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Weekend Link Roundup (October 31-November 1, 2015)

November 01, 2015

Vote-buttonOur weekly round up of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog.

Arts and Culture

"Since the time of Alexandria, libraries have held a symbolic function. For the Ptolemaic kings, the library was an emblem of their power; eventually it became the encompassing symbol of an entire society, a numinous place where readers could learn the art of attention which, Hannah Arendt argued, is a definition of culture." Sadly, writes Alberto Manguel in the New York Times, that function is being diluted by the demands of a society "too miserly or contemptuous...to meet [its] essential social obligations...."

Climate Change

On the Transformation blog, the Kindle Project's Arianne Shaffer and Fatima van Hattum argue that the grantmaking strategies of the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation illustrate in a profound way the "ongoing limitations and contradictions of conventional philanthropy" with respect to the threat of global climate disruption.

Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate Responsibility Magazine has announced the winners of its 2015 Responsible CEO of the Year Award.


Should Angelenos be troubled by the fact that the Los Angeles Times ' new education-reporting project "is being funded by some of the very organizations the new education-reporting project is likely to be covering"? Paul Farhi, the Washington Post's media reporter, tries to get some answers.


Just in time for the holidays, "Bloomingdale’s is selling philanthropy as a lifestyle," writes Amy Shiller in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Through its new Icons with Impact campaign, the upscale retailer, says Shiller, is positioning philanthropy as "a meta-brand, uniting retailers, spokesmen, and consumers in a transaction where ethics and esthetics — that is, doing good and looking good — are synergistically reinforcing, apparently without any sacrifice or conflict in fundamental aims...."

Charitable giving in the U.S. over the next two decades could reach $8 trillion — $6.6 trillion in cash contributions (much of it to family foundations) and $1.4 trillion in volunteer services (calculated at $23.63/hour). Forbes staff writer Ashlea Ebling reports.

Who are the twenty people who have given the most to charitable/philanthropic causes? And how many of them are under the age of thirty-five? Business Insider has the skinny.

Higher Education

In the New York Times, Laura Pappano reports on a new organization "led by admissions deans at top campuses [with] an ambitious goal: to make applications more reflective and in tune with how students organize and express themselves...."

The Washington Post's Nick Anderson reports that there are forty-nine colleges or universities in the U.S. in the public phase of a fundraising campaign looking to raise at least $1 billion. If those schools succeed in hitting their goals, they will raise at least $99 billion — "a tad less than the gross domestic product of Slovakia."

As part of its campaign to raise $6.5 billion by 2018, one of those universities, Harvard, raised more than $1 billion in the fiscal year ended June 30 — down slightly from the $1.2 billion it raised in its previous fiscal year, the Business Times reports, but enough to boost the total from donations and pledges to date to $6.1 billion.


In a recent article ("How Useful Is the Theory of Disruptive Innovation?") in the MIT Sloan Management Review, Andrew King, a business professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and Baljir Baatartogtokh, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, look at Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen's widely influential theory of "disruptive innovation" and conclude that some "companies are displaced by disruptive innovations, but it's not nearly as common as Christensen has laid out...." The Boston Globe's Jay Fitzgerald reports.


The Washington Post's Michelle Ye Hee Lee, with a big assist from FactCheck.org, takes a deep dive into Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's claim that nine out of ten nonprofits fail. You may be surprised by what she found.

Nell Edgington has a nice Q&A with Tim Delaney, president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, the nation's largest network of nonprofits, on her Social Velocity blog.


With Thanksgiving and the end-of-year giving season looming, the New York Times served up not one but two big think pieces about philanthropy this weekend. In the first, David Gelles looks at the small but growing number of major national foundations — Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — that are "redoubling" their commitments to social change. And in the second, Alessandra Stanley, examines the buzz — and hype — surrounding Silicon Valley's "new" philanthropy.

Perry Yeatman, principal at Mission Measurement and a donor to the Clinton Global Initiative, explains why the work done by CGI and its Clinton Foundation parent is more important than ever.


Last but not least, Jim Canales, president of the Boston-based Barr Foundation, has announced in a post on the foundation's blog that he and his colleagues are initiating a new blog series as "a further expression of [our] aspiration to shed light on our planning work." Beginning with Canales' post, foundation staff members will take turns, through the month of February, sharing important dimensions of the foundation's planning — "key trends influencing the fields in which we are engaged; our perspectives about the strategic implications of these trends for Barr; and other themes that are emerging as we undertake this work."

That's it for this week. What have you been reading/watc"hing/listening to? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org or via the comments section below....


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Quote of the Week

  • "The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life are in his own hands, when he has assurance that his income is stable and certain, and when he knows that he has the means to seek self-improvement ...."

    — Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

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