steveWhat Would Google Do At The Council?

By: Steve Gunderson In: Leadership| Philanthropy

6 Jan 2010

Happy New Year! While the holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, I suspect we all take a few moments to reflect upon the past year and anticipate the one ahead.

Before departing for the holidays, every employee at the Council and every member of our Board of Directors received a copy of Jeff Jarvis’ bestselling book What Would Google Do? If you haven’t already, I urge you to pick up this book. I spent my holiday dissecting it; looking for ways to weave Jarvis’ insights into the Council’s work.

Jarvis’ premise is simple: Using Google as the lens because of its sheer power and reach, Jarvis explains how Google, along with Facebook, Amazon and Craigslist have transformed the Internet and how we use it. In other words, Jarvis suggests you, your company, entire sectors and even the government should study these online behemoths, their networks and their appeal—or risk being left behind.

As I think about the Council’s ambitious programming plan for 2010 I’ve asked myself: What Would Google Do at the Council?

Our work plans span education, government relations, legal services, conference programming, global philanthropy, ethics and governance to specific initiatives around helping to build public philanthropic partnerships, cultivate next generation leadership and develop trustee education. Perhaps most important and underlying all our work is ensuring that we use various forms of media—particularly social—to disseminate information quickly and easily and connect our members and others in our sector with one another. Information, especially when deployed quickly, is a very powerful tool.

We, the Council, must see ourselves as a platform and a link that connects all engaged in the noble work of philanthropy. It is no longer the information we produce and/or hold that makes us important to this sector. Rather, it is our ability to connect the sector to each other, making all our information available to everyone in ways that produces more effective philanthropy.

Over the year, I’ll blog periodically about the Council’s work and progress. I’ll also share ideas and insights from my many conversations and travels. We have a lot of work to do, but I am a firm believer that small, incremental changes over time will yield big results in time.

With that, I’ll leave you with two events that you won’t want to miss in the first quarter of this year.

  • Family Philanthropy Conference: From January 31 through February 2, I’ll be in San Diego with hundreds of our family philanthropy members and others at the family conference. Peruse our conference program to get a sense of the diverse topics, sessions and speakers. Fresh from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Jeff Jarvis will join us—via Skype—giving us the opportunity to hear directly from him. And, in the spirit of social networks, our group of 15 (and growing) guest bloggers will blog in real time—sharing their thoughts about the issues that affect the family philanthropy field.
  • Foundations on the Hill (FOTH): As a former Congressman, I cherish my years in Congress and FOTH (happening March 16-17), combines my love of public policy and philanthropy. It’s expected that this year Congress will consider a comprehensive tax reform bill—an issue with wide-reaching consequences. And, while the Council will represent your interests on Capitol Hill, it’s more important that Congress hear directly from foundations and grantmaking organizations about how your work has helped strengthen communities in their districts and states—especially amidst high unemployment and rising need for basic human services. You are also the best advocates to tell Congress about the issues affecting our sector. We’ll be blogging and tweeting about FOTH before and during the event so stay tuned for more.

Let me close with this final thought.

One line in Jarvis’ book, particularly relevant to the Council, says that “associations…should use links to connect people who share needs, knowledge, and interests.” I hope my blog entries become just one of the links at the Council that can connect you to others throughout our field and enable all of us to continue promoting the common good.

Steve Gunderson is the president and CEO of the Council on Foundations.

1 Response to What Would Google Do At The Council?

George Stevens

February 23rd, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Connecting networks is one of the recommendations, as you mention. The other, that I found particularly useful, is that you need to create an environment where people interact. You draw a crowd by allowing a crowd to work together, discuss issues of shared interest, and to create something beyond what they can do alone.

I believe that the Council on Foundations will be stronger the more it can be seen as a hub of information about foundations…all types of foundations.

Comment Form

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.


Jeff Stanger
MLea Davis
Lorie Slutsky
Dan Rader
Evelyn Gibson
Andrew Allen
Juanita T James
Josephine Ramirez
Timothy P. Silard
Regine A. Webster
Donnell Mersereau
Daniel Lee
Susan McPherson
Andrea Lubov
Manikka L. Bowman
Alicia Philipp
Heather Bennett
Kevin F. Walker
Andrew Schulz
Joop Rubens
Eva Nico
Rick Cohen
David Biemesderfer
Denise Spencer
Carrie Varoquiers
Bruce Trachtenberg
Adrienne Mansanares
Rob Buchanan
Kristin Ivie
Torrey Van Antwerp DeKeyser
Racheal Stuart
Michele McLellan
Janelle Harris
Meghan Duffy
Robert Giloth
Mark Hecker
Collis Townsend
Elizabeth Ramirez
Cecilia Garcia
Hallie Preskill Mayur Patel and Charles Gasper
John Padilla
Rebecca Graves
Craig Muska
Darren Sandow
Alexis Raymond
Jordan Marshall
Todd Sukol
Wendy Ramage Hawkins
Robert Smith