A Word on Partnerships: Leveraging Partnerships to Discuss Global Issues in Local Communities

Friday, August 11, 2017 - 10:45 am EDT
Natalie Ross

Recently, Council staff traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico to join more than 50 funders to discuss how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are relevant to local challenges facing communities across the Southwest. The gathering was the sixth city in a series of national conversations about the SDGs. In each city, from San Francisco to Jacksonville to New York City, the Council has partnered with a regional philanthropy association as well as leading local funders to co-host events that are inherently international while also hyper-local at the same time. Our respective networks and expertise have been critical assets in expanding this work on global goals around the country.

In Minneapolis, our partnership with the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCOF) helped ensure that Mayor Hodges, who had previously signed on to the SDGs, joined our conversation. MCOF also made sure a local reporter from the Minneapolis Tribune cover our event, helping to raise broader awareness of why 17 global goals are relevant for foundations working across Minnesota on issues related to education, jobs, health, and inequality. The standing-room only event, hosted by our shared member Medtronic, gathered more than 70 funders from Minnesota to exchange lessons learned and brainstorm how to work together in new ways to have greater impact locally.

As a partner with a broad international and national network, the Council has strong relationships with speakers who are leading experts on the global goals, whether it be high-level staff from the United Nations Foundation, senior leadership of the Foundation Center, or Tony Pipa, who represented the United States at the UN to design, negotiate, and agree to the goals in 2015. Our national partners have joined us across the selected cities and states, helping to link learning from one location to the next. At the same time, these events have been successful because our regional partners have secured key leaders in the state to join our gatherings in order to drive the conversation locally, share deep local expertise, and engage their peer philanthropy leaders in looking at existing challenges in new ways.

We were grateful our partnership with Philanthropy Southwest helped us bring the SDG conversation to Albuquerque. Our discussion included funders working across four states, from West Texas to Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Colorado. It was a diverse group of funders who care deeply about local issues in their region.

In all of these locations, our initial event is just the starting point for collaboration. Regional philanthropy networks are the perfect partners to ensure these events aren’t one-off conversations, but the first step in a longer process for helping foundations working in a specific place to collaborate in new ways.

In Little Rock, our initial gathering in late 2015, co-hosted by the Southeastern Council of Foundations, inspired a local working group of funders to continue discussing for more than a year how national and local funders working in Arkansas could better collaborate on workforce development, education, and health. A year later, in fall 2016, we returned to Little Rock for a second conversation about how Arkansan philanthropy, including private, community and corporate grantmakers, could work together to ensure no one is left behind in their state by 2030. Conversations continue locally about how to best collaborate with local and national partners to move the needle on critical issues locally.

We are excited to continue convening local conversations around national and international issues in partnership with partner philanthropy networks around the United States.

If you’d like to partner on a conversation about the SDGs in your region, please reach out to the Council’s global program to discuss how best to work together.

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