Contributor Recommends: The Art of Gathering

For January’s Contributor Recommends, we spoke to Hannah Zucker. She leads corporate responsibility for fintech FactSet across EMEA and APAC. Having started out in charities managing fundraising, she spent time with the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Out of the office, Hannah loves gardening and sculpture and sits on an advisory board  for Vital Voices Europe. 

Hannah recommends the book The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.

CSR professionals do a huge amount of convening diverse groups of people to generate multifaceted value. Honestly, when I sit down and think about it, that’s all I really do!

From boards that help us decide where to invest company funding, to volunteer mentoring programmes, to recognition events… our CSR ‘tribe’ intuitively knows that convening these groups benefits us all. But how often do we think about how we convene people?

The Art of Gathering is a useful reminder of how to convene people well.

Parker’s outlook in many ways appeals to me personally. Admittedly, some, if not many of Parker’s points in The Art of Gathering might read as obvious. For example, the advice that opening and closing a gathering strongly is important or that where you host a gathering will impact its success. But how often have we simply skimmed over these obvious points in a desire to achieve a quick win (or just to get out of the office before midnight)?

Other advice is, for me at least, more of a penny drop moment. For example, Parker makes some useful points on generous leadership in her book. Her core message is to own the role of host by accepting the fact that you are responsible for what your participants get out of attending.

Ultimately, the most powerful reminder to come out of The Art of Gathering for me is Parker’s focus on purpose.  By clearly and strictly defining the purpose of each gathering, we can confidently answer tricky questions.

Why shouldn’t your philanthropy board gather in the company boardroom to learn about social mobility? Why not just leave everyone to mingle for the first 30 minutes of a volunteer recognition event? Why be difficult and ask a group of potential mentors a purposefully controversial question?

By repeatedly applying the question of purpose to the convening power that we as CSR professionals hold, we can grow the value of our already invaluable work.

You can purchase The Art of Gathering online or read more on Forbes.

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