Philanthropy » Past Initiatives » Overview of the OIP Initiative

Optimizing Institutional Philanthropy

Global philanthropy is at an important crossroads. Seldom, if ever before, has a similar confluence of worldwide need, global wealth, and rapid innovation created an opportunity for institutional philanthropy to become such a powerful force for change and progress around the world. Swift and concerted effort is required if this potential is to be fully realized.

In light of this opportunity, the Salzburg Global Seminar recently launched a multi-year initiative on Optimizing Institutional Philanthropy for the 21st Century to imagine and identify those organizations, structures, policies and approaches that will create the most effective philanthropic institutions for tomorrow’s world. “We believe the moment is right for philanthropic leaders to identify actions they can take, in combination as well as singly, to reset agendas and stimulate more effective regional and global action,” said Stephen Salyer, President & CEO of Salzburg Global Seminar.

The first meeting of the Initiative took place in December 2008. Twenty-five experts and thought leaders from different geographic regions came together in Salzburg, Austria to identify constraints to innovation and bold practice in philanthropy and the major challenges philanthropy will be called on to address in the next 20 years, and posit how philanthropic institutions can best meet these accelerating needs. Participants focused on practical interventions that would stimulate the system and support increased resource flows.

There was consensus that institutions are not functioning optimally, constrained by policies, accepted practice, and legal and structural limitations. There was a call for foundations and other philanthropic institutions to work collaboratively across the sector as well as beyond it. While there are new actors challenging old practice (including new philanthropists, women-focused philanthropy, and Diaspora philanthropy to name a few), and new forms of philanthropy have been pioneered, traditional institutions, and so many of the structures and policies that guide them, remain relatively stagnant.