2015 Funders Forum

Thursday, October 1, 2015 -
9:30am to 3:30pm EDT
Brunswick, ME
The Daniel Hotel, 10 Water St, Brunswick, ME 04011
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Build connections with Maine philanthropy colleagues, share successes and challenges, and learn about what's happening in the broader philanthropy world.

Thank you to everyone who joined us on October 1st for the 2015 Funders Forum! We were incredibly pleased to gather as a network and family of funders in Maine and have a chance to further our collective work—the things that allow us to move beyond the day to day of individual organizations and focus on what we might achieve collectively.

Our agenda tracked three aspirations for what we, as philanthropy in Maine, collectively want to be known for:

  1. We aspire to have a wonderful and impressive story to tell about what philanthropy in Maine is actually doing and the impact we are having on issues and populations across the state. The root of that story begins in good data. That’s why the “Get on the Map” effort has been such a priority for us, and we were excited to share the first maps.

  2. We aspire to be inclusive of the people, perspectives, and differences that exist in our state. We want Maine philanthropy to reflect that diversity, to model inclusion, and to work to build equity. To further those goals, we brought two speakers from Boston to talk about the implicit, or unconscious, biases that may keep us from acting in ways consistent with our values.

  3. And third, we know that philanthropy cannot make change alone. We aspire to work in partnership and alignment with other key players, such as government and nonprofit partners. So the afternoon was spent in an in-depth conversation about how we can move our collective public policy work forward.

Barbara Edmond, MPC President, mentioned as part of our icebreaker that her “proud” was about this truly remarkable and talented group of people who are fiercely dedicated to achieving the mission entrusted by your board, your family, your namesake founder, or your donors in the best and most impactful way you can. We were struck following the program by the trust, candidness, and thoughtfulness that all brought to the day.

Agenda Overview

9:00 am Breakfast
9:30 am Program Begins
  Understanding the Maine Giving Landscape: Get on the Map
  Hiding in Plain Sight: Implicit Bias
12:15 - 1:15 pm Networking Lunch
1:30 pm Public Policy Discussion: A Path to Greater Impact
3:30 Program Ends

Keynote Speakers

Hiding in Plain Sight: Implicit Bias

Johanna Wald, Director of Strategic PlanningCharles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School

Andrew Grant-Thomas, Racial Equity Consultant

Did you know that one inch of height is worth almost $800 per year in salary? Or that immigrants with light complexions earned 15% more than those with darker skin? Or that employers who viewed identical resumes were more likely to interview “James” than “Jamal”?

A burgeoning field of scholarship suggests that unequal racial, gender, and other outcomes may be partially explained by the implicit, or unconscious, bias held by many of us, particularly key decision-makers, such as doctors, teachers, judges, and philanthropists. One striking aspect of this research is that implicit biases can co-exist, often unbeknownst to the holder, alongside far more explicit egalitarian values.

Johanna Wald and Andrew Grant-Thomas will run this participatory keynote on implicit bias, addressing:

  • how these unconscious biases take root in our brains
  • research on how these biases affect both individuals' decisions and actions and become embedded in our institutions, including philanthropy
  • strategies aimed at ameliorating the effects of implicit bias, personally and institutionally

Take a test to uncover some of your own implicit biases.

Watch the video clips from the presentation:

Other resources and reading on implicit bias:


Public Policy Discussion

The afternoon included an engaged and thoughtful discussion of the recommendations in the Public Policy Task Team's Public Policy: A Path to Greater Impact report. There was fairly strong consensus that philanthropy in Maine should collectively engage in public policy. Fairly strong agreement was also voiced about engaging in work around learning and capacity building, education and information, and advocating for philanthropic issues. There was a mix of positive and more cautious responses to some of the other questions, particularly related to specific structures and processes. We are still going through our notes, reviewing comments, and thinking about next steps. Be on the lookout for a more thorough review of the discussion in the coming weeks. 

Additional Resources:


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