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August 1, 2016 / Rebekah Seder, Editor

The New Philanthropic Village

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

“It takes a village to raise a child” is a popular and often used phrase. Apparently that village isn’t only needed for children. It takes a village to support philanthropy.

Media Impact Funders. Grantmakers for Education. Funders Together to End Homelessness. Exponent Philanthropy. ABFE. Asset Funders Network. And the list goes on and on. There is a rich and varied ecosystem of what are called “philanthropic support organizations,” or PSOs, a myriad of groups that are issue-, type-, strategy-, or identity-focused, all designed to enhance the ability of foundations to more effectively and efficiently support community needs.

While I call them an ecosystem, until recently they had simply been a proliferation of multiple support entities without coordination. Not any more.

Last month, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers (the Forum), announced a new vision to expand its scope beyond regional associations like WRAG. Dave Biemesderfer, president of the Forum, announced that the Forum will be “The Place Where Philanthropy Comes Together.” How this aligning of regional and national groups will work isn’t quite clear, yet. But, what is clear is that the Forum has taken the critical first step of welcoming all PSOs under its umbrella. With the guidance of an impressive Vision Design Group to coordinate, this newly interwoven philanthropic sector will be better positioned to share resources, test new models, provide data on the sector, and promptly support the sector’s needs.

“Timely and overdue,” “Amen,” “We can’t do business as usual,” and “It’s time to stop floating in our own orbits” were repeatedly heard following the July announcement at the Forum’s annual conference. This is a new day for the philanthropic sector. I’m excited that WRAG is a member of the Forum and look forward to the heightened benefits of our membership to the WRAG community, our region, and the country.

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