Monday, March 17, 2014
The poet John Donne said that “no man is an island,” but is “a piece of the continent” that is mankind. Lately, here at NCG you’ll often hear the phrase “no issue is an island” said with the same intent to underline the connections in our work. While individual grantmakers may focus on specific issues in order to strengthen their work, the fact remains that societal issues are interconnected by the very fabric of society–the people whose lives are not lived in silos but in the real world where multiple factors often overlap to create a complex and multifaceted social dynamic.
Recognizing that the people and communities we serve are facing a number of related and self-reinforcing challenges creates an opportunity for grantmakers. It is an opportunity to bring the depth of our knowledge and experience on specific issues and join together with others in a broader arena to tackle our most pressing social problems.
The secret to succeeding in collaborative efforts is not that we all do the same thing, but that we each bring our own unique skills and expertise to bear in a way that complements the work of others. Our 2014 Annual Conference is just the first example of how we will be working differently to implement this strategy–identifying how grantmakers can work together to develop sustainable, holistic approaches to tackle societal problems that cut across issue categories and geographies.
Income inequality is a perfect example of a social challenge that must be met through a collaborative and comprehensive framework. NCG’s Annual Conference will feature the varied work of grantmakers who are all addressing some facet of income inequality. From a foundation finding a way to help arts organizations deal with the rising cost of rent; to a network of funders exploring how the tax code lacks incentives for low-income individuals to save earnings or build wealth; to funders promoting Community Benefit Agreements–it is clear that income inequality is not an island.
On April 8th more than 250 social sector leaders will come together to learn, to be inspired, and most importantly to take action. Join us as we embark in a new direction and celebrate that which connects us.