NCG Member John Esterle, Executive Director of The Whitman Institute, recently co-authored an article entitled From the Kid’s Table to the Adults’ Table: Taking Relationships Seriously in a World of Networks that was published in The Whitman Institute’s summer 2013 newsletter. The article was co-authored from John’s perspective as a funder, Malka Kopell’s perspective as a practitioner and expert in the field of civic engagement and collaboration and Palma Strand’s perspective as an academic and law professor. It highlights the importance that social networks play in addressing issues of public concern.
The article was written as a call to action to move relationships to the foreground of our vision for social change, whether or not we are a funder, practitioner or academic. It notes that “our work is totally interdependent.”
The following is excerpt from the article and expresses why the writers were compelled to issue a challenge to its readers:
It’s hardly news to say that personal relationships built on trust, respect, and empathy are an important factor in creating resilient, adaptive, and innovative organizations and communities. Indeed, people working in a range of contexts and settings often say that personal relationships are foundational to their work. Why is it then that when it comes to writing grant proposals and measuring impact, relationships—and the processes involved in building them—too often recede into the background?
The need to start prominently raising this question is what moved the three of us to write this article. Our operating assumption is that taking networks seriously means that we all—especially funders—must take relationships seriously. Devoting adequate resources to building and sustaining authentic relationships is key to greater progress on a wide variety of fronts.
NCG congratulates John and his colleagues for reminding us of the importance of investing in relationships, which are a crucial part of philanthropy. To learn more about how other funders are investing in relationship read the article online.
About The Whitman Institute
The Whitman Institute, a private foundation based in San Francisco, purposefully invests in building sustainable relationships for social change. Its mission is “to invest in the power of relationships, constructive dialogue and the connections they generate to trigger problem solving and creative approaches required to achieve our vision” of a healthy, peaceful, equitable and sustainable world.