Philanthropists Need To Be Bridging Leaders: Peggy Dulany

By Seema Chowdhry
Mint, New Delhi

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Philanthropist Peggy Dulany shares why collaboration is the key to solving some of the most pressing problems around the world.


She dropped her last name–Rockefeller–at the age of 21 and prefers to be known as Peggy Dulany. A fourth-generation Rockefeller who runs the Synergos Institute, a global non-profit organization, Dulany’s work involves getting established businesses, big- ticket philanthropists, non-profits and communities to collaborate on finding innovative solutions for the world’s wicked problems.

In India to attend the Dasra Philanthropy Week 2018, she will speak at a session on Re-imagining philanthropy: What does the future hold? on Saturday. In an interview over Skype, Dulany speaks about why she thinks collaboration is the key to solving wicked problems, and why philanthropists should learn to be bridging leaders.

Edited excerpts:
Can family play a big role in shaping a person’s philanthropic journey?

Philanthropy or social involvement was part of dinner table conversations growing up and I am the fourth generation of my family, so it’s practically in our blood. But let’s take a family where that may not be the case. The values that are communicated, whether they are about philanthropy or just about how to live a good life, shape their thinking. Even in cases where the family has been involved in business or prefers the traditional form of giving, allowing the next generation to explore more broadly, interact with their peers and seek other mentors is what helps to eventually shape their philanthropic journey. If parents give the younger generation a licence to explore, they will find their own way.

How important is it for those who are new to philanthropy to go with what the family foundation does vis-…-vis exploring their own ideas?

Different young people find their way in different ways. If there is a family structure of philanthropy, then that is the easiest way to assume the dynamics. This can be almost like an internship and one can get a chance to visit the projects that the family supports. My father (David Rockefeller) set up a small fund for his 10 grandchildren and as they grew into majority, they took more and more responsibility for defining the areas that they wanted to fund. This gave them opportunity to decide what were the areas they were most passionate about and also learn how to collaborate with each other. He also hired a very good staffer who was closer in age to the children, and guided them through the process and helped them become more professional in their approach.

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