Mothers love to brag about their children. For them, it’s a source of pride to say, “my daughter is a doctor” or “my son is a lawyer.” In that moment of truth, it is universally understood that the mother was successful in raising her child well.
My mom is proud of me, but she has always had difficulty describing what I do. “Rahsaan spends other people’s money for good causes” is usually the best she can muster. Getting the job as EPIP’s new Executive Director didn’t improve matters. “Now you’re telling me you’re a Pip?! I didn’t know Gladys Knight was auditioning new back up singers.”
Let me explain to my mother (and anyone else who is interested) what EPIP is.
We’re a national network of foundation professionals. We promote excellence in our members’ practice of philanthropy in communities and in the field at large. We are a learning, teaching, and networking organization. EPIP exists to ensure that all emerging foundation professionals reach their potential as leaders and stewards of philanthropic resources. We also want to support others emerging as community leaders through personal philanthropy.
We’re often asked what we mean by “emerging.” Traditionally, our membership has consisted of young people under 40 navigating careers in philanthropy, so most people associate our use of this term with age. But for us, it’s a bigger idea than that. We have grown our organization into one of the most diverse in the field. We reflect America’s changing ethnic and social demographics and attract members from diverse professional backgrounds. After being around for a decade, we now recognize that you don’t have to be young to be new to the field of philanthropy. We also recognize that everyone should be encouraged to practice philanthropy in their own lives, in small and large ways.
We support emerging leaders and individuals that want to engage philanthropically. Our organization supports emerging thought nurtured in places outside traditional, old-guard philanthropy. We promote diverse perspectives and value innovation for meeting societal challenges. We recognize institutional and community-based forms of philanthropy.
EPIP creates change agents who learn from prior generations and build upon their accomplishments. We are looking toward future innovations in the field. The Effective Leadership Career Program (ELCP) is a tool we use to accomplish this goal. The ELCP includes an online career portal and interactive in-person trainings at EPIP regional and national events that are free to our members. The ELCP also features individualized career counseling opportunities. Emerging professionals and their employers can now purchase single sessions and packages of career counseling sessions with a cadre of qualified career coaches. We’ve identified a dynamic team of geographically, professionally, and demographically diverse coaches to serve our members.
Describing EPIP is not easy but I’m getting better at it. I’ll continue to improve my articulation of the group’s work and impact so others will realize its transformative potential. Maybe I’ll get good enough so even my mother can describe what I do… with pride.