Project Management

Learning From Macro-Level Philanthropy

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I absolutely love meeting people who bring something different than I have experienced before. A few months ago, I had a chance to meet with someone who had been a senior executive at a charitable foundation.

These large-scale philanthropic organizations are often set up with funds from a major business tycoon. They are created for a specific and usually fairly narrow purpose tied to improving the world in some way. That could be social, healthcare related, tied to an environmental cause or one of any number of different causes.

Other than mass media coverage of these foundations (like when they receive massive donations or announce some key breakthrough), I had had no exposure to them. So when I had a chance to chat with someone who had made them his career, it was something I jumped at.

And it turned out to be a real eye-opener, starting pretty early in the conversation. We were talking through our backgrounds at a high level, just to get to know one another—and he told me “my work is very similar to yours.”

That really surprised me, because most of my background is in private industry (with a little bit of government thrown in). My not-for-profit experience is there, but it’s small scale and nothing like his. But that wasn’t what he meant. He was referring to the way that work gets done. He was comparing my portfolio management …

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