August 30, 2010

What's Inspiring Me Now

I've been on a bit of a summer hiatus, skipping some weeks since baseball's mid-summer All-Star break as a minor detour from my weekly blogging calendar. I've been busy with the business of Grassroots Grantmakers, laying ground work for what promises to be a very exciting fall.

I'm ready to jump back into writing for "big thinking" again, with some topics that I'm itching to address and some insights that I can't wait to share. But first, I want to share a snapshot of where I am at this point in the summer.

In these crazy economic times, it feels odd to say that I can't remember I time when I've felt so inspired by the possibilities that I see for big thinking about small grants. Perhaps it's just that I have finally tired of hitting my head on the same brick wall and have moved on to more productive pursuits. Or perhaps it's because we're all working in a slightly different environment that is bringing us back to the basic values that are core to funding from a "we begin with residents" point of view.

Whatever the reason, I'm enjoying this good feeling and feeling inspired by:

  • Evidence that I see almost every day of a growing interest in place-based funding approaches.

  • Hearing place-based work described recently in a conversation with a new professional acquaintance as "hot".

  • The acceptance I'm hearing that grassroots grantmaking and its big thinking on small grants approach is an essential ingredient of effective place-based philanthropy.

  • The new groups that are showing up in surprising ways and in surprising places who are using grassroots grantmaking in creative ways. This clearly isn't just about organized philanthropy any more.

  • The amazing group that has registered for Grassroots Grantmakers' upcoming "On the Ground" in Detroit - sold out 2 months early and now building a waiting list, a sign to me that this is real interest in the "value added of small grants programs for place-based philanthropy", the theme for this gathering, and an appreciation for the smaller/deeper/learning oriented opportunities that we're creating.

  • The energy that I'm feeling from our grassroots grantmaking community for bringing the small grants structures and practices that they have created and fine-tuned to work on new issues and in new areas - hinting that grassroots grantmaking is breaking out of restraining silos.

  • Last but perhaps most important, the amazing people associated with funding organizations and the grassroots groups they fund who are steadily at work, innovating, learning and generously sharing to expand our collective understanding of how to translate our big thinking about small grants into stronger, healthier communities.

I'd love to hear what's inspiring you in the last days of summer. Connect with a comment or an email to me directly.

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