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I’m always excited for the Family Philanthropy Conference. The plenaries feature dynamic speakers who often offer a philanthropic perspective that I hadn’t considered before. There are so many interesting sessions, and so many interesting ideas to take in. I try to attend a session about something I’d likely not be able to explore any place [...]

American families have many traditions that cross religious, social, economic, and cultural boundaries. Taking time in the latter part of the year to give thanks for all we have is one of the most prevalent. Thanksgiving is a time for food, of course, but also for family (no matter how it’s defined) to come together [...]

It’s the morning after Election Day. Much as predicted, and much as it did four years ago, the face of local, state, and federal government will look much different. A new group of people will join the Senate and the House of Representatives and move into governors’ mansions. In many states, as in my beloved [...]

I think there are two distinct skill sets that folks in philanthropy work on developing over the course of their careers:
The “Hard Skills”—due diligence, research, communications, metrics, etc., and the “Harder Skills”—honest listening, quiet leadership, good citizenship, and honest engagement.

Well, it’s the beginning of day 2 of the Family Philanthropy Conference so I guess that means the conference is fully off and running. So far, the one thing I have really been struck by, and grateful for, is that so many participants are willing to engage in the discussions, and are connecting with each [...]

I have been rapt by the devastating images coming out of Haiti. What I have found particularly interesting is the outpouring of support—not only on television, but also on Facebook and Twitter.
Organizers have created opportunities for people to give via text message. People are also posting messages and tweets about what organizations are doing and [...]

Throughout the first half of the conference, I have been struck by how many times I have heard the words “strategic”, “capacity-building”, and “sustainable”.  What has struck me about this phenomenon is that in each session, and in each conversation, the users have a different definition for not just what these terms mean, but what [...]

I have been thinking through a question that I heard from Joanne Florino, and thought I’d throw it out for discussion.  She asked “when, in our conversations about inclusiveness in philanthropy, are we going to start talking about how to introduce new wealth creators to the art and practice of good philanthropy”?  She went on [...]

Challenging conversations have always defined the field of philanthropy. Opposing viewpoints and robust disagreements hone good decisions into great ones and tune discord into harmony.
But lately I feel like I’m seeing less optimism in the field. While our conversations struggle to critically examine and alleviate some of the greatest problems facing humanity, they can too [...]

Welcome to RE: Philanthropy! In this blog, guest and Council bloggers share ideas and insights on the most pressing issues in philanthropy. If you want to contribute, please contact

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Council on Foundations.


Dinah Waldsmith Dittman
Diana Esposito
Mimi Box, Mimi Corcoran Jane Vincent, and Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy
Sam Stern
Mae Hong
Roger Doughty
Ira Strumwasser Ph.D. and Beverly Church
Rick Cohen
Terence Mulligan
Rachael Gibson
Laila Mehta
Zeke Spier
Kevin F. Walker
Deidre Lind
Brooke Ramsey
Michael Monopoli
Rosalie Nezein and Jesse Wrenn
Daria Teutonico
Dan Rader
Ophelia Basgal
Daniela Fainberg
Sean Stannard-Stockton
Candace Winkler
Eva Nico
Steve Gunderson
Diane Melley
Michael Bzdak
David P. Janes
Susan Beaudry
Ira Strumwasser, Ph.D.
Peter Brach
Page Snow
Sandie Palomo-Gonzalez
Heeten Kalan
Henry Izumizaki
Juanita T James
Christine Kendall
Michael Durnil
Teri Behrens
Carrie Varoquiers
Stephanie Powers
Mary McClymont
Susan Swan Smith
Diana Campoamor
Chatrane Birbal
Adrienne Mansanares
Joop Rubens
Trabian Shorters
Lana Williams