Last month I visited Fenway Park for the first time, not for baseball but to visit my teammates at AGM for their annual meeting. First up was Executive Director Jeff Poulos who celebrated not just the growth and breadth of AGM’s members and the impact of their work but also their connection to the growth and strength of the regional association network across the country. AGM and the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy represent two of the 33 regional associations who collectively have over 5500 members making it the largest network representing philanthropy in America. We share the joint mission of connecting our members with one another and leveraging their investments and knowledge for the public good across all fields of interest. This event was a festive demonstration of the power of these networks.
Our colleagues from the Center for Effective Philanthropy joined the lineup and shared their latest findings from their research on grantee experiences. Next up was Governor Charlie Baker who acknowledged the important partnerships between government and philanthropy that have been key to most significant projects and in enriching the quality of life in Massachusetts. However, it was Mary Beckman from the Attorney General’s office who really hit a home run when she told the audience that one challenge she recognizes is the lack of investment in infrastructure and systems within many nonprofit organizations. She spends time monitoring for overspending on administration but is truly more concerned about the lack of spending to ensure businesses are well run and responsibly able to meet best practice standards. Funders often create a misguided expectation of low overhead and minimal administrative costs for their partners. National infrastructure organizations create ratios rather than ask important questions about impact, leadership and investment in long term strategies including staffing and training. It was really powerful to hear the opinion of a representative from a regulatory agency articulate and understand the importance of social purpose businesses investing in their own capacity.
It was a great day at the ball park with good conversations and an impressive lineup of Massachusetts thought leaders and a welcoming philanthropic community. As the president of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy I was thrilled to celebrate the success of AGM and know they will continue to hit it out of the ballpark.
Maggie Gunther Osborn is the President of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy. Ms. Osborn holds an MA in Leadership and Philanthropy from Antioch University and a BA from Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she was a Morrissy Scholar.