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[Video] Funder Collaboratives: A Conversation With Mai Kiang, Director of Programs, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

October 13, 2011

(Susan Herr, a longtime advocate for social change, founded PhilanthroMedia, Inc. in 2007 to "celebrate the end of philanthropy as usual and advance the perspectives of those leading the charge." This is the last in a series of four interviews she conducted for PhilanTopic on the topic of funder collaboration. Click here to view the first, with Patricia Swann, a senior program officer at the New York Community Trusthere for Susan's conversation with Tade Aina, who directs the Higher Education and Libraries program at the Carnegie Corporation of New York; and here for her conversation with Terry Mazany, president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust.)

An old Kenyan proverb says "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." That sentiment has anchored each of the four interviews I conducted for PND on the art of funder collaboration.

For Mai Kiang, director of programs at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, it's not about "having the victory by myself. It's a victory of the whole society." That doesn't mean that competitive pressures, like those cited by Chicago Community Trust CEO Terry Mazany (see link above), are unimportant or to be ignored. Like CCT, Astraea also must fundraise in addition to making grants. But Kiang sees collaboration as an "exchange of ideas and collective effort" that further enhances the capacity of her partners in every way.

If you're a Type A personality, you'll appreciate Mai's concluding remarks about the importance of both setting and celebrating milestones that have been achieved. Many of us forego the recognition process because we always feel as if there's more to be done. But for Kiang, celebrating one's wins, however small, isn't an option; it is a critical step on the road to building a sense of community and the trust that is so essential to going farther.

(If you're reading this in an e-mail, click here.)


(Running Time: 5 minutes, 7 seconds)

What do you think? Is Mai right about the importance of celebrating one's victories? And how do you it so that it's not just a pro forma exercise?

Of course, identifying the elements of a successful funder collaborative is a subject big enough for a book -- one I hope to write someday! In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed our little series on the topic, and I encourage you to weigh in below in with your own advice, wisdom, and/or examples of what works and what doesn't.

-- Susan Herr

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