Private Philanthropy Update—May 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019 - 4:15 pm EDT
Natalie Ross

Council staff are back in DC after an incredible week spent with hundreds of foundation leaders at our Leading Together conference in Miami. As I begin turning my attention towards a summer of Council programming and member engagement, I’m also reflecting on themes I heard in Miami, about listening, introspection, and transformation.

Kathleen Enright, President & CEO of Council on Foundations, kicked off the conference with a challenge for philanthropy to lead and transform our collective work and the sector with love. She encouraged conference attendees to listen, look inward, and use the power we share for something great. (If you missed her remarks, you can read about them in the Chronicle on Philanthropy or watch this conference highlight video). We also heard powerful plenary conversations about partnership and collaboration, changing foundations from within, and activating levers of social change to impact social justice.

As the Council thinks about transformation under a new leader, we are committed to listening. We know we need to strengthen and rebuild relationships with current and former members, as well as our peer philanthropic networks. To date, we have heard from 500+ foundation leaders in our work to Reimagine Council Membership. We also hosted a listening session with Kathleen in Miami, but we have more listening to do.

As we finalize a new dues model and work to better define our value proposition, we know that true transformation starts from within – as Kathleen said in her speech, “we cannot possibly transform the world unless we’re also willing to transform ourselves.

In Miami, Kathleen committed the Council to a higher standard as we move forward, together with all of you. But she also had a request for our members and partners – “Would you tell us how we are doing and hold us accountable? And please do everything you can to help us transform both this organization, and our collective work, with love.”

As Council staff finalize our plans for this summer, I hope to see many of you and your colleagues at upcoming events or in listening sessions that we’ll hold in partnership with peer networks across the country. And I hope you’ll use these venues and conversations to add your voice to how the Council can transform, in order to best help our members and the philanthropic field improve the common good.

If you haven’t yet raised your voice, please send ideas and suggestions to me or to at any time.



Natalie Ross
Vice President, External Relations
Phone: 202-991-2517



Sharon Alpert, CEO of The Nathan Cummings Foundation, discusses How Philanthropy Can Curb the Rise of Hate: Count It, Condemn it, Confront It.

In Miami, we launched a new report with the Kettering Foundation discussing the challenging questions philanthropy faces in this changing American democracy. Our Divided Nation: Is There A Role For Philanthropy In Renewing Democracy?


Legal Matters for Private and Corporate Foundations, Los Angeles
June 6, 2019 | Los Angeles, CA

This workshop is organized to ensure common legal questions for administering grants, board governance and charitable giving activities are addressed. Learn more and register!

Racial Equity Forum: Philanthropy and Government
June 17, 2019 | Louisville, KY

The Council on Foundations and National League of Cities will host a conversation between state officials and foundation leaders to discuss how government and philanthropy can help dismantle structural racism. Join us for an insightful conversation with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Humana Foundation CEO Walter Woods and others! Register Now!



The Council's Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey is now open! This survey provides the most comprehensive data on staff composition and compensation for U.S. grantmakers. Findings can be used to plan budgets, benchmark personnel policies and practices, determine salary levels for new and existing staff, and more. In 2019, the Council is partnering with the United Philanthropy Forum to ensure a broader representation of foundations around the country complete the survey. SUBMIT YOUR SURVEY BY JUNE 28th.

Philanthropic leaders must learn to read early signs of imminent upheaval, adapt their organizations in time and take advantage of new opportunities. Read more about how foundations can better prepare for the future in our new report, No Time for Complacency: Preparing Foundations for A More Turbulent Future, created with the Knight Foundation and The Wharton School of Business at UPENN.

The Common Fund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private & Community Foundations Survey is the field's most comprehensive and authoritative study on investment and governance practices at private and community foundations. To help strengthen this resource, add your data! COMPLETE THE SURVEY BY MAY 15th


Hidden Tax Savings and Costly Pitfalls for Private Foundations via Foundation Source

How a Small Progressive Funder Innovates and Organizes to Make a Bigger Impact via Inside Philanthropy

Attracting Greater Philanthropic Funding: The Private Equity Model via SSIR

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