RogerNot In A Hurry (Still?)

By: Roger Doughty In: 2009 Annual Conference| Philanthropy

4 May 2009

Philanthropy just doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. In my seven years in the field, it’s hard to remember more than once or twice when it did. When there was a palpable sense of urgency. Even now, in the midst of financial meltdown, it’s a little hard to find that around the Marriott Marquis. (OK, some of us do have an urgent desire to escape the dental office-style soundtrack pumped throughout the hotel. But that’s not the kind of urgency I’m thinking about.)

I’m sure it’s here, mixed in with the receptions, the plenaries, the earnest discussions, the drinks at the hotel bar. Too many smart and good-hearted people work in this field for it – a sense of urgency – not to be here. Yet it doesn’t feel much different from Council conferences past. Fewer people, sure. Anxieties over crashing endowments, yes. But it also feels a bit strangely like business as usual.

Today’s luncheon speakers – especially the amazing John Lewis – put it out clearly for us: philanthropy, with all its many assets, needs to move. We can’t afford the luxury of slow-motion decision-making. In Congressman Lewis’s words, we need to be more headlights than taillights. Of course that doesn’t mean jettisoning thoughtful plans and strategies; those are essential. But it does mean that perhaps philanthropy needs to be in a bit more of a hurry. Those we’re here to serve really can’t wait.

Roger Doughty is executive director of the Horizons Foundation.

2 Responses to Not In A Hurry (Still?)

Teri Behrens

May 5th, 2009 at 10:17 am

Good observation. Any sense of urgency is inwardly focused on declining financial assets. After Katrina and Rita, we saw funders move quickly and effectively to get resources to the region. What would it take to get foundations to move that quickly in response to the educational crisis or the nonprofit sustainability crisis?

Philanthropy Daily Digest | Tactical Philanthropy

May 5th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

[...] Not In A Hurry (Still?) - RE:Philanthropy Roger Doughty, executive director of the Horizons Foundation, wonders why philanthropy doesn't seem to be in a hurry even in the face of crisis. (tags: philanthropy) This entry was written by Sean Stannard-Stockton and posted on May 5, 2009 at 5:01 pm. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment. [...]

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