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SCG President's Message - August 2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dear SCG Community,


With SCG's 2019 Annual Conference less than two weeks away, I would like to take this opportunity to share some reflections on our conference theme, Foresight Philanthropy.

The future, with its constellation of knowns and unknowns, inevitably rushes upon us all. But grantmakers need only look at our most vulnerable communities to see how often it arrives with disproportionate force. While each of our organizations work individually on bold plans for tomorrow, millions of Californians have little choice but to focus on the immediacy of today — the uncertainties of how they’ll get food on their tables, secure safe places to sleep, or address an unexpected health challenge.

As a sector, we must fully embrace this urgency as our own. It is at the very core of our work, our families, our common humanity. Knowing this, we must then ask: how can we truly see and support the community wisdom, the cross-sector partnerships, and the deep healing needed for powerful changes that will best sustain California in the decades ahead? 

Foresight Philanthropy will offer us the opportunity to learn from changemakers who are preparing our country for a host of demographic, economic, and environmental shifts. It invites each of us to look ahead and envision a just and equitable future.

For years, futurism — the study of trends to anticipate and plan for events yet to come — has been an effective practice left largely to government agencies and to titans of industry. But, in our present climate of rapidly advancing technology, dynamic population shifts, and a widening wealth gap, an unavoidable truth has emerged: the decisions philanthropy makes today will have compounding, long-term impacts on the communities we serve. To address that reality, we’ll need to lift our collective gaze well beyond the next funding cycle and innovate alongside the leaders of tomorrow. 

Whether you are attending Foresight Philanthropy or not, I hope that you will follow the conversations we are having via Twitter #SCGAnnualCon19. The experts speaking at this conference are renowned for examining the trends that shape the contours of the future. Across a wide breadth of topics — future of work, gender justice and racial equities, universal design, education, climate change, and more — their voices have enlightened CEOs, championed innovation, and proven indispensable within their communities. On September 9, they will share their valuable insights with us. 

As they do, we will undoubtedly confront some challenging truths. Preparing for the future invariably means unpacking the misconceptions of the past — and creating a more equitable tomorrow will no doubt force us to confront biases we hold unconsciously today.

Amidst such moments of self-reflection, it’s worth remembering the study of futurism offers up no fixed future. Rather, it presents us with a set of choices in the present that can help us prepare for a wide variety of outcomes. The more clearly we see the paths ahead, the better we can choose those that bend towards justice, doing our part to bring it closer for all.

In short, our future is, as it has always been, ours for the making. I hope that our virtual and in-person conversations with speakers and peers alike will spark exciting ideas and collaborations that bring our desired future nearer to reality. Thank you again for being part of the SCG community and for adding your vision and voice to the future we are creating together — for the SCG community, the philanthropy sector, and our impact on the issues that matter most.

I look forward to seeing you at Foresight Philanthropy or hearing from you online via our live conference reporting on Twitter #SCGAnnualCon19.


Best Regards,

Christine Essel

President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers

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