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Melissa Berman Featured on “The Caring Economy” Podcast with Toby Usnik as RPA Marks 20 Years

July 18, 2022

On July 14, 2022, The Caring Economy with Toby Usnik podcast featured RPA founding CEO Melissa Berman. The wide-ranging conversation began with an overview of the evolution of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors from its initial start by the Rockefeller family to where it is now, 20 years later: a trusted source of knowledge, insight, strategy, and operational guidance for philanthropic projects, families, and institutional and corporate foundations that want to increase their impact on society.

Trends in Philanthropy

Melissa Berman highlighted the trend of donors today getting involved earlier, and more deeply, with values-based decisions that require knowledge and insights beyond their own expertise. This need, she noted, has driven considerable growth over the past several years of organizations, teams, and consultants created to provide that expertise, alongside RPA and the very few other organizations that existed more than a decade ago.

Global collaboration among philanthropists is also dramatically increasing, according to Melissa. The interconnectedness we have today, along with the increased awareness of the benefits of partnering with others, are driving a stronger culture of giving. Philanthropy has many more tools and avenues than it did five, ten, or fifteen years ago; and these tools allow donors to respond more quickly as urgent needs arise. Melissa stated that the resources philanthropies and individual donors have at their disposal today to make an impact is unprecedented.

Advice for Donors

In response to a question by Toby Usnik on tips for donors, Melissa covered the five basic questions all donors should ask themselves (for more on this, see Your Philanthropy Roadmap) that can help them create not just a strategy, but an operating plan that can guide them in their daily operations.

Generational Approaches

Moving on from foundational principles for philanthropists, Melissa opined on generational differences. Where previous generations had certain areas of their lives that were about values and others that were about earnings, for example, that has changed. She stated that Millenials and Gen-Xers often want their values to permeate all aspects of their lives. They want their investments, their employment, and their personal contacts to reflect their value systems. They want to use all of their assets for good in a way that prior generations did not even begin to contemplate. These newer generations are also using their voices, through social media and purchasing decisions, for example, to advocate for their values in new ways.

The Conversation Continued…

Additional topics Melissa and Toby discussed included:

  • the rise of impact investing
  • the engine driving the future of philanthropy
  • the Rockefeller legacy of innovation
  • regional differences in how philanthropy operates around the globe
  • operating archetypes for philanthropy, and more!

Listen to the full 35-minute podcast here.

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