Stepping Up to Give Back

By Mark Strode
"The Woods" Charitable Foundation
Mark Strode, executive secretary and trustee of “The Woods” Charitable Foundation, became involved with the family foundation a few years ago. His mother temporarily stepped off the board, allowing her three children in their thirties to take the helm and redefine the foundation’s giving areas.

The Next Generation Steps Up

Strode and his siblings went through a thorough strategic planning process, ultimately deciding to focus the foundation’s grantmaking around tough topics that reflected their passions and experience in the nonprofit sector: preventing domestic violence, ending human trafficking and slavery, and child protection.

His mother has now returned to the board and respects the foundation’s new focus, says Strode.

To achieve impact in its newly defined giving areas, the foundation works closely with its grantees and looks for those with multifaceted approaches. For example, Strode will soon travel to Nepal for a site visit with grantee Free the Slaves, chosen for its comprehensive approach to ending slavery worldwide. In addition to partnering with grassroots organizations, Free the Slaves uses media campaigns to increase awareness and advocates for public policy change to dismantle systems that allow slavery to exist.

The foundation’s hands-on and holistic tactics in very specific funding areas, says Strode, will allow it to see the greatest impact over time.

Stepping Up for Exponent Philanthropy

Strode and his fellow board members find great value in Exponent Philanthropy’s resources, from the website and online Discussion List to in-person programs and seminars.

“Connecting with peers has been so valuable for me,” says Strode. “It helps me realize a commonality in shared struggles and successes, and I am always inspired by the great work of others. Being part of Exponent Philanthropy helps us be better funders, both more effective and more strategic. The better we can do, the more lives we can touch and change.”

After attending his first Exponent Philanthropy programs, Strode knew he wanted to become more active with Exponent Philanthropy. “Being around other Exponent Philanthropy members, I am always energized. I got so much out of my first few Exponent Philanthropy events that I wanted to help bring the same experience to others.”

“Exponent Philanthropy has enhanced and improved my foundation work in so many ways,” he says. Strode quickly became an active member of the Next Generation Advisory Committee, a group of younger Exponent Philanthropy members who are engaged in the work of family foundations and who guide programming and content for this important segment of our membership. Strode has since been appointed to the Member Services Committee, comprised of engaged members who work with our staff to oversee the delivery of programs and services.

Strode also serves on Exponent Philanthropy’s 2012 National Conference Host Committee, a group of members who help to shape the conference and showcase local funders, nonprofits, and venues. This year, the National Conference will take place October 7–9 in San Francisco, and Strode is thrilled to show off the Bay Area and its vibrant nonprofit sector.

In addition, in 2011, Strode and other trustees from “The Woods” Charitable Foundation hosted an Exponent Philanthropy Local Program, “Tackling Tough Topics: Working to End Child Sexual Exploitation,” to increase fellow members’ awareness of a topic about which they are passionate.

“The Woods” Charitable Foundation is also a longtime supporter of Exponent Philanthropy with grants over and above dues.

“We realized as a board that we were getting a lot of value from our membership—much more than our dues—so we give back in others ways: volunteering and giving additional grants to keep Exponent Philanthropy open to others.”