The Philanthropy Roundtable has a Big Hairy Audacious Goal for 2009. We’re planning for this year’s Annual Meeting to be our best ever.
Our 18th Annual Meeting will take place at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs from October 1 to October 3. More than 300 philanthropic leaders from 32 states have already registered, and we are expecting attendance of over 400.
Our conference theme is “Peak Performance in Philanthropy.” In times of economic downturn, it is all the more important for every philanthropic dollar to be wisely spent. To help donors rise to this challenge, we are honored to feature as keynote speakers two of the world’s most extraordinary teachers of excellence in business and philanthropic leadership.
Jim Collins is the author of Built to Last and Good to Great, two of the most influential business bestsellers of all time. Jim has recently extended his study of greatness to the charitable sector, examining how philanthropists and nonprofits can apply the core concepts of his research on business excellence: getting the right people on the bus, the culture of discipline, the flywheel process of building momentum by building the brand, unwavering faith in the future combined with a willingness to confront brutal facts, and Level 5 leaders who combine personal humility with a relentless professional will to do whatever it takes to achieve their organization’s mission.
Jim has also extended his “hedgehog concept” to the charitable sector. Great philanthropists and nonprofit leaders, he argues, have the discipline to say “no, thank you” to most opportunities that come their way. Instead, they focus on the intersection of three questions: What are they deeply passionate about? What can they be best in the world at? How can they build the resources (time, money, and brand) to deliver truly superior performance?
Tom Tierney was CEO of Bain, one of the world’s leaders in strategic consulting for business, and he is now chairman of Bridgespan, a nonprofit consulting firm which applies Bain’s analytic methods to foundations and other nonprofits. Drawing on his highly influential recent article in Harvard Business Review, Tom will speak at our Annual Meeting about “Delivering Philanthropic Impact: The Four Essential Questions Every Nonprofit Must Address.” Which results will we hold ourselves accountable for? How will we achieve them? What will results really cost, and how can we fund them? How do we build the organization we need to deliver results? Tom will discuss how donors can help their grantees address these questions, as well as the common mistakes donors make that get in the way of grantee effectiveness.
Other highlights of our Annual Meeting include:
- Our ceremony honoring Phil and Nancy Anschutz, the most generous charitable givers in Colorado, as winners of the 2009 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.
- A focus on philanthropic freedom, with special sessions on the political strategies, media tools, and rhetoric that foundations and other donors can use to protect their freedom to define and carry out their charitable objectives.
- A conversation with Gen. Victor Renuart, commander of NORTHCOM, on the greatest challenges to homeland security, including terrorism, missile attacks, border control, and epidemic diseases—and what philanthropists can do to strengthen preparedness in our communities.
- A session on philanthropy and the future of market capitalism. Three philanthropic leaders will discuss their strategies for strengthening economic research and teaching, promoting entrepreneurship, analyzing and promoting understanding of the causes of the collapse of the financial markets, and improving financial regulation without eroding innovation and competition.
- A special emphasis on achieving breakthroughs in K-12 education. Sessions will include “Is School Choice Running Out of Steam?” and “Where Are They Now?”—a progress report on promising cities for K-12 reform, including the District of Columbia under Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Houston with its extraordinary KIPP-YES charter school expansion, and Milwaukee with its leadership in school choice. We will also feature a luncheon with former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who is focusing on K-12 reform as chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund and an important emerging leader in pushing for the dramatic improvement of K-12 education.
- And as always, vigorous debates about great issues in philanthropy. For instance, Diana Aviv, president of Independent Sector, and the Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute, will debate whether charity, social entrepreneurship, and volunteerism will benefit or suffer from an expansion of government funding in the charitable sector. The debate will address such questions as: Are public-private partnerships good for philanthropy? Is America served by the Corporation for National and Community Service? Will federal subsidies undermine or strengthen the independence of the charitable sector?
I hope you can join us, and I look forward to seeing you in Colorado Springs.
Adam Meyerson is president of The Philanthropy Roundtable.