Foundation President Says Relationships with Institutions Changing Among Young Leaders

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October 30, 2011 ; Source: Chicago Tribune | In anticipation of Independent Sector’s conference opening in Chicago this week, The Chicago Tribune interviewed Joyce Foundation president, Ellen Alberding, to get her sense of the state of  the sector both locally and nationally. 

Having been in her position since 2002, before the start of the recession, Alberding told the Tribune that throughout the downturn she has followed a strategy of “maintaining support for our core grantees”, and on occasion has spent over the minimum five percent required of foundations “in order to keep our grantees whole.” 

In the interview Alberding reveals a strong interest in and respect for new nonprofit leaders who she sees emerging in the field. She told the Tribune, “As younger people are emerging as leaders in their own right, there’s a different view of institutions and how individuals interact with institutions. That’s really exciting.”  She added, “Younger people are bold, and they are innovators.” As a comment on employment trends, she also noted, “People aren’t necessarily following the traditional paths as they come out of college, sometimes out of necessity.” 

In response to the Tribune’s question about President Obama’s proposal to cap the charitable deduction, Alberding emphasized the importance of listening to individual organizations (who she suggests disagree that a 28 percent cap would have a positive impact) along with individual donors. “I think we have to listen to the organizations themselves, who feel otherwise,” she said.  Adding, “It is important to remember that individual donors are the single largest source of donations in the country, and that’s not commonly understood.” 

Established in 1948 for “religious, charitable, scientific, literary and educational purposes,” today the Joyce Foundation has six separate program areas including: education, employment, environment, gun violence, money and politics with more than $800 million in assets. In 2010, the Money and Politics Program focused efforts on the US Census and the resulting redistricting of state legislatures and Congresses. As part of this effort, the Joyce Foundation organized Count Me In, a consortium backed by 10 funders that gave $1.2 million to ethnic and community-based nonprofits throughout Illinois to encourage local residents to complete and mail back the Census forms. –Anne Eigeman