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New Models of Collaboration Are Changing the Face of Philanthropy

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The face of philanthropy is changing and one of the great drivers is the push towards collaboration growing out of Internet based connectivity and "knowledge sharing" events like the Global Philanthropy Forum. Looking for the next breakthrough idea in the world of philanthropy? Want to connect with and fashion a partnership with the Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Omidyar Network, Google.org, the World Bank or others? The Global Philanthropy Forum is a good place to start.

GPF has long been one of the world's premier gatherings of philanthropists and nonprofit practitioners, but it's also become breeding a ground for collaborative models addressing some of the world's most intractable problems. GPF has matured into an all encompassing entity with affiliates to help to foster a culture of philanthropy all over the world. In 2011, The African Philanthropy Forum (APF) was created to extend knowledge sharing to African philanthropists and in 2012 the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum was launched to further expand the network of philanthropists and social investors. The ultimate vision is to create a global network of match-making services that advance new models of collaboration and knowledge sharing. Here's a quick look at some of the items on the agenda of philanthropic change:

• Revitalizing Education - For example, this year at the Global Philanthropy Forum in Redwood City, the MacArthur Foundation, MasterCard Foundation, Human Dignity Foundation, Intel Foundation, and an anonymous donor, announced a collaboration with 23 investments totaling $15,788,327 in grants and a commitment and an additional $13 million commitment for next year to help revitalize secondary education for marginalized children between the ages of 12 and 19 in East Africa, Nigeria, and India.

• Connected Learning - In making the announcement, MacArthur President Robert Galucci said that this team has been working together for three years to forge what he calls "a new model of connected learning." The concept involves games and other learning tools that permit students to proceed along the learning path at their own pace ... rather than be rushed according to daily lesson plans that they tend to resist. Galucci is convinced it will work. "You can be pretty sure we wouldn't be putting $17 million into this if we weren't pretty confident that we've discovered a breakthrough in learning."

• Millennium Goals - The Hilton Foundation has teamed up with United Nations Development Program to fashion a coordinated response to the millennial goals challenge. This is weighty stuff. A lot has changed in the development landscape since 2001 when the Millennium Development Goals were first introduced. Sustainable development has shifted with new linkages among social, environmental and economic goals. UNDP, the Foundation Center and the Hilton Foundation all recognize this and have put out a model to include all stakeholders in a broad partnership. Their focus is on complementary approaches filling the gaps and capitalizing on the new opportunities for collaboration that are emerging with technological capabilities within the philanthropic community.

• New Linkages - The link between new collaborative models and technology was perhaps best illustrated with the introduction of a new tool for understanding the interconnectedness of the world. Replacing the old two dimensional maps, a new the three-dimensional globe is integrated with software program that shows in real time population growth, weather patterns and even earthquake probabilities and tsunami warnings. Press another key on the computer and you see the melting polar icecaps and the effects of global warming.

These innovations were but the the tip of the iceberg ... so to speak. Indeed the face of philanthropy and development is changing. Consider these milestones and ask if they would have been possible a few years ago:

• Fifty Years Isn't Enough - Before Jim Yong Kim became president of the World Bank President in July 2012, he could be seen protesting outside the bank headquarters as part of the "Fifty years is Enough" campaign. Their goal was to end the World Bank. Today, Kim is working from inside instead of outside and he has established two ambitious goals:
1. ending extreme poverty by 2030
2.  boosting shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries.

• Collaborative Leadership - has become one of the buzzwords du jour, in philanthropic circles. What exactly does it mean? Recognizing that divided societies, and polarized constituencies are rendering deliberative processes ineffective, collaborative leadership is being aggressively promoted using new tools of technology. Trust in these mechanisms for self-governance are replacing old models of establishing trust based on huge monolithic third party models. The shifts can be seen in everything from the sharing economy to the revolutionary new crypto-currency, Bitcoin. New models are emerging for identifying, cultivating and supporting leaders of all ages, from all backgrounds, in all geographies.

• The New Face of Philanthropy - Darren Walker, President of the Ford foundation, who spoke at the conference, is a personal testament to the changing face of philanthropy. Walker lifted himself up from poverty, entirely through assisted educational programs and scholarships and today heads up one of the most forward thinking foundations in the new face of philanthropy.

• Taking the World Stage - Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of the late Steve Jobs, took the stage in Redwood City, to interview social entrepreneur Wendy Kopp, CEO and Co-founder of Teach for America. Now Jobs and Kopp are moving onto the global stage, creating new models of learning in countries all around the world, with Teach for All.

• What's Next? So with all this happening, what's going to be the next big thing in philanthropy? If I had to put my money down on one breakthrough, I'd bet on social finance ... because in the end philanthropy is all about money flows. The big inhibitor to sustained impact in the social economy has been the limitation that comes from the lack of financial leverage. But, new financial instruments like social stock ... impact investing bonds, hold out the promise of leveraging the limited assets of foundations. This is the holy grail of the philanthropic world - tapping into the trillions of dollars that now slosh around speculative markets looking for market plus rates of return.

When the philanthropic sector finds a way to offer investors something above a 100% loss of capital ... ie giving .... then we're really going to see the transformation that people have been talking about for years .... Stay tuned ... philanthropy is shedding its old skin and is rapidly moving into the 21st century.