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The National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) activates and connects a diverse and engaged community of philanthropic families and partners and seeks to foster unique opportunities for learning and inspiration. A hallmark of our work and area for growth in our future is our Peer Networks. Peer Networks are peer-led groups for a specific role of person or around a specific topic and have developed from deep strategic work and community initiative. Among our current Peer Networks are: Board Chair, Engaging Youth, Non-family Staff, and Strategic Lifespan. Each group meets several times a year in a trusted space to engage in shared learning.
What sets our Peer Networks apart from other programming? The people! Each Network has thoughtful co-chairs who bring their enthusiasm and expertise, as well as their perspectives from the field to the conversations. As one new co-chair shared, he knows that to create this meaningful space, he has to be prepared to share deeply and build a virtual community. We hope that participation in these Networks will spark collaboration and connections.
The co-chairs for each Peer Network have shared their excitement for the future of each Network.
I have longed for a network of my peers for some time, and am thrilled NCFP is making it a reality. I envision the network as fertile ground for board chairs to both learn from and lean on one another.
This new network gives us a real opportunity to collectively own that work, for both good and bad. We can share in our challenges and our success, in our hardest moments and in our greatest achievements. And ultimately, as the sharing of ideas and stories take root, we will find that the work isn’t as impossible as it seems, so long as we do it together.
This year I’m excited that our youth board will have an opportunity to engage more at NCFP. It’s helping NCFP craft opportunities like this that drew me to co-chairing the Peer Network. I look forward to continuing to learn from my peers and expanding the network.
Based on the evergreen issue of intergenerational leadership development and transitions within family foundations, I knew a peer cohort sharing their challenges, innovations and experiences would be incredibly supportive to enhancing foundation engagement approaches. What has been even more amazing is the generosity of spirit and honesty everyone brings to the Engaging Youth Peer Network—there is a deep desire to attune to next-gen needs and deepen philanthropic impact.
As a new co-chair of this Peer Network, I’m excited to continue sharing my own experiences and lessons that may help others looking to engage youth. I’m looking forward to even more open conversations and as the network grows and expands.
I’m excited about our 2021 program offerings for Non-Family CEOs because the topics we will explore are timely and innovative. This network is important not only for our professional development, but for the field of philanthropy because we have a chance to test out new ideas for grantmaking on these peer calls. The learning is and sharing that takes place in this network is powerful!
Non-family CEOs of family foundations can benefit a great deal from interacting with a supportive community of peers across the nation. I have learned volumes from my colleagues around the country on our periodic calls. Whether the topics concern programs, operations, or the values that animate our foundations’ work, there is great richness to be found in this network.
As our field and world evolve around us, and we hold so much in terms of internal and external work, this network has provided strong coaching, peer support, and a place to work through issues productively with others who understand the unique nature of our roles. During network calls, I often identify someone to reach out to afterwards, to continue thought partnership and problem solving.
Philanthropy is undergoing big changes as a result of the pandemics of COVID-19, racism, and the climate crisis. In this context, spending out foundation endowments is an essential element of challenging the field to step up to the opportunity for shifting power and wider social transformation. The Peer Network is a perfect place in which to hold these conversations and build momentum within the field for change. I am excited to work within the Network and support members to navigate this moment with purpose and possibility.
Rarely do families think strategically about the lifespan of their foundations, so being a part of a Strategic Lifespan Peer Network is inspiring. It takes vision, courage, determination, and a willingness to challenge the assumptions of our sector to make a commitment to spend down one’s foundation. The Strategic Lifespan Peer Network does all of these things in every meeting and every engagement!
Are you interested in learning more? Do you have a question for your peers? We can share questions via email or even create space for a custom dialogue. Reach out to our team.
Katie Scott is a Program Director at NCFP