Expanding philanthropy’s reach

By Ret Boney

Having worked to expand cultural understanding and women’s healthcare both at home and abroad, Daria Teutonico now aims to extend the reach of philanthropy in the U.S.

As the new director of New Ventures in Philanthropy, her goal is to grow philanthropy by creating new philanthropists and extending organized giving into communities that have had little or no access to philanthropic dollars.

New Ventures is an initiative of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, a Washington, D.C.-based national network of 31 regional associations made up of more than 4,000 foundations, corporations and other community funders.

Created in 1998, New Ventures was the brainchild of a group of major funders that wanted to grow philanthropy at the grassroots level by “looking beyond the usual suspects,” says Teutonico, who took over the program in November.

The first phase of that effort centered on providing grants to community coalitions, including community foundations and regional grantmaking associations, to spark giving by new donors.

Using funds from national foundations, including the Ford Foundation, Lilly Endowment and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the effort to date has led to the creation of local endowments totaling more than $570 million in assets.

“From that experience, we gained a lot of information about the areas we should focus on to have a big impact,” Teutonico says.


Daria Teutonico

Job: Director, New Ventures in Philanthropy, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, Washington, D.C.

Education: B.A., math, University of Pennsylvania; master’s, Russian language and literature, University of Iowa; master’s, international affairs, Columbia University

Born: 1963, Smithtown, N.Y.

Family: Husband, Ed Hammond; two sons, 8 and 3

Hobbies: Movies, singing, country music

Favorite movie: Field of Dreams

Inspiration: Mother, Adele Teutonico, who returned to school at age 50 to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees

That information led to an effort to gather and share knowledge about areas and communities ripe for developing new philanthropists.

What resulted was New Ventures’ second phase, developing a series of “knowledge centers,” or online resources for developing organized giving within specific communities.

To create the centers, New Ventures conducts a scan of the people and information currently available on a given topic, then organizes an event assembling practitioners from the field to review existing resources and identify gaps in the knowledge.

“We fill in the gaps, get the right tools and develop an online knowledge center,” says Teutonico.  “Then we disseminate the information through a national media rollout.”

With knowledge centers for giving circles and rural philanthropy up and running, New Ventures is now focusing its energies on racial, ethnic and tribal philanthropy.

With a staff of four on the New Ventures project, Teutonico estimates it will take about nine months to a year to develop the new knowledge center and conduct the national media rollout.

Next year, she plans to create a center focused on working with professional advisers.

“We’re looking at seeing if there is a business case for professional advisers to talk to their clients about philanthropy,” she says.  “The goal is to have them understand more about philanthropy.  We would create tools for intermediaries to use in talking to professional advisers.”

Teutonico’s work in the nonprofit sector began after a semester spent in Russia during graduate school sparked a passion.

“I lived a pretty sheltered life,” she says.  “I didn’t have a lot of exposure to things that were really different. So going over there opened my eyes, it incited a hunger in me to learn more about those differences.”

That led her to a variety of roles within the nonprofit sector, often on the international scene, traveling the globe to improve women’s health, and facilitating educational exchange.

Most recently, Teutonico served as director of the Humphrey Fellowship Program at the Institute of International Education, a leadership program for mid-career professionals from developing and transitional countries.

Before that, she was assistant director for the Fulbright Scholar Programs in Europe and Eurasia.

The opening at New Ventures offered Teutonico the opportunity to use her experience in the nonprofit sector in new and more creative ways, she says, and gave her yet another chance for both impact and personal fulfillment.

“I always wanted to do a job that I felt was making a difference,” she says.  “There had to be that component in a job for me to even consider it.”

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