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How do we unleash cross-silo, connected philanthropy?

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SVP’s assets and today’s world scream out for a new SVP that can be a catalyst like no other philanthropic organization in the world.  At tonight’s Spring Meeting, we reflected on where we are today, and how SVP can be a leader in the decade ahead.  (Feel free to listen to Paul’s talk on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2.)

Our Unique Assets

  • The only worldwide, network of philanthropists (connected together via SVPI)
  • World class philanthropy development
  • On-the-ground, capacity-building and relationships with local nonprofits – a unique point of view
  • Partners’ degree of engagement and trust

The World in 2010

  • Explosion of social media and Web 2.0
  • Maturation of corporate social responsibility
  • Professionals looking for greater purpose in their work
  • Merging and blurring of sectors: for-profits, non-profits and government
  • Degree of social challenges and knowledge to solve them

Philanthropists have, for decades, gone deep with non-profits, but seen sporadic, inconsistent impact. In response, increasingly non-profits are asked to be clearer about outcomes, collaborate more, and find ways to get to scale. The knowledge about how to solve the world’s problems exists, but problems naggingly, systemically continue. Why the disconnect? The fault here is more with the philanthropic than the non-profit players in the social sector.

It’s not a stretch to say we collectively possess enough human, intellectual, and financial capital to solve our world’s problems.  In recent years, some of the greatest breakthroughs have been when players cut across long-standing silos and focus more on the connections between and across those on the front lines, instead of funding one-by-one.  Two quick examples –

  • The World Health Organization’s massive, multi-national, collaborative response to SARS epidemic, harnessing real time data sharing, which contained the epidemic within four months; and
  • Mike Milken’s Prostate Cancer Foundation focuses on connecting existing knowledge and leaders, and we see the rate of prostate cancer declining in the last few years.

What’s happened in these cases? No one person has the solution, but collectively they do.

Why hasn’t more been asked of the philanthropic players – the resource providers – pressuring them to do the same kind of cross-silo, connected philanthropy? Wouldn’t the combined effect be exponential, not arithmetic, if all parts of the system worked multi-layered and “connectedly” too?

How can we make this happen?

Please share your reactions, comments, ideas…

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