Greetings from the 2013 Minnesota Council on Foundations Philanthropy Convening Conference.  This morning's keynote speaker was Sterling Speirn, President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, on the topic of Diversity, Racial Equity and Inclusion Inside and Outside Foundations:  Reflections on the Journey.  Following the presentation, the conference attendees participated in a "World Cafe" style round table discussion on our visions and strategies for philanthropy and giving that are fully inclusive of all stakeholders.  Here are some key reflections on the discussion:

Exercise "Cultural Humility" in Philanthropy:  "Cultural Humility" means loving, and even preferring your own culture, but not thinking it is superior to other cultures.

Ask the Community You Seek to Help What Help They Need:  Often, grant makers have a generous and wonderful idea of how to help a community, but the community itself has other needs or prioritizes their needs differently.  Consider bringing the people being served into the conversation and involving everyone in the solution.  Research how the community you seek to support tends to support its own community and culture and bring these ideas into the plan.  Consider how the community you are trying to serve works.  At one time, the Kellogg Foundation sought to make a grant to certain Tribal Colleges.  The Kellogg Foundation reached out to the Tribal Colleges and asked them each to submit an RFP for a grant.  The Tribal Colleges responded that they would not compete against each other for the "prize" - either Kellogg Foundation had to work with them all together or not at all.  Kellogg Foundation agreed to work with them together and a great relationship was born.

Ask Big Questions; Think Short- and Long-Term:  Don't be afraid to take on a really big problem and look at it from all angles.  One conference attendee's foundation sought to bring health care to underserved populations in India.  However, they discovered that clinics weren't being used because the roads leading to the clinics were unusable.  As a result, the organization is partnering with other funders to repair the roads and fund the clinics.

The conference has been very informative and engaging so far, and I look forward to sharing further ideas with you.
 


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