‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ This remark by Peter Drucker is quoted by people who see culture at the heart of all successful institutions. The values of the organization and the way employees collaborate and communicate with each other are all embedded in the internal culture. And they’re hard to change. Strategy on the other hand, demands change. Moreover, the external environment in which the organization operates also plays a significant role. In Turkey, it’s a pretty tough one at the moment. So how would the Sabanci Foundation’s new strategy cope with these challenges?
Alignment of strategy with the internal culture
In 2007, the Sabanci Foundation which until that point had been focused on traditional philanthropy – building schools and institutions, providing scholarships and supporting arts and culture – added a strategic element to its traditional philanthropy, tackling social issues through grantmaking.
Strategic philanthropy was a major change for a Turkish family foundation. Our work was dedicated to fighting discrimination against women, youth and people with disabilities and ensuring their equal participation in social life. The most important outcome of this approach was the empowerment of those who face the problem and know the solution better than anyone else.