Here are some future-focused takeaways from the 2017 Philanthropy Network conference - Generocity Philly


Nov. 3, 2017 10:18 am

Here are some future-focused takeaways from the 2017 Philanthropy Network conference

According to #PNFallCon17, the big ones for Philly's funders and nonprofit professionals were "change, not charity" and the importance of storytelling.

"Vision, Voice, Values" — the theme for the 2017 conference.

(Photo via

What a year, huh?

Last year’s Philanthropy Network fall conference followed on the heels of what former Executive Director Maari Porter called a “very divisive election. The 2016’s annual gathering of those working in the philanthropic, nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors was titled accordingly: “Toward a More Perfect Union: Strengthening the Sector Together.”

The 2017 conference took place yesterday at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel with a more alliterative title, “Vision, Voice, Values,” qualities that Philanthropy Network thought the social impact sector should be focusing on in these ways:

  • “Staying squarely focused on our organizations’ missions — our north star — while finding new and creative ways to work together in order to amplify our impact”
  • “Speaking out about our work to drive positive change that advances a more just, equitable and prosperous region for all”
  • “Reaffirming and activating the core values that guide us and give our work meaning, both as individuals and organizations”

Sidney Hargro, who became Philanthropy Network’s new ED this past July, kicked things off by asking conference attendees a broad question: “Where do we go from here?”

In a comment similar to the one he made in an interview with Generocity, Hargro made it clear that things can’t go the way they have been in the past.

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And with this idea of creating change rather than charity, he called upon funders to innovate and not be afraid of failing during the process.

Keynote speaker DeAmon Harges, faculty member at the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at DePaul University in Indianapolis, followed up with what was likely the most tweeted comment of this year’s conference:

The idea stems from Harges’ involvement with the ABCD model, which involves building up local communities by focusing on their existing strengths. For Harges, that kind of work has involved “find[ing] the gifts and talents for everybody in the life of the community, find a place for that gift, celebrate that gift in ways that build community, economy and mutual delight.”

(There’s a reason why he’s commonly referred to throughout the web as the original “Roving Listener.”)

Here were the three workshops that followed the morning remarks, which stuck to the three tenets of the conference’s theme:

  • Shared Vision: Getting to the Heart of Community Engagement — “Using a human-centered design model, participants will learn the principles and practices that empower cross-sector partnerships built on trust, collaboration, and inclusion, and can lead to a shared, multi-faceted vision for the community.”

  • Storytelling as Leadership — “Attendees will leave with the skills to use their authentic voice to cultivate a narrative that best represents who they are as a person, a leader, and the vision they stand behind.”

  • Inclusive Conversations: Connecting Values, Culture & Identity — “Using active listening, participants will begin to uncover personal values and learn how to recognize bias that may influence decision-making or result in missed opportunities for trust-building and impact.”

To wrap everything up for this year’s conference, Hargro got up to the podium one more time to reminded everyone in the room of how important it can be to use your voice when it comes to addressing the challenges we’re facing and lie ahead of us.


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