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2019 A Look Ahead – From Building to Relevant Action

Monday, January 14, 2019

By Sidney Hargro

Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a peaceful and fun holiday with friends and family.  I took time off to “reintroduce” a little balance to my personal and professional life.  By “reintroduce” I mean increase my commitment to practices that I allowed to fall away during the second half of 2018 – namely meditation, physical fitness, and reading with the purpose of expanding my own thinking.

For meditation, I finally got to try the Headspace meditation app. Many had recommended it in recent years, but I couldn’t understand how a digital app and meditation could go together as it seems a bit oxymoronic.  To my surprise, it’s actually a very useful tool for learning, practicing, and being in meditation for three, five, or ten minutes a day.  For fitness it was all about reclaiming physical activity as a positive habit in my daily routine.  So far so good (but check with me in a month and see how it’s going). For reading, I explored New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas’, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.”  Since the philanthropy sector and a few colleagues that I’ve known over the years are mentioned in the book, it was an obvious choice.  After hearing about it for the last few months it was good to finally dive in. It will take some time to process it but it’s certainly a worthwhile read to challenge thinking about philanthropy and the effectiveness of market-based solutions in “changing the world.”

So, this brings me to 2019. I want to begin by thanking you for your continued support and membership in Philanthropy Network. I can’t describe the feeling of absolute excitement and yet anxiety I have regarding our work this year.  The two feelings at the moment are playing well together in a healthy relationship which will benefit us as we continue to evolve our work.     

This time last year, we set out to celebrate our 30th Anniversary by aligning our work around the 2020 Vision Strategy. We dubbed 2018 a “build year,” understanding that we would try several new ways of working and use the yearend results as a baseline against which we would measure our effectiveness going forward. We sought to use the “build year” to better engage and support members, amplify the voice of philanthropy, and address the key issues and opportunities facing the greater Philadelphia region.

This year we are embarking on a few key projects that will help Philanthropy Network members to lean in to the leadership themes we introduced last year, namely policy, equity, and social innovation. I realize these are critical (but not easy) themes to integrate into our work.  These projects will include:

  • POLICY: In the last year of this decade, there is arguably no greater issue affecting our state and every grantmaking and social investment priority than the 2020 Census. We are working with partners at the national and state level to keep members apprised of key developments and engagement opportunities, and convening a member-led working group to explore regional strategies to support complete count efforts. To learn more please contact Amy Seasholtz.
  • SOCIAL INNOVATION: In 2018, interest in peer-to-peer gatherings and support to explore mission-aligned impact investing increased significantly.This year, we will continue to convene a learning community. To learn more please contact Shira Hodges.
  • EQUITY: After a year of planning and resource development, we are working on two projects to advance equity in the Network.  First, Equal Measure has been commissioned to complete a Field Impact and Equity Scan, which will help us construct an aggregate profile of how and to what degree issues of equity are being addressed in the field.It will also provide and update on the state of the field broadly.Next, we are in final stages of developing a 12-month Equity Cohort, a trust-based community of practice for foundations who are ready to deepen their commitment to equity but need ongoing support to get started. The cohort will offer:
    • A confidential organizational assessment that will cover all dimensions of philanthropic practice;
    • Up to four face-to-face meetings that will offer learning and peer-to-peer support; and
    • On-site support for individual cohort members.We understand that not all participating foundations are at the same place on their journey, so this support will allow for a customized experience.

Additional details will be announced in the first quarter.  In the meantime, we will be holding informational meetings for foundations interested in participating in the cohort.  To learn more please contact me at

If you have suggestions or questions on any of the items covered here please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  It’s an honor to be on this journey with you.

    Sidney R. Hargro
    Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia


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