April 18, 2013

For Wallis Annenberg and Leonard Aube, Friendship Has Strengthened Philanthropy

Wallis Annenberg and the Executive Director of the Annenberg Foundation have put a premium on "hanging out together"—and that has been key to their philanthropic success.

By: The Bridgespan Group
Wallis-Annenberg-and-Leonard-Aube_198x135-(1).jpgSince philanthropist Wallis Annenberg assumed leadership of the Annenberg Foundation in 2009, it has given more than a quarter of a billion dollars to over 500 organizations. “Los Angeles is my home," says Annenberg, "and I want to give back to this community.” To do this, she has searched for the most visionary nonprofit leaders in Los Angeles—alongside the foundation's Executive Director Leonard Aube.

A divide separating donors and their foundation staffs is all too common. Yet, in the case of Annenberg and Aube, that disconnect does not exist. Instead, the two have formed a close relationship built on a foundation of mutual respect and admiration. How? By spending lots of time together, meeting weekly, and conducting frequent site visits to every corner of their community. “In part, the way we learned to work together was just to put a super high premium on hanging out together and being with one another and talking," says Aube, "not just...in the formality of the office, but out in the community." 

To that end, the two ventured out together to conduct site visits in a diverse array of communities they would not otherwise have seen. Moreover, whereas typically Annenberg would have only met the head of the board or chairman of organizations, Aube introduced her to a wide array of people in the nonprofit world.  “From his work at the Science Museum, he had a very broad overview of Los Angeles and some of the wonderful men and women who are engaged in nonprofit work that he brought to the table,” says Annenberg. “He introduced me to many, many people."

See the complete archive of Wallis Annenberg and Leonard Aube videos.

The friendship that Annenberg and Aube have forged has enriched the Annenberg Foundation’s strategy in a number of ways. “I'm very blessed to have a man who runs the foundation with such skill as a friend,” says Annenberg. “That doesn't happen often and that's not something I take for granted.”

Wallis Annenberg's and Leonard Aube's Key Messages for Philanthropists

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