2009 Aspen Philanthropy Group Annual Meeting
Tuesday, July 28 – Sources of Social Change
6:00-7:00 PM Welcome reception and orientation to agenda
7:00 – 9:30 PM Dinner, introductions and group discussion
Moderator: Joel Fleishman
How does social change occur? Absent organized philanthropy, social change would still occur. What are its elements beyond a good idea, a sound strategy and effective leaders? And how can philanthropy best contribute to or accelerate the process?
Best ideas: Foundation presidents bring one “best idea” that s/he has studied, funded, implemented or admired from afar. What conditions needed to be in place in order for this idea or innovation to contribute to social change?
Open Case Study: Alternatively, foundation leaders may wish to bring one “open case study,” an idea with potential that the group can help to work through.
Wednesday, July 29
8:45 – 9:30 AM Defining Philanthropy’s Role
Philanthropy is often described as the source of risk capital to seed new ideas and demonstrate innovative approaches to problem solving. Beyond financing, philanthropy contributes knowledge, strategies, networks and an independent voice. Participants will be asked to define philanthropy’s role. And, throughout the day, the group will consider whether organized philanthropy does a good job at telling its story – if not, how might it do so.
9:30 – 11:00 AM Toward a More Rational Philanthropic Market:
Access to Timely Information
Timely and accessible data on issues, strategies and programmatic impact are key elements of a more rational philanthropic marketplace. Furthermore, information on giving trends can help us identify gaps, overlaps and opportunities for collaboration. After an overview by Paul Brest, APG members will discuss the work that has been done by grantors and grantees to develop and share logic models, tested strategies and measures of success. Among our tasks will be to explore whether consensus on theories of change and metrics has been built – or is within reach.
11:00 – 11:30 AM Break
11:30 – 12:45 PM Toward a More Rational Philanthropic Market:
Accountability and Autonomy
Philanthropy’s independence from the snap judgments of commercial markets and electoral politics gives it a unique ability to take risks, withstand criticism and make long-term investments in the public interest. In an era of transparency, to whom is philanthropy accountable and for what? And does it do all it can to make known its role and its relevance? After brief remarks by Joel Fleishman, and a response from Adam Meyerson, the group will discuss the values of transparency, accountability and autonomy.
1:00 – 2:00 PM Lunch
During lunch, Brad Smith will demonstrate The Foundation Center’s new tool, Philanthropy In/Sight, which draws on the Center’s database to map the locations of thousands of foundations and their grantees.
2:15 – 4:00 PM Leverage, Collaboration and Going to Scale:
Philanthropy and the Private Sector
The private sector has R&D capacity, technology prowess, business discipline and strategy, all of which can be applied to solving public problems and advancing social change. How are private sector tools and techniques being applied by foundations, individual philanthropists and those they support? And how do these actors leverage markets to achieve their social goals? Megan Smith will lead a conversation on leveraging technology and investments. Dina Habib Powell will offer an example of building a business case for social change. And Judith Rodin will speak about the Rockefeller Foundation’s innovation process and the Global Impact Investing Network. The full group will explore the possibilities of each approach in greater depth, offering their own case studies.
4:00 – 4:30 PM Summing up
4:30-5:45 PM Break
6:00 -8:00 PM Aspen Concert Orchestra
(Benedict Music Tent, Aspen Meadows)
MARTINU: The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca, H. 352
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, op. 37
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, op. 64
Kirill Karabits, conductor
John O’Conor, piano
8:00 PM and later Dinner on your own
Thursday, July 30
7:30 – 8:45 AM Breakfast and breakouts:
What are the “open case studies” from among the group?
Participants split into three groups to identify any projects underway or in the pipeline of their organizations that they would like to offer up to the group for brainstorming, problem-solving — or potential collaboration.
8:45-9:00 AM Break
9:00 – 10:30 AM Leverage, Collaboration and Going to Scale:
Philanthropy and the Public Sector
The public sector has an unmatched ability to invest in and set the agenda for social change, and foundations have long relied on governments to bring to scale the solutions they test. Philanthropists see an opportunity with the establishment of such funds as the Race to the Top and the Social Innovation Fund. Michele Jolin will speak from the perspective of the White House Office on Social Innovation and Zoe Baird and fellow APG members will discuss the range of opportunities and experiences in leveraging (and being leveraged by) the public sector. How best can philanthropy and government complement and leverage one another – while each maintains its distinct role?
10:30 – 11:00 AM Break
11:00 – 12:30 PM Leverage, Collaboration and Going to Scale:
Likeminded foundations have often collaborated in their support of grantees and a shared strategy. In recent years some have made “big bets” on such initiatives as Living Cities and ClimateWorks, and Carol Larson will speak to the latter. Stephen DeBerry will discuss how other foundations have leveraged their endowments through mission investing. Finally, foundations have reached out to “new philanthropists” to share knowledge and co-funding opportunities. Some have financed donor education programs so as to inform and engage emerging philanthropists. In each of these instances, are we maximizing the opportunity for leverage and impact? And, do we continue to value outliers who march to their own drummer?
12:45 – 1:45 PM Lunch
1:45 PM Another Form of Scale: Building Community
While we have focused on taking projects, methods and institutions to scale, supporting many smaller nonprofits so as to sustain a robust civil sector is also among philanthropy’s goals. Community foundations have a special role to play in this regard, but are not alone. What would civil society look like were all foundations to seek the efficiency and impact of larger grants to fewer grantees pursuing more focused objectives? Albert Ruesga will launch this lunchtime conversation.
2:30 – 4:30 PM Identification of issues for follow-on Workshops and Leadership
Development Initiatives, a full group discussion.
4:30 – 5:00 PM Summing up
5:00 – 6:30 PM Break
7:00-9:30 PM Group Dinner—Briefing by Stephen Heintz
Over dinner, Stephen Heintz will provide a briefing on the Independent Sector Strategy retreat that will have ended earlier in the day.
Friday, July 31: Setting an Agenda
8:00 AM Bus to Rim Trail – wear hat & hiking boots, walking shoes or sneakers; bottled water will be provided
8:30 – 10:30 AM “Open Air” Discussion of Next Steps & APG 2010
11:00 – Noon Pack and Check out
Noon – 2:00 PM Lunch and departure