Funders Connect at Philanthropy Northwest Conference

Pride Foundation's former and current Executive Director Audrey and Kris
Pride Foundation’s former and current Executive Director Audrey and Kris

It’s not every day that Pride Foundation’s regional staff gets the opportunity to connect in person, let alone with other regional funders, which made the recent Philanthropy Northwest 2012 Annual Conference a particular joy.

Held in Walla Walla, Washington in early October, the conference gathered funding organizations largely from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Alaska to take part in this year’s theme: Taking Root: Community Centered Philanthropy. Executive Director Kris Hermanns joined Caitlin Copple, regional development organizer in Montana, and myself as Pride Foundation’s representatives at the conference, attended by more than 200 people. Caitlin helped Philanthropy Northwest live-blog about many of the conference’s sessions here.

This was my first time attending this gathering, which offered participants a welcome chance to build relationships, learn from each other’s successes, and absorb the collective knowledge of Philanthropy Northwest’s membership.

Session offerings included “Ambiguities & Uncertainties,” where we worked in smaller groups and shared issues in our communities that can no longer be ignored, “Community Capacity: What Actually Happens on The Ground?,” “Measuring What Matters for Lasting and Scalable Change,” and “Divided We Fall: Moving from Silos to the Commons,” where participants learned how philanthropy can have a positive role in helping communities adapt by empowering individuals, organizations, and networks to become more agile, adaptive, and inclusive.

We were shown firsthand examples of that community empowerment during an offsite session led by the conference’s keynote speaker, Milenko Matanovic of the Pomegranate Center, which works to rebuild neighborhoods through collective creativity, meaningful engagement and powerful collaboration. The Pomegranate Center helped rejuvenate and build two Walla Walla parks, which Matanovic took us to, explaining how a combination of instilling neighborhood ownership and investing funds in a meaningful community project can lead to success, something Pride Foundation endeavors to do every day in its regional outreach work.

Steve Martin is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Idaho. Email Steve.

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