In 2017, the Johnson Center adopted a new five-year strategic framework and refined our mission: to be a global leader in helping individuals and organizations understand, strengthen, and advance philanthropy. We set our eyes on the horizon — 2021.
Now that horizon is the ground we stand on. Our strategic framework has proven to be a solid anchor as our team and our sector have withstood a historic era of uncertainty. Our key principles — to advance applied research, to offer world-class professional development and data tools, to incorporate a global perspective on philanthropy, and to be responsible stewards of our human and fiscal resources — continue to resonate profoundly with us, with our GVSU colleagues, and with our partners.
At the close of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, we see the ongoing relevance and importance of these strategic priorities. The crises of the past 18 months have illuminated and heightened the need for those who work in the philanthropic sector to do their work differently, with a focus on inclusion and equity. Philanthropy practitioners need support to develop not only mission-area expertise but deep facility with the day-to-day functions of their roles and increased mindfulness about the how — not only the what — of their work.
It will be our work in the years to come to help provide those supports. Our recently launched interactive data portal, Community Insight, will be a huge asset to communities and networks working to visualize and address systems change. We are mining our database of 30+ years of IRS Forms 990 to forecast challenges and areas of strength in the sector. Our competency-based digital badging program in philanthropy is on the cusp of launch this fall. Workshops and courses in fundamental skills and knowledge areas will prepare practitioners for professional excellence that is rooted in connections to community and recognize their expertise with a university-issued credential.
This year, we launched a completely redesigned Johnson Center website. The process of redefining, reprioritizing, and reorganizing our content sharpened our vision for our programs and partnerships. Visitors to our homepage are now greeted by a clear articulation of the key pillars of our mission:
Even as we continue to push through this trying time, we are confident and optimistic that the work we’re pursuing will ultimately play a meaningful part in philanthropy’s efforts to build stronger, more inclusive communities where we all can thrive. I invite you to join us by following and supporting our work.
Teri Behrens, Ph.D.
Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
at Grand Valley State University