In the U.S., there are several peer-to-peer learning networks for donors. Most of these groups hold an annual conference. Some groups have learning modules for participants that include classes and site visits (the visits are mostly to Africa and India). Others are membership-based organizations and fees are assessed. The main purpose of all these groups is to provide education and networking opportunities for participants.
In speaking with the individuals that have participated in these gatherings, there have been mixed results. Some felt it was too academic and rigorous. Others wondered if the cost was worth the attendance. But on the positive side, many did extend their networks and learned how other donors were approaching their giving. If we had more networks like these, will philanthropists be smarter, better educated, and support programs that are more effective? Do the lessons learned at these networks ‘stick’ and do the donors practice what the learned? I also wonder if these networks have followed their attendees and started collecting information about how much they gave – or how much more they gave? Maybe even collectively, how much impact or even examples of impact attendees-philanthropists have made as a result of what they learned?
I have encouraged several of the new Asian philanthropists that I am working with to attend these events. They declined saying they were uncomfortable attending large and expensive conferences or modules where they meet people that are not their peers. I suspect it is because the group I am working with is Asian and younger, while a majority of these networks cater to the older generation. In addition, I think there is an extra layer of anonymity and safety involved for Asian donors.
I have not found many networks for donors in Asia except for the by-invitation events such as the Global Philanthropy Forum hosted by UBS, India Philanthropy Forum hosted by Dasra, China Philanthropy Forum hosted by Give2Asia, and the APPC conferences. Do you know any others? If so, please let us know.
List of Donor Learning Networks in the US
Chicago Global Donors Network. CGDN offers a Global U conference for experienced international donors to share tools and strategies. They also offer a Youth Leadership in Connective Philanthropy Program that works with the next generation. In addition, they offer the Diaspora Giving Leadership Initiative which is tailored for Chicago’s diaspora communities.
Global Philanthropy Partnership. Founded in 2003, GPP serves as a strategic resource to promote international giving and raise awareness of global development issues. They conduct research, develop networks of organizations that promote philanthropy and connect philanthropists and potential philanthropists. The resources on the website are dated 2007 so it does not appear to be an active group.
Global Philanthropy Forum. GPF holds an annual conference with more than 500 participants each year, alternating between coasts. GPF is a project of the Worlds Affairs Council of Northern California. Membership is open to philanthropists and the conference is a by-invitation event. Associate membership starts at $1,700, full membership is $10,000 and corporate and foundation membership is $25,000 to $75,000.
Institute for Philanthropy: The Philanthropy Workshop. TPW was established by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1995 and is now a project of the Institute for Philanthropy’s London and New York offices. 14 participants attend three one-week modules over the course of a year, one in Europe, one in the US and one in the developing world. Tuition is $18,000.
New England International Donors. NEID is hosted at The Philanthropy Initiative (TPI) and offers a venue for sharing diverse voices. The Steering Committee includes members of the Ansara Family Fund at the Boston Foundation, Disability Rights Fund, Grantmakers Without Borders, and The Philanthropic Initiative. It is a new group and seeks to enhance the quality and quantity of international philanthropy originating from New England.
Pacific Northwest Global Donors Conference. The conference was the first-of-its-kind in the region and brought together donors and grant-makers in the Seattle-area that were interested in global giving. See Tweets from the Pacific Nrothwest Global Donors Conference in Seattle where I posted my observations from the conference.
Philanthropy Workshop West. TPW West was created by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the TOSA Foundation in collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation. TPW West holds an annual workshop for 15 donor participants and consists of four wee-long sessions held over the course of an academic year. Two of the sessions are based in San Francisco, one is in Washington D.C., and one is in a developing country. Tuition is $25,000 a year.
Synergos Institute: Global Philanthropists Circle. GPC was founded in 2001 by Peggy Dulany and her father David Rockefeller. Currently, GPC consists of more than 25 families from 25 countries. Members are invited to University for a Night, an annual Synergos event in New York City, where they interact with leaders of philanthropy, business, government and civil society from all over the world.
Photo courtesy of Flydime, Creative Commons, Flickr