This chapter explores the role individuals have played over the past 40 years in developing Michigan’s philanthropic culture and institutions. Particular attention is focused on the intentional involvement of foundation program officers and executives in lending their personal leadership, expertise, and positional power. The foundation executives worked to develop a collaborative culture and to create strong institutions that supported giving and serving. These foundation executives were skilled in implementing their dual roles as active, creative participants, and then returning to their classic role as grantmakers with fiduciary responsibilities for results.
Along with sharing their leadership skills, foundation executives were committed to seeking knowledge about a problem or possible solutions before embarking on a course of action. Whether through formal research, workshops and seminars, or through consultation with experts in the field, the Michigan projects were based on information and knowledge available at that time about the problem being considered.
Finally, the chapter describes how financial investments have resulted in the current Michigan network of projects and organizations that support the state’s philanthropy. Various financial tools such as challenge grants, tax policy, utilization of court-ordered fine money, and collaborative efficiencies are discussed.
It would be naïve to embark on an effort to improve and increase philanthropy, creating a collaborative culture across a large state and multiple institutions, without consideration of the need for resources. What has been learned in Michigan is that these resources include the talent and commitment of individuals, applied knowledge, and creative ways to fund the projects desired. This chapter explores the lessons learned regarding the garnering and utilization of resources.