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Our Strategic Plan
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Mission Statement
The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers maximizes the impact of giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective philanthropists.
Philanthropy in Maryland will be an integral force in tackling the region’s most pressing problems through partnership with government, business and nonprofit decision-makers. The Association will be a catalyst for those partnerships by growing leaders in the philanthropic community; engaging diverse and emerging groups in philanthropy; cultivating a new generation of trustees, donors, and professional staff; and encouraging efficient and ethical philanthropic practices.
The Changing Landscape of Philanthropy
The demographics of American communities are changing. The population is aging, and in many communities, ethnic diversity is rapidly increasing. People of color are expected to become the majority in the United States by 2043, when the white population will likely dip below 50 percent.
Amid these changes, the traditional face of philanthropy — white, male, and older — will almost inevitably give way, with a far more diverse group poised to take up the mantle of community change.
At the same time, two large bulges in the population — millennials and baby boomers — are reaching their next phase of life: boomers are reaching retirement, and the millennials are moving into the workforce. Both transitions present important opportunities for donor associations to engage new members and partners but it may require changes in how funders think about and work with these groups.
- Monitor Institute, Shift Happens: Understanding How the World is Changing. June 2014.
A Strong Foundation for Greater Impact
Since 1983 the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has supported philanthropy and brought together a diverse group of funders with the shared goal of strengthening communities and improving quality of life across Maryland.
The Association serves as the resource, the network and the voice for philanthropy in Maryland. Our approach is rooted in the fundamental belief that philanthropy will have its greatest impact when diverse donors come together in a strong, supportive network that elevates best practices, raises their collective voice and increases opportunities for alignment and collaboration in pursuit of improved community conditions.
Our day to day work - facilitating peer connections, funder affinity groups and issue focused programming, and aligned and collaborative grantmaking -- all multiply the effect of individual giving. Over the Association’s history we have also evolved into a space where ideas and initiatives emerging from the aspirations and interests of our members can be implemented through special initiatives and projects; and where partnerships can be forged to influence public policy, promote collective action and create lasting solutions.
Funders become members of our Association to be informed and connected, and because they seek the collaborative opportunities that will leverage their individual grantmaking for lasting change in the communities they serve. Our members are tackling some of the most intractable issues facing Maryland communities and realize that as a philanthropic community we must lead these conversations, we must engage our grantees and partners in new ways AND that to improve community conditions we must challenge the way we, our grantees and our partners understand and "tackle” the structures and systems that work against change.
This strategic plan acknowledges the long standing role of our Association as a convener and leader for collective and transformative action and seeks to elevate that role by maximizing our unique ability to convene a broad range of stakeholders, to be a voice, to lead discourse and to influence governance and policy affecting the issues and communities we seek to improve.
We recognize that partnership across sectors is at the core of transformative change. To forge a stronger network supporting the aspirational goals of philanthropy we will strive to break down barriers and include new donors and new partners, individuals and organizations that will inform and energize our efforts. Critical issues affecting the quality of life in our State will focus our work and drive the engagement of our network.
Driven by the shared interests and goals of our members, our aspiration is to seek all those large and small opportunities to affect lasting change in the communities we serve – opportunities that will exponentially multiply the impact of our individual and collective giving to transform systems.
Strategic Goals 2015 - 2020
The Association will continue to be the best forum for philanthropy to lead and realize the power of intentional collaboration. The shared interests and goals of our member organizations will continue to drive our service and our efforts to seek opportunities, both significant and incremental, with the potential to influence transformative change.
The work of the Association, to support donors in their giving, will continue to be at the core of our mission and services. Programs connect members to a range of philanthropic colleagues, national expertise and trends. Programs are designed to build awareness, deepen knowledge and professional practices, foster collaboration, and leverage the impact of member giving. The issue-area Affinity Group structure allows in-depth exploration of and impact on targeted community concerns. Through Affinity Groups, members become educated about the community, act on shared interests, discuss promising practices and common challenges, engage public officials and decision-makers and explore opportunities for collaborative action. Members increasingly desire action-oriented convening where they not only learn but also determine what actions they can take individually or together to make a difference on a critical issue.
  • Strategy A: Provide robust educational programming for funders to learn about community issues and effective practice.
  • Strategy B: Host initiatives and other special projects to promote collaboration, cross sector partnerships and influence positive community change.
  • Strategy C: Collaborate with funders, partners and public officials to influence policy, community investment and implementation.
  • Strategy D: Support our primary partner constituency, the nonprofit community, to build capacity, knowledge and best practices around resource development and funder relationships.
The Association must forge a strong, diverse network supporting the aspirational goals of philanthropy by breaking down barriers and including new donors and partners, individuals and organizations, informing and energizing our efforts. Demographic trends in our State will present new leaders, new partners and new opportunities for our Association to consider who our next generation of members will be and how we will engage them in an agenda focused on transformative action. The Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Committtee will guide membership and network development strategies using a diversity and equity lens.
Since 1983, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has been Maryland’s home for foundations, corporations and grantmaking charities to learn and act together. More recently membership eligibility has recognized new types of philanthropies, such as community foundations, donor advised funds and giving circles. To achieve our purpose of maximizing the impact of philanthropic giving on community life, the Association will continue to adapt to the ever evolving landscape of philanthropy. This landscape includes endowed and personal giving as well as partners from the nonprofit, corporate and government sectors. The landscape also includes new strategies such as crowd-funding and impact investing. The forms of philanthropy combined with the traditional work of an Association: convening, sharing expertise, research and policy advocacy enable an increasingly strong network able to apply "capital”, in all its forms, for public good. It is our belief that growing a broader, more diverse, network for philanthropy in Maryland will serve our members and provide new opportunities to maximize their collective impact on community life.
  • Strategy A: Sustain a strong Association through member engagement and cultivation of new members.
  • Strategy B: Adapt the Association’s network to reflect the evolving philanthropic community and the inclusion of more diverse perspectives.
  • Strategy C: Cultivate and sustain relationships with organized philanthropy, elected officials, other policy makers and private sector partners.
The Association must strengthen its role as a central resource and convening space for all forms of philanthropy, driven by issues many of which are regional or statewide. By maximizing our unique ability to convene a broad range of stakeholders; to be a voice, to lead public discourse and to influence governance and policy we will strive impact the challenging social issues that affect our communities.
The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has used a variety of communication tools and strategies to promote the organization, the work of members, raise the voice of philanthropy and build awareness of the philanthropic sector. As the Association’s network has grown by geography and type of philanthropy, so has the need to consider our brand and value to those diverse members, prospective new members and partners we seek to engage. The Association’s relevance will be promoted and sustained by growing strategic, effective, collaborative giving across the state, and by positioning the expertise of members as a primary resource to public policy, government and community leaders.
  • Strategy A: Increase awareness and understanding of the Association’s purpose and work to current and prospective members.
  • Strategy B: Position the Association and its members as thought leaders and primary resources for public policy, government, community leaders and the private sector.
  • Strategy C: Build awareness of the work of the philanthropic sector.
The Association must continue to meet the evolving needs of its current members, new members and partners engaged in a broader network for philanthropy. Technology will challenge us to balance its use while maintaining authentic relationships and the power of peer to peer connection and learning. Using technology as a tool to enhance member value we will strive to keep pace with today’s expectations of instant response, results, and information; acknowledge that members have more options for information, technical assistance and idea sharing as infrastructure groups continue to grow and specialize; and to engage current and new members who are increasingly busy and value their time differently.
The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has always adapted new technology to connect with members and distribute timely information, but technology continues to affect the expectations of members and the capacity of the Association to do its work. Today the Association represents a statewide geography and diverse members, spanning multiple generations of technology users. Working locally and with our national network, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the Association can leverage technology investments to do more with its small staff, add value to membership and put virtual connectivity to work for learning and collaborative action. Many common technologies today did not exist during the previous strategic planning process, and the future pace of change will be even more rapid.
  • Strategy A: Enhance the value of membership and the member experience by leveraging and investing in technology.
  • Strategy B: Leverage technology to improve operational efficiencies.
Download the full 2015 - 2020 ABAG Strategic Plan

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