It's no surprise that President Obama, with a lengthy background in the non-profit sector, has made strong efforts to reach out to the philanthropic community. What may come as a surprise is just how exhilarated the philanthropic community is by the attention.
This year's Council on Foundations conference, which concluded Tuesday in Denver, offered a revealing glimpse into the nexus of an administration eager to obtain the support of the non-profit world, and a community of increasingly politicized foundations who see bountiful opportunities for legislative achievements emanating from the current White House.
A tone of mutual congratulation pervaded the conference, first exemplified by remarks from Valerie Jarrett, a long-time adviser to President Obama and manager of the White House Office of Public Engagement, which oversees public-private liaison efforts."Why did I have such a great amount of confidence at the beginning of our administration?" she said to the assembled foundation worthies. "It's because of you."
Grand talk about public-private work is nothing new; the Bush administration's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives created a media stir. Yet it seems that no prior partnership was quite so warm as the new one. "The reason we're talking about it here is that the private partners here were instrumental in electing the public partner," noted panelist Bill Schambra of the Hudson Institute, on the meeting's final day.
By then, Ms. Jarrett had already offered advice on how to carry that enthusiasm forward, noting that "when our goals are aligned we need to do a much better job of pulling together... ." And much of the philanthropic community at the conference appeared more than eager to answer her call for help.
A panel on health reform, entitled "What's Happening, What's Next, and What Is the Role for Foundations?" appeared unanimous in its conclusion that the role of foundations is to vigorously support and defend the administration and the new health-care reform bill.
Read more of this article by Anthony Paletta of the WSJ at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471204575210751254846816.html?KEYWORDS=ANTHONY+PALETTA