothes for donation throughout the year. This could include items they’ve outgrown, books in good condition, or unopened gifts.  It’s allowed them to be mindful of what they have and what others may need.  We taught them about the value of money and how it’s used and gave each one a save/spend/invest/donate piggy bank. They devised their own ways of utilizing the four options and methods for withdrawals.  So that when Hurricane Sandy hit, for example, they were ready and able to draw from there.  One of the most touching moments was watching my son figure out if he had enough in his spend or donate section to help his sister meet her Girl Scout cookie sales goal.


We added a few extra items to the grocery list to be donated at upcoming food drives. And we researched shelters, hospitals or churches where we could volunteer to help out throughout the year.  Together, we joined other families and volunteers to participate in Be the Change National Day of Service canvassing the Devon area in Chicago with information about enrolling in the new health insurance coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act.  

We implemented the practice of keeping a gratitude jar. Throughout the year, we all periodically take a moment to jot down something we are grateful for and deposit the slip within the container. Notes have ranged from what we’ve given, received, achieved, shared and experienced.  At the start of the New Year, we open the jar and read the notes together.  It’s a chance to both reminisce and celebrate because so much of philanthropy is about being grateful and sharing.

A few years ago, the adult members of my extended family decided to make a family contribution to an organization in lieu of exchanging individual gifts.  How enlightening it was to engage in a process of getting to know each other’s values and motivations and then to ultimately see a compounded gift go a distance further in achieving something good.  Who knew — until we asked — what each of us was involved in, cared about and where we overlapped.   It was an incredible experience to see how the simple “ask” to give turned into discovering individual family member interests and existing charitable giving initiatives.

It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.   – Joyce Maynard

Take time to explore and identify values together

What issues are important to everyone in your family, and why? We may have various personal causes, but what’s the common denominator?  How much can we/do we want to give, and what might we want to achieve?  What might it mean we let go of or give up?  This dialogue is actually a quite critical piece of the act of charitable giving, whether you do it collectively as a family or couple or individually.

Other questions that have come up in our family discussions:

  • In these tough financial times, why should we give (time and/or dollars)?
  • How do we as donors decide which groups to give to or spend our time with?
  • What information should we review to make sure our time and resources are well-spent? Where can we seek out good advice and guidance as we make decisions?
  • And how do we evaluate charities and causes before and after our gifts?
  • What tools exist to make giving back easier, more impactful and lasting?

[Coming Soon! Check out some research and planning tools.]

Some tips to get started on giving back with your children:

  • Talk to each other – Share what you see, what they see, what they hear, what they have questions about.
  • Tell them about your job/career/extracurricular activities – Why do you do what you do, how and where does money come from and what it is used for.
  • Share what giving back is all about – Why is it important and how it makes you feel.  Your child may get an allowance or cash as birthday gifts. Consider having them set aside portions to save, spend, donate and invest.
  • Start small – It may be your child putting a few of their coins into the collection tin. Eventually, she might choose to make a donation to a specific cause in lieu of birthday gifts.
  • Identify interests, values and make a commitment – Giving back comes in many forms: time (volunteering), talent (skills/resources), treasure (money) and ties (relationships/connections) … Have a conversation about what works best for your child(ren)/family and decide on something specific.
  • Volunteer together – Make it a family affair by selecting an activity together. While you may be interested in serving Thanksgiving meals at a food pantry, your child may love animals.  Perhaps a visit to the local animal shelter would draw your child’s interest.

Whatever avenues you choose to bring your family into the fold, know that it’s an invaluable component to building stronger individuals, families and communities.  Being philanthropic together is an opportunity to discover and learn about other people, other places, current events and important issues.  It’s a way to understand the world and how to relate to others.  It opens up possibilities to grow as people, to develop community and to foster change.  Giving back is not only personally fulfilling (there’s research about how doing good helps us feel good and keep us healthy!), it generates an awareness of one as connected to something bigger and beyond.  And that is the truest meaning of philanthropy.

Allowance for Good is a nonprofit organization developing the rising generation of global philanthropic leaders through education, civic engagement and leadership development activities.

New report on social sector leadership and success – How do you measure up as a 21st century leader?

October 3, 2013

I was honored to be part of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) new report and video series that takes a look at how the social sector must adapt to succeed in meeting 21st century challenges and opportunities.


EPIP and La Piana Consulting’s new project, Doing Good in the 21st Century, addresses issues such as how the social sector can address leadership development and succession, cross-sector collaboration, new technology, diversity and equity, the next gen, and social entrepreneurship.

Via workshop sessions and interviews conducted this past April, EPIP and Council on Foundation conference participants were engaged to comment on emerging trends and surface examples of individuals, organizations and networks proving their ability to succeed in the 21st Century. The video vignettes are the beginning of a conversation EPIP hopes to continue and take to the next level.  Peruse the report and videoslearn more about how rising nonprofit professionals measure up as a 21st Century leaders, and join the dialogue.

Find the report here and see the videos below:

New Reality Which organizations, individuals, and networks will succeed in the new reality, and why?

Sector Blur There are new opportunities for cross-sector collaboration. The nonprofit sector is increasing not the only locus for doing good. In the face of huge challenges, we need all hands on deck.

Technology Technology has changed the way the sector works. But how, and what does it mean?

Philanthropy’s Role Philanthropy works. But does it work as well as it could?

Diversity and Power There is power in diversity. But are those in power recognizing this power and leveraging it?

Business Models Social change business model diversification is needed.

Generational Shift It’s not a leadership “hand-off”. It’s finding a new path forward- together.

EPIP’s new monograph: What Emerging Leaders of Color in Philanthropy Think about Race

July 12, 2013
A new monograph released by Emerging Professionals in Philanthropy (EPIP),  The Next Generation Speaks: What Emerging Leaders of Color in Philanthropy Think about Race provides a current snapshot of the experiences and perspectives of emerging philanthropic professionals of color on issues of racial equity.

the_next_generation_speaks_epip-2013-1Through seven years of People of Color Network programming, EPIP has compiled thoughts shared by more than 125 emerging professionals of color in the field regarding challenges and opportunities to move racial equity in philanthropy.  Responses addressed identifying values, learning from the past, intergenerational mentoring, creating shared spaces for exploration and education, peer support across and beyond race, bringing a racial equity lens to grantmaking and the need for institutional and sector-wide awareness and commitment.

Key highlights include:
• The complexity of managing the power and privilege associated with working in philanthropy as an emerging leader of color
• A deep desire for mentoring by seasoned leaders of color
• A critical need for peer-to-peer engagement across race for emerging leaders of color
• Acknowledgement of the differences between addressing race with White colleagues and people of color colleagues in the philanthropic sector
• Desire for institutional conversations and commitments to addressing racial equity
• Recommendations and resources for advancing racial equity in philanthropy

As one young professional stated:

“The only time we talk about racial equity is [in the context of] how the organizations we support address those  issues—how grantees are trying to reduce racial disparities. But we don’t talk about racial equity as part of our institution.”

And another shared:

 “[Seasoned leaders of color]  were fighting for rights and access. It called for a different  kind of focus, a narrow and targeted journey that lasted for  years. [Our generation] benefitted from that. But now, we are  fighting for rights for more people [on multiple fronts] — which makes it different.”

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy  is a national network of foundation professionals and social entrepreneurs who strive for excellence in the practice of philanthropy. EPIP exists to ensure that emerging foundation professionals are effective stewards of philanthropic resources and all social entrepreneurs reach their potential as leaders.

EPIP’s People of Color Network (PCN), formerly known as the Professional Development Fund (PDF), focuses specifically on supporting emerging leaders of color interested in philanthropy. The  PCN supports current and future grantmakers of color by building their visibility, networks, and knowledge by providing them access to professional development opportunities and placing them within a network of peers.  Learn more here.

Challenges to serving the community through board service – two recent articles

March 27, 2013

A quick post about two articles of interest this week on board service:

The Price of Board Membership in this week’s Crain’s Chicago Business details the pros and cons to nonprofit board member “give-or-get” requirements as fundraising strategies.  They certainly guarantee revenue and help to engage board members in the organization’s work. But could those annual minimum donation guidelines or policies also serve as a deterrent for those who may be unable to commit those amounts or be put off by the high cost to participate, and therefore ultimately left out of the opportunity to serve?  


And then, this piece Boards are Not Ready for the Next Generation of Trustees in the Chronicle of Philanthropy explores the very real challenge of board service as a young person… A rising generation of younger donors could bring new money to nonprofits and fresh ideas to their boardrooms but many nonprofits are not up to par when it comes to performance, operations and management to keep innovative, thoughtful and high-energy young people focused on impact and effectiveness engaged.

In their report “Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy,” the philanthropic consulting firm 21/64 and researchers at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University describe next-gen donors as driven by personal values, often those passed on from their parents and grandparents, and motivated strongly by potential social impact instead of recognition or obligation.

As we’ve discussed here before, volunteering and board service are critical ways to enhance our involvement in the important work around the services, education, outreach and advocacy our community organizations provide.   What can we do to ensure serving in this manner is a positive experience?  Do you have an interesting story to share about your volunteer service?  SAPP would love to hear from you!

Professional development and networking opportunity for foundation, nonprofit, and social entrepreneur leaders – Chicago, April 4-6, 2013

March 27, 2013
epip_logo_70 (1)

As we’ve posted here before, the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) National Conference is coming up next week, April 4-6, in Chicago.  You can pre-register through Friday and onsite registration is also available.   And today:  If you’d like to hear more about the conference, and this would be your first time attending, join us for the New Attendee Webinar today, March 27, 12:00 pm CST.  Please register here; you will receive a confirmation after completing the process.

The EPIP Conference is an exciting opportunity for those who are passionate about improving the sector and who want to meet other up-and-coming leaders in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.  As a national network of foundation professionals and social entrepreneurs who strive for excellence in the practice of philanthropy, EPIP’s mission is to develop emerging leaders committed to building a just, equitable, and sustainable society. EPIP exists to ensure that emerging foundation professionals are effective stewards of philanthropic resources and all social entrepreneurs reach their leadership potential.  The conference topics covering leadership development, social entrepreneurship, and philanthropy are sure to be of interest to many.

There are discounted rates available for  nonprofit partners, affinity and other philanthropic group members (for example, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), Donors Forum of Illinois, ABFE, AAPIP, HIP, Funders for LGBT Issues, NAIP, the Women’s Funding Network), reach out to EPIP for more information.

Please read on for more details and we hope that we’ll see you there next week!

EPIP is also seeking ideas for its “Innovations Gallery” and Emerging Leaders Awards.  You can register, submit ideas and nominate here:

  • Register for the EPIP National Conference April 4 – 6  in Chicago.
  • EPIP Innovations Gallery: Submit an idea. Show your talent.
  • EPIP Awards: Nominate emerging leaders who are changing the world.


EPIP’s 2013 National Conference in Chicago April 4 – 6, 2013

The 2013 Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) National Conference will take place Thursday, April 4th through Saturday, April 6th at the Chicago Hilton in downtown Chicago. The national conference brings together over 300 of the most talented and diverse nonprofit emerging leaders to focus on how to use their time, talent, and treasure to make the world more just, equitable, and sustainable.

The theme for this year’s EPIP national conference is LEAD. The experience will expose conference participants to innovative ideas, provide stellar examples of emerging leaders, and create pathways to leadership. Plenary sessions, concurrent workshops, learning tours, and career coaching opportunities will arm attendees with tools to become knowledgeable advocates for positive change. Some conference highlights include:

§ General Sessions/Keynotes

  • Thursday Opening Session Taking the Lead: A Call to Action for the EPIP Membership – Rahsaan Harris, EPIP Executive Director
  • Thursday Luncheon Leading Practice: By All Means… Leveraging Philanthropy’s Wealth – Terry Mazany, President/CEO, Chicago Community Trust & John Rogers, Founder of Ariel Investments
  • Friday Morning Leading Ideas: Community Alternatives to Violence - “It Shoudda Been Me” by Dr. Doriane C. Miller, MD  (Theater Performance & Panel Discussion)
  • Friday Luncheon Awards and Networking
  • Saturday Morning Emerging Leaders and Salons featuring seasoned and emerging and seasoned leaders in philanthropy – Caren Yanis, President/CEO, Crown Family Philanthropies; Nicole Robinson, President, Mondelēz International Foundation; K. Sujata, President/CEO, Chicago Foundation for Women; and others
  • Saturday Closing Leading Ideas: A New Leadership Paradigm inspired by the Allstate Foundation


Donors Forum of Illinois Members Special Rates

Donors Forum members have been offered access to the EPIP Individual Member rate at $575 ($200 in savings). Select yes for EPIP member (this is the only way they will see the member rate on the next screen), register at the appropriate Individual Member Rate and at the last screen Submit Payment, enter Donors Forum IL member in the Discount Code box.

Non-profit access to conference, YNPN Chicago Partnership

If you work at a nonprofit, register here. Share this opportunity with your colleagues and friends and help bring funders and nonprofit professionals together to help expand the connections within our sector.

Affinity Group Discount

Members of ABFE, AAPIP, HIP, Funders for LGBT Issues, NAIP, or the Women’s Funding Network are eligible to attend the EPIP Conference at a discounted member rate using these codes. To sign up as an Affinity Member and qualify for member rates, indicate that you are not an EPIP member on the first page of registration. Complete your contact and demographic data. On the page listing registration fees, there are two fees that applicable for Member rates:

  • Non Member $775.  If attending the full conference, choose this rate.  On the payment page, enter the discount code: EPAF13  (and click Apply) to receive the discounted rate.
  • Daily – Non Member $375.  If attending for one day only, choose this rate.  On the payment page, enter the discount code: EPAF14  (and click Apply) to receive the discounted rate.

Please email EPIP’s Kate Seely with any questions.

Sign-Up for Learning Tours

Extend your EPIP conference experience beyond the Chicago Hilton. Join one of three Learning Tours for an in-depth, hands-on exploration of Chicago philanthropy, nonprofits and culture. Tours will take place on Saturday, April 6 from 2 pm – 5 pm. Spots will be first-come, first-serve. The three tours are:1) Arts & Culture-Initiated Redevelopment; 2) Transformative Urban Green Infrastructure through Public/Private Partnerships; and 3) Youth Led Social Change. Click here for more info and to register.

Sign-Up for Coaching Sessions

The career coaching, offered at an extremely reduced rate of $25, is always a hit!  Part of the  EPIP Effective Leadership Career Program, coaching is an important way to increase your own effectiveness as a professional and a leader. Sign up today and reserve your spot.

New Global Citizen Celebration, Friday Night

EPIP is proud to be teaming up with the African Women’s Development Fund, YNPN Chicago, Fashion for the Good, and C Milano for an unforgettable night at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. EPIP conference registration includes the price of admission to this event.

EPIP partners with Media Impact Funders for a Saturday night Event
Media Impact Funders presents the Henry Hampton Award for Detropia at COF Annual Conference
DETROPIA – A film by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
Saturday, April 6, 8:30-10:30pm
Continental Ballroom C

Dessert, Drinks, Music, and Discussion
$30 Admission (not included in EPIP Conference registration)
Join us in a celebration of the Henry Hampton Award for DETROPIA, a requiem for the death and rebirth of a great American city. Detroit, on the brink of bankruptcy and facing staggering losses in both population and manufacturing jobs, is the stage for this evocative film. As city officials conduct the most dramatic “downsizing” of an American city ever seen – demolishing thousands of homes, and cutting basic services, DETROPIA tells the nearly surreal story of residents striving to make ends meet, refusing to abandon hope and working to help Detroit envision a radically different future. Kick off the conference with music from the Motor City, libations and a powerful story of transformation and resilience.

About Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP)
EPIP is a national network of foundation professionals and social entrepreneurs who strive for excellence in the practice of philanthropy. Our mission is to develop emerging leaders committed to building a just, equitable, and sustainable society. EPIP exists to ensure that emerging foundation professionals are effective stewards of philanthropic resources and all social entrepreneurs reach their leadership potential.

EPIP sparks innovative problem solving and is a pipeline of change agents.
EPIP is a platform for social entrepreneurs to be seen and recruited to make a difference in the world.
EPIP members learn by doing…making a difference in their jobs and in their communities.
EPIP members consciously work to improve their leadership skills.
EPIP is a safe space for emerging practitioners to exercise leadership, take risks, and get feedback. 
EPIP provides a diverse voice in philanthropy.
EPIP is future thinking. We point to the horizon where problems will be solved. 

EPIP is a vibrant peer network of over 600 professionals participating through individual and institutional memberships. Members span 35 states and represent a diverse array of professional roles and grantmaking entities (e.g., foundations, giving circles, government, and corporate structures). More than 50% of EPIP members self-identify as people of color. We offer local and national opportunities for in-person and online participation.

For more details on the conference, visit the EPIP website.


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