Nov 19, 2009

From Business to Politics to Philanthropy

Seventeen Seattle EPIP members and friends gathered at in the Common Room at the Olive 8 (Seattle's first LEED certified green hotel/condominium building) this afternoon to hear from Ann Kelly, Partner at the Global Philanthropy Group, which she co-founded in 2008 with two business partners.

The Global Philanthropy Group works with clients who want to have an impact on issues - beyond simply writing a check. Global Philanthropy Group helps clients determine how to leverage all of their assets (including their public personals and public profiles) to help build advocacy strategies and partner with other organizations to increase their visibility. (Click here to read more about the Global Philanthropy Group and the work they're doing.)

Ann describes her career path the same way that many people in philanthropy do: it just kind of happened. She started out in business management consulting, where she discovered that she preferred to work in project fashion. She worked in corporate development and on strategic planning and in consulting roles, and eventually founded her own Political Action Committee. She was inspired by the problem-solving aspects of her work, but not necessarily about the issues she worked on. She made a calculated decision to focus her energy on her political interests, and moved to Tennessee to work on Harold Ford Jr's campaign for the Senate seat vacated by Bill Frist.

She returned to Seattle after Ford's defeat in the election and returned to consulting- this time, on an education project with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she realized that it was possible to use her skills as a consultant AND work on issues that she felt passionate about. Together, with business partners Trevor and Maggie Neilson, they founded the Global Philanthropy Group.

We asked Ann to tell us more about the trends that she's seeing based on her clients interest. She said that many are refocusing their attention from international to domestic issues, given the economic climate. Global Philanthropy Group wants to get their clients engaged on a long-term basis, and to move clients from being reactive to proactive. There is a lot of interest in using very creative social media strategies to approach issues - and a lot of energy being spent on designing campaigns through issue-based networks.

Want to see an example of a Global Philanthropy Group project? Check out The Giving Beast.

Ann's advice to emerging practitioners in philanthropy?
  • Develop a broad set of skills.
  • Realize there are no boundaries and limitations - there are opportunities to have different jobs within your role - there are other things on the fringe.
  • Keep the creativity of thought.
  • Work to create a new space for yourself.
Many thanks to Ann for joining us to share her story and for offering her advice to Seattle EPIP.

Thanks to Steering Committee member Sarah for facilitating the discussion.

Thanks to Steering Committee members Nora, Dorothy, Laura, and Heather for managing the logistics of the event!

If you're interested in future Careers in Philanthropy Lunch Roundtables, make sure to sign up to receive our emails and check back for more information.

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