Patrick McNamara brought with him three lessons he learned about philanthropy in India, and some of them, he said, are already being applied in Fremont.
McNamara served as a Fulbright-Nehru senior scholar in India for five months, working to strengthen the community foundation movement there, teaching social entrepreneurship and researching.
He returned a week ago from the trip.
The keynote speaker during the Fremont Area Community Foundation annual dinner Tuesday at the Fremont Opera House, McNamara described his host organization in India, the Sampradaan Indian Center for Philanthropy.
"What they are doing is capacity building for their partner organizations, not unlike what you are doing here," he said.
The first lesson McNamara learned, he said, was the Ghandian concept of trusteeship.
"Trusteeship is, simply put, the idea that you earn your livelihood in an honest way, and then you pay for the basic needs of you and your family. After you take care of those basic needs, you give the rest back to society," he said.
"The foundation of this is from a faith-based perspective for Ghandi, who believed that all of our riches are gifts from God, and it is for us to honor God by giving back to society what we don't need," McNamara said.
He also learned that community leadership is about more than just giving money.
"Most of these community foundations that I was studying in India don't have a whole lot of money to give, but what they do is use other resources to give back," he explained.
One example was the Mewat Community Foundation that saw clean water as the major issue in their community.
"By shining a spotlight on that issue, they rallied people to build check dams and replenish the water table and begin to provide clean water," he said. "I came to learn that over 60 percent of the people who are hospitalized in India have some water borne disease."
His other lesson was one size does not fit all when it comes to community foundations, he continued.
"The Ford Foundation was very generous in India to fund, 12 to 15 years ago, some of the startups of these community foundations," McNamara said.
A group of Indians traveled to the United States and other places to look at foundations, and then found that those models didn't make sense in their rural Indian communities, he said.
"I think that the lesson here is that one needs to understand the context in which you're working, and then design organizations or programs appropriate for that context," he said.
Foundation Board President Steve Navarrette presented the Betsy Mulliken Award for Philanthropy to John F. and Audre Kerrigan
The award, named for former foundation Executive Director Betsy Mulliken, honors people who have made an impact through volunteerism or philanthropy.
"John and Audre Kerrigan are true examples of the word stewardship," Navarrette said. "Throughout their lives they've served on numerous boards and committees, but more than that were advocates for betterment of the community."
Navarrette also recognized retiring board members Cherry Gocken, Bob Hillis and Steve Pribnow.
Executive Director Jessica Janssen said the foundation in the past year developed initiatives aimed at capitalizing on human resources, including creation of an executive planning committee to look at FACF's infrastructure and future hopes.
FACF also created a committee on capacity building.
"We believe at the Fremont Community Foundation that funding alone, while it is so important to our community ... is really a staple of what we do, but it is not enough to help sustain and support our nonprofits moving forward," she said. "Through the capacity building committee, and through conversations and partnerships with the Fremont Area United Way and Dodge County Collaborative Team, we've been meeting with our nonprofits in Fremont to talk about ways in which we can support them beyond our financial resources."
She announced that the Fremont Philanthropy group, with whom FACF has had a long-standing history, will come under the foundation's umbrella as a committee.
A new community development field of interest fund, created in collaboration with the city of Fremont, the Greater Fremont Development Council, and a private donor, has already contributed to development of the Fremont Technology Park, Janssen said.