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26 posts from April 2011

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (April 2011)

April 30, 2011

As is our custom on the last day of the month, here's a short list of the most visited PhilanTopic posts over the previous thirty days. Enjoy.

What's the best thing you've read/watched/heard this month?

This Week in PubHub: Environment: Green Access

April 29, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she looked at reports that highlight the need to protect and invest in the environmental, economic, and cultural benefits of the planet's water and marine resources.)

While the environmental benefits of green spaces are obvious, the issue of equitable green access -- access to parks and open spaces where children can play and communities can thrive -- lies at the intersection of environmental, health, community development, and social justice concerns. This week in PubHub we're featuring four reports that examine how access to green space is inequitably distributed and what it means for racial and economic justice.

City Project has been mapping the distribution of parks and green spaces across Southern California, overlaid with demographic, economic, and historical data, in order to analyze green access by race/ethnicity and poverty rates. Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Green Access and Equity in Orange County (24 pages, PDF) finds that disparities in children's fitness, obesity rates, and safe parks are directly linked to race/ethnicity and household income. The report found that a disproportionate percentage of children of color live in areas of concentrated poverty in the northern part of the county, where their access to parks or school fields for play or public transportation connected to open spaces and beaches farther south is limited, and therefore are more likely not to meet physical fitness standards. Areas with the least access to parks and open spaces also have the highest child obesity rates. The implications of such disparities extend far beyond physical health, the report's authors argue, in that physical fitness is also linked to academic performance. The report was funded by the California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes, Kresge, Marguerite Casey, Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert, Rouben and Violet Jiji, San Diego, Union Bank of California, Whole Systems, and William C. Kenney Watershed Protection foundations.

City Project also found that while San Diego County is 45 percent green space, areas of the county with the highest concentrations of low-income households and people of color are "park-poor" and have the highest child obesity rates. Not only would better access to parks and open spaces provide these communities with environmental, health, and economic benefits, the authors argue, it would also also give the residents of those communities healthier venues in which to celebrate their diverse cultural heritages and foster community pride. Funded by the San Diego Foundation, the Fletcher Family Fund, the Hattie Ettinger Conservation Fund, and REI, Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Green Access and Equity for the San Diego Region (46 pages, PDF) suggests a number of ways to ensure more equitable green access in the county, including prioritizing green space projects in low-income areas; developing better public transit to green spaces; implementing joint-use projects that facilitate the public's recreational use of parks, school facilities, and pools; and expanding the Conservation Corps and youth job programs.

Social justice is a central theme in grassroots efforts to secure green access in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Baldwin Hills, which is threatened by expanded oil drilling, a new report from Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles and City Project argues. The report, Keep Baldwin Hills Clean and Green for Generations to Come (56 pages, PDF), notes that the neighborhood is one of the most park-poor areas in California -- due in part to a history of discriminatory land use and economic policies and practices -- and as a result has disproportionately suffered the environmental burdens of local oil field operations. Funded by the California Endowment, the Impact Fund, Kaiser Permanente, and the James Irvine, Kresge, Liberty Hill, and Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert foundations, the report lays out the community's vision for converting the oil field into a 1,200-acre park.

Farther north, a public-private partnership in San Francisco has succeeded in offering residents more recreational space and access by upgrading the city's athletic fields and streamlining its field permit system. In Giving Every Child a Place to Play Ball: A Partnership to Revitalize San Francisco's Athletic Fields (24 pages, PDF), the City Fields Foundation describes its efforts to renovate run-down fields, install lights for night play and practices, and reform the permit system for easier and more equitable field access. The report also details a number of challenges, including concerns about the use of synthetic turf, the vagaries of city politics, and the difficulty of engaging local residents who are more focused on crime and safety concerns than park stewardship.

What are your thoughts about disparities in green access and/or how the disparities relate to social and economc justice? Are you involved in or do you know of any philanthropy-supported projects designed to enhance access to safe parks and open spaces? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

And dont forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse hundreds of reports related to the environment and environmental concerns.

-- Kyoko Uchida

A 'Flip' Chat With...Danielle Brigida, Digital Marketing Manager, National Wildlife Federation

April 28, 2011

(This is the first in a series of videos, recorded as part of our "Flip" chat series, that explores how various nonprofits -- and the consultants they hire -- are using "social media for social good.")

Last week, I attended a 501 Tech NYC event, "Ask A Social Media Strategist," that featured National Wildlife Federation digital marketing manager Danielle Brigida (@starfocus). For the last four and a half years, Danielle has been helping NWF engage with its constituents online through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, while also training internal staff on how to use various social media tools. Among other things, she is responsible for maintaining the organization's main social networking accounts, while more than twenty other staff members are tasked with monitoring online profiles related to their programs or departments.

Before the event got under way, I had a chance to sit down with Danielle to discuss NWF's social media strategy and how the organization divvies up responsibilities associated with maintaining its significant online presence. Danielle also offered a few tips for resource-constrained nonprofits looking to get the most bang for their social media buck.

(If you're reading this in an e-mail, click here.)

   

(Total running time: 3 minutes, 24 seconds)

During the event, Danielle explained how she sometimes has to talk NWF staff out of creating a Facebook fan page or other online profile for their program because creating a new one would be overkill. Since I didn't think to ask Danielle this question during the event, I thought it would be nice to hear from all of you about the metrics you use to determine whether a new program needs its own online profile or identity? And when do you say enough is enough? Use the comments section to share your thoughts....

-- Regina Mahone

Talking Philanthropy: Jeff Jarvis, Interactive Journalism Program Director, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

Jarvis In the latest installment of our monthly podcast series, hosts Larry Blumenthal and Bill Silberg talk to media expert Jeff Jarvis about his notion of the "radically transparent foundation" -- a concept he put forward in a session at this year's Council on Foundation's annual meeting. Jarvis, who is the director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism and author of the BuzzMachine blog, talks with Larry and Bill about the reasons foundations need to embrace this growing trend of "publicness."

 

Running time: 00:14:56

(Right-click to download mp3)

In the podcast, Jarvis says that rather than revealing more information for the sake of revealing it, a "radically transparent foundation" would be "more process-oriented" and would think more collaboratively. It would also find "ways to leverage resources more wisely." What do you think? What are the characteristics of a "radically transparent" foundation?

Do you have a topic you'd like to hear Larry and Bill address? Let us know in the comments section below, or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Key Facts on Corporate Foundations (April 2011)

April 27, 2011

Giving by the nation's approximately 2,700 grantmaking corporate foundations remained basically unchanged in 2010, at $4.7 billion.

According to Key Facts on Corporate Foundations (6 pages, PDF), giving by corporate foundations (in current dollars) increased 0.2 percent year-over-year in 2010 -- but fell 1.6 percent when adjusted for inflation.

Corp_keyfacts_overall 
Corp_keyfacts_inflation 

Other key facts from the survey:

  • 2,733 -- Number of grantmaking corporate foundations in 2009
  • 18.7 percent -- Share of corporate foundations reporting more than $1 million in giving in 2009
  • 10 percent -- Corporate foundation giving as a share of all foundation giving in 2009

Corp_keyfacts_aspercent 

As the chart below shows, education (22 percent) and human services (20 percent) were the top funding priorities of corporate foundations in 2009 (the trough of the economic downturn), followed by public affairs/society benefit (19 percent), health (15 percent), arts and culture (14 percent), international affairs (4 percent), environment and animals (4 percent), and science and technology (2 percent).

Corp_keyfacts_priorities 
 
Compared to community and independent foundations, however, the larger corporate foundations included in the Foundation Center's grants sample were more likely to allocate funding for the arts and public affairs/society benefit. Indeed, much of the support for the latter reflected giving for philanthropy/voluntarism, including federated funds.

Corp_keyfacts_compared 

According to the report, the top corporate foundation by total giving (includes grants, scholarships, and employee-matching gifts) was the Sanofi-Aventis Patient Assistance Foundation ($321,376,881), followed by:

Looking ahead, just over half (52 percent) of corporate foundations responding to the Foundation Center's annual forecasting survey expect to increase their giving in 2011.

Corp_keyfacts__2011outlook 

For a list of the top twenty-five corporate foundations by total giving and/or to download a copy of the report, click here

Key Facts on Community Foundations (April 2011)

April 26, 2011

Although 2010 marked the first consecutive-year decline in community foundation giving since 1981, a majority of community foundations say their giving will increase or hold steady in 2011, a new Foundation Center report finds.

According to Key Facts on Community Foundations (6 pages, PDF), giving by community foundations declined an estimated 2.1 percent in 2010, following a 7.1 percent decline in 2009. The outlook is improving, however, with half the respondents (50 percent) saying they anticipate that their giving will increase in 2011, while 16 percent expect it to remain flat.

Some other key facts from the survey:

  • $4 billion -- Estimated giving by community foundations in 2010
  • 737 -- Number of grantmaking community foundations in 2009
  • 44.6 percent –- Share of community foundations reporting more than $1 million in giving in 2009
  • 9.1 percent -– Community foundation giving as a share of all foundation giving in 2009

Keyfacts_community11_web-2c
Keyfacts_community11_web-2b

As the charts below show, education (28 percent) and human services (22 percent) were the top funding priorities of communty foundations in 2009, followed by health (14 percent), arts and culture (12 percent), public affairs/society benefit (10 percent), environment/animals (6 percent), religion (4 percent), international affairs/development/peace (2 percent), and science/technology (2 percent). Community foundations were also more likely than independent or corporate foundations to provide funding for education and human services, and less likely to provide funding for health, international affairs, and science and technology.

Keyfacts_community11_web-3a

Keyfacts_community11_web-3b

Finally, the report found that the largest community foundation by total giving in 2009 was the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation ($183,493,211), followed by:

For a list of the top twenty-five foundations by total giving and/or to download a copy of the factsheet (6 pages, PDF), click here.

'First-Person Stories'

April 25, 2011

(Bruce Trachtenberg is executive director of the Communications Network, a nonprofit that works to provide resources, guidance, and leadership to advance the strategic practice of communications in philanthropy. Bruce is also an occasional contributor to and frequent commenter here at PhilanTopic. This post was published earlier today on the Network's blog.)

What a story the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund has to tell about "First-Person Stories."

Among the the things to know about the storytelling project making its debut on the foundation's Web site are these:

  • All the stories being published online are oral histories told by the people themselves -- immigrants, gays and lesbians, young students, and others -- who are the focus the Haas, Jr. mission to help build a “more just and caring society.”
  • The effort is receiving guidance and hands-on support from a Pulitzer-Prize nominated author.
  • People who want to tell their own stories can submit their ideas to the foundation via its Web site.
  • Overall, says Denis Chicola, senior communications officer, the Haas, Jr. project is designed "to give a voice to people who might otherwise not have one, yet who have something important to say about the issues at the heart of the foundation's work." Chicola adds that by actively promoting the series, the foundation also Is "giving people whose stories need to be heard access to an audience that also wouldn't be within their reach."

First-Person Stories draws its inspiration -- and technical assistance -- from a nonprofit called the Voice of Witness that was started by author Dave Eggers Voiceto depict "human rights crises around the world through the stories of the men and women who experience them."

Like Voice of Witness, Haas, Jr. is using oral histories as a way to "humanize difficult and complex subjects," says Chicola. More so, Eggers is lending his expertise to the Haas, Jr. effort by editing the first-person stories submitted to and subsequently posted to the foundation's Web site.

From his work with the Voice of Witness, Eggers has already seen firsthand the power of first-person storytelling:

Again and again we see narrators who feel empowered and self-possessed after telling their stories. It's actually a process of reclaiming the narrative of your life. When we published our book about exonerated prisoners in the U.S., the narrators wrote to us saying that it was the first time their story had been told accurately and in full. That's a big deal, especially to someone who's felt wrongly accused or misunderstood. To finally have their narrative reclaimed -- it's very powerful. Even life-changing.

The first to tell his story on the Haas, Jr. Web site is Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1980s. In his early years, he worked as a migrant farm worker, and -- against all odds -- made his way to Berkeley and Harvard Medical School before becoming a renowned brain surgeon. Says Chicola, "In his own words, 'Dr. Q', reflects on his remarkable journey and on what America means to him."

The fund intends to add a new story to the First-Person section of its Web site on a regular basis.

 While largely a communications department-managed project, program staff plays an important role by helping Chicola identify the themes that best embody or reflect the nature of the foundation's grantmaking. For instance, Dr. Q's story is about the challenge of being an immigrant in the UDE.S. Other stories might portray other aspects of immigrant life, such as what it's like to be a native-born child whose parents are undocumented.

The foundation's Web site invites people to submit their ideas for stories that can help broaden awareness and increase more engagement around issues such as gay and lesbian rights, immigrant rights, and education opportunities, and community initiatives. If the story seems right for telling, the foundation will follow up and request that the person write it up and send it in.

Chicola says the foundation is open to the possibility of some day letting people post their stories directly on the Haas, Jr. Web site as a way to "promote an even deeper level of understanding and engagement." He adds, "As a funder, we have access to so many amazing stories."

There are a number of ways to view First-Person Stories. We can label this a smartly designed communications project. Or we can describe it as a productive collaboration between communications and program colleagues. But, in this case, it could be considered something more than even those two things combined. It's an example of how a foundation is trying to make our society more just and the cultural life of communities more vibrant -- and not just by relying on its own resources, but by giving voice to people we rarely hear from and are better off when we do.

-- Bruce Trachtenberg

Weekend Link Roundup (April 23-24, 2011)

April 24, 2011

Easter-eggs Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

On her Getting Attention blog, Nancy Schwartz suggests when the key to crafting an effective fundraising appeal about a difficult issue is to "focus on the positive changes...that will be made by the organization's work" and then describe the strategy to be used.

Diversity

"In the charitable marketplace, diversity and inclusiveness can be powerful strategies for building the capacity of nonprofits and foundations, and helping them fulfill their mission of boosting the capacity of people and places in need," writes Todd Cohen on his Inside Philanthropy blog. "But while they preach diversity, far too few nonprofits and foundations will take on or can handle the difficult job of practicing it...."

Fundraising

Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks shares this chart from Jessica Hagy of Indexed which highlights why it's important to respect your donors.

With increased postage rates, "shorter attention spans of...direct mail readers, and less discretionary spending capacity by donors," direct mail will be challenging for nonprofits in 2011, writes Joanne Fritz on her About.com Nonprofit Blog. To help development staff get back to basics with their fundraising letters, Fritz shares some advice from professional fundraiser Allan Sharpe.

Nonprofit Management

CBS caused a ruckus last week with a "60 Minutes" segment that accused best-selling author Greg Mortenson of exaggerating the number of schools built by his charity, the Central Asia Institute, and of improperly using funds donated to CAI. Withholding judgment, GuideStar president and CEO Bob Ottenhoff offers a few lessons to-be-learned from the controversy on his blog.

Philanthropy

On his White Courtesy Telephone blog, Greater New Orleans Foundation president Albert Ruesga writes an open letter to younger people in philanthropy. In the letter, Ruesga explains what he believes needs to happen in order for philanthropy to change. Says Ruesga,

I believe [philanthropy] will only evolve into an engine of transformation by the efforts of people -- young and old -- who are honest about the gap between its aspirations and its outcomes, and who offer an alternative to what has become, in my view, an especially expensive means of maintaining current systems of social, economic, and political oppression....

Social Media

Networked Nonprofit co-author Beth Kanter shares some examples of how arts and cultural organizations are using QR codes -- bar codes that can be scanned by a mobile phone and are currently being printed in magazines and on T-shirts to point people to more information online.

And on her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen explains why "it's crazy to participate in NO social media, and...equally nuts to participate in ALL social media."

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a happy Easter!

-- Regina Mahone

Event: The Arab World in Transition: What’s the Role of Philanthropy?

April 21, 2011

(Nick Scott is assistant to the publisher at Philanthropy News Digest. In his previous post, he looked at burgeoning civil society movements in the MENA region.)

Libya_protestor Taking my seat in a crowded conference room at Philanthropy New York earlier this month, I felt a bit like an interloper in the company of so many foundation presidents, investment bank VPs, and executive directors. But banishing my insecurities, I settled in to listen to an excellent workshop moderated by Foundation Center president Brad Smith.

The panel of speakers featured Stephen Heintz, president of the New York City-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund (and a former co-founding president at Demos: A Network for Action & Ideas); Dr. Bassma Kodmani, executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative (and a former senior program officer at the Ford Foundation's MENA office); and Anthony Richter, associate director at the Open Society Foundations and director of OSF's MENA initiative and Central Eurasia project.

A Limited Role for U.S. Foundations in the Arab World

It was clear from the outset that the major theme of the evening was going to be caution and restraint. Political reform in the Middle East is the kind of topic that gets international funders excited, but the panelists all agreed it is important for Western foundations, NGOs, and development agencies to respect the fact that the democracy movements in the Arab world are homegrown and driven by local actors. Moreover, the appropriate role for an outsider is almost always a supporting one -- and only if requested. Kodmani spoke of the hyper-sensitivity to Western intervention she experienced firsthand recently in Egypt. Change, when it comes, "will be on our terms" was an oft-repeated sentiment, and outside funders, she said, need to understand that the debate over issues such as minority rights, religion, and women's participation would continue to be an internal conversation. The events of the last decade have made citizens of many Arab countries wary of American interventionism, so any attempts to influence the political discourse -- well intentioned though they may be -- are likely to be met with resistance.

Continue reading »

Ethical Storysharing, Part 2

April 19, 2011

(Frequent contributor Thaler Pekar recently delivered a lecture on the Ethics of Working with Story to Kent State University’s graduate program in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management. Click here to read part 1. The complete video of the lecture can be seen at her Web site, www.thalerpekar.com.)

Storytelling_night A wise person once said, "There are always three stories: the story you tell; the story you hear; and the story that is the truth." I will add a fourth: the story you are not hearing.

Thinking about the stories you're not hearing is critical to the ethical use of story. Do you have a responsibility to seek them out? Also, do you plan to label and publicly present the stories you do gather? And if so, how will the context affect the way the audience perceives those stories?

The way you choose to label stories -- "Stories from College Graduates," "Stories from Women," Stories from African Americans” -- can affect the way in which they are understood. When you label, you may lose some of the context and emotion that is critical to true understanding.

Similarly, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie warns, in a 2009 TED Talk, about the "danger of the single story." As Adichie says:

How they are told, who tells them, when they are told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes, "That if you want to dispose a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, 'Secondly...'

Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, but not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African states, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story...."

(I encourage you to watch the entire twenty-minute talk.)

Be aware, as well, of other power imbalances, of people feeling they have no recourse but to say "Yes" when you ask them to share their story. Perhaps you want to use it in an advertising campaign or a public service announcement and are offering monetary compensation or an all-expenses-paid trip. Either may constitute a power imbalance.

Continue reading »

Ethical Storysharing, Part 1

April 18, 2011

(Regular contributor Thaler Pekar recently delivered a lecture on the ethics of working with story to Kent State University's graduate program in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management. Below is an excerpt from that lecture. The complete video of the lecture is available at Thaler's Web site, www.thalerpekar.com.)

Storytelling_night Stories can be extremely powerful, and extremely persuasive. Stories connect to and surface people's memories. They are a powerful tool for getting people to visualize, to imagine, even to viscerally sense a situation.

When someone shares a story about something that happened to him or her, they are sharing a piece of themselves. Something similar may have happened to you, but the specifics of what happened to the person sharing a story is unique to that person. The way events unfolded, the way he or she felt, the way he or she thought about the experience -- that is the unique possession of the person sharing the story. Which makes our own stories a uniquely powerful part of each of us.

Because stories are powerful, and because they are wholly owned by the person who shares them, we have an ethical obligation to use story in ways that do no harm. Whether we are asking for stories to better understand an organizational challenge, to use in our organizational communications, or for an advocacy campaign, our goal should be to empower, not exploit.

Let's explore the ways in which we can do that.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (April 16-17, 2011)

April 17, 2011

Burberry_april_showers Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

Writing about his favorite topic, social media, Zoetica co-founder Geoff Livingston says he hopes that "amateur hour is over, and that unknowledgeable social media communicators go the way of the dodo bird...."

Disaster Relief

Last Monday marked the one-month anniversary of the massive 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan, a calamity that claimed the lives of at least 13,000 people and has left more than 154,000 people homeless. On the GiveWell blog, Holden Karnofsky provides a thorough update on the philanthropic response to the disaster.

Diversity

Nonprofit Quarterly correspondent Rick Cohen takes a closer look at a new report from Boston-based Commongood Careers and the Level Playing Institute which suggests that while nonprofits are perceived as valuing diversity and inclusiveness, they often fail to live up to those goals. While Cohen generally agrees with the report's findings, he also notes that "real diversity includes providing the opportunity for marginalized population groups to have a stake in the organizations, not just paychecks."

Philanthropy

On the Deep Social Impact blog, Maureen O’Brien and Cynthia Gibson share findings from the 2011 Millennial Donor survey, which analyzed giving trends among nearly 3,000 respondents between the ages of 20 and 35. According to the survey, "Millennials don't actually prefer to donate through texts, mobile apps, Twitter or Facebook...[and] Millennials, who are commonly seen as following Hollywood trendsetters, are really not swayed to give by celebrity endorsements." Surprised? We didn't think so. But as O'Brien and Gibson note, "The data gleaned from this study are hard to interpret without comparable data from other generational cohorts."

"For the last hundred years Americans have given about 2% of income to charity," writes Sean Stannard-Stockton in a recent post on his Tactical Philanthropy blog. "This percentage has been remarkably consistent during good times and bad. Maybe the key to increasing the amount given to charity is to get away from the 'give because it is good for you' (good for your soul, good for others, something you 'should' do) approach and embrace a philanthropy as junk food mentality...." Read the rest of Sean's post to see what he means.

A number of philanthropic leaders who traveled to Philadelphia this week for the Council on Foundation's annual conference shared their thoughts and perspectives on Kris Putnam-Walkerly's Philanthropy 411 blog. We especially liked the posts by Levi Strauss Foundation social media fellow Jorge Cino, who in a three-part series provided a look at how the foundation communicates its work through stories; Draper Consulting Group president Lee Draper, who recapped a lecture on diversity and philanthropy by Ambassador James Joseph; and Horizons Foundation executive director Roger Doughty, who discussed the importance of investing in fundraising to increase overall giving.

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy field associate Christine Reeves shares her top ten themes and takeaways from the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy conference, which also was held last week in Philadelphia.

Social Entrepreneurship

Philanthropy Action's Tim Ogden commends the "Microfinance in Crisis?" panelists at this year's Global Philanthropy Forum for acknowledging that it's time for the industry to reflect on where it is and where it is going. But Ogden being Ogden, he goes on to criticize the panel and the industry at large for not digging deeper into "how microcredit clients are managing cash flows and the rest of their financial lives when they no longer have confidence in the availability of microcredit."

Volunteerism

In conjunction with National Volunteer Week, Idealist's Amy Potthast shares three volunteering ideas "that even busy professionals -- including folks with families -- can try."

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone

This Week in PubHub: Environment: Water/Marine Resources

April 15, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she highlighted several reports that examine how women's roles, both inside and outside the family, are changing and shaping the definition of family itself.)

While discussions of water-related issues in the philanthropic sector tend to focus on the urgent need to improve access to clean water and mitigate the consequences of global climate change in the developing world, the management of water and marine resources in developed countries also has an impact on climate change effects, biodiversity, and the economic vitality of local communities. Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, for instance, has been forced to dump water contaminated with low-level radiation into the sea-- an emergency measure with potentially harmful long-term consequences. This week in PubHub, we look at reports that examine the need to protect and invest in the environmental, economic, and cultural benefits of the planet's vital water and marine resources.

Concern about damage to coral reefs is hardly new; indeed, the World Resources Institute has published a series of reports on reef degradation in the CaribbeanSoutheast Asia, and other regions. In its latest report, Reefs at Risk Revisited (130 pages, PDF), WRI uses updated data and satellite imagery to map and analyze threats to coral reefs from global climate change effects as well as human activities and notes that threat levels rose dramatically between 1997 and 2007. The damage from overfishing, coastal development, tourism, agricultural runoff, and shipping are compounded by rising ocean temperatures and acidification from carbon dioxide emissions, the report warns, resulting in reduced areas of living coral, increased algal cover, and lower species diversity and fish abundance. Funded by the Roy Disney Family Foundation, the report calls for more effective conservation efforts and steps to mitigate threats at the local, national, regional, and international levels.

The lakes, rivers, wetlands, and peatlands that comprise Canada's vast boreal forest not only help maintain global biodiversity and provide food and cultural benefits to indigenous rural communities in Canada, they also mitigate global climate change effects, a new report from the Pew Environment Group argues. A Forest of Blue -- Canada's Boreal Forest, the World's Waterkeeper (76 pages, PDF) explains how the expanse of forest and bodies of water produce a significant cooling effect while also increasing regional humidity and precipitation, which helps stabilize global temperatures. But Canada's boreal forests are also vulnerable to the effects of mining, oil and gas extraction, forestry, hydropower, and other industrial activities. Indeed, while 12 percent of the boreal forest in Canada is protected, the report recommends additional measures, including the conservation of the entire Mackenzie River watershed.

Valuing the Puget Sound Basin: Revealing Our Best Investments 2010 (102 pages, PDF), a report from Earth Economics, argues for shifting investments from activities that damage the Puget Sound ecosystem to activities that enhance and sustain that ecosystem, including such things as environmental restoration, stormwater retention, green building programs, and improved industrial processes. Funded by the Russell Family Foundation and Social Venture Kids, the report estimates the economic value of ecosystem goods and services provided by the Puget Sound Basin, including drinking water, abundant wildlife, climate regulation, flood protection, and recreation, and calls for further analysis and research to inform public and private investment in the region.

The Public Policy Institute of California report Managing California's Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation (503 pages, PDF) outlines the urgent need to reform the state's management policies with respect to fish and aquatic ecosystems, flood risk management, source quality protection, water supply management, and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub of the state's water supply network. Inaction on any of these fronts, the report argues, could result in the disappearance of native species, an increased likelihood of catastrophic floods, water shortages and degraded water quality, and the decline of the Delta region as a productive ecosystem, with potentially severe economic losses. Funded by the David and Lucile Packard, Pisces, and S. D. Bechtel, Jr. foundations; the Resources Legacy Fund; and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, the report calls for federal and state leadership in reconciling environmental and economic objectives, implementing new approaches to those objectives, and managing water as a public commodity.

What are your thoughts about protecting water and marine resources as a way to secure not only environmental sustainability but economic prosperity? Has your state or region developed creative or innovative approaches to the issue? And what are some of the obstacles preventing us from changing our relationship to these vital resources? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse nearly 350 reports related to the environment and environmental issues.

-- Kyoko Uchida

Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates, 2011 Edition

A new report from our Research Department colleagues here at the center finds that, despite the uneven economic recovery, giving by U.S. foundations held steady in 2010.

According to the report, Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates (16 pages, PDF), the nation's more than 76,000 foundations gave a total of $45.7 billion in 2010, almost matching the $45.8 billion they gave in 2009. This followed a record 2.1 percent year-over-year decline in foundation giving from 2008 to 2009. The report also found that foundation assets increased 5 percent, to $612.7 billion, from $590.2 billion in 2009.

Fgge10_giving_bar 

 

Here are the giving numbers, broken out by foundation type:

Foundation TypeEst. 2010 Giving (billions)Est. Change, %
All $45.7 -0.2%
Independent $32.5 -0.8%
Corporate $4.7 0.2%
Community $4.1 -2.1%

 

The inflation-adjusted figures always tell an interesting story, as the chart below shows:

 Fgge10_giving_line

 

As for 2011, the center's latest "Giving Forecast Survey" found that giving by the nation's independent foundations should increase by between 2 percent and 4 percent, with seven out of ten respondents saying they expect to either boost their giving (52 percent) or keep it about the same (17 percent) and three out of ten (30 percent) saying they expect their giving to decline.

 

Fgge10_giving_forecast11 

 

Looking ahead to 2012, grantmakers appear to be fairly optimistic, with just 6.5 percent of respondents anticipating lower levels of giving next year, 50.6 percent anticipating that their giving will remain steady, and 27.2 percent saying they expect to increase their giving; the remaining 16 percent are uncertain at this point.

To download a copy of this year's Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates report, which includes more great charts and detail, click here.

5Qs for...Ana Oliveira, President/Chief Executive Officer, New York Women's Foundation

April 13, 2011

Oliviera_ana (Under the leadership of Ana Oliveira, the New York Women's Foundation has established itself as the key institutional opinion leader on issues facing women, girls, and their families in New York City. Last week, more than five hundred people from more than sixty countries gathered at the Brooklyn Marriott in New York for the annual meeting of the Women's Funding Network (WFN), whose board Oliveira chairs. Frequent contributor Michael Seltzer interviewed Oliveira on the eve of the conference.)

Philanthropy News Digest: A few weeks ago, Iman al-Obeidi, a postgraduate Libyan law student, courageously confronted Muammar Gaddafi's henchmen in a hotel room in Tripoli that the Western press was using as a base of operations. In the process, al-Obeidi, who earlier had been gang-raped and beaten, succeeded in exposing the brutality of the Libyan regime to the world. How is it that women burdened by such oppression and brutality are able to find their voice?

Ana Oliveira: The violence committed against Iman al-Obeidi reveals the depth of the role of women as pillars of society. Women's bodies are a battlefield. And, it pains me to say, seeking to destroy or violate or hurt or devalue women is part and parcel of the breaking down of communities, cultures, and societies in times of war.

PND: Are we seeing an escalation of violence against women?

AO: Rape has been with us throughout history. It is a weapon of war. What we are seeing now is an increase in all forms of sexual violence, an increase in murderous conflicts, an increase in systemic genocide against women. Women are often both the first line of defense and the first to be attacked. But women around the globe are rising up, and they will continue to rise up. They must, in order to survive and make a better world for themselves. We saw it in Chile under Pinochet and in Argentina under the military dictatorship in the 1970s. And we are seeing it today across North Africa, where women are playing a pivotal role in the struggle for democracy.

PND: Let's talk about the United States. How does your organization address the issue of violence against women in New York City?

AO: Funding from the New York Women's Foundation is very much based on the principle of the integrity and wholeness of women's lives, women's leadership, and women's economic and physical security, otherwise known as safety. But it's more than just freedom from violence; we're talking about the ability to thrive, personally and as fully integrated members of a larger community. We support low-income women who organize themselves into community-based organizations, who embody the same spirit of resistance to the status quo as their historic and contemporary counterparts, who ignite in each other a sense of collective power.

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