Open Days – Trust in philanthropy and thinking outside the box about climate change

Chet Tchozewski

Chet Tchozewski

At lunch today Barry Gaberman, who was at the Ford Foundation for 35 years before retiring recently, told me that he did his first blog today for Alliance. He was thrilled like a little boy that scored his first soccer goal.

My first Foundation Week event was on climate change – a debate between Jos Arbour, a climate negotiator with the European Commission, Jules Kortenhorst of the European Climate Foundation, and Kumi Naidoo, the new Executive Director of Greenpeace International – who had a bad cold as a result of breathing coal dust inside a Chinese mine last week. While all three speakers were discouraged by the absence of progress on a global climate change treaty, only Kumi accepted moderator Gerry Salole’s invitation to ‘think out of the box,’ and ‘reassess the assumptions that we came in with.’ Kumi called for increasingly effective advocacy including direct action – including nonviolent civil disobedience. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, Kumi got a pledge from one Fortune 500 CEO to join him – at an appropriate time and place – to commit civil disobedience to call attention the slowly escalating disaster of global climate change.

At a session on Tuesday, the Global Fund for Community Foundations presented data on trends in the emerging community foundation sector in the Global South.  One main topic of discussion was the importance of ‘trust’ to make community-based philanthropy work to its highest potential. Nevertheless, Barry Gaberman observed that ‘the high demand for metric evaluation within philanthropy creates a distrustful situation. A lively discussion of the nature of trust within philanthropy – and one participant from Latvia noted that in some parts of the former Soviet Union only young people under 30 years old are free from what he called ‘Post Soviet Anxiety’ about the freedom of civil society – an anxiety that unfortunately inhibits the development of self-confident civil society in some parts of the world.

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