Lessons from Talent Philanthropy Project
By Monisha Kapila, Founder and CEO, ProInspire
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a gathering of the Advisory Council for the Talent Philanthropy Project (talentphilanthropy.org), a new initiative that was launched in 2014 by Rusty Stahl, who was previously founding Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP). Talent Philanthropy Project works to enhance nonprofit impact and sustainability by increasing funder investment in grantees’ people, also knows as #fundthepeople. You can read more about “talent philanthropy” in this article from Foundation Review.
I have known Rusty for many years and am excited about the work his team is doing to engage foundations and nonprofits on the importance of investing in talent. This mission directly connects to the work and values of ProInspire, so I am happy we can be an ally in the movement.
Some of my key lessons from the Talent Philanthropy Project convening are:
1. Get everyone in the same room
When Rusty and Russ Finkelstein (Senior Advisor to Talent Philanthropy Project) asked me to be on the Advisory Council, I imagined a group of 20 people, similar to the advisory councils that ProInspire has. But Talent Philanthropy recognized that there are a number of organizations involved with this issue, across sectors and focus areas. The Advisory Council includes ~70 people cutting across foundations, nonprofits, universities, leadership development programs, and consultants. By getting everyone in the same room, we were able to identify areas of common interest to support the movement.
I particularly appreciated engaging with a number of ProInspire’s stakeholders in the group, including Pratichi Shah (Flourish Talent Management Solutions, ProInspire Board member), Christine Wang (Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, ProInspire alum), Richard Brown (American Express, ProInspire funder), Ashley Stewart (Annie E. Casey Foundation, ProInspire funder), Trish Tchume (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, ProInspire M4S Advisory Council), and more!
2. Build on work that is being done
The conversations around investing in nonprofit talent have been going on for years. Since ProInspire started in 2009, I have been involved with the Nonprofit Workforce Coalition, White House Forum on Nonprofit Leadership, Initiative for Nonprofit Talent and Leadership, the National Human Services Assembly’s HR Council, and other initiatives focused on this issue. Rusty and Russ have also been in these spaces over the years. Instead of starting from scratch, Talent Philanthropy Project is building on work that has been done and continues to be done, while working to offer a unique contribution. The Advisory Council includes people I know from all those various initiatives, and engages organizations across invisible boundaries that are common in the sector (for example, nonprofit leaders and academics are not commonly in the same initiatives).
3. Set an ambitious goal and prepare for the “long game”
Shifting behaviors and practices for an entire sector is not something that can be done quickly. Like a collective impact initiative, getting agreement on the goal can be a big challenge. The Talent Philanthropy team was very open to input and ideas around what the goal should be, and directions the campaign can take. There may not be one goal that everyone agrees with, but having the discussion helps get ideas on the table and aligns different stakeholders.
I look forward to supporting Talent Philanthropy Project in setting an ambitious goal, and building momentum to influence the sector to increase investment in nonprofit talent.