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24 posts from February 2014

PND Talk: Multiple Grant Proposal Submissions

February 28, 2014

Macauley_culkinIn the third installment of our PND Talk series (the first two are here and here), we re-visit a question that Enid asked in 2005 about a situation that, while not common, illustrates the critical importance of transparency and two-way communication in the grantee-funder relationship.

Enid asked: Let's say you are seeking funding for a program whose cost is budgeted at $100,000 and you submit three grant proposals to three different foundations for the same program and get funding from all three. Do you accept funding from all three for the same program? Just one? How is this handled?

As always, she got excellent advice from the PND Talk community, starting with Tony Poderis, who wrote:

Enid -- I simply would absolutely not submit multiple proposals to more than one foundation for funding of the same project in the first place.

I would not do it because I believe -- in general -- that such special project solicitations should be sequential. Only rarely, if ever, would I offer a specific project funding opportunity to two or more prospects at the same time. The danger is that more than one will accept. Yes, I said danger -- even when getting the money.

I would not make simultaneous solicitations seeking grants from each of the multiple foundations for one project's full funding. I would go to the best possible prospect first and wait for that decision. I would not submit the proposal to the other potential funding source or sources until the first said no, yes to to the full request, or yes to partial funding. Then on, or not, to the other.

Having more than one foundation accept the same proposal at the same time and having them make their respective awards is a possibility I would not treat lightly.... Having to go back to a program officer who is the process of pushing it through his or her foundation's channels for you and having to say you gave the project to someone else has the potential for damaging that relationship -- maybe permanently....

Julie chimed in with this:

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5 Questions for...Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director, Wallace Global Fund

February 27, 2014

In late January, Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of seventeen foundations with nearly $2 billion in assets, introduced itself to the world with the announcement that its members have agreed to divest their portfolios of investments in fossil-fuel companies and invest a portion of those resources in climate change solutions instead. Arguing that continued investment in the fossil fuel industry carries both ethical and financial risks, coalition members are calling on other foundations to realign their portfolios away from investments in coal, gas, and oil companies and to join them in supporting and sustaining the clean energy economy.

PND recently spoke with Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, a leading member of the coalition, about the genesis of the divestment movement and the need to act now.

Headshot_ellen_dorseyPhilanthropy News Digest: What was the catalyst for the creation of the Divest-Invest Philanthropy coalition? And what is at stake here?

Ellen Dorsey: The catalyst was the climate crisis itself — a serious threat that affects all of us — and the need to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate change solutions. As a responsive philanthropy, we want to support that shift and encourage the philanthropic sector as a whole to take this movement seriously.

So the goal of the initiative is not just to announce the commitment by seventeen foundations to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy; it's also to call on the philanthropic sector more broadly to engage in the climate debate and encourage other institutions to both divest from coal, oil, and gas companies that are driving the problem and actually use their investments creatively to identify and fund climate solutions in ways that help move us toward the kind of new energy economy that the world needs.

PND: It's clear that members of the coalition see divestment from fossil fuels as a moral issue. The letter you released in January says, "Mission-based institutions whose goals and constituencies are threatened by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels should not also seek to profit from them." When did your foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, decide it has a moral obligation to address the threat posed by our continued reliance on fossil fuels?

ED: In 2009, we began analyzing our grantmaking and our investments. We quickly realized there were real inconsistencies. One striking example was investing in fossil fuels at the same time as we were working to combat climate change and all its environmental and human rights impacts. How could we be invested in the very industries driving the crisis we were asking our grantees to solve? Not only was our investment strategy potentially undercutting our grantmaking, we were foregoing the opportunity to use our investments as a tool to achieve our mission and goals. We could be helping create the clean energy economy the world requires.

Additionally, we don't believe there is only an ethical risk to investing in fossil fuels. We also believe there are serious financial risks. Prudent investors are listening to the warnings that fossil fuel stocks are overvalued, as we cannot possibly burn the reserves coal, oil, and gas companies currently hold without cooking the planet. It is clear that a tectonic shift is required in the way we produce and consume energy, and smart investors will put their assets in the energy sources of the future.

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Philanthropy, the Affordable Care Act, and Boys and Men of Color

February 26, 2014

(Jordan Medina is health policy fellow at the Greenlining Institute, where he co-authored the report Pathways Out of Poverty: Boys and Men of Color and Jobs in the Health Sector.)

Headshot_jordan_medinaThe United States faces a crisis. We have a staggering racial wealth gap — for every $1 a white family has in assets, the median Latino family has about 7 cents, while the median black family has less than 6 cents. One reason for that gap is that too many boys and men of color are uneducated, disengaged, and unemployed.

This isn't a new problem, but changing racial demographics mean that politicians and business leaders must start paying attention to boys and men of color if America is to remain economically competitive in the twenty-first century. Fortunately, as with every problem, there's a solution. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents stakeholders with an incredible opportunity to create a culturally competent health workforce while simultaneously lowering the unemployment rate for boys and men of color. The question is: Do we have the courage and political will to see it through?

The ACA expands healthcare coverage to millions of Americans, mainly those too cash-poor to afford it on their own and those suffering from pre-existing conditions. People of color are disproportionately represented in both groups, while the influx of newly eligible consumers puts pressure on the healthcare and health services industry to expand its workforce to meet the increased demand for care. Given the high levels of unemployment in communities of color, considerable time and money should be spent figuring out ways to better prepare boys and men of color for jobs in the health sector.

This may sound like a difficult task, but a lot of the groundwork already has been laid. A new report I co-authored for the Greenlining Institute highlights some of the ways in which California, the nation's most populous state and long an incubator of public policy experiments, is forging ahead with plans to better integrate boys and men of color into the health workforce.

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We’ve Seen the Future and It Is…Collaborative!

February 25, 2014

(The following post is the final in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the scope of the survey referenced in this post, click here.)

On the surface, a leader is a leader is a leader. Leaders need to innovate, mentor, use data, and be responsible with the checkbook. But beyond those basic capabilities, are there differences?

My colleagues and I set out to define the capabilities a social sector leader needs to be successful. We conducted interviews, surveyed two hundred social sector leaders, and reviewed ten years of literature on social sector leadership. Based on that research, here is the framework we developed:

LC_Presentation2

We suggest a social sector leader needs all six of these dimensions to be well-rounded and successful. At first look, it might seem like these are the same capabilities any leader needs. But the difference is in the details.

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‘Under Construction’: Center for Urban Families - Baltimore, Maryland

February 24, 2014

Under-construction-logoUnder Construction is a multimedia online exhibit showcasing some of the best and brightest organizations working with males of color. The UC team of filmmakers, photographers, writers, and nonprofit experts worked directly with each of these organizations for several weeks. The collaborations yielded comprehensive portraits of the services men of color receive. Each profile features a short video, a photography exhibit, a visual program model, and a narrative essay detailing the efforts of these organizations.

Under Construction is a project of Frontline Solutions and was made possible through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more profiles, click here.

To learn more about the Center for Urban Families, visit BMAfunders.org.

Joseph Thomas knows how deterioration works. It is the same process for the shuttered blocks of West Baltimore where he was a boy as it is for the man who has no one to talk to. The facades are the last thing to go.

"In prison you have a lot of time to think," says Thomas, who served two years. A quiet, gentle man, he thought about how he had drifted through life since an early age with no one to steer him. Most of all, he thought about his daughters, wondering if he still had a chance to give them what he didn't have, a positive role model. Today, you listen to him talk about his teenage girls, what it means to make it to one of their badminton games, and he almost blushes. He was always in their lives, but he has learned that there are different kinds of presence.

Thomas, 38, is one of more than twenty thousand people who have come through the doors of Baltimore's Center for Urban Families (CFUF), where fatherhood and employment courses re-order their ideas about what a man's life can mean to his family and to the neighborhoods they call home.

The center operates out of an angular, bastion-like building here in Sandtown, where Thomas was a boy. "It was wild," he says. "It was drugs on every corner. It was people getting killed." But in the center's halls, people carry themselves with a refined confidence. They show up on time and sit around boardroom tables, or in large, university-like classrooms. And Thomas, like everybody else, is wearing a suit and tie. "The training wasn't just about training for a job," he says. "It was about succeeding in life."

Founded in 1999 by a former drug addict, the Center for Urban Families has become a model for how to reach urban men, perhaps the country's most underserved demographic. Here in a community that many think of as a "city of neighborhoods," the center's work targets the hardest of these, the street corners that have found infamy as the backdrop of popular television crime shows like The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Streets.

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 22-23, 2014)

February 23, 2014

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

Education

Writing in USA Today, Bill Gates, whose foundation is a strong supporter of the Common Core, tackles three myths that have grown up around the standards: that the framework was created without the involvement of parents, teachers, or state and local governments; that adoption of the standards means students will have to take even more high-stakes tests; and that the standards will limit teachers' creativity and flexibility.

Giving

Are the young and ultra-affluent turning their backs on Big Charity? It sure seems that way, writes psychologist turned investment advisor Phil DeMuth in Forbes. Is it because they're not interested in helping? "Far from it," writes DeMuth.

Forty-six percent are focused on doing good in their communities, and nineteen percent plan to become full-time philanthropists. Here's how they roll: they get involved in hands-on niche projects where they can make a difference. They want to see demonstrable results. Program evaluation is a must-have. They want to get in and they want to get out. They are not interested in providing an annuity to some tax-deductible charity organization. They will give them a fish and teach them to fish but they will not become the fish.

What are their causes? Two stand out: education and green. Well-educated themselves, they think school is cool. They want to plow the parking lot and put up paradise. In small-scale, targeted, active interventionist ways....

Harvard, which has a $32 billion endowment, announced a $150 million gift from hedge fund manager Ken Griffin earlier this week, its largest gift ever. And that has Matthew Yglesias, Slate's business and economic correspondent, thinking that almost anyone could come up with "a better use of $150 million than to give it to the richest university on the planet."

In the New Yorker, Barry Newman, a former feature writer and foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, profiles Pete Depuis, whose Vancouver-based World Housing organization aims "to shelter poor people in five thousand free houses that would cost fifteen million dollars to build," with the money coming from the luxury developers who sign up to participate.

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PND Talk: Burned Out and Don't Know What to Do?

February 21, 2014

Job_burnoutLong-time readers of Philanthropy News Digest may remember PND Talk, the message board we launched back in 2004 and maintained for the better part of a decade (until the launch of our new site in November).

During its heyday, PND Talk was a lively community frequented by a regular cast of generous, knowledgeable nonprofit professionals — people like Susan Lynn, Sheryl Kaplan, Rick Kosinski, Julie Rodda, Tony Poderis, and the late (and much missed) Carl Richardson and Linda Procopio.

Recently, we realized it would be a win-win if we shared some of their advice and wisdom with our readers here at PhilanTopic. To see the first installment in the series, which offered a compelling rationale for giving to the arts when so many people are in need, click here.

In the post below, a mid-career development professional by the name of Maddy sounds a familiar refrain -- and receives some terrific advice from three board participants.

_________

In her original post, Maddy wrote:

I have always worked in NPs (with a BS and MA in NP management) in the fundraising area. I have never really found a great fit (organizationally or position-wise) and have basically job-hopped (nine jobs in ten years). All hops were moves up in title/responsibility, but I've never been happy. I love nonprofit work, but feel totally burned out. I have absolutely no motivation and cringe at the thought of writing another solicitation letter/grant/etc. I have only been in my current job for seven months, but am depressed that once again I hate it. I just don't know how to get excitement, motivation, satisfaction [from my work]. Should I just leave the field completely? Am I the only one feeling like this out there? Thanks for listening to my ramblings....

To which long-time PND Talk community member Julie replied:

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‘Fatal Assistance’: The Promise and Failure of Humanitarian Aid in Haiti

February 20, 2014

(Kathryn Pyle is a documentary filmmaker and a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. In her previous post, she wrote about the documentary Shored Up, winner of the 2014 Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Fund & Award.)

Fatal_assistance_posterThe magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, killed more than 200,000 Haitians, injured over 300,000 people, and left some 1.5 million Haitians homeless. It also devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince, destroying buildings and wiping out large swaths of the city's infrastructure. As in most natural disasters, it was the poor, living in the most vulnerable areas, who were most affected – and Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

The international response was immediate and unprecedented: ultimately, $14 billion was pledged for relief and recovery efforts by donor countries, bilateral and multilateral agencies, individuals, and foundations and corporations. The total amount actually disbursed was considerably less but still significant for a country with a population of only ten million.

Four years later, the clamor that arose almost immediately over how the aid was being disbursed, continues. In an editorial last month marking the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, the New York Times declared that despite the outpouring of support (and notwithstanding certain achievements), "Haiti is a fragile, largely forgotten country" where more than 170,000 people still live in temporary shelters.

A major criticism of the response has been the lack of direct support for, and meaningful consultation with, Haitians. According to the Guardian, of the $9 billion spent in Haiti by January 2013, 94 percent was funneled through donors' own entities, the United Nations, international NGOs, and private contractors. Reports since then confirm that only 5 percent of the money pledged for relief and recovery efforts in the country reached Haitian organizations.

Fatal Assistance, a new documentary by Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck, provides a personal account of what happened in the weeks and months after the quake struck and, at the same time, is a plea for a more effective approach to humanitarian assistance in developing countries. Completed in 2013, the film premiered last year at Berlinale, the Berlin international film festival, and has been shown as part of the 2014 Human Rights Film Festival screening in cities across the U.S.

When the earthquake struck, Peck, like many other Haitians living abroad, returned home to help. "Those first weeks were a time of solidarity and connection," he told me. "Everybody slept outside. The Haitians were organizing everything."

That changed when the international relief groups arrived.

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Are Social Sector Leaders Walking the Talk?

February 19, 2014

(The following post is the third in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the survey, click here.)

Social sector thought leaders such as Lucy Bernholz, Paul Bloom, Bill Drayton, and the late Greg Dees have all weighed in on how ecosystem-level cooperation is the only way to scale and sustain solutions to problems too daunting for any one organization to tackle alone. As Dees and Bloom wrote in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the first step for social entrepreneurs – and other social sector leaders – is to understand their environment:

Social entrepreneurs get help from some individuals and organizations, give help to others, fend off threats from others, and compete with still others. Social entrepreneurs must identify all of the relevant players and the roles that they play.…To create significant and long-lasting changes, social entrepreneurs must understand and often alter the social system that creates and sustains the problems in the first place. This social system includes all of the actors – the friends, foes, competitors, and even the innocent bystanders – party to the problem, as well as the larger environment – the laws, policies, social norms, demographic trends, and cultural institutions – within which the actors play....

In recent years, many funders and nonprofits – reinforced by colleagues in government and some corners of the private sector – have emphasized the importance of ecosystem-level efforts to address social problems. It all started with a few discrete cross-sector partnerships among businesses, government, and nonprofits. It evolved into a nuanced discussion of how social impact assessment must look at organizations' contributions to solving a problem, rather than attempt to attribute credit to individual actors within a like-minded group of organizations working in concert. It has led to innovative financing options such as social impact bonds, in which government, impact investors, and nonprofit service providers share risk, and rewards, in order to scale proven social welfare interventions. FSG even coined a term, "collective impact," to describe the approach.

My colleagues and I wondered whether the rhetoric around collaboration, cooperation, and ecosystem-level change was in fact the reality in the social sector. So, through a survey, we asked leaders in the sector how they are working today, and what attributes they thought would be most important for successful leaders in the future. The answers we found were mixed.

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'A Small Committed Minority of Believers'

February 18, 2014

(Shawn Dove is campaign manager for the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement. In a December 2012 Newsmaker interview with PND, he discussed the report Where Do We Go From Here? Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys.)

Headshot_Shawn Dove_A generation ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. asserted in Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community?, the last book he published before he was assassinated, that "it will take…a small committed minority [of believers] to work unrelentingly to win the uncommitted majority. Such a group may well transform America's greatest dilemma into her most glorious opportunity."

The great dilemma that King wrote about in 1967 still gnaws at the roots of a nation that was founded on a premise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness but was built on a foundation of racial and gender inequality. And while today no single group of people in America can claim that it alone is marginalized — sadly, there are many such groups — it is hard to dispute that disparities faced by black men and boys across a number of indicators, including incarceration, academic achievement, and unemployment, paint a picture of their systemic exclusion from the American mainstream.

The thorny issue of black men and their standing in American society is, of course, not a new one. Yet in light of recent advances in the emerging field of black male achievement, there is reason to hope that the small committed minority of believers who have been working hard to improve the life outcomes and perceptions of black men and boys are swaying the majority of non-believers.

By now, most people have heard that President Obama intends to launch a significant new effort "to bolster the lives of young men of color" in America. Building on momentum that has been growing over recent years, the public rollout of My Brother's Keeper, as the initiative is called, represents a bold response to the challenges confronting so many young men of color. Without a doubt, this is an historic moment for the work and aspirations of many leaders working within and outside philanthropy who have devoted their lives to creating an America where black men and boys can compete on an even playing field of opportunity and realize their full potential.

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 15-16, 2014)

February 16, 2014

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

Giving

Interesting article by Rick Cohen in the Nonprofit Quarterly arguing that charitable gift funds created by the likes of Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab, and Vanguard have made "charitable giving for moderately wealthy people easier, more strategic, and more natural."

Impact/Effectiveness

"That the nonprofit sector has changed hugely in recent years is beyond dispute," writes Tris Lumley, director of development at London-based New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog. "It has grown, become increasingly professionalized, and over the last decade started coming to grips with planning and measuring its impact," Lumley adds. "Yet these are incremental changes, and I believe that the sector's trajectory does not point to a pivotal future role in solving social problems and delivering social justice." Lumley goes on to explain why this is the case and what a "new paradigm" for the social sector would look like.

Innovation

Which global companies/organizations are the most innovative? Google, certainly. Netflix and Airbnb, sure. But Bloomberg Philanthropies? Absolutely, says Fast Company, which cites the foundation's "sophisticated, data-driven solutions for every step of the [philanthropic] process, from identifying priorities to monitoring progress to scaling pragmatic solutions," as the chief reason for ranking it #2 on its list of the Most Innovative Companies of 2014.

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[infographic] The Psychology of Social Sharing

February 15, 2014

"I share, you share, we all share because...we...care."

Okay,it's not exactly the stuff of indie film legend -- although it does express something important about this particular moment in time. Sharing is in. Sharing is cool. We share, therefore we are. But, as this infographic from business analytics shop StatPro illustrates, we do it for different reasons -- and in different ways.

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What Do Social Sector Leaders Want?

February 14, 2014

(The following post is the second in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the scope of the survey referenced in this post, click here.)

You're probably not surprised to hear that most social sector leaders have a wish list. But you might be surprised by what's at the top. More time to experiment and explore new ideas.

Management guru Jim Collins calls it "white space," the 50 percent of his time he keeps unscheduled for reading, thinking, and writing. Collins tells every manager he works with that they need to make this type of time for themselves if they hope to be creative – and effective.

In 2013, I asked 196 CEOs and other top managers at foundations, social investment funds, nonprofits, and social enterprises what attributes they need most in order to succeed in the coming years – and what kinds of resources would help them get there. Fully half the respondents said they needed more time to experiment and innovate, as well as sabbatical time to rejuvenate, gain exposure to new ideas, and broaden their horizons.

In addition to more time to think, respondents indicated a desire to grow their networks, get some coaching, and build their communications skills. Social sector leaders want time to discuss what's happening with colleagues, understand it with the help of mentors, and share lessons with others – as well as the time to process what it all means and plan how to act on it.

As documented in Creative Disruptions: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Learning, a 2009 report from Third Sector New England and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, sabbatical time is one of the more valuable investments a nonprofit and its funders can make when it comes to organizational capacity and effectiveness.

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Design or Not to Design? Does It Matter?

February 12, 2014

(Derrick Feldmann is president of Achieve, a creative research and campaigns agency based in Indianapolis. In his previous post, he blogged about the fundraising secrets of internationally focused nonprofits.)

Feldmann_headshotAs the dust settles on another hectic fundraising season, I've been taking some time to sift through the direct mail and e-mail donation requests I received. It seems like the past year was extra busy for many organizations, and there was a lot of competition for my attention and charitable support as the year came to an end.

When analyzing the various pieces, I typically start with design, putting those that stick to a basic black-and-white format and avoid graphics other than an organization's logo in one pile and those that incorporate the latest design trends and National Geographic-quality photographs in another.

I also sort the pitch letters based on degree of personalization. A lot of them start with a generic salutation like "Dear Friend…," which always makes me smile and think: How can we be friends when I don't even know you? Then there are letters that address me as "Derrick" – well, because apparently we're on a first-name basis.

As someone who deals on a regular basis with fundraising campaigns, direct-mail appeals, and e-mail solicitations, I can almost always spot the pieces that were done in-house, as opposed to those created by an agency or outside contractor. In most cases, there's a certain polish to the latter, and you can tell the organization has paid good money to achieve that look and feel.

But does it matter? Do sharp, well-designed pieces lead to more and bigger donations than bland, generic pitches created by an in-house team?

Actually, not so much. As a number of recent studies show, a simple direct-mail or e-mail pitch is likely to raise just as much money as a well-designed piece. Indeed, according to fundraising expert Rachel Beer, A and B testing demonstrates that "something plain, functional, and straightforward will often out-perform something that is beautifully art directed or conceptual."

So if the design of your fundraising solicitations doesn't really matter, what does matter?

Brand. Your nonprofit's brand is what matters.

As the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations' Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone put it in a 2012 article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, "Strong brands in all sectors help organizations acquire financial, human and social resources, and build key partnerships. The trust that strong brands elicit also provides organizations with the authority and credibility to deploy those resources more efficiently and flexibly than can organizations with weaker brands."

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Under-Investing in Social Sector Leadership

February 11, 2014

(The following post is the first in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the sources and methodology behind the analysis, click here.)

Compared to what American businesses spend, investment by the social sector in its leaders is nothing to write home about. Indeed, over the past twenty years, annual foundation support for leadership development has totaled just 1 percent of overall foundation giving. Despite all the attention paid to social entrepreneurs, the bigger picture is plain to see: foundation investment in the development of other social sector leaders is woefully inadequate.

Consider: the social sector would need to invest two to four times current levels (depending on your preferred comparable of GDP or employment) just to keep pace with business. On a per-employee basis, business spends $120 per employee, per year, on leadership development while the social sector spends $29.

Leadership spending comp analysis final Feb 3 2014_slide 1

An investment of $1 billion a year in social sector leadership – more than twice what foundations currently spend, though still well below what business spends – would represent just a fraction of the $42 billion that U.S. foundations awarded in grants in 2011. Think of that level of leadership investment as insurance that the other $41 billion will be spent wisely.

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