A letter from Chief Executive Officer Diana Spencer
As we continue to strive for excellence in our work, I am proud to say that we are nearing completion of an 18-month strategic planning process, details of which I will be revealing in the coming weeks. This process has been an incredible journey of self-reflection and growth, and I am confident that the plan we have developed will help build on our successes and allow us to reach our goals.
The strategic plan will provide a roadmap for the Fund so we can continue our work as a leader and partner in the philanthropic sector; it will also ensure that we remain mindful of our limited resources. Our core values of collaboration, innovation, and impact will remain at the forefront of what we do as we explore new ways to leverage our resources to create meaningful change. We also hope to increase our engagement with grantees and other stakeholders.
Recently, the board expressed a desire to be more proactive and transparent in our grant making, as well as to be more strategic in our approach to ensure that our grantees are well informed and better supported. They want us to be more intentional and to focus on areas of impact that are aligned with our mission and values, all while continuing to support other community needs.
During this time of determining strategy, I have also gained additional insight that I believe will help us address philanthropy through a different lens.
According to Merriam-Webster, the Greek root of the word philanthropy can be literally translated as “loving people.” The English word can refer to a general goodwill towards one’s fellow people, as well as the active effort to promote the welfare of people. In modern use, it is most often used to refer specifically to the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for others.
The reason our trustee volunteers invest their precious vacation time to attend meetings, review applications, conduct site visits, and engage in community meetings is clear. Our people are deeply committed to the cause, driven by a deep caring and concern—dare I say “love”—for the communities and people struggling within the five grant making regions we serve.
This fresh perspective has made me wonder if we spend sufficient time on why we work hard to challenge societal matters. Would our work change if we included more language of care in our meetings? Should we speak more to the love, the tending, and nurturing that goes hand in hand with support? Should we discuss the passion and the dedication of our grantees? And could outcomes be improved if we focused more on the care, on caring? Are these not ultimately matters of the heart as well? I would argue that people, organizations, and collaboratives aligned by a shared mission of caring for people have an awesome power, a power greater than one reached only through programmatic structure, data, metrics, and evaluation. We are seeing this again and again in NEPA RISE, our comprehensive workforce development program. In addition to focusing on the outcomes delivered by our nonprofit partners, the Fund can—and should—inject care and compassion into everything we do.
The board of directors and I are excited to soon share the results of our strategic planning process and look forward to continuing to work together with open hearts to make a positive impact in the communities we serve and love.
Chief Executive Officer