Over the past 40 years, Michigan’s philanthropic leaders have developed an integrated framework to support the nonprofit sector across both a statewide geography, and over time. How was such a dynamic powerhouse of philanthropic giving, volunteer human capital, and nonprofit management training created? Can the lessons be replicated?
The answers are found in the behaviors and qualities of remarkable community and institutional leaders. These are people with extraordinary vision and unending resourcefulness. They are men and women who continue to inspire and organize the benevolent impulse of a large state—from the small, rural hamlet to the complex city of Detroit. The specifics of how these leaders work—and the good that they accomplish—offer important lessons, not only for the future of Michigan, but also for others who wish to improve/increase philanthropy in their own part of the world. Through their efforts, large-scale, permanent, and systemic change has occurred. These lessons had never been captured, preserved, analyzed, or shared—until now.
Our State of Generosity (OSoG) is a partnership of four institutions—the Council of Michigan Foundations; the Michigan Nonprofit Association; the Michigan Community Service Commission; and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy—that collectively form the backbone of the state’s philanthropic, voluntary, and nonprofit infrastructure. Each of these four partners has invested financial and human resources in the start-up and ongoing operation of the OSoG project. OSoG’s mission is to capture, preserve, analyze, and share the developments, achievements, and experiences that, over a period of 40 years, made Michigan a State of Generosity.
The essential elements of the OSoG project include:
To view a historical overview of Our State of Generosity, click here: OSoG Timeline
Dr. Kathy Agard is the primary author for Our State of Generosity. She is part of the core administrative team for the project, assists with fund-raising, handles partner organization relationships, interviews key informants, and is writing the analysis organized as Chapters. Dr. Agard is a published author and editor in philanthropy. She recently retired from her role as executive director for the Johnson Center for Philanthropy and was a former faculty member in the School for Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). Prior to her service at GVSU, she spent a decade as founder and leader of the K-12 philanthropy education project Learning to Give, and over 30 years in a variety of nonprofit and association leadership positions.
Dr. Joel J. Orosz is the managing editor for Our State of Generosity. He is part of the core administrative team for the project, chairs the advisory committee, assists with fund-raising, and is the final editor and arbiter on content. Dr. Orosz is a published historian and the only Distinguished Professor of Philanthropic Studies Emeritus at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). Prior to his leadership at GVSU, he was the director for the Philanthropy and Volunteerism programming area at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In that role, he provided funding for state and national projects that resulted in long-term, significant growth in the philanthropic sector.
Robin Leonard is the project coordinator for Our State of Generosity. She manages the day-to-day operations of the project, supervises the fellows, coordinates the work of the consultants, as well as providing direction and leadership for creation of the web-based platform. She served several years in an executive administrative capacity at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). Prior to GVSU she held various positions at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, including eight years of service in the Philanthropy and Volunteerism programming area.
Kallie Bauer was the technology coordinator for Our State of Generosity. She acts as the liaison between the Our State of Generosity core team and Grand Valley State University’s Library and Archives. Her primary duties include organizing, managing, and creating metadata for the historical documents. Bauer is also responsible for coordinating website development projects and providing support on other information technology-related tasks at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy.
Connor McLaughlin was the student assistant for Our State of Generosity. In addition to providing assistance with the day-to-day operations, he conducted research, copy edits, and is the author of many of the leader profiles. Connor has also assisted in processing historical documents for the partner organizations.
Nicole Fisher was the project assistant for Our State of Generosity. Her work was focused on editing video interviews, copy-editing, and ensuring content was ready for the web-based platform. Now that her work with OSoG is complete, she plans to attend graduate school for Rhetoric and Composition and teach writing at the post-secondary level.
The first Agard and Orosz Fellows in Philanthropy were recruited and appointed in the fall of 2012. The fellows are supported by permanent endowment funds established by the friends of Dr. Joel J. Orosz and Dr. Kathy Agard upon their retirement from Grand Valley State University. The fellows can be undergraduate or graduate students with both experience and interest in philanthropy and nonprofit careers. More information related to the Joel J. Orosz Fellowships in Philanthropy and the Kathy Agard Fellowships in Community Philanthropy can be found here.
Since 2012, the fellows have worked as a team on a number of tasks, such as drafting the philanthropy profiles, conducting research and fact-checking all of Our State of Generosity’s written work, drafting summaries of major Michigan philanthropic projects, and preparing all materials for the web-based platform. Without the hard work, dedication, and exceptional skills of our fellows, this project would not have been possible.
Our videos feature the songs “Led by the dress colored in red” by Augustus Bro & Gallery Six, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license, and “Illuminations (radio edit)” by Lee Rosevere, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.
Our State of Generosity, powered by the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.