Behind the scenes, but not invisible — Recognizing those who make effective giving possible

For nearly five decades, my philanthropic organizations have been involved in supporting significant philanthropic projects. I am proud of the investments in community, culture, and civic life that my foundation, Taube Philanthropies, has made. Philosophically, our philanthropic methodology has embraced collaboration with like-minded donors. Clearly, the larger the grants we can assemble by working with others leverages the impact we can achieve. In sum, approaching philanthropy through collaborative funding and collaborative effort facilitates transformative projects.

But these haven’t happened solely through the efforts of any one individual. The same collaborative philosophy that drives much of our grant making effort is instilled in the talented and dedicated team of professional staff who comprise our philanthropic organizations. From San Francisco to Jerusalem to Warsaw, all of our senior staff have been involved in significant contributions to our grant development and implementation process. Moreover, they have served an important role in post-grant evaluations to ensure that the intent of our grants is achieved properly and completely by our grant recipients.

Recognition of major gifts is often symbolized through the naming of facilities, events, programs and projects that advance institutional philanthropic goals and agendas. My family has been honored by having its name associated with a number of our projects.

Notwithstanding such recognition, I fully realize it takes a capable, hardworking team to make a major gift that truly impacts an organization or an entire community. Major projects like supporting the expansion of the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford or the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw demand a tremendous commitment of staff time and personal attention. Without our senior staff, dozens of the philanthropic projects we have supported over the last 40 years would likely never have come to fruition. The critical staff who negotiate, facilitate, create, implement and review what is often a complex grant should be publicly recognized.

I believe that it is time for those of us who have leadership roles in the philanthropic world to actively promote recognition of the essential contributions that our staff serves in the giving process. With respect to one of our recent projects, the restoration of the UC Theatre, in Berkeley, Calif., our talented Executive Director, Shana Penn, essentially managed the entire grant process. We recognized Shana by her name being prominently displayed in the Theatre as the Shana Penn Lobby.

The marquis of The UC Theatre in Berkeley, announcing the unveiling of the Shana Penn Lobby honoring the Executive Director of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture
The marquis of The UC Theatre in Berkeley, announcing the unveiling of the Shana Penn Lobby honoring the Executive Director of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture

Recognizing our staff is clearly consistent with our philosophy of collaborative philanthropy. By bringing donor partners together to leverage gifts, we obviously can achieve more impact than we could alone. Inviting our team to share credit in recognizing our good work through direct recognition allows our staff to share in the legacy of the work we’ve done together.

Collaborative philanthropy is a philosophy to leverage financial resources to bring funding and people together to achieve philanthropic results we might never achieve alone. Such collaboration will undoubtedly be necessary both internally as well as externally. Accordingly, when we reach the implementation and realization of a successful collaborative gift, we might consider recognition of those members of our respective staff who have helped us get there – and in so doing, help them build their own philanthropic legacies.

The staff of Taube Philanthropies at the September 22, 2016, unveiling of the Shana Penn Lobby at The UC Theatre in Berkeley
The staff of Taube Philanthropies at the September 22, 2016, unveiling of the Shana Penn Lobby at The UC Theatre in Berkeley
About the Author
Tad Taube, a Bay Area business, philanthropic and community leader, is chairman of Taube Philanthropies and honorary consul of the Republic of Poland.
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