Friday, July 11, 2003

Who speaks for whom?

Imagine this: You are the leader of a multi-billion dollar industry that has experienced several years of unprecedented growth. Over the course of the last two years, however, the media has taken every opportunity to expose scandal in your ranks, the pace of growth has slowed significantly, regulators and legislators are panting at the chance to enact real change in how the industry works, and new competitors are popping up on all sides. While the newcomers are much smaller than the current industry leaders, many of them are financed by huge established institutions with lots of R & D capacity and deep pockets.

Sound like high tech or the music industry? Try again. This is philanthropy in 2003. The the only thing about this picture that should surprise anyone who has been paying attention over the last few years is how meek the industry's reactions to these changes have been. And, anything that has been done, has been done as a reaction. No leadership, no proactivity, no coalitions to present alternative solutions or lead an industry effort at self-regulation, media support, or proposed regulatory changes to boost investment in the industry.

The opening sentence of this section may hold the most important challenge - Imagine you are a leader of the industry...well, who would you be if you fit that bill? Who are the leaders of the industry? Who should be the leaders in philanthropy? And why - after all these years - are these questions so hard to answer?

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