Notes from White House Forum on Philanthropy

I had the great pleasure and honor of joining more than 150 leaders in philanthropy and finance yesterday at the White House for a meeting on innovation in philanthropy. We were there to discuss the relationship between philanthropic innovation and economic opportunity, as well as how philanthropy drives economic recovery and strengthens communities.
Administration officials who attended the forum were Valerie B. Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, and Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO of OPIC.
For those of us working in the field of social entrepreneurship, it was incredible to see how the historic Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation is catalyzing the conversation around social innovation and helping to create the conditions in which more social entrepreneurs can thrive.
There were a variety of really interesting panel discussions and break-out sessions on:

*impact investing and strategies for getting more donors to channel their money into for-profit businesses that are advancing social missions
*social impact bonds (a form of outcomes-based contracts in which public sector officials commit to pay for significant improvement in social outcomes (such as a reduction in offending rates, or in the number of people being admitted to hospital) for a defined population)
*the rise of crowd-funding and its challenges and opportunities
*how now more than ever, ALL sectors (business government and philanthropy) need to work together to take risks, to identify solutions, to catalyze change, and to pilot innovative ideas
As always, it was gratifying to see a number of accomplished Echoing Green Fellows in attendance, lending their expertise and knowledge to the conversation: Leslie Crutchfield, Vanessa Kirsch, and Darin McKeever.

Photo: Trevor McGoldrick

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