Elise Westhoff Highlights Key Accomplishments in State of the Roundtable

Last week, Philanthropy Roundtable President and CEO Elise Westhoff, along with Chairman of the Board Rick Graber, participated in the organization’s second annual State of the Roundtable. During this webinar, Westhoff highlighted major accomplishments from the past year and gave an overview of the Roundtable’s 2022 priorities, including supporting values-based giving, advocating for philanthropic freedom and promoting our True Diversity initiative. Below are excerpts from Westhoff’s State of the Roundtable remarks.

Discussing 2021 Accomplishments: 

“People really wanted us to embrace who we are, to be bold and confident about that, and to help get more money flowing to great organizations. Obviously, we took that advice to heart. We’ve built a dynamic team that’s very committed to our vision and mission. And we really kept the strategic plan at the center of our work. It has not sat on the shelf. 

“You have seen us really everywhere in the last year, in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, even The Economist, and we’re now known as the leaders on philanthropic freedom and the trusted advisors for donors who want to advance our values: liberty, opportunity and personal responsibility. 

“And as a result, we’ve seen new donors and new philanthropists coming to the Roundtable, including a new generation that really share our values and want to make a difference but are just learning about this space… We’ve worked on issues of donor privacy, worked against arbitrary mandates and restrictions on philanthropists that would ultimately hamper giving and hurt communities in need. And we’ve really fought for donors to give how, when and where they choose.”

Looking Ahead to 2022: 

“I want to highlight three key initiatives that we’ll be working on in the coming year with all of you today. The first is our work supporting values-based giving. Second is our work advocating for philanthropic freedom. And third, our work to promote True Diversity… We want to be a resource to help identify the best organizations that are doing the work on the ground and bring them in front of our donor community. We’re working with our donor community and our philanthropists, learning from them, helping them learn from each other and also working with our nonprofit partners to advance our shared vision of how we can help all Americans realize their unique potential. 

“We also know that people rely on the Roundtable for counsel on how philanthropists can best protect their legacy and protect their donor intent. Thinking about questions of governance, how do we incorporate family members? We will continue to be a trusted resource for philanthropists who share our values on those kind of bread and butter questions as well…

“On the philanthropic freedom side, this is really core to our mission. And we’ll continue to focus on our policy efforts on both the state and the federal level in the coming year, so we can make sure donors are able to continue to give how, when and where they choose. The reason why this is so important is because we know that freedom actually sparks more generosity, and we want to see more money flowing into the charitable sector. That’s what we all want, and we will fight to continue to promote that. So we’re going to be fighting to protect our donor privacy and fighting against arbitrary restrictions and mandates that are being placed on foundations and philanthropists, and ultimately charities as well. And this again, is because we know that sparks more generosity, and that’s what we want. 

“The third initiative is True Diversity. Most of you have probably seen our soft launch of our True Diversity campaign in 2021… It’s a positive vision for embracing diversity in a much more productive way, a richer way, rather than what we see as the prevailing narrative in the sector now, and it’s focus on superficial box checking based on race, gender and sexual orientation. We want to present a really good alternative that still allows us to celebrate the wonderful diversity that we see in this country. So you’ll continue to see us be bold, courageous and proudly advocating for our values and our community.”

Why Our Values Matter: 

“Our values improve lives. That is why it is so important for the Roundtable to advocate for them and to work with our partners on the ground to promote those values. Everyone who came to the work of philanthropy wants to see struggling people succeed and communities thrive. And that’s why it’s so important for us to share this message. Our vision is to create a vibrant American philanthropic movement that strengthens our free society. We want to empower individuals to reach their unique, full potential. And liberty, opportunity and personal responsibility allow that to happen. And again, that’s why it’s so important. 

“We thought a lot about what’s needed to really strengthen the free society that we all want to see so that every person in America can rise. We’ve developed these three pillars that we’re viewing effective charitable giving through: We want to promote America’s founding principles, create pathways to opportunity for all people and build and sustain strong communities. So that’s what we’re focusing on in the coming year.”

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