An Open Letter to TPW Members

Tracy Mack Parker
The Philanthropy Workshop

Dear TPW member,

With this season of thanks and celebration upon us, may I thank you, my colleagues and our board for the opportunity to lead The Philanthropy Workshop forward in our shared desire to make the world better.

Speaking on behalf of our staff, we’re grateful for the years Glen has shaped and led TPW and we’re thrilled for his next steps with the Stupski Foundation, where he’ll help guide resources on pressing issues facing the community it serves.

On the heels of two opening modules of this year’s TPW Intensive—comprised of an 18-person cohort, with half starting in London and the other in San Francisco—I’m reminded of the effort it takes to develop a thoughtful plan for your philanthropy, one that is authentic to who you are and what you believe, one that fully taps into the resources you uniquely bring to the table of social change, and one that grows with you.

Some of you, like me, may also be in the season of college applications and essays! I find myself in conversations with my stepdaughter, Chelsea, about who she wants to be, and what a meaningful life looks like to her.

She is being asked to describe in 500 words or less a singular experience that transformed her from childhood into adulthood—and she is only 17 years old. She’s able to identify a moment on an excursion in Nicaragua that sparked her: being on the receiving end of a beaming, appreciative smile from a father whose toddler was drinking water from the palm of his hands, water straight from a pump that Chelsea’s school had helped construct.

What touched Chelsea was a disorienting sense of why, by no fault of their own, this family and community had far less access to clean water than her family and friends. With some time to process the moment and to continue to ask “why,” she began to sense she should, and maybe even could, do something about this unfairness when she grows up.

Many of you describe your first-year TPW experience as transformative. Indeed, our theory of change hinges on the belief that if you give practical knowledge and supportive peer networks to people whom want to make a difference, they actually can and do make a difference. Over TPW’s 20-year history, we see strong evidence supporting this hypothesis in how you continually strive to make this world more just, sustainable, and enriching for all.

Our plan for the future of the organization rests on three goals.

First, we intend to reach more people, here and in parts of the world where philanthropy is growing, so that they can experience the power of knowledge to address today’s challenges and draw upon the inspiration that comes from being among a nearly 400-person network of socially conscious individuals.

Appreciating that philanthropy practiced well takes time, our second goal relates directly to you, our members. We’re committed to deepening your practice by offering master classes and facilitating ways for you to stay connected and to continuously learn from each other.

Third, we aim to share the collective wisdom within and throughout TPW to those beyond our network. With your support, we’ll pursue these three goals over the next five years with a disciplined plan fueled by passion and guided by humility.

I believe Chelsea looks at an adult and sees a fully baked person. What I try to explain is that, as grownups, we’re at our best when we’re trying to see the world through an unadulterated lens, with a beginner’s mind open to learning what the world truly is, should be, and could be. And, that being an adult is less about one event that suddenly grows us up, and more about continually striving to reach our potential. Philanthropy envisions us using that potential in service of others.

Each of us at TPW is grateful for the opportunity to work with you on your ever-evolving practice of philanthropy and our equally evolving organization. I couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead for TPW and our members and for the difference we seek to make.

My very best,

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