March 27, 2015

A Courageous Move by the Council on Foundations

To the editor:

As authors of the op-ed, "Nobody Needs a ‘Shark Tank’ in Philanthropy," we are grateful to the Council on Foundations for having the courage to change course on the program planned for its annual conference.

To replace a contest with dialogue reflects growing sensitivity to the push-pull that most nonprofits experience seeking support for their work to solve problems and meet needs in the communities they serve. We are delighted to see an important public conversation surfacing — with diverse points of view — that has the potential to enhance foundation and nonprofit understanding of each other.

If what makes philanthropy uniquely American has become "all about competition and free enterprise," as one reader suggested in the comments section of our article, we may be closer to living in a dark, dystopian future than we know. If instead, our work together is seen as a long-term collaborative effort built on multiple voices, the opening created by frank discussion at the national conference is a move in the right direction.

American philanthropy is based on a covenant we’ve made to work together to take care of one another. We can only do this if we are seated at the table together.

Maria Mottola

Executive Director

New York Foundation


Gail Nayowith

Nonprofit consultant


Jon Pratt

Executive Director

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits