America’s second oldest philanthropic organization (after the Carnegie Corporation), the Rockefeller Foundation, is celebrating 100 years of global contributions. The Foundation has been instrumental in contributing to educational reforms, agricultural development across the world, and countless breakthroughs in medicine (like developing the vaccine for yellow fever). And they’re not alone; now seems to be a very fertile time for charities and organizations such as the Gates Foundation and Rockefeller. Speaking to the BBC, president Judith Rodin, described the atmosphere today, as opposed to when the foundation began in 1913, “What we’ve seen in the last 10 or 15 years, and now occurring at an accelerated pace, is that we can’t predict everything or prevent it, whether it’s the next earthquake or massive flood… or the next financial ripple… or the next rebellion that’s going to shake some region of the world.” To contend with this, she and her colleagues are working towards the future – a sort of crystal ball approach – investing in the longevity of cities and cultures; what they may need before a calamitous event occurs.
But, as with any business, the challenges of a continually shifting economic and technological landscape prove to be increasingly difficult to predict and surmount – patience, investment and a intelligent business model are just as key to a charity’s success as to any business. But, this is also a time in history when humanity is seemingly looking beyond just growth – attempting instead to find a balance in our collective endeavours and a willingness to help each other. Rodin said in the interview, “She wants Rockefeller to be remembered for being willing to be risk takers, for being disruptors “creating transformational things”, for building new fields, and for always betting on people…” and this seems to be a very relevant, and modern maxim for any business or charity to embrace. The next hundred years may look very different, but the core values of the Rockefeller Foundation are firmly in place.