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Answering the Call

How would you have answered this call?

Yesterday I received a call from a reporter at ABC News. He had received a rumor that a meeting had taken place in New York City with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, George Soros and Ted Turner and other wealthy philanthropists. None of the participants had put the meeting on their public schedules, but the reporter had confirmed with several of the participants that the meeting had taken place. The subject of the meeting, he said, was philanthropy.

What did I think of this meeting, asked the reporter? And what did they talk about?

First, I said, I have absolutely no idea. No one asked my advice.

Second, I opined, this is important to the world of philanthropy. These are major players, with major bank accounts, and they are living donors—as opposed to large foundation bureaucracies, and they therefore have the power to take action immediately.

So what would they talk about? I said I didn’t know. Other than their general commitment to engaged philanthropy, they don’t have much in common as far as I know. They have all marked out their own special areas of interest. Maybe they have identified a project they can all support. Or maybe it has to do with the nonprofit sector in general. We are in a time where contributions to charities are declining and demand for social services are at an all-time high. Moreover, credit is very tight and cash flow is a problem for many nonprofits.

What would you have said if the ABC producer had called you?

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