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18 posts categorized "Charity"

[Infographic] Charitable Giving in the U.S. vs the UK

April 05, 2014

"The UK should not aspire to a U.S. model of philanthropy and tax incentives -- it is not replicable and is a unique product of social, political and historical factors," a report released by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation back in February argues.

The report, Give Me a Break (20 pages, PDF), argues that while there are things the UK can learn from the U.S. model of philanthropy, there are features of it that the UK, which has a well-organized welfare state, cannot and should not replicate. "For instance," the report notes, "the U.S. charitable deduction is inherently biased toward those [with] higher incomes....Similarly, donations in the U.S. go disproprtionately to religious causes and education (45 percent in total)."

A few other interesting facts from the report that are included in the infographic below:

  • The oldest surviving charity in the U.S. is the Scots' Charitable Society of Boston, which was founded in 1657 and incorporated in 1786; the oldest in the UK is the King's School, Canterbury, founded in 597.
  • The average deduction claimed for donations of clothes in the U.S. in 2004 was $1,400.
  • 2.6 percent of the UK workforce is employed by the voluntary sector, while the nonprofit sector accounts for 9.2 percent of wages and salaries in the U.S.
  • Evidence from the U.S. suggests that donations go up as tax rates rise.

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Trust and Corruption

March 03, 2014

(Mark Rosenman is emeritus professor at Union Institute & University and a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic. He lives in Washington, D.C., from where he drew many of the examples of the national problems cited below.)

Rosenman_headshotSelf-serving and dishonest actions in both the public and private sectors are severely testing the trust and confidence of Americans. That's a problem for government, for courts and the criminal justice system, for corporations and business leaders, and, yes, for the nonprofit sector.

It's a much more significant problem, however, for the larger society. Are we destined to slide further toward the pernicious levels of corruption so prevalent in other parts of the world? Can the already strained fabric of American society hold as growing numbers of public, private, and charity officials scramble to profit, legally and otherwise, from their positions? What happens when the fundamental American belief in fairness is undermined by declining confidence in the institutions we all rely on?

Make no mistake, confidence in our institutions is declining. Since the early 1970s, those of us who have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in our institutions, including banks, newspapers, and the medical establishment, has fallen dramatically – in some cases by more than 50 percent. Confidence in religion, the Supreme Court, schools, organized labor, and the presidency has fallen by 25 percent or more, while fewer than 25 percent of us have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in big business.

Charitable organizations don't fare so well, either. Following a precipitous drop more than ten years ago, a recent survey found that over a third of Americans have "not too much" or no confidence in nonprofits. Meanwhile, Congress's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 10 percent.

Interestingly, the few institutions that have shown gains in public confidence include the military and the police and criminal justice system. But while the military is the most respected of American institutions, a series of recent incidents is beginning to take a toll. They include a scandal involving two Navy officers and a senior agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and a series of misconduct charges leveled at senior military officers for abusing their positions and accepting illegal gifts. His confidence shaken, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has demanded a broader investigation.

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Engaging Jewish Next-Gen Donors

August 14, 2013

(Andrés Spokoiny is president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network. As chief executive officer of Montréal-based Federation CJA from 2009 to 2011, he was instrumental in changing the federation's operations and relationship with the community.)

Headshot_andres_spokoinyImagine you’re in a foreign country and don't speak the language. There are no dictionaries. There is no Google Translate. You aren't able to convey anything more than basic thoughts. 

I work with funders and foundations every day. In my experience, Jewish organizations, when seeking to engage a new generation of donors, often behave like tourists. They need next-gen support, but in many cases these organizations simply don't speak to next-gen donors in a language they understand. They don't bother to learn next-gen donors' motivations. They don't recognize new patterns of next-gen giving.

The world of philanthropy is facing a generational transformation. Only organizations that adapt and learn how to "speak" this new language will survive. And the need to do so will become ever more critical as this new generation of donors becomes philanthropically active and replaces their parents as the major donors for thousands of organizations. The time for these organizations to build relationships with "Jewish next-gen donors" (JNGDs) is now.

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Eye On: John Caudwell

August 08, 2013

(Caroline Broadhurst is director of Community Care Projects at the Rank Foundation and, through the Clore Social Leadership Programme, a visiting fellow at the Foundation Center. This is the first of a series of post she'll be writing about the motivations of UK donors who have signed the Giving Pledge. For more about John Caudwell and the other Giving Pledgers, visit the Foundation Center's Eye on the Giving Pledge.)

Headshot_john_caudwellFrom modest beginnings, 60-year-old John David Caudwell has established himself as one of the most successful English businessmen in modern times. After leaving school before earning what in the U.S. would've been his high-school diploma, Caudwell went to work for Michelin, the French tire manufacturer at the company’s factory in the West Midlands. Not content to remain an engineering foreman, however, he nurtured his entrepreneurial instincts and soon began to create money-making ventures, including a corner shop and mail-order motorcycle clothing business.

Combining his mechanical knowledge -- he earned an HNC in mechanical engineering while working at Michelin -- and his growing business experience, Caudwell eventually set up a car dealership, with many of his former Michelin factory friends among his loyal customers. Displaying the entrepreneurial sensibility that would become his trademark, in 1987 he took a chance on the nascent mobile phone industry, starting Midland Mobile Phones with his brother, Brian. Despite running at a loss in its first few years, the business turned into a huge success, and by the 2000s the company, by then called Phones4U, was the largest independent distributor of cellular phones in the UK, selling an average of 26 phones every minute and earning more than $1.5 billion annually.

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Protect Charitable Deductions for Stronger Communities

June 18, 2013

(Jen Klaassens is vice president of programs at the Wasie Foundation, which supports scholarship programs for students of Polish ancestry at colleges and universities in Minnesota and make grants to nonprofit charitable organizations in a number of areas.)

Headshot_jen_klaassensCongress is threatening to eliminate the charitable deduction as we know it -- at the expense of millions of people in need. Specifically, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are talking about imposing a cap or limit on the value of the charitable tax deduction as part of a bigger effort to raise additional revenue and/or "simplify" the tax code.

The charitable deduction is a unique element of the federal tax code that encourages Americans to selflessly invest in their communities. Capping or limiting the deduction is not the solution to current budget concerns.

Philanthropy spurs innovation, aids the most vulnerable, provides relief in crises, supports education and health, advances cures and scientific breakthroughs, enhances the arts, and makes investments that fuel economic growth. For every $1 a donor receives in tax relief, communities garner as much as $3 in benefits. It is highly unlikely government could find a more effective way to leverage private investment in vital community services.

The charitable deduction works. It encourages Americans to give a portion of their income to charitable causes without getting anything back, benefiting communities across the country as well as the larger economy. In many cases, donors also experience a sense of well-being from helping. Limiting or capping the deduction will reduce charitable giving, which will hurt Americans most in need. Nonprofits already struggling to balance increased demands for services with reduced income need more support, not less.

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Let's Think Smarter About the Charitable Tax Deduction

January 14, 2013

Jan Masaoka is CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits), publisher of Blue Avocado, and author of The Best of the Board Café, Nonprofit Sustainability (with Jeanne Bell and Steve Zimmerman) and The Nonprofit's Guide to Human Resources.

Jan_masaoka_headshotOn New Year's Day, lawmakers in Washington finally agreed to disagree and passed a bill to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. But with the federal government looking at another trillion-dollar deficit and record levels of debt, no idea for balancing federal expenditures and revenue will be off the table for long.

For many nonprofits, keeping the charitable tax deduction off the table is the issue. But while the issue itself may seem straightfoward, there are more nuances and choices to it than meet the eye. There are many ways, for example, to increase taxes that would not have a directly negative impact on nonprofits -- which, after all, are a huge part of the safety net for the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, and many others.

The deal made to avoid the fiscal cliff left the charitable tax deduction untouched for the most part -- and for the time being. To be clear: neither eliminating the deduction nor reducing the deductibility rate was discussed; the administration's proposal would have lowered the current cap on the deductibility of charitable gifts from 35 percent to 28 percent of one's income. The one tiny change passed was the reinstatement of the Clinton-era Pease Amendment, which will raise taxes on some of the wealthiest donors by perhaps $2,000 each.

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[Infographic] It Was a Very Good Year for Social Giving

December 15, 2012

"Just as social media has changed how we live, it’s now transforming the way we give."

That's the conclusion of MDG Advertising, the shop behind our Saturday Infographic of the Week.

From to to bottom, the infographic looks at online giving and the channels charities leverage most (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn -- in that order); offers details on donor characteristics; looks at a recent example of an online giving campaign that went viral; and ends with some trends and tips.

 

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[Infographic] The Danger of Capping Deductions

December 11, 2012

Like deer in the headlights, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have spent the last five weeks paralyzed by the approach of the so-called fiscal cliff.  While the White House and Congress appear to be moving closer to a deal that would delay or avoid the worst effects of the cliff, the details of such a deal remain murky.

One thing that has surfaced repeatedly in negotiations between the two sides, however, is a cap on various tax deductions, including the deduction for charitable giving. As the infographic from the National Council of Nonprofits below suggests, such a cap would have an adverse impact on charitable donations -- and, by extension, local communities.

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The Stars Come Out for Sandy Relief and Recovery

November 09, 2012

Sandy_coasterSuperstorm Sandy's devastating impact on the East Coast resulted in the loss of more than a hundred lives, thousands being displaced from their homes, power outages that affected millions, and crippling disruptions of the region’s mass transit systems. The estimated financial cost of the storm may exceed $50 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

In the aftermath of a disaster like Sandy, it's not unusual to see celebrities donating their time and money to relief and recovery efforts, and this disaster is no different. According to the most recent edition of the Foundation Center's Celebrity Foundation Directory, total giving by celebrity foundations exceeds $15 billion. As the center continues to track the response to Sandy, we're again seeing celebrities step up to donate their money and talents to help those affected by the storm. Here are a few examples:

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Weekend Link Roundup (November 3-4, 2012)

November 04, 2012

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

Civil Society

On the NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Niki Jagpal discusses a recent article from the Poverty & Race Research Action Council about the "unsettling statistics on the status of voting rights in our country." According to PRRAC, voter identification laws, early voting restrictions, purging of "legitimate registered voters because of baseless suspicion of their citizenship status," and felon disenfranchisement continue to marginalize low-income individuals, communities of color, younger voters, and the elderly.

Disaster Relief

In the days following the devastating landfall of Superstorm Sandy near Cape May, New Jersey, nonprofit bloggers were busy sharing resources for those interested in contributing to relief and recovery efforts. On her Have Fun, Do Good blog, Britt Bravo has compiled a list of articles and Web sites that suggest ways to donate and volunteer; Idealist's Allison Jones has a few additional suggestions for New Yorkers looking to get involved in relief and recovery efforts; and longtime New Jersey resident Nancy Schwartz suggests three organizations on the ground in that state -- the NYC Rescue Mission, the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey -- that are "providing services right now and need your help to keep it up."

Looking at the response to the storm through a tech/data lens, Philanthropy 2173 blogger Lucy Bernholz tracks, in a series of posts, the many ways in which organizations and individuals used information communication technologies during and after the storm, while the Weakonomist looks at how Sandy might affect the economy.

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Whither Livestrong? 5 Questions for...Leslie Lenkowsky

October 18, 2012

After years in the public eye, first as a world-famous athlete who won the grueling Tour de France, the crown jewel of international cycling, a record seven consecutive times, and subsequently for his central role in a still-unfolding doping scandal, American Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, resigned on Wednesday as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer charity he founded some fifteen years ago. Hours later, Nike, one of Armstrong's biggest sponsors, dropped him as a spokesperson -- and was soon joined by half a dozen other Armstrong sponsors.

Earlier today, PND spoke with Leslie Lenkowsky, professor of public affairs and philanthropic studies at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, about the Armstrong scandal and its likely effect on Livestrong. Lenkowsky, who writes and speaks frequently about nonprofit management and governance issues, has served as a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, as president of the Hudson Institute and the Philanthropy Roundtable, and as CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Lenkowsky_headshotPhilanthropy News Digest: Which surprises you more: Lance Armstrong's decision to step down as chair of Livestrong, formerly known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, or the fact he waited till now?

Leslie Lenkowsky: That he waited until now. In fact, leadership of the organization has been passing from him to others for quite a long time. Stepping down now inevitably makes his decision look like it's related to the doping accusations. Since he is planning to stay on the board, he would have done better to make the transition earlier. But in many nonprofits, founders have a way of staying a bit too long.

PND: Close association with a celebrity can be a slippery slope for an organization, especially when the celebrity's name is on the letterhead. Do you think Livestrong's efforts to broaden its appeal beyond Armstrong will be enough to keep it from seeing a significant drop in its revenues?

LL: Yes. Livestrong has a very diversified base of support, lots of members and chapters, good national partners, and, most importantly, a well-developed set of programs. It has long since outgrown its association with Armstrong, and while his troubles may weaken his value for the organization's events and in other ways, they won't produce a significant drop in revenues.

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Romney, Ryan, and Charity

August 16, 2012

(Mark Rosenman, a Washington-based scholar-activist and director of Caring to Change, a D.C.-based effort to promote foundation grantmaking for the common good, is a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic. In his last post, he argued that nonprofits are missing from critical policy debates.)

Rosenman_headshotWith the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate, Mitt Romney has changed the stakes of the 2012 presidential race. Well beyond Republican versus Democrat, the question now before Americans is who we are as a nation and a people. Over the next four years, we must make decisions about public responsibility for the common good, about what we expect of government, and of what we expect of one another. The nonprofit and philanthropic sectors cannot afford to ignore this debate.

Developed by the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee and already passed by the House of Representatives, the so-called "Ryan Plan" would have an immediate impact on many nonprofits, especially those serving low- and moderate-income people. Ultimately, however, it would affect each and every area of government support for charitable causes.

Indeed, after announcing Ryan as his running mate, candidate Romney issued a statement trying to distance himself from the plan, even though previously he had described it as "marvelous" and said he was "on the same page" as Ryan in terms of budget priorities. Charities are prohibited involvement in electoral politics, but helping to shape a public discussion about policy and our values as a nation is essential; nonprofit and foundation leaders must declare which page they are on.

Before we take a closer look at the unfolding debate, let me point out that Mitt Romney has himself already proposed similar policies. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center concludes, for example, that Romney's detail-deprived proposal for tax reform would give the wealthiest Americans a significant tax cut while imposing tax increases on the remaining 95 percent of Americans.

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Nonprofits Missing From Big Battles

June 06, 2012

(Mark Rosenman, a Washington-based scholar-activist and director of Caring to Change, a D.C.-based effort to promote foundation grantmaking for the common good, is a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic. In his last post, Rosenman and co-author Gary D. Bass, executive director of the Bauman Foundation, wrote about efforts by Congress to curtail the advocacy rights of nonprofits.)

Rosenman_headshotWe are seven months from what some are calling "taxmageddon" and others describe as a "fiscal cliff." And while leaders in the nonprofit sector are narrowly focused on proposed changes to the charitable tax deduction that could reduce charitable donations by about $2 billion a year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already approved cutting trillions of dollars from programs critical to low- and moderate-income people and the charities that serve them.

Charities and foundations should be gearing up to confront immediate and near-term policy battles of extraordinary consequence to them. Instead, they seem to be wearing blinders -- or simply fear controversy, no matter the stakes.

Congressional Republicans seem to want a repeat of last summer's divisive struggle over raising the debt limit and are committed to pursuing new budget cuts. This comes after the House recently approved changes to last year's deficit-cutting sequestration agreement and shifted what was a shared annual burden of $109 billion entirely to domestic programs.

House Republicans also are trying to preserve Bush-era income tax cuts for wealthy Americans, an action that if successful will cost an estimated $1 trillion in revenue over ten years -- and doesn't include the loss of billions in revenue from estate tax reductions for millionaires. They have already passed the budget put together by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a plan that goes well beyond a renewal of the Bush cuts and give millionaires an additional tax break averaging $265,000 a year while cutting over $3 trillion from programs that serve low-income people or fund the charitable programs that help them.

This is not chump change. To give you a sense of the magnitude of the proposed cuts, the shift in sequestration alone is more than the total annual giving of all U.S. foundations combined. And the so-called Ryan plan calls for cuts in domestic program over ten years that are about seven times the equivalent projected total of foundation giving -- a shortfall that would result in some two million people losing their access to food stamps and another forty-four million having them reduced. The Ryan plan also would eliminate the social service block grant through which nonprofits now provide services to some twenty-three million people, over half of them children, as well as invalids dependent on Meals on Wheels programs, those in foster care, and those who rely on nonprofit childcare.

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Weekend Link Roundup (May 12-13, 2012)

May 13, 2012

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

Communications/Marketing

On her About.com blog, Joanne Fritz says nonprofit communicators don't always "make it easy for people like me to share their information" via social media. If they really want to get their message out, adds Fritz, organizations should blog frequently, add images to their posts, use video when possible, encourage retweets on Twitter, and add RSS feeds to their online platforms.

Fundraising

On the AFP blog, Reed Stockton shares findings from a recent study which found that nearly $1.5 billion was raised through some 350 crowdfunding platforms globally in 2011.

On the Minnesota Council on Foundations' Philanthropy Potluck blog, Anne Bauers looks at the Nonprofit Finance Fund's recently released State of the Sector survey, which found, among other things, that many nonprofits are "feeling distant from their funders."

Maybe, as the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's Sean Dobson notes, that's because the percentage of foundation grant dollars awarded for general operating support remained stuck at 22 percent in 2009 and 2010. It's a shame, writes Dobson, because in an uncertain economy, general operating support is "an endowment-friendly way [for foundations] to build stronger... grantees." 

Philanthropy

Ellen Remmer, president and CEO of the Philanthropic Initiative, explains why a growing number of community foundations are making investments designed to "produce a social (including environmental) and financial return." Writes Remmer:

They believe they can have a deeper and more sustained impact in their communities by adding this tool to the toolbox, particularly for some issue areas such as housing, sustainable economic development, healthy lifestyles (think local food), etc. They are compelled by the opportunity to "recycle" philanthropic dollars and augment the amount of capital committed to social change. And they believe that a broader group of social investors will be attracted to this approach for community improvement than their traditional cadre of donors.

Could community foundations become standard bearers for impact investing? Could they play an educational, brokering or even leadership role for donor investors and the recipient organizations? There are plenty of barriers to realizing the full potential of this evolving form of social investment; but my bet is that community foundations could -- if they choose -- play a key role....

Poverty Alleviation

Over at the Huffington Post's Impact blog, Maurice Lim Miller, founder and CEO of the Family Independence Initiative, reminds us that charity can be a double-edged sword. "The ability to make choices, determine our plan of action, and be in control are essential to achieving mobility and stability in our society," writes Miller. But while

everyone faces problems and needs help at some point, the programs and services for low-income people treat them as unable to make their own choices -- as charity cases. A charity case isn't simply someone who needs resources; the term carries pathos. "Charity case" does not breed confidence, self-respect, or affirm any sense of self-determination. If we really want people who are low-income to have the opportunity to get ahead, we need a new model....

Social Media

Last but not least, Allison Fine suggests in a post on the Harvard Business Review blog that what it means to be "professional" in the workplace has changed. "For most people over forty," writes Fine,

it means wearing a uniform of some kind, talking in a certain language, carrying a briefcase (or more recently a Blackberry or iPhone), and perhaps, most important, keeping one's private life private. Gen Y, or Millennials -- late teens to thirty year-olds -- have a vastly different notion of what it means to present oneself to the world wearing their business hat (so to speak). The huge organizational chasm between Gen Y and Gen X and Boomers is less a technological problem than a psychological one, and it manifests itself in the use of social media....

Is she right? Do older professionals view social media as a threat to professional behavior? Is it changing what it means to be "professional"? Use the comments section to share your thoughts.

And drop us a line at [email protected] if we missed something. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

-- The Editors

Weekend Link Roundup (March 3-4, 2012)

March 04, 2012

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

African Americans

In a followup to her post last week on NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Niki Jagpal reminds of us how Black History Month came to be and, with an eye to this year's theme, asks others to share their stories "about the innumerable contributions that our African American sisters have made to our culture and society and the role that they play today in philanthropy in the continuing struggle for equity and justice."

Communications/Marketing

On her Getting Attention blog, Nancy Schwartz makes the case for marketing as the key driver of "how your organization builds and strengthens [its] relationships with the people whose help you need to move your mission forward." If your organization isn't paying attention to how it markets itself, adds Schwartz, it's "losing out on the potential to develop more and stronger relationships."

Microfinance

On his Open Book blog, David Roodman shares a couple of charts illustrating the rise and decline of Indian microfinance.

Nonprofit Management

Over at the Nonprofit Quarterly, Kate Barr and Ruth McCambridge take issue with the findings of a recent report from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University which surveyed 526 nonprofit financial managers at midsize charities -- those with revenues between $1 million and $5 million -- and concluded that many of those professionals have gaps in their financial knowledge. Write Barr and McCambridge:

The report is heralded by a press release entitled "Gaps in Financial Knowledge Challenge Mid-Size Nonprofits" but there is no information in the survey results or even in the report that supports the claim that the nonprofits represented have any particular or acute challenges that could not be explained by a bad economy. In fact, about half have more than four months of operating funds in the bank and about a quarter have more than seven months' worth....

In the Spring issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Peter Kim and Jeffrey Bradach look at a few themes that provide insight into what has shaped, and will continue to shape, the growth of a new class of super-sized, $50 million-plus nonprofits.

Social Good

Using examples from the recent Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, Geoff Livingston, vice president of strategic partnerships at Razoo, offers sixteen tips on the Case Foundation blog for nonprofit organizations and funders looking to participate in a giving day or other online social good contest.

Elsewhere, the Acumen Fund's Sasha Dichter shares an interview at Say100 Media in which he explains why Generosity Day, a day-long event in February that sought to inspire generous acts nationwide, was a success.

Social Media

Facebook is now making its Timeline format available to organizations with a brand page. To help nonprofits get started, social media guru Beth Kanter offers a list of tips in a post on her blog.

Transparency

In a guest post on the Communications Network blog, Philanthomedia's Susan Herr shares a video in which Foundation Center president Brad Smith explains why foundations have a responsibility to communicate their role in driving social change.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at [email protected]. And have a great week!

-- The Editors

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