In April, several representatives from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy attended the 2019 Greater Giving Summit in Seattle, hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Jacqueline Ackerman, associate director for research at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, shares her reflections on the event.
A couple months ago, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) participated in the Gates Foundation’s 2019 Greater Giving Summit in Seattle. Several representatives from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy were in attendance: Dr. Una Osili, Dr. Deb Mesch, and Andrea Pactor; as well as Kathleen Loehr, our WPI Council chair. After a whirlwind week of field trips, panels, sessions, and discussions into the evening, our team returned to work inspired and with fresh ideas for bringing our research to life.
This year’s Greater Giving Summit brought together more than 170 members of the global philanthropy community—both grantees like WPI and other partners—with three big goals in mind:
- Learn new approaches and insights: We learned the latest data and research, and shared about initiatives and progress we were each making.
- Spark bold ideas and opportunities: With hundreds of attendees, there were many different points of view and ways of doing things—some I agreed with and some I did not! The Summit was a great opportunity to hear from experts and also offer advice to others.
- Connect people, projects, and concepts: The Gates Foundation encourages its grantees and partners to work together and connect to inspire one another.
How has WPI met those goals?
- Learn: I learned an incredible amount at the Summit, and I know my colleagues did too. After almost seven years working at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, I’d like to think I know a lot about philanthropy, and how and why people give. But I had no clue about some emerging technologies (like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and more) or how they might influence philanthropy.
- Spark: WPI led a “Co-Lab” session during the Summit, essentially a deep brainstorming opportunity that is intended to solve problems and encourage the audience to actively participate in solutions. Inspired by the session, WPI is taking the Co-Labs on the road with key partner organizations. This initiative will bring WPI research to new audiences and help those organizations use our research in their own work.
- Connect: Thanks to conversations we had during the Summit, the WPI team is moving full steam ahead toward our next research projects—including planning Women Give 2020, which will rely on partnerships we have developed since the Summit.
The Greater Giving Summit reminded me that the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute are accomplishing incredible things as we research how women and men give, and how they might be encouraged to give more. This is no easy task—in fact, no one person or organization at the Summit had the answer for how to substantially increase giving by all, and hundreds of us have been working to do just that for years. The Summit reinforced that we don’t know all the answers, but we have great partners and supporters helping us to do so, and we don’t have to do it alone. We’re looking forward to using lessons we learned and connections we made at the Summit throughout our work over the next months and years.
Resources from select sessions at the Summit are available online at the Better Giving Studio website.