Council on Foundations – Conference addresses leadership and accountability issues

Under the theme of ‘Leadership in Challenging Times’, the Council on Foundations held its 55th Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada, 26-28 April. With more than 1,600 participants from the US, Canada and 20 other countries, the conference explored some of the tough issues confronting grantmakers, ranging from increased media scrutiny and the unethical behaviour of a few to the potential diversion of charitable funds to international terrorism and the devastation wrought by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

In her opening remarks, Council President and CEO Dorothy Ridings focused on the organization’s ‘Building Strong and Ethical Foundations: Doing It Right’ initiative and emphasized the need for greater grantmaker accountability. She was followed by keynote speaker Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, who spoke about the growing number of households headed by orphans in parts of the continent and made a moving plea for increased philanthropic resources to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Against a backdrop of international terrorist incidents and ongoing conflict, several sessions addressed the US Government’s post-9/11 measures aimed at preventing the diversion of charitable grants for terrorist purposes. A new Handbook on Counter-Terrorism Measures was highlighted.[1]

Because of the Toronto venue, the conference paid special attention to philanthropy in Canada. Speakers brought Canadian perspectives to issues such as global climate change and immigrant political participation while site visits were offered to a variety of local grantee organizations.

In still other ways, the value of international grantmaking was recognized at the conference. Chet Tchozewski, founder and executive director of the Global Greengrants Fund, received the Council’s prestigious Robert W Scrivener Award for Creative Grantmaking. And a new Council book, Making a Difference in Africa: Advice from experienced grantmakers by Rob Buchanan and Jayne Booker, was launched.[2]

1 Handbook on Counter-Terrorism Measures: What U.S. nonprofits and grantmakers need to know can be downloaded from the Council’s United States International Grantmaking website ‘Grantmaking in an Age of Terrorism: Some thoughts on compliance strategies’ by Janne G Gallagher, the Council’s Vice President and General Counsel, is also available.

2 Making a Difference in Africa: Advice from experienced grantmakers can be ordered through the publications section of the Council’s website It has an introduction by former President Jimmy Carter.

This column was written by Rob Buchanan, Director, International Programs, Council on Foundations. He can be contacted at

Council on Foundations
Tel +1 202 466 6512
Fax +1 202 785 3926

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