harp-weaver is an independent philanthropic advisory firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teresa Araco Rodgers, the principal, works with individuals and families to gift to issues that matter in a meaningful way.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Night Out With Meaning: Phoebe Driscoll

Last week Phoebe Driscoll was Night Out With Meaning’s storyteller. Night Out is about learning, connecting and reflecting. It is my hope that those who attended took away knowledge that they didn’t have before, that they met someone new or discovered something about a friend that brought them closer. And it is also my hope that there were pieces from Phoebe Driscoll’s story that made them stop and reflect about their own lives and experiences.

I certainly spent time reflecting on Phoebe’s life story. Phoebe exudes wisdom in a way that makes you feel like she’s lived it and she’s simply going to let you in on a few things she’s learned along the way. I thought about where she came from and where her life landed her based on her “gut and luck!” I love how she is entering her eighth decade and still sees work to be done around land preservation. I thought a lot about her awareness and consciousness of her place in the world, how she contributes to its betterment and how she will one day leave it. I thought about my part, what I am doing and how aware my young children are of nature and the environment. I’ll say it…we take the Wissahickon and surrounding land for granted. We can literally step outside and find ourselves on a wooded trail. And I admit, I didn’t think much about how that land was preserved – until now. Someone said this is beautiful and someone said we must take care of it and preserve it for future generations. Phoebe realized this early on and works very hard to make that a reality. Thank you, Phoebe. And thank you to Anne Standish and Nancy Venner from the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association for introducing all of us to Phoebe.

If you are interested in learning more about the outreach programs of the Watershed, check out www.wvwa.org.

The next Night Out With Meaning will be in February of 2012. More information to come shortly! Remember to invite a friend and make it a Night Out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

DVG: Holding Together in High-Wire Times

Last week I attended the Delaware Valley Grantmakers fall conference. Harp-weaver was also a co-sponsor for the event with Phillips Philanthropy Advisors. 300 funders and representatives from nonprofit organizations gathered together under the theme, “Holding Together in High-Wire Times.”

Jeremy Nowak, President and CEO of the William Penn Foundation provided introductory remarks. As the Foundation is in the midst of a strategic planning process, Jeremy shared some fundamental advice: 1) Think about innovation and ask yourself how to do something better. 2) Be willing to rethink and restructure your organization in order to save legacy. 3) Drive towards outcomes versus output.

Nadya K. Shmavonian, President of Public/Private Ventures, moderated a panel discussion on “What’s Happening” in the sector. The panel included: Patrick E. Bokovitz, Director of Chester County Department of Community Development; Virginia Frantz, President and CEO of Montgomery County Foundation, Inc.; Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Philadelphia Program Director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Jeffrey Gordon, Manager of Community Relations for PECO; Stacy Holland, CEO of Philadelphia Youth Network; and Farah Jimenez, President and CEO of People’s Emergency Center.

Here is a summary of the points discussed:

• Are there too many nonprofits too small to succeed?
• Focus on collaboration in order to solve problems.
• Narrow focus – do what you are good at: build program models; focus on operational infrastructure; convene leadership networks
• Funders and organizations should co-create outcome measures over time and take a long-term approach.
• Funders should think about policies related to capacity building – grow capacity and help attract new donors