By Henry Berman, ASF
Since the earliest days of this country, people have sought—and found—places to share ideas and conversation. The first settlers would congregate on the town common to discuss the news of the day. As the great American West was explored, it was the evening campfire that provided the warmth for conversation. In the 20th century, many of us grew up in households where the dinner table was the place for daily reports and exchange of ideas. More recently, the development of the Internet and expansion of social media has allowed conversations to be shared further than ever before. Suddenly, geographic location, economic standing, political affiliation, or educational backgrounds are no longer barriers to conversation.
With the launching of PhilanthroFiles, ASF is providing you, our members, sponsors, friends, and readers, a town common, campfire, and a dinner table all in one. This is a space for all of us to actively participate in conversations. To share ideas. To listen and learn. To grow and develop. At its core, PhilanthroFiles reflects one of the great aspects of ASF: members sharing with members for the benefit of all.
One of our hopes is that PhilanthroFiles will be a catalyst for thinking and a welcoming place for sharing. Some posts will no doubt be controversial. Others will report successful grantmaking and foundation experiences that might benefit all. Still others will be stories that can inspire. We won’t always agree with one another, and that’s just fine. What is important is that we engage in a civil discourse that will help all of us to grow.
Here are just some of the issues we hope to explore:
- When and how has your leadership caused an impact on your giving?
- How might we encourage the next generation of philanthropic leaders?
- What is the role of philanthropy when government funding ceases to exist?
- Do we, as small-staffed foundations, push ourselves hard enough to demand and achieve excellence?
- How might evaluations of ourselves as individual leaders and foundations help us improve how we approach and work with grantees?
- How might a reduction in the charitable deduction affect foundations?
I want to thank ASF member Rick Leonhardt and the FHL Foundation of Albuquerque, NM, for providing the funding and encouragement for us to undertake this project. Rick exemplifies the best of giving by providing more than just funds. His advice, based on his own blog experience, has been truly valuable to the ASF staff, and we all owe him our thanks.
Just as early settlers around the campfire had to keep it going, we will be placing some logs on the fire—and stirring up the coals now and then—and we hope you will too. As this blog grows from toddler to adolescent to adult, I hope all of you will contribute. After all, ASF is your association, and this space is no different.
Welcome to the campfire. Welcome to PhilanthroFiles.
An ASF member since 2003, Henry Berman became ASF’s CEO in 2011, previously serving as acting CEO, board member, and committee member. Through his experience as a foundation co-trustee and a leader within ASF, he brings a firsthand understanding of the needs of ASF members to his role. He is committed to a dialogue with members and to facilitating rich learning opportunities and peer-to-peer exchanges.