Last week I attended the Delaware Valley Grantmakers fall conference. Harp-weaver was also a co-sponsor for the event with Phillips Philanthropy Advisors. 300 funders and representatives from nonprofit organizations gathered together under the theme, “Holding Together in High-Wire Times.”

Jeremy Nowak, President and CEO of the William Penn Foundation provided introductory remarks. As the Foundation is in the midst of a strategic planning process, Jeremy shared some fundamental advice: 1) Think about innovation and ask yourself how to do something better. 2) Be willing to rethink and restructure your organization in order to save legacy. 3) Drive towards outcomes versus output.

Nadya K. Shmavonian, President of Public/Private Ventures, moderated a panel discussion on “What’s Happening” in the sector. The panel included: Patrick E. Bokovitz, Director of Chester County Department of Community Development; Virginia Frantz, President and CEO of Montgomery County Foundation, Inc.; Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Philadelphia Program Director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Jeffrey Gordon, Manager of Community Relations for PECO; Stacy Holland, CEO of Philadelphia Youth Network; and Farah Jimenez, President and CEO of People’s Emergency Center.

Here is a summary of the points discussed:

• Are there too many nonprofits too small to succeed?
• Focus on collaboration in order to solve problems.
• Narrow focus – do what you are good at: build program models; focus on operational infrastructure; convene leadership networks
• Funders and organizations should co-create outcome measures over time and take a long-term approach.
• Funders should think about policies related to capacity building – grow capacity and help attract new donors