21st century philanthropy—attracting and nurturing the very best people

tomaszewska_300By Agata Tomaszewska

A few days after WINGSForum 2014: The Power of Networks, I’m still thinking about the session, “Talent Management in 21st Century Philanthropy: Strategies for Attracting and Nurturing the Very Best People.” On the one hand, it was a wonderful experience to spend 75 minutes with people who share the concern of staffing in the philanthropy sector. I agree with philanthropy advisor John Harvey that from all assets, people matter the most. But I know how we in fact pay little attention to people in our everyday work, and how far we are from fulfilling all the rules of strategic talent management.

Foundations and grantmaking are about money. However, it’s high time to start realising that it’s not all about this. The session inspired me to have a critical look at our “human resources” management in the grantmaking sector in Poland. Although our recruitment procedures may be weak and we are far from diverse (e.g. 60% of Polish corporate foundations staff is 100% women) I hope/feel that we have started some changes. Thanks to the WINGS session these changes can grow even stronger and/or faster. I learned about new methods to address challenges in people, about on-boarding and talent reviewing, and about the experts and well-experienced organizations who can be sources of information and good practices in my work.

After WINGSForum I will definitely share this knowledge with the organizations associated with the Polish Donors Forum and with the 45 corporate foundations participating in our good standards building project. We really need to improve our talent management, but the question is if we are able to apply these great ideas.

I agree with Krasimira Velichkova from the Bulgarian Donors Forum who expressed at the end of the session her doubts about the disproportion between the scale of various tools our American colleges offered for attracting and nurturing the people in organizations, and the real number of people in our tiny teams (about 6 in Bulgaria if I remember well, 3 in Poland). It can be really discouraging when implementing a strategy if the procedures require people you don’t have who can evaluate your work or with whom you can exchange tasks. Nevertheless, I’m sure we must be aware of the importance of people and do our best to ensure our organizations’ success in the professional building of human capital.

I would like to thank John Harvey, Samantha Gilbert, Chris Grygo, Andrew Ho and Deganit Shaked for the knowledge they shared with us and the support they gave us in our “pioneer” work of a strategic approach to people in philanthropy.

Agata Tomaszewska is Project Coordinator for the Polish Donors Forum

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