bruceThe Moment We’ve Been Waiting For?

By: Bruce Trachtenberg In: 2009 Annual Conference| Philanthropy

4 May 2009

[Editor’s note: We asked contributors to tell us a question they think philanthropy needs to explore as the Atlanta conference begins. Here’s Bruce’s answer.]

I had a conversation recently with a colleague. As an exercise, we drew up a list of everything that wasn’t going right in the nation—banking system in crisis, auto industry on the verge of collapse, millions  of people losing their jobs, etc.

After that, we started another list. It contained examples of what is going right—mainly work that we know of that foundations are supporting to make life more livable for people in communities across the country.  In most of these places, the problems being addressed have been around far longer than those the rest of nation has had to grapple with since the start of the economic crisis last year.

As we ticked through our second list—all  examples of what happens when the right mix of people, ideas and money are put into play—several questions came to both of us:

Would shining a spotlight now on this work and what it’s achieving help counter the current feelings of uncertainty in the nation about the future and give people a greater sense of hope?

Would there be more interest in hearing about this activity now than in past years?

Would these examples also provide a unique opportunity for people unfamiliar with the work of philanthropy to develop a better appreciation for what it does and can do?

And finally, is this the moment we’ve been waiting for?

Being optimists at heart (or why would be in this business) we nodded our heads approvingly.

Bruce Trachtenberg is executive director of The Communications Network.  You can read the Network’s blog here.

5 Responses to The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For?

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May 4th, 2009 at 9:09 am

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Albert Ruesga

May 4th, 2009 at 11:56 am

Thanks for this post, Bruce. How did you answer your own questions?

Bruce Trachtenberg

May 4th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Albert,
Thanks for asking.

The last line of the post — “Being optimists at heart (or why would be in this business) we nodded our heads approvingly.” — was meant to be “yes” for all the Qs we asked.

Albert Ruesga

May 4th, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Sure thing, Bruce. You’ve always been more concise. I wouldn’t be able to resist throwing in few “Yes, becauses ….”

Cassandra Stalzer

May 5th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Thanks for the post Bruce. I agree this is our moment. What I’ve been turning over in my head is the great opportunity social media presents for foundations to engage stakeholders on a level playing field. Rather than shining a spotlight, we can pull up a lawnchair. I think we have a chance to redefine philanthropy’s relationship with multiple publics concerned with and working toward social innovation.

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