Talent: The Secret Sauce of Philanthropy

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In 1947, with shrapnel and soldiers still embedded in this Roccocco mansion, Schloss Leopoldskron (built 1736), the first Salzburg Global Seminar was held to improve dialog among nations and to rebuild Europe after World War II.

This week, as part of the 70th anniversary of Salzburg Global Seminar, Alphachimp had the honor to participate in the 581st session at The Schlosse — made famous in modern times as one of the locations for the 1965 classic musical The Sound of Music. 

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The overarching theme of this gathering of 30 experienced innovators in the field of philanthropy and charitable giving was courage, specifically the courage of those who sacrifice their time, treasure and sometimes their lives to serve the needs of others.

Andrés Thompson, Fondo Region Colonia / Brazil Social Justice Philanthropy (Uruguay / Brazil) – As a PhIlanthropist, thinker, teacher, disruPter, Thompson StartED 40 years ago at the age of 17 as an activist in his native Argentina. His lifelong passion of improving the life of people around him has showed him the world of big foundations and grassroots movements. 

Andrés ThompsonFondo Region Colonia / Brazil Social Justice Philanthropy (Uruguay / Brazil) – As a PhIlanthropist, thinker, teacher, disruPter, Thompson StartED 40 years ago at the age of 17 as an activist in his native Argentina. His lifelong passion of improving the life of people around him has showed him the world of big foundations and grassroots movements. 

The 2-day seminar titled Driving the Change: Global Talent Management for Effective Philanthropy focused on human resources as a critical tool for social good organizations — specifically foundations — in attracting, recruiting and retaining staff who will enable the anticipated growth of charitable giving as the 21st century advances. 

A view of the lake from the writing room of Max Reinhardt, Europe’s most famous theater director and co-founder of the Salzburg Festival, who renovated the Schlosse from 1918-1938, before the Nazis confiscated the property.

A view of the lake from the writing room of Max Reinhardt, Europe’s most famous theater director and co-founder of the Salzburg Festival, who renovated the Schlosse from 1918-1938, before the Nazis confiscated the property.

In philanthropies, human resources can often be viewed simply as an administrative function responsible for payroll, benefits administration and logistical aspects of recruitment. In the business world, however, HR is a core strategy for innovation, leadership development, and value creation.

Participants from 20 countries in six continents shared the most innovative practices in talent management for philanthropy and how these can be applied to the philanthropic sector.

Philanthropic organizations usually champion principles such as equality and fairness, but rarely is this reflected in the diversity of their leadership.

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Whether we consider age, gender, income, ethnic or religious background, the senior management and board members of most charitable foundations lack adequate representation from the communities they serve. 

Greater diversity in leadership provides a greater variety of viewpoints and a wider range of experience, which arguably improves decision-making and problem-solving. 

As in any organization, field or sector, small groups of people — or microcultures — matter greatly as they have their own assumptions, values and working behaviors that can significantly shape the underlying character of institutions

Seminar attendees in the Schlosse's incredible library.

Seminar attendees in the Schlosse's incredible library.

By the end of the program, participants produced a concise set of recommendations for dissemination to the global philanthropic sector, such as:

  • Identify motivation
  • Introduce flexibility
  • Assess character, not just skills
  • Talk your talk, walk your walk and embrace diversity
  • Have courage

Learn more about Driving the Change: Global Talent Management for Effective Philanthropy at: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/581

Other Recommended Readings

Exploring Microcultures and Why They Matter, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (2017)
This is another article of relevance on organizational culture and talent.

Talent for Philanthropy, Alliance Magazine (September 2014)
This issue of Alliance Magazine, entirely devoted to talent and philanthropy, was a direct result of the
first gathering of human resources and talent management professionals in philanthropy in Bellagio,
Italy in 2013.

The Future of Foundation Philanthropy, Center for Effective Philanthropy (2016)
This article focused on philanthropy and the future, was commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation for its
50th anniversary last year.

2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte Consulting (2017)
These set of articles from this link provide a broad overview of the trends and issues in talent
management, mainly in the U.S. corporate sector.

Philanthropy's Diversity Challenge, Alliance Magazine (September 2017)