Change agents – 3-year initiative

Six foundations in the U.S. and Europe have joined forces to find new ways to help foundations bring about change.

“The growth of the philanthropic sector signals significant changes ijn the three-way relationship of private wealth, public policy and nonprofit action,” says Gunther Thielen, CEO of Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation, which is managing the new International Network on Strategic Philanthropy project.

“Since foundations have to cope with the challenges of an increasingly complex world, there is a great need to discuss their strategic focus, key competencies and management capacity,” he says.

The new network, which is getting $1.5 million over three years from the partners, also include the Ford Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and German Marshall Fund in the U.S., Compagnia di San Paolo in Italy and King Baudouin Foundation in Belgium.

The project will include a core group of 60 foundation executives who will serve as a think-tank on key issues, and four working groups coordinated by top research institutions and consultants.

The working groups will focus on:

* Foundations as integral investors in public good and change agents.

* Organizational and governance of philanthropic groups.

* Innovation in program design, evaluation and communication.

* Venture philanthropy, ephilanthropy and new donors.

The network aims to work openly, inviting online participation and sharing its findings in print, on the Web and in seminars.

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