Video: See leaders discuss human capital in philanthropy.[videocluster tag="human-capital"]
Video: See leaders discuss Russ Mawby’s and Dottie Johnson’s leadership styles.[videocluster tag="profiles-in-leadership"] A key to the success of CMF was the engagement of donors and foundation trustees as founders and board members. While foundation staff members frequently become representatives for their institutional interests, CMF was the institution of, and for, the donors and board members. In practical terms, this meant that decisions could be made at the CMF board meeting. A staff member did not need to go back to their board for approval or discussion. Because the board member or donor was engaged at CMF, they could return to their own foundation as an advocate for common action. Exposed to the same information at the CMF annual conferences, workshops, and seminars, this cross-fertilization of ideas and engagement of donors helped to build networks among donors and achieve consensus on common state agendas.
Video: See Dave Campbell discuss the value of a common exposure to ideas.[videocluster tag="common-ideas"] Across Michigan foundations, program officers engaged with communities, grantees, and project initiatives. With the authority and power of a grantmaker, they generated interest in a project simply by attending meetings. As content experts, they also participated in problem solving. They helped create initiatives. Because of their education, experience, broad view, and national links to leading research and thinking, they brought new ideas for consideration. For more information on how these leaders worked together, visit Chapter 1. Program officers (PO) demonstrated an ability to listen, to guide, and did not demand that their solution was the one to be implemented. At the table, the attitude was one of “let’s roll up our sleeves and solve this thing together.” A particular strength of the POs was the ability to discern qualities of leadership in local nonprofits and individuals that might come “packaged” in a variety of racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, cultural, and community “styles.” Michigan is a big and diverse state. POs had the maturity to look past regional and other differences, partly because they were out of their offices and directly involved in community action. A trust relationship was developed over time that tolerated honest failure and recast it as a learned lesson. Success was rewarded with another challenge or opportunity, and a partnership with a “can do” attitude was built.
Video: See leaders discuss the variety of leadership in Michigan philanthropy.[videocluster tag="diverse-leadership"] Michigan governmental leaders also offered a shoulder to the work of building a successful philanthropic sector. Individual legislators, their staff members, four consecutive Michigan governors (both Republican and Democratic), the attorneys’ general of the state (regulators), local municipality leaders, and even the spouses of the Michigan governors have actively used their institutional and personal power to encourage the sector. A particularly effective partnership was established for the passage of the Michigan Community Foundation Tax Credit for gifts to community foundations. The state of Michigan passed this groundbreaking legislation to encourage smaller donors to make endowment-building gifts to their local community foundations – which created a pool of local capital that would continue to work in communities over time. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation challenge grant for the Michigan Community Foundations’ Youth Project leveraged matched individual endowment gifts (unrestricted or field of interest) made by local donors. Several municipalities converted their civic funds to community foundations to take advantage of the Michigan Community Foundation Tax Credit and the challenge grant program. Local nonprofits established funds in their community foundation – to build institutional endowment, to take advantage of the tax credit for their organization, and to build the capacity of their community foundation. New local donors were drawn to endowment giving for their community, either for their favorite nonprofit or to build permanent community assets. This was the first known tax credit offered for donors to community foundations in the world. Institutional and foundation leaders in Michigan simply worked it out, took the risk, evaluated, and adjusted based on what was learned from the implementation. The passage of the Michigan Community Foundation Tax Credit brought together a combination of people, in positions of power at every level in the state, who worked together toward a common vision.
It should be noted that the Michigan Community Foundation Tax Credit was not “strategic” or “focused” or “targeted” on any one of the myriad of problems faced in Michigan. The purpose was the encouragement of charitable investments at the community level – permanently – at the discretion of the donor whether to be unrestricted/field of interest, or to be restricted to their own individual nonprofit organization. The purpose was to promote philanthropy itself.Another extraordinary partnership was forged with the funding of the ConnectMichigan Alliance (CMA) that built a $20 million endowment from a public (state of Michigan $10 million challenge grant), private ($10 million in foundation, corporation, and individual matching gifts) partnership. What is extraordinary is that the ConnectMichigan Alliance didn’t exist as an organization at the time. It was an idea for a joint venture proposed by the Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Michigan Community Service Commission. Both the government and the foundations believed in the vision of what CMA could do for the state of Michigan to encourage and support the volunteer sector. The most difficult charitable dollars to raise (a $20 million permanent endowment), acquired in a politically complicated way (a public/private partnership), was accomplished relatively quickly and successfully. A common and clear vision, active engagement, trust, and leadership at many institutions made the difference.
Video: See Dr. John Lore talk about raising funds for the ConnectMichigan Alliance.[videocluster tag="john-lore-cma"] Once established, the ConnectMichigan Alliance took over management of the Volunteer Centers of Michigan (championed by former Governors Romney and Engler) and Campus Compact. Thus the framework to support further infusion of human capital was created. Volunteers at the local level found a voice, home, and coordination of effort. The ConnectMichigan Alliance was merged into the Michigan Nonprofit Association in 2007.
Video: See leaders discuss the value of big vision and fearless leadership.[videocluster tag="be-fearless, big-vision"] It was not unusual (in fact, more common than not) for the career professionals in Michigan’s philanthropic infrastructure to have moved from one project and institution to another. With vetted credentials and histories of success, the foundations and senior leaders have had confidence in the skills of the person being hired to lead a vulnerable new venture. The career professional gains additional skills and personal capital through experience. They knew the history, the people, the relationships, the traps, and the politics. Like a patina, character and reputation is formed over time. The career professionals that have led the work appear in different places throughout Michigan’s philanthropic landscape. These professionals continue to engage in servant leadership behavior. While hired by boards, or supervised by busy senior leaders, or engaged with active advisory committees, the staff member has more information than anyone else in the endeavor. Yet, the board, supervisor, or advisor needs to make the final and informed policy decisions. Career professionals lead by providing recommendations and information – they discuss, inform, demonstrate, and give examples; they write briefings and create charts and graphs. They make sure the policy maker has all of the information needed – and a specific recommendation to consider – when a decision must be made.
Video: See leaders discuss the value of relationships and trust.[videocluster tag="relationships-and-trust"] The annual Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) Conference provides one place where the foundation community comes together at least once a year. The annual SuperConference, sponsored by the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and CMF, provides another major event that is attended by leaders of the state’s nonprofit organizations and foundations. There are numerous projects where the same core cluster of individuals and organizations are involved, certainly in differing configurations based on the project. It is not unusual to attend several meetings with the same basic group of people, with each meeting working on a different initiative. The four major infrastructure organizations (CMF, MNA, Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC), and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy (Johnson Center)) consciously pursue staff relationships, overlapping board service, and common project agendas in order to facilitate and nurture the bonds of relationships. Find out how all four of these organizations were built in Chapter 4.
Video: See leaders discuss the philanthropic network created by the four partner organizations.[videocluster tag="four-partners"] The four partners share knowledge regarding the work of each organization. They help shape each other’s vision/mission/program and provide full transparency of organizational business. These practices assist in managing any emergent conflict and create synergies between and among the organizations. Rather than a perception that each organization is individually the “center of the world,” there is an understanding that instead, each is a critical part of a larger and more complex philanthropic community. Each has a role to play. The health of each one is important to the other partners. While electronic communication has increased the use of video conferencing, conference calls, webinars, and other time-saving technologies, there is still a lot of face-to-face interaction that facilitates relationships. In the bonds of relationships, there comes a level of trust that supports individuals and institutions, making it possible to take on risks together. Common work toward a greater vision. Personal and institutional trust. Transparency. Distinctive roles. Frequent communication and interaction. The networked and linked community of people is an important ingredient of the Michigan experience.
Video: See leaders discuss wearing “multiple hats” in philanthropic leadership.[videocluster tag="multiple-hats"] When there is a common agenda and everyone is working toward the same goals... When there is transparency of information... When there are personal respect and trust relationships... When there is maturity and experience... When it doesn’t matter who gets the credit and everyone is oriented to service... THEN individuals can play a variety of roles within the overall complex and large statewide collaborative system. There are times when the network doesn’t work perfectly. Some people have difficulty adapting to the give and take that this working environment requires. Some people need to be seen as “the leaders” at all times and in all situations. Others find the role changes disorienting. For those folks, working in Michigan's charitable sector can be confusing and they can fail. The system also works because it isn’t a closed network. On a board of 24, for example, two or three people may be networked and have overlapping roles to one another and the organization… but the other 21 board members will be totally outside of this particular network of relationships. A funder may have a grant with one of the nonprofits and serve as an advisor… but there will be other foundation folks who are not funders who sit on the same advisory committee. In other words, there are natural checks and balances on behavior that assist the function of the network by being outside of the network.
Video: See leaders discuss the value of mentoring the next generation of philanthropic leaders.[videocluster tag="mentoring"]
Video: See leaders discuss the mission of the Michigan Community Foundations’ Youth Project.[videocluster tag="mcfyp-mission"] Over the past 40 years, these efforts have resulted in “home grown leadership” that understands and values the charitable sector. The Michigan Community Foundations’ Youth Project (MCFYP) has been replicated nationally and internationally. Learning to Give is underway in Japan, Korea, and Bulgaria. AmeriCorps and VISTA are nationally-led programs being implemented in Michigan. The Johnson Center is a member of the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council (NACC), representing the formal academic programs in nonprofit leadership and philanthropic studies in the nation. Philanthropy is a “people” business. Literally, by definition, it is about loving people. Michigan has benefited from having organizational leaders who used their positional power with humility, strength, and maturity. Everyone was brought into the decision process. Everyone received credit. A sense of “team” existed at all levels.
Video: See leaders discuss the balance between giving and the business model.[videocluster tag="business-model"] At the launch of Learning to Give, one high school classroom teacher gave an example of this problem. One of her students had gone to the high school guidance counselor for career and college advice. The counselor asked the student what he wanted to do in his life. The student replied that he was called to be a protestant minister. The high school counselor replied, too quickly and thoughtlessly, “There’s no money in that.” Who participates in the charitable field... What experiences and mental models they bring to their work... Their natural skills, academic backgrounds, and understanding of the philanthropic field... ALL make a huge difference in the character of the third sector for future generations. It’s all about the people.