Dianne Oliver on the Value of Connection and Supporting Aging Populations

Editor’s Note: This year, Grantmakers in Aging’s annual conference will come to the Southeast, taking place at Memphis’ legendary Peabody hotel October 17-19. Ahead of this event, we asked Dianne Oliver, executive director of the West End Home Foundation, based in Nashville, for some thoughts on the value of membership associations like SECF and GIA, as well as the importance of supporting aging populations.

What do you find valuable about being a member of SECF? GIA?

The benefits of being a member of SECF and GIA can be captured in three words: relationships, information and community.

Membership in these associations has provided me the opportunity to develop relationships with other grantmaking professionals that I can call on for advice and counsel on issues related to management and governance or issues related to best practices in the field. SECF gives me strong regional connections where I can access incredible information about grantmaking best practices, policy issues and legal issues impacting our industry. GIA has connected me with grantmakers across the country who focus on my specific content area – aging and older adults. Through both organizations I feel part of a philanthropic community that supports and nurtures its members so that we can all achieve greater impact.

How do both organizations support funders to make better decisions about supporting issues that matter for the region?

Philanthropy is changing dramatically, and we are realizing that traditional grantmaking strategies don't necessarily lead to transformative change. Both SECF and GIA maintain a steady flow of timely information about cutting edge strategies and best practices that can inform our work.

“Aging Matters.” What is the implication of that simple statement for our region?

How we perceive and how we invest in an aging population matters greatly. Adults age 60 and older comprise approximately 23 percent of the Tennessee population. By 2030 that number will grow to 28 percent. Compare that to the fact that only approximately 2 percent of philanthropic dollars are directed to aging initiatives, per GIA research. The projected 28 percent is comprised of both vulnerable older adults who are likely to require supportive care and active older adults who will continue to be engaged and their communities. We need to invest in communities to ensure that all older adults can thrive to the fullest extent possible.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the subject of this Q & A. We regret the error.

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