Philanthropy Bridging Divides



In mid-November of 2017 a small group of philanthropic leaders gathered at Pocantico, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s conference center, for a confidential conversation about philanthropy’s role during these contentious and divided times.


Many of us have had conversations over the course of this year with friends and colleagues about the declining quality of discourse in our country on matters of great consequence.  Society seems divided in so many ways that inhibit reflection, compromise, and the discovery of common ground. Stephen Heintz, RBF’s president, hosted a small and diverse group of leaders in philanthropy, representing left, right, and center to discuss whether, despite our ideological differences and specific philanthropic goals, there might be some ways to work together to try to help heal our society.


The group explored how we can make a difference and if we can find a way to work with diverse philanthropic leaders who share very different views.  We discussed a wide variety of possible way philanthropists could help our nation have a better conversation about our differences and our future.


Although we did not have a specific outcome in mind, a number of potential next steps emerged which we intend to explore in the coming months. One of these outcomes involves catalyzing ongoing conversations within philanthropy, and perhaps beyond.


The meeting was co-initiated and organized by  Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers’ Fund, Mediators Foundation’s Mark Gerzon and John Steiner,  and Chris Gates, former, vice president of the Council on Foundations .  At the direct request of those involved, details about who attended and the next steps to which they agreed will remain private.