Vision & Voices: Forty Years of Doing Better

Vision & Voices is a series exploring various perspectives on trending and perennial topics in the social sector. Part of Foundation Center Midwest's 40th anniversary celebration, this series highlights the insights and experiences of a range of community leaders with one common purpose: doing good better. 

The rap mogul, entrepreneur and philanthropist Jay-Z coined the phrase “forty is the new twenty.” As enticing as it is to roll back the years, blink away stress lines and dismiss the emerging gray hairs, or as I like to call them – wisdom threads; fully owning forty years of learning, failing forward, growing and doing good better is something to celebrate and tout.

Forty is looking pretty good on us! Donor support over the past four decades has enabled us to establish ourselves as the premier Midwest resource for comprehensive data, training and insights on the social sector.We have helped thousands of non-profit professionals, grant seekers and the philanthropic organizations that fund them meet community need, strengthen the social sector, and be a catalyst for social change.

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary, Foundation Center Midwest is hosting a series of special events and activities designed to both spread the news of how Foundation Center Midwest has been “doing good better” for the past 40 years and provide unique learning, networking and skill-building opportunities for local and regional nonprofits to aide them in “doing good better”, in their communities. To learn more, please visit http://foundationcenter.org/cleveland40

This blog post is one of a series, Visions & Voices that Foundation Center Midwest will share with you, the grantseeker, grantmaker, leader, social entrepreneur and general do gooder who seeks to improve lives, neighborhoods, communities and the world. It is our hope that the stories we share will inspire, inform and link you to the tools and resources you need to help the social sector thrive.

Foundation Center was created in 1956, in the midst of the McCarthy era hearings which were investigating foundations for alleged support of un-American activities. The impetus of our founding – transparency was a means to combat suspicion and innuendo about philanthropy with public information; a purpose we have been fulfilling ever since.

Since the time of our founding, information, ideas, innovation and insights provided by Foundation Center have been fueling the knowledge base on philanthropy and supporting the capacity of the social sector.  There have been significant milestones in philanthropy and for Foundation Center over these past forty years. I’ve highlighted a few in this brief timeline https://infograph.venngage.com/p/375778/milestones-in-philanthropy .

As I reflect on the impact we’ve had and the challenges and opportunities ahead of us, I am encouraged by the tremendous passion that exudes from the social sector for our communities, clients and causes. I’m in awe of the growing pipeline of talent – future leaders, innovators, disruptors and problem-solvers. I am heartened by the collaborative spirit that still prevails and cautiously optimistic that philanthropy as a field is committed to learn consistently, incorporate technology, take more risks, embrace new ideas, challenge the status quo, leverage policy and advocacy more readily as tools for system change and elevate diversity equity and inclusion throughout its grantmaking and internal practices.

Doing good better over the next forty years requires a strong social sector. Organizations that are sustainable, nimble, diverse and inclusive; strong organizations that recognize and invest in talent. We need connected organizations that understand their clients and communities’ through data, proximity and empathy. Our social sector needs organizations with strong infrastructure across boards and executive leadership. Organizations that embrace technology and can innovate. A community of organizations that value collaboration can stretch the boundaries and push back against the misconceptions of nonprofits.

I am excited for all the possibilities ahead of us.

Foundation Center has had the privilege of being a consistent resource, influencer and promoter of philanthropy. We are honored to work with so many extraordinary individuals, organizations and partners. We thank you for the tremendous work that you do to improve our world. We are thrilled to continue to impact the social sector and share stories of impact, inspiration and insight.  We invite you to call upon Foundation Center to get the training, insights on philanthropy, and access to quality knowledge tools you need to meet your missions and make our world a better place.

TTT
Teleange′ Thomas, Director of Foundation Center Midwest, provides leadership for deepening the organization’s impact in thirteen Midwestern states.
Teleange' has 14-plus years of professional experience in the fields of healthcare, public health, human services, and philanthropy. Prior to joining Foundation Center, she served for seven years as a program director with the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, overseeing strategies to reduce health disparities among vulnerable populations through strategic grantmaking, systems and policy change.