The Roundtable's Plan for Protecting and Promoting Charitable Giving in 2021
The Philanthropy Roundtable’s mission is more important today than ever. At our first State of the Roundtable event, President and CEO Elise Westhoff shared her vision for how the Roundtable will lead the charge in protecting philanthropic freedom and empowering America’s philanthropists to advance liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility at this critical time.
Read Elise's opening remarks below or watch them online here.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by the Roundtable's Elise Westhoff:
It’s an exciting time to be at the Philanthropy Roundtable—an organization that has such a rich history. I’ve been personally involved with the Roundtable for many years, and it’s been an honor to take the reins from a legend.
As we kick off the new year, I’ve been reflecting on the enormous challenges we faced in 2020 and how the Roundtable’s donor community played a critical role in assisting communities during a devastating global pandemic, an economic downturn, and a year marked by division and partisanship.
Amid all the heartbreak, philanthropy was a shining beacon of hope. Donors empowered countless nonprofit, business, and community leaders to be entrepreneurial and pursue solution-oriented ideas in uncharted territory. It’s motivating to see the power of philanthropy respond to big problems that government isn’t equipped to handle. Thanks to the long-term commitment of the Roundtable’s donors, we were able to act quickly to support innovations in online learning, vaccine development, and much more. I’m truly grateful to be a part of such a generous community.
So here we are in 2021—things are still a little tough! Clearly, our work today is more important than ever. Looking ahead, there are immense opportunities for our donor community to work together to protect America’s founding principles, promote pathways to success, and build stronger communities. In order to do that, we also have to remain vigilant about the increasing threats to donor privacy and calls for more regulation. And the Roundtable is completely committed to fighting those threats.
While our values remain the same, we are expanding our work by building a vibrant philanthropic movement to strengthen our free society. For those new to the Roundtable and those who have been with us for years, we are doubling down on our mission. We’re engaging more publicly to protect donor freedoms and adding more services to advance our shared values. We want to be your go-to-resource to support your charitable giving.
There has been a lot of change at the Roundtable. We’re investing intentionally and strategically to move the needle on the issues we care about most. There are so many needs in this country where philanthropy can make a difference—we cannot let bureaucrats or the elite few get in the way.
As we work to elevate our network’s voice, we will continue to highlight how philanthropy and communities can work together to innovate, take calculated risks, and create better solutions than one-size-fits-all government programs.
So how are we going to do this? The Roundtable has an aggressive strategic plan that we are implementing over the next four years.
The world of philanthropy has shifted considerably since our founding—it’s our 30th birthday this year! While there is more charitable giving today than ever, threats to philanthropic freedom are on the rise and American values are under attack. We’ll need to engage thoughtfully and effectively to win on our issues.
Here’s our plan:
We’ll advance philanthropic freedom in all 50 states and at the national level by building coalitions to help us protect our right to give freely and stop efforts that would restrict charitable giving.
Encourage giving that strengthens our free society by establishing strategic program expertise and providing high quality philanthropic services that meet the unique needs of our network.
Create value for our donor community by producing special programs and tailored convenings that inspire and support our members’ goals.
Build a world-class storytelling operation to establish a credible and consistent presence on the Roundtable’s core issues, shift how people view philanthropy and capitalism, and share your valuable work.
As a leader in the philanthropic community, we know donors need a larger public voice to highlight the good they do in society and counter the negative narrative about philanthropy and the system that enables it to flourish. The Roundtable is uniquely positioned to be that voice and lead the fight to protect our freedoms and achieve our goals.
These goals include:
Engaging with you, the Roundtable community, to share resources and help you establish giving plans and strategies that effectively advance your charitable goals.
Connecting our network with each other – those who have similar goals and values – so you can learn about new initiatives and projects from one another’s experiences.
Providing donors with information on the issues they care about as well as examples of outstanding groups and programs.
Educating donors, government officials, and the media about the role of private charitable giving in America and threats to philanthropic freedom.
Inspiring and equipping our network—and others who share our principles—to make thoughtful and deliberate philanthropic decisions.
A strong private sector creates the wealth that makes the very existence of philanthropy in America possible—and we believe that philanthropy is best positioned to solve some our nation’s toughest challenges. Donors, not government, should decide when, how, and where their dollars will have the greatest impact. The Roundtable doesn’t focus on feel-good or trendy causes—we’re focused on results.
To support these efforts, we are building a top-notch team, developing more relationships with individual donors, and cultivating an active community that shares best practices, strategies, and other ideas the help us all learn how we can have a greater impact through our philanthropic work.
Of course, I’m not doing this on my own and our new dynamic senior leadership team is key to achieving these aims.
Debi Ghate – VP of strategy and innovation – Debi worked with me at The Snider Foundation and the title fits her skills to a tee. She knows what it’s like to be on the grantmaking side. She’s the perfect person to be a resource and is leading the charge to re-envision our programs team and philanthropic services.
Christie Herrera – VP of policy and government affairs – came to us from The Foundation for Government Accountability. She is developing our policy research and strategy to secure wins at the state and federal level. If you know Christie, you know she gets results.
Brandon Millett – VP of Marketing and Communications – knows we can’t advance our mission without the stories that showcase why philanthropy is an indispensable part of the foundation of a free society. He has experience in film, television, and live events. We trust him with our story, and we hope that you’ll share yours with him as well.
Jessica Browning – VP of conferences and events – we brought on Jessica to elevate the Roundtable’s events and curate unique donor experiences. She’ll be the lead on the Roundtable’s Annual Meeting, policy events, and new convenings for our network that will help us bring our message to a wider audience.
Windle Jarvis – VP of development – is the ultimate connector. He will be the primary link between our donor network and our organization. He wants to know what you care about most and how the Roundtable can be your partner in achieving our mutual goals. He will get you plugged into our resources, events, programs, and other new initiatives.
Amanda Rossie – VP operations and finance – where would we be without her? Many of you know Amanda. She is a wealth of institutional knowledge. She not only keeps the trains running on time and the lights on, but her team is responsible for the infrastructure that is the backbone of this organization.
I encourage you to connect with our leadership team—they are eager to get to know you and support your philanthropic goals. After the event, we’ll share our strategic plan with you, including a survey so we can learn more about your needs, concerns, and the causes you care about. Your input is incredibly valuable to us, and we would love to hear from you.
As we look ahead to a new administration, Congress, and the issues that face the philanthropic community, our mission to protect donor freedom and leverage resources to advance liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility is more important than ever. We have ambitious goals—but working together and relying on each other – we can achieve so much in the months and years ahead.
Thank you for your generosity, commitment to our shared values, and the incredible work you do to strengthen our communities and society at large.
Read the Roundtable's full strategic plan here.