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Weekend Link Roundup (October 7-8, 2017)

October 08, 2017

Tom-pettyOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Disaster Relief

ProPublica, no fan of the Red Cross, sent a team of reporters to Texas to see how the organization performed in the days after Hurricane Harvey swamped Houston and the surrounding region. They found a lot of local officials who were not impressed. And here's the official Red Cross response to the criticism.

Giving

In the Baltimore Sun, Aaron Dorfman, president of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, wonders whether elimination of the estate tax, as the Trump administration has proposed, will result in a decline in charitable giving, especially large gifts. That's what happened the last time the tax was effectively zeroed out, in 2010, a year that saw bequests from estates decline by 37 percent from the previous year ($11.9 billion to $7.49 billion). A year later, after the tax had been reinstated (albeit at a lower level), the dollar value of bequests rose some 92 percent (to $14.36 billion). And in an op-ed in the Argus Leader, Dorfman provides some numbers which suggest that the family farm argument for eliminating the tax is overstated.

Inequality

On the Washington Post's Wonkblog, Tracy Jan shares a set of charts from the Urban Institute that help explain why the wealth gap between white families and everyone else is widenening.

International Affairs/Development

In a welcome development, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of disarmament activists, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Rick Gladstone reports for the New York Times.

Philanthropy

"Social justice organizations in the U.S. and around the world are playing a very long game," writes Kathy Reich, director of the Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) program at the Ford Foundation. But the way the nonprofit sector is currently financed, she adds, "doesn’t make the fight against inequality any easier." Reich shares five practices outlined in Scaling Solutions Toward Shifting Systems, a report published by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, that, in her judgment, "are key to powering nonprofit innovation and enabling organizations to scale to solve the world’s pressing social and environmental challenges."

In a post on the Forbes site, Michael Etzel, a partner at Bridgespan, and Hilary Pennington, vice president for for Education, Creativity, and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation, introduce something called the Grantmaking Pyramid, a "philanthropic framework [that] rests on a wide base of foundational capabilities, rises through organizational resilience, and is capped by increasing impact."

Be sure to check out the five-part No Moat Philanthropy series featured on our sister Transparency Talk/Glasspockets blog on consecutive days last week. Penned by Jennifer Reedy, president of the St. Paul-based Bush Foundation, the series looks at the strategies and tactics Reedy and her colleagues have adopted to "open up" the foundation's grantmaking. The posts can be read in any order, but we suggest starting with the first one ("No Moat Philanthropy Part 1: Opening Up") and proceeding in the order in which they appeared: "Bringing the Outside In," "Building Your Network," "Beyond the Transactional," and "The Downsides & Why It's Worth It."

Did you know a new website called GrantAdvisor allows "grant applicants, grantees, and others to share their first-hand experiences working with funders through authentic, real-time reviews and comments"? An initiative of the California Association of Nonprofits, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, and Great Nonprofits, in partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Social Media for Nonprofits, the site bills itself as a sort of TripAdvisor for grantseekers and looks to be off to a great start. For more info, check out this FAQ.

Poverty

Some much-needed good news: The child poverty rate in America has hit a record low. Annie Lowrey reports for The Atlantic.

You're not alone if you think government and philanthropy could be doing more to reduce poverty. So does Warren Buffett.

Women and Girls

And Michelle Milford Morse,  a senior advisor to the United Nations Foundation and currently its acting vice president for girls and women strategy, checks in with a week's worth of highlights from the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, which was focused on gender equality and women's rights and empowerment.

(Photo credit: Eric Gruneisen)

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

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