If you are an MCF member involved in international giving or considering it, you would love to have participated in a recent meeting of the Minnesota Council on Foundation’s (MCF) International Funders Network and hear from four people who recently attended an international giving conference. This meeting was hosted by the Lutheran Community Foundation (an MCF member) and moderated by Susan Hayes, director of Community Grants and Services at the Lutheran Community Foundation.
The speakers included:
- Bill King, president of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, who shared his experiences with Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), which is an association of grantmaker associations around the world.
- Mary Pickard, principal advisor for the Opus Philanthropy Group (an MCF member), who attended the Africa Grantmakers Affinity Group (AGAG) Conference. AGAG, which is affiliated with the national Council on Foundations (COF), is an organization of 41 major funders who are heavily invested in Africa.
- Kathy Bonnifield, program administrator at the McKnight Foundation (an MCF member), who not only attended the Grantmakers Without Borders Conference, but also was involved in the planning of the conference.
- Mark Lindberg, director of Operations and International Programs at the Medtronic Foundation (an MCF member), who attended the European Foundation Center (EFC) Conference. The EFC is similar to the national Council on Foundations in the U.S.
I found the following points that came out during the presentations and during the Q&A especially interesting:
- Networking and Contacts
The networking and contacts available at these conferences were extremely valuable for everyone. All of the presenters commented on having connected with people who know and work with one of their grantees or in the country in which they were making the grants, providing a unique opportunity to learn from others who are in the countries in which these funders are making grants. In addition, several of the conferences included creative approaches to networking like “speed networking,” a “reciprocity web,” maps showing where each participant’s organization is providing funding, and even dots on nametags indicating the language a person speaks.
- Selecting the “Best” Conference
Since there is an increasing number of international giving conferences, all speakers had made a very deliberate decision about which conference to attend, taking into account several or more factors including the types of organizations that participate and the design of the conference.
- Grant Applications – Which Language?
One foundation is working on providing its grant application in several languages, to make sure that the content is clear to grantseekers, while requiring the grant application to be submitted in English.
Even in this two-hour program, I learned a great deal about international giving and left feeling inspired by all of the great work that is going on around the world.
If you are an MCF member interested in international giving, please consider attending the next meeting arranged by the International Funders Network. The speaker will be Rob Buchanan, who is the managing director, International Programs, at the national Council on Foundations. The meeting is scheduled for August 12, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. This meeting also is open to all MCF members.
If you are a grantmaker interested in international giving and are not a member of MCF, please contact Chuck Peterson, vice president, Member Relations and Operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org for membership information.
- Cindy Moeller, Director, Professional Development and Member Services
Minnesota Council on Foundations