A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

Leadership Is Available to Everyone

By Andy Carroll, ASF

Andy Carroll at National Conference
ASF’s Andy Carroll talks leadership with conference attendees

When we see people in philanthropy speak out, advocate, and mobilize communities, it’s natural to assume they are inherently different from us. We marvel at their boldness. We assume they are extroverted. Full of charisma. Fearless.

Yet we now understand that deciding to act boldly is the culmination of a journey that, for the individual or foundation, began months, years, or sometimes decades ago. All the passion, listening, sense-making, analysis, and insight that ultimately moved the leader to act is invisible to us. We only see the action.

ASF has talked with dozens of you over the past 2 years in a listening project on leadership. We affirmed that small-staff philanthropists provide leadership on critical issues, especially in local communities and at the state level.

This is exciting and important.

We hope that describing the path to leadership helps you appreciate it as something accessible. We invite you to see that a leader’s courage comes from a lot of work, questioning, and knowledge—and therefore that leadership is available to anyone who has the passion and curiosity to investigate a cause.

As philanthropists, you have tremendous power to effect positive change. And each of you has the potential to lead, whether donor, trustee, staff person, family member, or next generation member. ASF wants to empower you to lead. And for those who already lead, we want to help you empower others.

See ASF’s resources on philanthropic leadership and learn about ASF membership.

Then share your leadership story here, or on Twitter using the hashtag #Path2Leadership.

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ASF Senior Program Manager Andy Carroll writes resources, designs workshops, facilitates seminars, and manages a Discussion List for ASF members. Andy has 25 years of experience in nonprofit organizations, and he enjoys talking with members about their questions, interests, passions, and plans for making a difference. 

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