Joyful Impact Accelerator for Leaders in Philanthropy


The Philanthropy Advisors Accelerator is born from a place of inspiration and frustration with philanthropy as a vehicle for transformative social change at this pivotal time for the field. It's about  bringing together a diverse and visionary group of senior leaders committed to doing philanthropy differently and better --and to finding more personal joy and fulfillment along the way.


Some quick back story. We're really mindful that so many of us are exhausted after a year plus leaning in on what feels like almost every front. For all of us with such a strong calling to change-making work out in the world, it might seem hard to imagine taking on any kind of additional commitment, let alone one that is significantly focused on caring for yourself. That's why this program is intentionally grounded in our experience working with social entrepreneurs over the last 18 months creating pathways to renewed energy, joy and impact that are grace-filled and totally doable, rather than adding just another element to the overwhelm. 


The inspiration for this program grows out of the "Joyful Impact Accelerator" that Building Impact has been running for social entrepreneurs.  My colleague Brenda Calderon and I completed the first year of this program last fall with an inaugural cohort of 16 leaders and we're now in year 2 with a second cohort. The group is diverse by design, and purpose is to help amazing leaders of high potential social enterprises discover their next level in terms of impact, and equally importantly personal renewal and joy!  You can hear from them directly about their experience here and here.


We are now excited to be  teaming up with Kwame Griffith to put together a similar program for senior leaders in philanthropy.  


Why you, and why now?   


This program is about bringing together senior leaders with substantial influence over grant making decisions, whether in family foundations or other philanthropic institutions, as well as philanthropic advisors working directly with individual donors.  This is a uniquely challenging and opportune time to come together with like minded peers to help each other do philanthropy differently and better--and to find our own joy and fulfillment as we do so.

For all of us  who know the world of philanthropy up close and personal it sometimes feels like a crazy choice to answer our own call to serve in this arena. We appreciate philanthropy's unique potential as a vehicle for catalyzing systemic change, but we also know how deeply screwed up it can be.  We see how often philanthropy falls painfully short, particularly when it comes to getting resources  and autonomy to those with the proximity and the passion to make truly transformative systems change a reality.   And for many of us, the tension between the shortcomings of philanthropy and our own calling as change agents  has never felt more pressing  than in the last year, with the country in the grips of a pandemic as well as the beginnings of a reckoning with systemic racism, not to mention the increasing challenges of hyper-polarization and threats to democracy.

In the face of these challenges, many of us are leaning in as never before; launching new initiatives to level the playing field in grant making,  engaging more directly than ever before with conversations about race and power within our own institutions and across the field.  In doing so, we each have our own unique institutional and individual challenges to navigate. This program is an opportunity to build on what we already have in motion and to come together with a like minded group of peers to support each other in building up and showing up sustainably as the best version of ourselves, personally and professionally--working towards a better version of philanthropy than any one of us can generate on our own.   

Is this a fit for you? 

Some questions to consider...


I promise we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of what we’re putting together, but first let's set the stage with some questions that will help you figure out if you want to keep reading this all the way through! 

  • Have you ever looked with despair at the gulf of understanding and alignment between the grantees whose work you most admire and the ultimate decision-makers within the philanthropic institutions with whom you work? 

  • Do you have strong instincts and experience about what works best to produce lasting systemic change in your arena, but sometimes struggle to get philanthropic resources allocated accordingly?

  • Have you ever felt like you are risking your own values and integrity by getting caught in the middle between grantees and the philanthropic institution(s) you represent?

  • However much work you've already done bringing a critical lens to issues of race and identity, are you looking to peel back the onion even further in your understanding of how power and privilege operate in the specific context of the philanthropic arena? 

  • Are you looking to maximize your influence and practical effectiveness as a voice for change within your own institutional setting, or as a trusted advisor to individual philanthropists?

  • Have you ever struggled to identify and overcome your own “immune system” when it comes to taking some of the key actions you know you need to take, personally and professionally?

  •  Have you ever felt like you have big consequential decisions to make as a leader that you'd love to bring before a community of genuine peers operating as a trusted sounding board in a totally confidential setting? 

  • And what about with your family and closest friends—have you ever struggled with being joyful and present with them at the same time that you're going all in to fully serve your mission out there in the world?

  • Have you ever wondered if you could have more impact and joy if you just went back to doing the work directly yourself, instead of banging your head up against all the crazy constraints in your work as a grantmaker?


If you see yourself in any of these questions, you probably already know that you are not alone--lots of us who come to philanthropy seeking to live out our vision for a better world wrestle with these challenges. Chances are you've been having some conversations with colleagues around these challenges, sharing frustrations and wins wherever you can find them.


What if we could create an intentional community and a shared journey to go after the answers in a concerted and individually customized way?


How much more powerful would that be for you?

What this program offers

  1. You get an intentionally constructed opportunity that maximizes the likelihood that you will actually take powerful action on your own journey of personal and professional growth.  One of the biggest obstacles to personal growth for people with a strong sense of calling is that we are always putting other people and our work ahead of caring for ourselves. The envelope of a cohort based, but individually customized program like this makes it MUCH easier for us to give ourselves permission to identify and actually implement the new routines that will truly allow us to find our next level in our calling and in our lives overall. This is about everything from one on one coaching, to an Oura ring for dialing in your sleep, to a lifetime membership in the self development platform, as well as our own Joyful Impact members area with dozens of videos and exercises specifically for maximizing your joy and your impact as a change agent. We are committed to helping you connect with whatever it takes for you to move forward powerfully in your journey.

  2. You get frameworks, tools and other pieces of scaffolding for enhancing your view of the systemic dynamics at play in philanthropy overall, and within your particular setting, delivered through monthly livecast seminars and individual coaching specific to your particular context and institution(s). 

  3. You get a community of trusted peers committed to supporting each other and accelerating everyone's growth, including  through a monthly "mastermind" experience.

One on one coaching and personalized support


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Monthly Livecasts and Mastermind Group


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2-Day In Person Retreat 


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Program Team

Brenda Calderon


Kwame Griffith


Alex Johnston


We Know This Approach Can Deliver Real Results 

This blended approach to personal and professional growth produces powerful results!  Cohort 1 of the Joyful Impact Accelerator for social entrepreneurs had a net promoter score of 100 and all participants reported making significant progress on their highest priority areas for growth.

The Next Step—if you want to take it

If you’d like to learn more and explore whether this would be a fit for you, please use this link to schedule some time to talk further.  And if you have any immediate questions, please feel free to shoot me a note as well.  Likewise if you have ideas for someone else who might be a great fit for this please let me know.


And lastly, if this isn’t something you want to pursue, that’s totally cool—we are all traveling our own unique journeys and this isn’t for everybody!  But if your reason for passing this up is that you can't imagine taking on anything else, that just might be the very reason to think again.  This program is uniquely designed--and streamlined--to help you through the overwhelm to greater joy and impact!

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