November 8, 2019
Fall Funders Summit Focuses on Systems Change

Twice each year, Essex County Community Foundation partners with other funders to bring together donor advised fundholders, foundations and individual, corporate and institutional donors to learn about and explore possible collaborations on the most pressing issues facing Essex County.

On Nov. 7, 2019, ECCF, in collaboration with The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and Philanthropy Massachusetts, hosted the Fall 2019 Funders Summit at the Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton.

The focus was systems philanthropy and more than 50 funders gathered to learn from national systems work expert John Kania, executive in residence at New Profit and former global managing director at FSG. His presentation – Catalyzing Systems Change – outlined how this type of approach to a social issue can bring communities closer to a solution. Information from Kania’s presentation grounded the small group exercise to deconstruct a hypothetical community challenge. The idea was for people to think about the potential obstacles faced in a systems change effort, and brainstorm ideas about how those obstacles might be mitigated to achieve the desired impact.

In addition, attendees learned about three Essex County collaborations – Essex County Learning CommunityMerrimack Valley Business Relief  and the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI)  – currently working on systems change efforts.

“Our hope is that funders walked away from the Summit with new insights, ideas and connections,” said Carol Lavoie Schuster, ECCF’s vice president for grants and services. “Collaboration is a core value for us at ECCF, and we believe we can get closer to making the change we want to see by working together.”

The Message from IFT Keynote Speaker Phil Buchanan? Be Courageous.

At the kickoff, Buchanan, who spoke for about a half-hour before taking questions, talked about the irrationality of expecting nonprofits to run like businesses. He explained his frustration at the false rhetoric he often hears about the social sector – organizations spend too much on overhead or they don’t innovate – and how he seeks to counteract it in every interaction he has with donors.

Column: Philanthropy’s role in vaccine equity

Column: Philanthropy’s role in vaccine equity

What we know and how we approach the multi-layered issue of COVID-19 vaccine access is continuously evolving. But what remains the same is that access to the vaccine has not been created equal.

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