Apologies for the delay; it was a nice day here in the Northeast.
Annals of Wealth
A new report from the Spectrem Group suggests that while the number of affluent and millionaire households in 2007 grew for the fifth consecutive year, the rate of growth slowed considerably. (Hat tip to Lucy Bernholz.)
The Rich Aren't Like You and Me; They Have a Lot More Dough. Still, if you thought $10 million would secure you a place among the ranks of the wealthy, think again. An article in Barron's says you need $25 million these days to be considered rich:
"Thanks to a global explosion of wealth over the past 10 years or so, the number of U.S. households with $1 million to $25 million in wealth has more than doubled. Households with $500 million and up have roughly tripled. 'Heck, $1 billion isn't a lot of money,' says Bill Sanderson, a broker of mega yachts in Palm Beach, Florida....Sanderson could be on to something: Billionaires now occupy every slot on the Forbes 400, and that list, some bankers and consultants say, may be overlooking 100 billionaires-next-door whose financial dealings are too private to track...."
My Carbon Footprint Is Bigger Than Your Carbon Footprint. Recently, the biggest yacht in the world, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's 198-foot Medusa, was moored off Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. Necker is the private getaway of Virgin Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson, and Branson had invited a high-profile roster of global elites -- former British PM Tony Blair, Google co-founder Larry Page, famed Silicon Valley VC Vinod Khosla -- to discuss whether planet earth really was "on fire." The verdict: Yes.
"With no naysayers on the island, the weekend, which was organized in part by the Climate Group, a nonprofit, was filled with hopeful talk about the 'war against carbon,' as Mr. Branson put it. But there was also talk of money, which most of the attendees had plenty of. And to make any of these technologies successful, they all agreed the solutions had to be profitable without subsidies...."
The NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin reports.
"Want to Be Happy? Give Your Money Away." A new study by Elizabeth Dunn, a professor at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues found that "how people spend their money is at least as important as how much of it they earn in the first place. The greatest joys of all, they discovered, can be attained by giving money away, either to someone they know or to charity...." (The Independent, 3/21/08)
Bill Schambra, director of the Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, argues that "in contrast to the early decades of the 20th century, foundations tend to be bit players on the American policy scene, drastically diminished in influence, disorganized, dispirited, and lacking a common vision or intellectual framework for their undertakings." Given their diminished role in a social landscape that is "too complicated, too cluttered with other actors [who have] far more impact" on outcomes, adds Schambra, foundations need to re-imagine "strategic philanthropy in a radically different way."
Jeff Trexler, the Wilson Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Pace University, brilliantly deconstructs a recent op-ed piece by NYT columnist David Brooks on social entrepreneurship:
"In a nutshell, what we have in Brooks' column is not an emblem of triumph for social enterprise but a signal of an ideology in retreat. Brooks is writing this now because free-market capitalism and conservative federalism are in desperate need of validation outside politics and pundits. McCain, Obama, Clinton, Congress, the mainstream media -- no matter where you look, the future seems to trend more toward government control than the Reagan Revolution. In this context Brooks' appeal to social enterprise is similar to the use of charity in commercial advertising. It's an attempt to borrow goodwill -- if you're not going to believe the American Enterprise Institute, listen to social entrepreneurs...."
Following up on a February post, Beyond Philanthropy's Tim Ogden considers emerging opportunities for high-impact philanthropy in the U.S., including back-stopping the student loan infrastructure, which has taken a hit in the ongoing credit crunch; working with so-called payday lenders to increase short-term uncollateralized loans for low-income workers without access to credit; and working to reduce energy consumption in the U.S. by funding the purchase of new gadgets that provide real-time energy use information.
Excellent post on blogging and the threat of defamation lawsuits by Jeff Trexler (see above) at his Uncivil Society blog. (Hat tip to Phil Cubeta.)
How did a "relative unknown" win $50k on Facebook? Lessons in Web 2.0 fundraising, with a hat tip to "A Fundraiser" at the Don't Tell the Donor blog.
Katya Andresen, author of the book Robin Hood Marketing and the Non-Profit Marketing blog, argues that at the end of the day social media is about three things: the desire to be heard; the desire to be seen; the desire to connect to others.
Odds and Ends
The Century Foundation has launched Taking Note, a "group blog" featuring "topical opinions and analysis by TCF fellows and staff."
And over at The Big Picture, Barry Ritholtz wonders whether truthiness has replaced truth in a "post-fact" America.
-- Mitch Nauffts