Giving Compass' Take:

• Kris Putnam-Walkerly, writing for Philanthropy In Focus, discusses three considerations for civil society membership organizations to think about that as they aspire to increase their value. 

• How can donors best support civil society organizations? What are the main tenets of these organizations? What organizations are you supporting in your community that serves civil society? 

• Learn about philanthropy and digital civil society.

Civil society membership associations were made for times like these. Shining bright these past six months, they’ve heroically grabbed their members’ hands and illuminated pathways forward. They’ve helped members navigate the pandemic and prepare for recovery, offering real-time learning, sharing best practices, creating rapid-response funds, soliciting critical information through surveys, supporting collaboration across government and business, and encouraging funding for racial justice.

Philanthropy infrastructure organizations quickly moved events and conferences online, increased the number of offerings, and broadened who can attend, often including all funders and not just members. Many also worked to shift the balance of power and make gatherings more inclusive and accessible. For their global conference, the Resource Alliance saw it as an opportunity to “challenge the idea of one magnetic north, which tends to be the global north, and instead create a magnetic field around the world where people can be drawn to excellence anywhere.”

But as the challenges continue, and as member organizations examine their budgets in the face of a global recession, associations have the additional worry of finding themselves on the budgetary chopping block. If 2009 is any indication, the danger is real. At that time, “more than two-thirds [of foundations surveyed] . . . reduced their operating expenses . . . by reducing staff travel budgets and/or limiting staff attendance at conferences,” and “one-third said they had also reduced staff training and professional development opportunities.” So, as organizations take stock and plan for the next six months, here are three thoughts to bear in mind that will continue to make these organizations essential to their members and the impact they seek for civil society.

  • Lead with an abundance mindset
  • Be agile and adaptive.
  • Be inclusive.

Read the full article about civil society membership organizations by Kris Putnam-Walkerly at Philanthropy In Focus.