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49 posts categorized "Governance"

[Review] 'Abusing Donor Intent: The Robertson Family's Epic Lawsuit Against Princeton University'

April 16, 2014

(The newest book by Doug White, a well-known expert in the fields of philanthropy and nonprofit management, is "equal parts thriller and cautionary tale," writes Daniel Matz, Foundation Web Manager at the Foundation Center. Click here for more from PND's long-running Off the Shelf series.)

What is a gift? In an ordinary sense, a gift is something — money, property, advice — given freely by one party to another without the expectation of receiving something in return. We all like gifts, and so, too, do the 1.4 million nonprofits in the United States that benefit from private donations, large and small. But in the calculus of large-scale institutional philanthropy, a gift isn't really a gift; it's a gesture with a purpose — a purpose informed, to varying degrees, by the intent of the person or institution that gave the gift. And therein, as Shakespeare might say, lies the rub.

Cover_abusing_donor_intentIt's no surprise that wealthy donors and foundations seek out organizations and institutions that share their own passions and interests. But what do donors really expect from a nonprofit grantee in the long run? In the performance-measured, accountability-driven world of twenty-first century philanthropy, grantee reporting is de rigueur. For most nonprofits chasing after scarce dollars (and hoping for future gifts), the willingness and ability to demonstrate that they've aligned themselves with a donor's intent goes without saying. But what happens when a donor, after many years of happy engagement with an organization or institution, begins to believe that the original intent of the gift is no longer being honored? Our intuition tells us that, at some level, gifts/grants/donations involve a leap of faith, and that when the trust between donor and recipient is compromised, the recipient is unlikely to receive additional future gifts from that donor. A donor or foundation might even go public with its disappointment in order to discourage others from making gifts to the recipient. But rarely does a foundation or donor who has become disenchanted with a recipient ask for their money back. Which raises the question: Should they be able to? And does a statute of imitations ever apply in such a situation?

Those are two of the questions Doug White, a well-known expert in the fields of philanthropy and nonprofit management, tackles in Abusing Donor Intent: The Robertson Family's Epic Lawsuit Against Princeton University. Just as White earlier explored a rogues' gallery of swindlers and incompetent trustees in Charity on Trial, here he invites the reader to look behind the curtain of privilege and wealth, this time to learn just how bad things can get when a donor and beneficiary no longer see eye-to-eye. Informed by the slow burn of a decades-old frustration, not to mention the disposition of hundreds of millions of dollars and the reputation of one of America's oldest and most respected universities, Abusing Donor Intent is equal parts thriller and cautionary tale.

For those not familiar with the story, it starts in 2002, when Bill Robertson and his siblings, heirs to the A&P supermarket fortune, sued Princeton University to claw back a gift their parents had made forty years earlier. Back in 1961 — the year of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the first human (Yuri Gargarin) in space, and the construction of the Berlin Wall — Charles Robertson (Princeton, '26) and his wife, Marie, had established a foundation with a $35 million gift to benefit Princeton's renowned Woodrow Wilson School for Public Policy and International Affairs. The Robertsons, heeding President John F. Kennedy's admonition to ask not what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country, saw a need to foster greater interest in government service and believed the Wilson School to be the ideal place for future generations of Americans to train for careers in public service.

With trusteeship of the foundation to be shared by Princeton and the Robertson family, and the assets to be managed by the university, the foundation was set to be the cornerstone of the Wilson School's future success. And, indeed, over time the foundation's corpus grew to an almost unimaginable size; by 2008 it was estimated to be worth $850 million — and represented a significant portion of Princeton's endowment. But as the value of foundation's assets grew, so too did the Robertson family's unhappiness with the way, and to what effect, the money was being used. As the Robertson children saw things, it wasn't just that Princeton had fallen short of matching their parents' aspiration for the gift by not working hard enough to place more students in government service; it was that Princeton had intentionally used the endowment for purposes unrelated to the Wilson School, thus violating the original intent of the gift.

What did Princeton do that was so wrong? According to White, the Robertson family accused it of squandering a quarter of a billion dollars of foundation funds, with little to show for it — at least in terms of generating greater interest in government service. The family also argued that the university had allowed foundation assets to be commingled with the general university endowment and claimed that, over the life of the foundation, the university had spent a near-equal portion of the endowment on projects and activities unrelated to the Wilson School, including $13 million to complete construction of a new facility for the sociology department and a number of multimillion-dollar commitments for other university programs that, although related to public and international affairs, were not administered by the Wilson School.

For their part, Princeton officials argued that the university was a complex institution with growing needs and a number of interconnected missions. In their eyes, the foundation should not be isolated from those needs and, what's more, that it was irresponsible not to allow the university as a whole to benefit from the foundation's endowment — or to allow the purposes to which the endowment was applied to evolve over time. In the end, following a six-year battle and $90 million in legal fees (which Princeton agreed to pay), the Robertson Foundation was dissolved in 2009, with $50 million going to fund a new Robertson Foundation for Government that is independent of the university.

In the end, it's hard to say who won. White is quick to note that the new foundation makes it possible for the Robertson children to fulfill their parents' wish. At the same time, the majority of the original foundation's assets have been folded into Princeton's endowment, which stood at more than $13 billion at the end of 2013. Perhaps, says White, it's a Pyrrhic victory for both sides. The Robertson family, though free to pursue their parents' original goal, must do so with vastly diminished resources and less family cohesion than before the suit was filed. Princeton has had to publicly explain its questionable (if not unethical) conduct. And maybe the only "victory" to come out of the case is the renewed focus it has put on the phrase "donor intent" — and the fact that, even a half-century after a gift is made, a tax-exempt beneficiary (however illustrious) can be called to account for perceived violations of the donor-beneficiary relationship. That’s a lesson that donors and recipients alike would do well to take seriously.

Daniel Matz

PND Talk: Founder's Dilemma

March 14, 2014

In the fourth installment of our PND Talk series (you can find the others herehere and here), Anonymous outlines a situation with which too many nonprofit executive directors are familiar: the founder who can't or won't relinquish the reins of an organization or agency that has outgrown his or her capacity to manage it.

Fortunately for Anonymous, our late, good friend (and all-around wise person) Carl Richardson was on hand to help and responded with some practical advice that surely must have helped. But see what you think. And then use the comments section at the bottom to share your thoughts and advice....

Founders_dilemmaHELP. I'm working with a great organization that is experiencing a huge growth spurt -- and approaching a total budget of nearly $1 million. But the founder is still "running the show" as if it were a tiny volunteer-driven operation. He inserts himself into everything, from giving staff directives, to changing information on the Web site, to starting new programs without consulting with anyone. Basically, he is an extremely impulsive person and is unable or unwilling to hand the agency over to a professional staff (though he claims otherwise).

A few months ago I stepped in as ED with a twelve-month contract. But despite the fact that we've made some amazing progress, I am not sure I can "save" the organization -- and am beginning to believe I helped create a monster.

We have plenty of board members who are willing to roll up their sleeves, and new blood willing to help. But through his actions, the organization's founder makes it clear that he is in charge, and after a while people get discouraged and become unwilling to engage.

This founder was the sole support of the agency for nearly a decade, and I understand and appreciate his commitment and compassion. Yet the agency has grown beyond his capacity to run - and not just because he has a business to operate as well.

I have dealt with difficult founders before, and I hate to walk away. But I fear for its future -- and my reputation!

_______

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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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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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Weekend Link Roundup (February 8-9, 2014)

February 09, 2014

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

Fundraising

Interested in learning how to run a successful online fundraising campaign? Slava Rubin of Indiegogo tells you how in this animated video.

Governance

With foundations subject to more stringent tax laws and regulations than ever before, writes Virginia P. Sikes in the Nonprofit Quarterly, foundation boards and executives need to pay special attention to self-dealing, compensation for personal services, excess business holdings, and grants to charities that lobby -- "four areas from which complications and issues often arise."

Nonprofits

In a post on her blog, Beth Kanter draws a useful distinction between organizational cultures that are data-informed as opposed to data-driven. Among other things, writes Kanter, data-informed cultures

have the conscious use of assessment, revision, and learning built into the way they plan, manage, and operate. From leadership, to strategy, to decision-making, to meetings, to job descriptions -- a data-informed culture has continuous improvement embedded in the way it functions. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the specific quantifiable metrics that an organization agrees are necessary to achieve success. They are the mileposts that tell a data-informed organization whether they are making progress toward their goals....

Philanthropy

In a letter posted on the James Irvine Foundation Web site, Jim Canales, president of the foundation since 2003, says good-bye, as he gets ready to head east to the Boston-based Barr Foundations, to the visionaries, the truth-tellers, the optimists, the ego-less, and the merely curious who have been "essential to the progress that the Irvine Foundation has made and who have personally contributed to my growth and learning as CEO."

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Weekend Link Roundup (January11-12, 2014)

January 12, 2014

Calendar01_JanuaryOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector.

Communications/Marketing

Kivi Leroux Miller has a nice infographic on her Nonprofit Communications Blog illustrating key findings from her 2014 Nonprofit Communications Trend Report.

Interesting post on the Open Democracy blog by Janey Stephenson, an activist and filmmaker, about the language of activism and how word choices subtly shape the way activists position themselves with respct to contentious social issues.

Data

The Markets for Good team has announced the launch of its first reader-proposed theme, "Beyond Data Silos," which was suggested by Andrew Means, founder of Data Analysts For Social Good. Means frames the conversation, which is open to contributions from all comers, thusly:

[W]hether they hold grain or information, silos are stores of value. Recognizing that, and without parsing this metaphor to death, we can ask new questions. Chief among them is how to get the most value from data that lies in different parts of an organization and from data that could be shared for greater good between organizations. Also, how can we ensure faster communication of key information across an organization, across the sector?

Looking forward to reading what others have to say about these and related questions over the next three weeks or so.

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A New Kind of Strategy for Nonprofits -- Convene, Reflect, and Take Time to Strategize

October 07, 2013

(Carla Goldstein, JD, is chief external affairs officer at the Omega Institute and co-founder of the Omega Women's Leadership Center.)

Headnote_carla_goldsteinThe top managers of the Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice only get to meet once a month, if that. "We needed time away from our hectic court-based environment to think more clearly, without interruption, and in a supportive environment," says Ann Marie Scalia, attorney-in-charge of the Manhattan Juvenile Rights office. Theirs is not a unique story.

In Washington, D.C., GirlTrek, a national nonprofit focused on helping black women and girls improve their health by walking, was at a turning point. The group was growing exponentially but needed time to plan and figure out the most strategic way to scale and launch their big push to get one million black women "walking in our neighborhoods" by 2018.

In New York State's Orange County, the domestic violence prevention organization Safe Homes identified a need to improve their internal communications and supervisory structure and to incorporate self-care into their institutional culture. That might seem like a luxury, but given the high stress levels among staff in an extremely challenging environment, it was critical for Safe Homes.

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Weekend Link Roundup (September 28-29, 2013)

September 29, 2013

Ty-mattson-breaking-bad-02Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Civil Society

How are market forces, public policies, and digital technologies changing nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and associational life at the heart of civil society? That's one of the questions the Project on Philanthropy, Policy, and Technology at Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society set out to answer last year through a series of monthly charettes. Now, the fruits of those conversations (and a lot of good, hard thinking) have been captured in a series of reports issued by the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS. Written by Lucy Bernholz, Chiara Cordelli, and Rob Reich, the reports -- The Emergence of Digital Civil Society (42 pgaes, PDF); Social Economy Policy Forecast 2013: Project on Philanthropy, Policy, and Technology (38 pages, PDF); Good Fences: The Importance of Institutional Boundaries in the New Social Economy (18 pages, PDF); and The Shifting Ground Beneath Us: Framing Nonprofit Policy for the Next Century (30 pages, PDF) -- are thought-provoking, deeply researched, and a pleasure to read. They're also available as free downloads from the Stanford PACS site.

Responding to Dan Pallotta's hugely popular TED Talk -- and echoing some of the conclusions arrived at by Bernholz, Reich, and Cordelli in their Recode Good work -- Ashoka's Valeria Budinich suggests that one of the most important points made by Pallotta in his talk (and first book) is a point everyone chooses to ignore: Philanthropy's moral foundations -- and the resulting legal and policy framework in which it operates -- have remained largely unchanged since the 1700s.

Climate Change

The most exhaustively researched climate report in history is out -- and, as environmental journalist Richard Schiffman explains in The Atlantic, its findings are grim.

For those as troubled by the findings of the report as Schiffman is, the UN Foundation's Kathy Calvin has some words of encouragement.

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Six Ways to Make Your Volunteer Board Members Feel Appreciated

August 13, 2013

(Allison Shirk is a freelance grantwriter based in the Northwest. In her last article, she offered some tips to help you spice up your grant proposals.)

Headshot_allison_shirkA new generation is making its presence felt, and its members are eager to give more than just their hard-earned money. They want to give their time and talent, to get down in the trenches and serve on boards. They want their ideas to be taken seriously, put into action, and reported back on with charts and graphs. Oh, and they want to be appreciated and recognized for their efforts and contributions to your cause or organization.

What's that? You're too busy to let your volunteer board members know their efforts are appreciated? You might want to rethink that. Before you start planning your next volunteer appreciation event, run through this checklist of things you can do to show you care.

Common courtesy. The easiest way to appreciate and recognize volunteer board members costs you nothing. It's giving them a proper greeting when they arrive for a meeting and letting them know how grateful you are for the time and effort they’ve expended to be there. It's small things like starting and ending the meeting on time. It's making sure everyone's voice is heard and that everyone has a chance to contribute to the discussions.

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Silence Isn’t Golden

July 09, 2013

(Mark Rosenman is an emeritus professor at the Union Institute & University and directs Caring to Change, an initiative that seeks to improve how foundations serve the public. In his last post, he urged PhilanTopic readers to assess how they value the things they value.)

Rosenman_headshotConfronted by headlines about truly questionable practices at a few dozen charities, the response of too many nonprofit leaders has been to bury their heads in the sand and try to pull the hole in after them. What these leaders fail to appreciate is that silence in response to scandalous behavior is neither golden nor in their best interests.

By now, most of you have seen the carefully researched list compiled by the Center for Investigative Reporting, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Times and CNN, of "America's 50 worst charities" -- tax-exempt organizations that "channel most of the money they raise to professional solicitors, mimic other charities' names, deceive donors on telemarketing calls, divert money and contracts to people with ties to their organizations, and use accounting tricks to inflate the amount they report spending on their missions."

Yet, despite overwhelming evidence of self-dealing by these groups and their closely associated entities, key leadership organizations in the sector, including Independent Sector, have responded to requests for comment from the press by declaring that they didn't have enough information to make a judgment, while others have defended outrageous fundraising percentages diverted to what the California Association of Nonprofits' Jan Masaoka labels the "philanthropic-consultant industrial complex."

When it comes to nonprofits, these kinds of abuses are nothing new, and neither is the timidity of nonprofit leaders in condemning them. Their silence in the past has greeted media coverage of huge salaries paid to charity officials, outlandish benefits, self-dealing within boards, tax gimmicks for donors, and malfeasance in program operations. Unfortunately, the cost of that silence is something we all bear.

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Board Compensation in Grantmaking Foundations: Reasonable and Necessary?

February 20, 2013

(Mark Hager is associate professor of nonprofit studies in the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University. This post originally appeared on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog.)

Headshot_mark_hagerTradition dictates that board members work for free in most quarters of the nonprofit sector, but that isn't necessarily true for grantmaking foundations, especially independent ones. In a new paper (free access until late March) published in Public Integrity, the ethics journal sponsored by the American Society of Public Administration, Elizabeth Boris and I consider the question of what varieties of grantmaking foundations compensate their board members for governance duties. It reboots and reframes an earlier analysis conducted by the Urban Institute, the Foundation Center, and GuideStar.

In the paper, we point to several interesting examples, including a very large foundation's generous policy of trustee compensation spelled out in its organizing documents, another with seven-figure annual compensation paid to a bank to act as a very part time "institutional trustee," and another that underwent IRS investigation for eye-popping compensation that essentially amounted to trustees looting a charitable trust. These cases aren't typical, but they are part of the big picture of how work gets done in grantmaking foundations and how much insiders get paid to do it. In more typical cases, foundations might have justifiable reasons to compensate board members, including to ensure representation from beneficiary populations or to extend health insurance benefits to family founders. It's the extreme cases, however, that threaten to color all of philanthropy.

Compensation for governance duties is perfectly legal, so long as it falls under the IRS' broad standard of "reasonable and necessary." The practice is pretty rare in community foundations, partly due to the fact that they rely so heavily on public contributions and are therefore subject to public scrutiny. It also appears to be fairly rare in corporate foundations, but that may largely be due to the fact that many corporate foundation trustees get paid as corporate executives, making their compensation invisible on the foundation side. About one in five independent foundations, however, appear to report compensation of their board members for governance duties, as reported on Form 990-PF.

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Weekend Link Roundup (January 26-27, 2013)

January 27, 2013

Mosby-cold-snapOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Diversity

On the Tides Foundation's What's Possible blog, Toby Thompkins asks some thought-provoking questions about African Americans and U.S. history to remind us that "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not just a day for or about black Americans; it is a day for and about all Americans."

Governance

On her Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington shares five questions to get your board "moving." They include: Why do you serve? What do you bring to our organization? And what do you want to contribute financially?

Impact/Effectiveness

Are we on the threshold of a new economic movement "that will result in all investors -- individual and institutional -- committing at least some portion of their investable assets to social impact"? Lisa Hall, president and CEO of the Calvert Foundation, believes we are, and in an essay in GreenMoney she explains how impact investing is driving that paradigm shift.

In a guest post on the Forbes blog, Kayleigh O'Keefe, associate director at the Corporate Executive Board, shares a "three-step method for "converting passive support into lasting partners":

  1. For each of your key stakeholder groups, define a specific desired behavior.
  2. If a certain stakeholder group is not doing what you’d like them to, determine why.
  3. Focus your efforts o n removing the barrier to the desired behavior change.

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The Archives of U.S. Foundations: An Endangered Species (Part 1)

January 23, 2013

(John E. Craig, Jr. is executive vice president and COO of the New York City-based Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that works to "promote a high performing health care system." A version of this post originally appeared on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog).

A foundation's archives preserve records of the programs, activities, products, governance, people, and history of the organization that may have enduring cultural, historical, research, or institutional value. Yet despite the important role archives play in a field that focuses on investing in ideas, a recently released survey about foundation record management practices reveals that only a small minority maintain foundation archives. Clearly, there is a need to make a case for why foundations should devote resources to archive development and management. And there are at least six compelling reasons for why foundations should give their inactive files and historical records serious attention.

1. Historical Research on Social and Economic Developments and Influential Institutions and Individuals.
The late Paul Ylvisaker described philanthropy as "America's passing gear," and foundations serve this purpose in numerous ways: by helping to launch movements (such as civil rights, environmental protection, or health care reform); by developing new institutions and strengthening existing ones; by making society more inclusive through support of programs to improve the lot of vulnerable populations; by building up the knowledge base for social improvements and scientific advancement and, through the support of individual researchers, contributing to the nation’s intellectual capital; and by strengthening the social fabric and physical capital of the communities in which foundations operate. In the hands of good researchers, the records of foundations can provide guidance for future generations in tackling new and continuing social problems. For example, no history of the civil rights movement would be complete without access to the permanent records of the Ford Foundation; no history of the development of the "miracle" rice strains that sparked the Green Revolution, which helped transform Southeast Asian societies in the 1960s and 1970s, would be complete without the records of the Rockefeller and Ford foundations; and no history of the healthcare reform legislation of 2010 would be complete without the records of the Commonwealth Fund, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and other national and regional healthcare philanthropies.

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Weekend Link Roundup (November 10-11, 2012)

November 11, 2012

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

Communications

In a guest post on the Communications Network blog, Philanthropy New York's Michael Hamill Remaley shares five lessons he learned from Superstorm Sandy about communications during and after a disaster:

  1. A little bit of forethought and planning can make a big difference to your organization's ability to keep communicating during a disaster, and once your team has been through a disaster like Sandy, it'll have a much better idea of what to expect next time.
  2. After disaster hits, be prepared to improvise. After the power grid for lower Manhattan went down, Remaley just started walking north from his apartment on the Lower East Side and kept walking until he was able to get a cell phone signal thirty-five blocks later.
  3. Make sure you have personal e-mail addresses for all staff and that they are cloud-based like Gmail addresses.
  4. To be an effective communicator during a crisis, you have to already have a loyal audience that follows you on a number of channels -- blogs, Web sites, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  5. When you have a great team of people who are determined to stay connected, you can find mechanisms to make it work. There are so many channels for communicating now that, unless there is absolutely no cell service at all, you can find ways of establishing two-way communication with your key audiences even amidst significant system disruptions.

Disaster Relief

On Blackbaud's new NPEngage blog, Steve MacLaughlin looks at how fundraising in support of Superstorm Sandy relief efforts compares to that of other recent natural disasters, from the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. MacLaughlin says there are at least two aspects of Sandy giving to watch, including a rise in multi-screen fundraising and the long tail. "Giving to this and other disasters is going to continue for some time," writes MacLaughlin. "And very soon it will be important for organizations to start showing the impact these donations have had on those hit hardest by the storm."

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5 Questions for…Eugene Tempel, Senior Fellow, Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University

July 25, 2012

Eugene_TempelOver the past twenty-five years, the philanthropic landscape in the United States has changed significantly. As Americans' trust in institutions has declined, restricted giving has become more commonplace, while the number of wealthy Americans interested in establishing their own foundations has increased. At the same time, growing numbers of women and minorities have assumed leadership positions at foundations and nonprofits, while diversity -- of staff and boards -- has become a watchword, if not yet established fact. Over the same period, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University has established itself as a premier training ground for current and future nonprofit executives. In June, Indiana University announced that Eugene Tempel, who directed the center from 1997 to 2008, would be leaving his post as head of the IU Foundation, a position he has held for the last four years, to head up efforts to develop a School of Philanthropy within the IU system. Recently, Philanthropy News Digest spoke with Tempel about the new school and the steps he and others are taking to make it a reality.

Philanthropy News Digest: Earlier this year, Case Western Reserve University announced a major restructuring of its Center for Nonprofit Management -- in part because it was having difficulty attracting students to the program. Are there enough students interested in pursuing an advanced degree in philanthropy to support a School of Philanthropy at Indiana?

Eugene Tempel: I think so. For what it's worth, we continue to attract students, even though the amount of aid and fellowships we're able to offer is not as robust as we'd like. Still, what we've noticed over a long period of time with our master's program is that demand far exceeds supply. And the only students who have any difficulty finding a job after they graduate are students who want to be in a specific location looking for a very specific kind of job. That said, I wasn't inside the Case Western Reserve situation, but the Center for Nonprofit Management there was a very complex organization. It was "owned" by four different entities, and that created a number of challenges. Case also turned the center's master's degree into a sixty credit-hour program. Students looking at that were likely to be tempted by some of the thirty-six credit-hour programs out there, many of which are attracting students.

PND: How big an endowment will the new School of Philanthropy need?

ET: We set a goal of $100 million, and we've raised about $68 million of that for programs currently housed in the Center on Philanthropy, including fellowships and sponsorships of students majoring in philanthropic studies at the baccalaureate, master's, and Ph.D. levels who take their programs through the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and the university's graduate school. We believe that endowment level will be a good foundation. But the school will be largely privately funded, and so it will need to continue raising private funds and seeking other sources of support even after we reach our goal. The key to building the school over time is to continue adding to the funds that are available for its operations, especially funds earmarked for additional faculty hires -- not only faculty who teach but those who do research -- because that's an important part of the school's reputational base and part of what it contributes back to the school and the larger society. Also, we'll need to continue to build resources for the fellowships and scholarships that help attract and support the students who come to learn and work in these programs.

PND: Who or what do you see as competition for the school?

ET: I think some of the top-notch public affairs programs that offer degrees in this area could compete with us for students, but they could also be research collaborators. The Center on Philanthropy already has reached out to most of the people you would find at institutions in this space that are trying to do good work. Indeed, while the center has always aimed to be a leader in the field, we also strive to engage other institutions and involve them in programs we helped start. As those relationships develop over time, they become competitors for students and for faculty. And clearly, some of the institutions out there with strong reputations will compete with us for students. In fact, some of the students who come to us to get their Ph.D. in philanthropic studies decide to go on to doctoral programs in history or a field like that because of the fellowships that are offered elsewhere. At the same time, some of the programs that teach about the nonprofit sector have begun to hire our Ph.D. graduates as faculty and leaders for their programs.

PND: Why did you choose to leave the IU Foundation after only four years to head up this project?

ET: I left a vice chancellor's job once to head the Center on Philanthropy and people thought I was crazy. And when I left the Center on Philanthropy to run the IU Foundation, at least one of your colleagues in the media called me and said, "Are you nuts?" But look, I agreed be president of the IU Foundation for no more than five years. The dirty secret is, I'm already sixty-five, so when they asked me about helping develop a school of philanthropy, we'd already been discussing a succession plan for the person who would take my place at the foundation. As you know, they were able to find Daniel Smith [Ed note: dean of the IU Kelley School of Business] within the IU community, which allowed me to move to the center earlier and dedicate my energies to helping start the new school.

I've been committed to the center since we got the first planning grants and funding from the Lilly Endowment some twenty-five-plus years ago. And even though I didn't work in the center until 1997, I've never been far from it as a volunteer, whether working on an advisory board or helping with a project. One reason I've never left Indiana University is because the center's been there and I've been able to be part of it.

PND: What are the next steps in terms of creating the school?

ET: The proposal hasn't been made to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education yet. That's the next crucial step. All the work that's going on now at the center and in our academic programs continues. Any student coming this fall, for example, will go right into philanthropic programs operated through the School of Liberal Arts and other departments around the university, just as they always have. We think we've planned well, there are no new degrees to be approved, and we hope the commission will consider our application favorably, but ultimately the decision is theirs. If the commission approves the proposal, then we still have the hard work of developing budgets and institutional structures, working with faculty and staff committees -- the collaborative, detailed work it takes to bring a school to fruition. We also hope there'll be funds to allow us to begin recruiting soon for some key faculty positions. Plus, we will continue to work to raise additional funds, so that by the time the school is ready to open its doors -- sometime in 2013, we hope –- we'll have additional funds to add to the endowment.

-- Matt Sinclair

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