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1393 posts categorized "Philanthropy"

Weekend Link Roundup (January 21-22, 2017)

January 22, 2017

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

Advocacy

Whether we're talking about animal welfare, climate change, LGBT or women's issues, health care, or tax policy, the impact of advocacy is hard to measure — and that is a problem. Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther looks at what one nonprofit is doing to learn more about what it doesn't know.

Civil Society

The Obama Foundation is open for business.

Community Improvement

Zenobia Jeffries and Araz Hachadourian, contributors to Yes! magazine, continue their state-by-state exploration of community development solutions that prioritize racial justice.

Education

In Dissent, Joanne Barkan explains why Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos is the second coming of economist and free-market evangelist Milton Friedman.

Grantseeking

After introducing the FLAIL Scale, a tool that allows foundations to see whether or not their grantmaking process is needlessly irritating to grantseekers, NWB's Vu Le returns with the Grant Response Amateurism, Vexation, and Exasperation (GRAVE) Gauge, a list of the things "nonprofits do that make funders want to punch us in the jaws — or worse, not fund our programs."

Impact Investing

"With uncertainties about the next four years swirling, there is one safe prediction: Sustainability and climate change will not be high on the Trump administration’s priority list," writes Peter D. Henig, founder and managing partner of Greenhouse Capital Partners, on the Impact Alpha site. "If sustainability is to keep moving forward," he adds, "it's up to the private sector" to embrace the "opportunities [that] await mission-driven, impact-focused companies and investors."

Nonprofits

In a Q&A with Blue Avocado, DC Central Kitchen and L.A. Kitchen founder Robert Egger says, "Our sector is about to be hit, and hit hard. We're going to be expected to do more, for more, with less." 

Is your nonprofit organization looking to achieve financial sustainability in 2017? Social Velocity's Nell Edgington says these are five questions you need to ask.

Philanthropy

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund marked its seventy-fifth anniversary in November 2015. What advice can it offer to other foundations looking to avoid the pitfalls that so often rob family foundations of their effectiveness over time? An essay newly posted to the RFB website shares a dozen lessons based on the foundation's seven and a half decades of grantmaking.

On Twitter, Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan lists (via @FelixDresewski) eight questions funders and foundations should be asking themselves in the wake of Donald Trump's inauguration.

"If philanthropy is to move from being about the donor to truly being about the change they make, then the first step the sector needs to take, is to address its Starfish Problem." Forbes contributor Jake Hayman explains.

Public Affairs

Progressive-leaning site ThinkProgress has documented 663 promises (and counting) that Donald Trump has made since launching his campaign in 2015.

In a piece for Mother Jones, historian and journalist Rick Perlstein gets to know a young, thoughtful Trump supporter — and is shaken by what he learns.

And in another "politically oriented post," Richard Marker reflects on the implications of the Trump administration's fondness for "alternative facts."

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

Time for Nonprofits to Step Up and Make America Good Again

January 17, 2017

NonprofitsassociationsAlthough many Americans are skeptical of Donald Trump's ability to handle his presidential duties, a majority believe he is competent to be president. Nevertheless, the charitable sector should be concerned about what his presidency could mean for nonprofit organizations — and perhaps democracy itself.

The incoming administration has claimed an electoral mandate based on false assertions of massive voter fraud. In reality, Trump lost the popular vote by more than 2 percent — over 2.9 million votes. And he owes his Electoral College victory to 75,000 votes spread across just three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

It's important to remember these facts as the country prepares itself for an onslaught of executive orders and regressive policy initiatives likely to come out of the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress. Needless to say, many of those initiatives will belie the core values and progressive goals of the philanthropic community.

We know that a majority of Americans support some of President-elect Trump's proposals, including lower and simpler taxes for the middle class; more spending on infrastructure, the military, and veterans' services; and term limits and new ethics rules for members of Congress (although Congress itself opposes the last two).

We also know that most Americans are opposed to Trump's proposals to lower taxes on high-income Americans, build a wall on the border with Mexico (even before Congress said it would cost taxpayers billions of dollars), and deport illegal immigrants without offering them a pathway to citizenship, as well as his preference for fossil fuels over renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, unlike the president-elect and Congress, most Americans want to see Obamacare improved, not repealed and replaced. They want to see government regulations improved, not weakened or eliminated. And while they believe small businesses pay too much tax, they believe corporations pay too little.

Problematic, too, are many of Trump's appointments, such as putting a fiscal hawk in charge of the budget office, which may give the White House cover to go along with draconian cuts in Medicare and Medicaid pushed by another cabinet nominee, despite Trump's promises on the campaign trail.

What really ought to alarm those who work in the nonprofit sector, however, is Donald Trump's affinity for strongman leaders, an attachment he shares with Russian president Vladimir Putin, a man he greatly admires. Indeed, like Putin, the president-elect is not averse to bullying his opponents, and he encourages such behavior in others. He also has a low tolerance for disagreement and dissent and has little apparent regard for the truth. While, for example, there is agreement in the intelligence community that Putin ordered a multi-faceted effort designed to help Trump win the election, the president-elect seems intent on protecting the Russian president, and himself, by suggesting that his intelligence briefing on the matter determined that those efforts had no effect on the outcome.

The Trump/Putin bromance and their shared affinity for authoritarian leadership pose a real and present danger for nonprofits. Putin has done much to strengthen oligarchy in Russia. Trump, himself a billionaire, has appointed a number of billionaires and individuals with significant wealth to his cabinet, and he seems untroubled by the Republican-controlled Senate's efforts to wrap up confirmation hearings for his nominees before all background checks have been completed.

Moreover, while Trump insists that as president he cannot have any conflicts of interest because he is exempt from ethics laws, he fails to mention or acknowledge other Constitutional dictates, and it is clear that he, his family and his cronies are unlikely to lose sleep over future suggestion of corruption. Just as troubling is the fact that when the head of the Office of Government Ethics declared the president-elect's plan to separate himself from his business empire woefully inadequate, Congressional Republicans called him to a closed-door hearing and threatened to cut funding for the office.

In the weeks and months to come, nonprofit organizations and foundations working to advance the public good are likely to find the president-elect's actions troubling in several ways. Specific policy initiatives that favor the wealthy at no small cost to ordinary people and the environment will create one set of problems. Efforts to privatize government services are likely to create another. And, if Putin's actions are any guide, having an individual in the White House with authoritarian proclivities could well create a third set of problems for the sector — and our democracy.

Indeed, if nonprofit leaders believe that civil society in the U.S. is constitutionally protected in a way its Russian counterpart is not, they should think again. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, in Rust v. Sullivan (1991), that government can restrict the free speech and prohibit actions of any charitable organization it subsidizes, and it has declared tax exemption a subsidy in Regan v. Taxation With Representation of Washington (1983). This gives a President Trump the latitude to bully and intimidate charities if he so chooses.

The charitable sector's efforts to serve people and protect the planet depend in large part on its capacity to encourage empathy and speak truth to power. The choice to remain silent, of keeping a low profile and hoping the bully will focus his attention elsewhere, is a recipe for failure.

Instead, charities must increase their capacity for engagement and advocacy, not run from it. Doing so means learning to operate in ways that eliminate traditional divides. For starters, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy should make it a priority to frame and promote specific policies in ways that everyone can understand and appreciate — and that recognize people's very different realities.

They also must be clear that disagreements over policy are not the result of inherent failings in people, regardless of which side of a controversial issue (or presidential contest) they might take. People, especially those who feel unseen and ignored, need to have their value as individuals affirmed and their agency respected.

The nonprofit community should take a lesson from the successful efforts of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), working in collaboration with other organizations. In the face of congressional Republicans' egregious decision to weaken enforcement of ethics rules meant to rein in lobbyist cronyism, advocacy groups quickly mobilized public action and deluged House members with calls and emails that soon had House leadership working to reverse the ill-considered move even before President-elect Trump could tweet his own displeasure.

For a brief moment, at any rate, the popular outcry seemed to bridge differences between Trump voters, mainstream Republican voters, and those who opposed his election. This was something we all could agree on. And it demonstrated the power of effective organizing and public action when issues are framed in ways that appeal to our sense fairness and the widespread conviction that disrespect, abuse of power, and corruption on the part of the powerful cannot be tolerated in a democracy.

By helping people do the right thing, charities and philanthropy can, as a friend of mine likes to say, make America good again. Beyond fighting for compassionate and sound public policy that benefits all of us, the nonprofit sector must stand up to a self-serving bully whose leadership threatens to further erode public confidence in government and its accountability to voters, not to mention civil society itself.

Headshot_mark_rosenmanMark Rosenman is a professor emeritus at the Union Institute & University. To read more of his posts, click here.

Weekend Link Roundup (January 14-16, 2017)

January 16, 2017

Martin-Luther-King-Day-2017Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Advocacy

On the HistPhil blog, veteran activist/commentator Pablo Eisenberg elaborates on an op-ed he penned for the Chronicle of Philanthropy in which he argues that one way to strengthen the nonprofit sector in the Trump era is to transform Independent Sector into "a new powerful coalition solely of charities."

Arts and Culture

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has announced that it is delaying plans to build a new $600 addition for modern and contemporary art. It was hoped the new wing would be completed in time for the museum's 150th anniversary in 2020. Robin Pogrebin reports for the New York Times.

Climate Change

Bud Ris, a senior advisor for the Boston-based Barr Foundation, shares key findings from a new report that explores the city's vulnerability to rising seas and other adverse effects of climate change.

Civic Engagement

In a joint post on the foundation's blog, Case Foundation founders Jean and Steve Case argue that now is the time, in Teddy Roosevelt's words, to "get in the arena" and make a positive impact in your community.

Education

In a new post on her blog, public education activist Diane Ravitch offers her full-throated support for a statement released by People for the American Way in which PFAW spells out "the danger that [the nomination of] Betsy DeVos and the Trump agenda poses to American public education."

Giving

GoFundMe, a leader in the online crowdfunding space, has acquired social fundraising platform CrowdRise. Ken Yeung reports for VentureBeat.

Healthcare

New research from the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities suggests that "Republicans' planned bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA)...would provide an immediate windfall tax cut to the four hundred highest-income Americans while raising taxes significantly on about 7 million low- and moderate- income families."

Nonprofits

The transition in political power signaled by Donald Trump's election will require nonprofits to act completely differently than they have in the past, write Tim Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, and David L. Thompson, the council's vice president of public policy. In the months to come, they argue, nonprofits will need to "recognize their shared interests and come together to inform policy makers...and seize new opportunities" in six areas: fighting against cuts in spending that would hurt the public; expanding tax laws that encourage giving; engaging in the debate on the Affordable Care Act; fighting to preserve the legal independence of nonprofits to allocate their own resources; fighting to keep partisan politics away from charitable organizations and foundations; and simplifying federal rules and contracts.

Feeling a little overwhelmed at work? Beth Kanter shares a couple of tips designed to keep you focused and productive.

Philanthropy

In a heartfelt post on the foundation's Point blog, Heinz Endowments president Grant Oliphant argues that this not the time to be silent. "There are truths that need to be spoken now," he writes, "spoken out loud and unapologetically by people who know them to be true. Spoken with love, yes, but also fierce conviction — truths about the validity of science, the perils of climate change, the nature and price of injustice, the insanity of racism and all the other isms creeping out from beneath their ill-concealed rocks...."

Uncertain and maybe a little worried about what 2017 has in store for the sector? Jamie Serino, director of marketing at MicroEdge + Blackbaud, has assembled a good list of trends you'll want to keep an eye on.

And be sure to check out our Q&A with Chris Gates, executive vice president for external affairs at the Council on Foundations, for more insights on what to expect in the year ahead.

Think your grantmaking process is easy and intuitive for grant seekers? Think again, says Vu Le and the NWB community.

Open Road Alliance has released a risk management toolkit for funders featuring ten adaptable tools covering a spectrum of risk management activities.

Poverty

"In 1966, [Martin Luther King] moved into the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago's West Side to work on fair-housing discrimination and poverty affecting black Chicagoans. Fifty years later, North Lawndale remains one of Chicago’s most impoverished and underresourced neighborhoods and is over 90 percent black." On The Roots site, Black Lives Matter Chicago explains why in some places, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In a post for City Lab, Richard Florida shares highlights from a new study the Population Reference Bureau's Beth Jarosz and Mark Mather that tracks the dramatic growth in inequality and poverty across America's 3,000-plus counties over the past two-and-a-half decades. The most startling takeaway? More more than 70 percent of the counties in the U.S. have either high levels of inequality, high levels of poverty, or both.

In The Atlantic, Alana Samuels, citing research conducted Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, notes that 39 percent of African Americans today live in suburbs, 36 percent live in cities, 15 percent live in small metropolitan areas, and 10 percent live in rural communities — a noticeable shift from 2000, when 41 percent of African Americans lived in cities, 33 percent lived in suburbs, 15 percent lived in small metro areas, and 11 percent lived in rural communities.

Public Affairs

Excellent summary, courtesy of the statisticians at the Pew Research Center, of the many ways in which America has changed during Barack Obama's eight years in office.

Race Relations

Last but not least, the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) enterprise and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation have designated January 17, 2017, as the inaugural National Day of Racial healing in America. The foundation's Gail C. Christopher explains why such a day is necessary and what the foundation and its partners hope to accomplish.

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

Improved Water Quality Doesn’t Mean Flint’s Problems Have Ended

January 13, 2017

CNN-flint-fire-hydrant-flushThe following statement regarding recent announcements about the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, reflects the views of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which is headquartered in Flint, and its president, Ridgway White. It is reprinted here with the foundation's permission.

(Image: CNN)

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At a January 11 town hall meeting, representatives from the city of Flint, state of Michigan, and federal government announced significant improvements in levels of lead, chlorine, and bacteria in Flint's drinking water, but they also advised residents to continue using filtered tap water.

Perhaps the biggest, but least surprising, takeaway from the meeting is that the repair work likely to take the longest will be the effort to rebuild public trust. This was made clear by residents who spoke out, crumpled plastic water bottles, and clapped rhythmically in unison to display their anger and skepticism.

While the improvement in water quality is good news for Flint, people who live and work here know the city's problems are far from over. The population-wide exposure to lead that resulted from government cost-cutting measures created long-term challenges that will require long-term funding and interventions to address. These include problems related to residents' health, the city's infrastructure, and the local economy, all of which have suffered significant damage.

State and — to a lesser extent — federal government already have provided some funding to address harms that have been caused. But in order to repair the many wounds that have been inflicted on Flint, government at all levels will need to make long-term, sustained investments in helping the city and its citizens recover and rise.

Here's what Flint still needs:

Replacement of damaged infrastructure: Thus far, only 770 of an estimated 29,100 lead service lines have been replaced. Flint needs adequate funding to replace its pipes, as well as expertise and assistance to expedite the process.

Support for long-term health needs: Lead exposure has long-term effects on physical and behavioral health. Because the city's lead exposure was caused by government, local nonprofits deserve government support to develop and deliver the programs and services residents will need to deal with physical and mental health issues — both now and in the future.

Long-term commitments to invest in early childhood and K-12 education: Because lead exposure affects children's learning and development, Flint kids will need intensive educational support beginning in early childhood and continuing through high school. Additional funding for both early childhood education programs and Flint Community Schools will be essential to helping children learn and succeed.

Investment in local colleges and universities: Before the water crisis struck, enrollment at local colleges and universities was on the rise. Since the crisis, it has fallen. Government needs to help the institutions that were hurt by the crisis. What's more, these institutions are leading the way in providing educational support for the youngest children in Flint, addressing public health needs, and preparing to educate young people affected by the crisis when they reach college age.

Incentives to create jobs and revitalize the economy: Anyone who is willing to keep a business in Flint or bring new business and employment opportunities to the city should receive tax incentives for doing so.

Funding to eliminate blight: As more residents have walked away from properties that have plummeted in value, blight has become an even bigger problem in Flint. Funding to remove blighted properties and prepare them for productive use would improve safety and quality of life, while also helping to "right size" drinking-water infrastructure.

Investments in affordable housing: Development of affordable, quality housing, located near needed services, public transportation and job opportunities, is essential to keeping current residents and attracting new ones.

Support for restoration of the Flint River: The Flint water crisis was not caused by pollution in the Flint River — it was caused by improper treatment of the river water. Nevertheless, the river took a huge hit to its reputation. A restored riverfront in the downtown area would bring new recreational and economic opportunities to the city.

Flint's water crisis should be a wakeup call that we can no longer afford to ignore the problems of our older industrial cities. We should all now realize that austerity measures are not a solution to long-term economic decline in our cities.

People in Flint and other economically distressed communities deserve government they can trust to put the health, safety, and well-being of its citizens first. They also deserve access to opportunity through good education and jobs. All sectors — public, private, and nonprofit — should work together to find sustainable ways to create such opportunity.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has committed up to $100 million over five years to help our home community respond to the water crisis. And we're extremely pleased that ten other foundations have committed more than $25 million in additional funding.

That sounds like a lot of money — and it is. But the breadth of the lead exposure and the long-term nature of the problems it creates mean that no single sector can provide all the help Flint needs. That's why the Mott Foundation stepped up. It's also why we feel compelled to remind government officials that improved water quality is only a first step on the long road to recovery.

Headshot_ridgway_whiteThe harm to Flint was caused by a failure of government at all levels. That means all levels of government must continue to focus on what they can do to rebuild public trust and help the city recover and rise.

Ridgway White is president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Finding Our Place in a Post-Election Society…or, To Live Together, We Must Give Together

January 12, 2017

Innovation-in-giving-handsWhen the sixth call asking for our help came in days after the presidential election, we started to realize that interest in giving circles — groups of people who come together, pool their charitable donations, and decide together how to give those resources away — had never been greater.

“We’ve only ever given to our universities and political campaigns,” one caller said, echoing the sentiments of many others we spoke to. “We have no idea how to make an impact right now on the issues that came up during the campaign — but we know we want to, and we want to do it together.”

Whether you woke up on November 9 feeling shell-shocked or optimistic, you probably asked yourself: What do I do now? How can I be more engaged in my community and in causes that interest me? How can I help my obviously divided country come together and heal in the months and years to come?

If those are the kinds of questions you’ve been asking yourself, starting a giving circle might just be the answer.

In the hundred and eighty years since French diplomat and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville published the first volume of his monumental Democracy in America, America has been known for the willingness of its citizens to form and engage in civil associations. Today, giving circles are a way for Americans to come together around their similarities — and reconcile their differences — while making a difference in their communities and society. Importantly, especially at fraught national moments like these, they also can help us find meaning in our lives by empowering us to give, in partnership and fellowship with neighbors, friends, and family, in ways that reflect our values.

Indeed, everything that giving circle members do, they do together.

Giving circle members learn together. Members of giving circles talk about the values and passions they hope to bring to their giving and then decide where and how they want to direct  their resources. Together, they learn about the landscape of organizations and activists working on or with the issues and communities they care about. Instead of simply reacting to a grant proposal or fundraising appeal, giving circles offer their members proactive opportunities that start with the question: “What’s the change we want to make in the world?” — and provide a platform from which they can help drive that change.

Giving circle members give together. Rather than simply learning about issues and organizations doing good work, giving circle members do things together. They pool their charitable resources, enabling them to have  a greater financial impact than any one member of the group could have on his or her own, and, together, they direct those resources to people and organizations in a position to use them. Giving circle members also build relationships with the organizations to which they give, frequently provide strategic guidance or pro bono services, and in many cases even agree to serve as board members for those organizations. For most people, giving circles provide a powerful experience of giving — active, hands-on, and with endless opportunities for impact.

Giving circle members are together. Giving can be a solitary affair in which a person with resources and a checkbook or credit card responds to a direct request for funds. Giving circles transform this experience into something that is vibrant, values-based, and communal. Imagine sitting in a room with people you like, talking about how to make a difference together on  issues that matter to all of you, or  meeting new people in your community who are interested in  coming together to create positive change. Giving circles fulfill a fundamental human need for sociability and friendship, and can be as formal or informal, homogeneous or heterogeneous, social or educational as their members need or want them to be.

FeliciaHermann_JoelleAsaroBermanAmerica finds itself in a moment of flux. This is your chance to shape the moment by starting (or joining) a giving circle. It’s easier than you think, and it will connect you to your community — and your country — in ways you might never have imagined. What are you waiting for?

Felicia Herman is the executive director of Natan, a giving circle in New York, and is founder and incoming advisory board chair of Amplifier. Joelle Asaro Berman is the executive director at Amplifier.

Weekend Link Roundup (January 7-8, 2017)

January 08, 2017

Snowflakes_PNG7585Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Animal Welfare

Here's some good news: China has announced it will shut down the trade of ivory within its borders by the end of 2017. Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen applauds the decision.

Higher Education

Could a favorite tax break for donors who give to the nation's wealthiest colleges and universities be curtailed by the new Congress? Janet Lorin reports for Bloomberg.

Regardless of the tax policy changes Congress settles on, many multimillion-dollar gifts won't do as much good as the donors of those gifts hope, writes Paul Connolly, director of philanthropic advisory services at the Bessemer Trust, and that’s because "too few of them are getting the sound advice they need to move from good intentions to effective contributions and real positive impact."

International Affairs/Development 

As bad as 2016 may have seemed, the long-term trend for humanity is moving in the right direction, writes FastCo.Exist contributor Adele Peters, citing research by Oxford economist Max Roser. Take poverty: two hundred years ago, most people on the planet lived in extreme poverty, but "by 1950, a quarter of the world's population had made it out of extreme poverty...[and today] 90% of the world has." Or education: "In 1820, 1 out of 10 people was literate. Now more than 8 out of 10 people in the world can read." 

These trends could be accelerated if more of the developing world's population was connected to the Internet. On the ONE blog, Samantha Urban reports on the recommendations to address the situation made by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November 19.

Continue reading »

A National Day of Racial Healing on January 17 Will Help Americans Overcome Racial Divisions

January 06, 2017

Share1112-crayonsJust five days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the country's 45th president, millions of Americans on January 16 will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For many, memories of the civil rights icon revolve around his momentous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in which Dr. King called for an end to racism and for the expansion of economic opportunities for all Americans.

Dr. King's brilliance — his strategic leadership of the civil rights movement and unparalleled courage and integrity — is often overshadowed by the speech that many scholars hail as the most important public address by an American in the twentieth century. Unfortunately, the dream of equality King articulated in 1963 remains unfulfilled in many communities today — a reality that underscores the persistent structural inequities and racial bias at the root of the widespread disparities in social conditions and opportunities for people of color.

Dr. King said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." That's the America many of us have long been working to create but, despite progress in some areas, are still seeking to realize.

The divisive rhetoric and raw emotions that raged across the country over the past year pulled the scab off a persistent wound in the American psyche, bringing the issue of race front and center and exposing the divides in our society. What can we do about it? How do we move forward on a path toward racial equity that facilitates racial healing, dismantles structural racism, and lifts vulnerable children onto the path to success?

To be sure, America has made progress over the decades. Government and the courts have enacted statutes and rulings, from Brown v. Board of Education to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, that outlawed public discrimination while purportedly guaranteeing equal opportunity for all Americans. Yet, in too many cases, these rulings only addressed the effects of racism, not its foundations. The passage of time has made clear that government and courts can enact and uphold laws, but they can't change hearts, minds, and souls.

Continue reading »

5 Questions for...Jennifer Preston, Vice President for Journalism, Knight Foundation

January 04, 2017

"Quality journalism matters," writes Jennifer Preston, vice president for journalism at the John S, and James L. Knight Foundation. "It is a buttress against the torrent of fake news we've seen explode in the past year, and it can help rebuild the diminishing trust many people have in society's core institutions."

In keeping with the foundation's efforts over the last ten years to support quality journalism and the work of nonprofit news organizations, Preston and her colleagues launched the Knight News Match just before the holidays. In a recent email conversation, she spoke about the problem of fake news, the role of social media in the recent presidential election, and the matching campaign, which is open through January 19.

Philanthropy News Digest: There's been a lot of talk about fake news and its role, real or imagined, in determining the outcome of the presidential election. What is fake news, and why is it suddenly a problem?

Headshot_Jennifer_PrestonJennifer Preston: Fake news is not a new problem. Supermarket tabloids have been generating false stories and doctored photos for decades. As journalists, we spend our days reporting, verifying, checking, sifting through misinformation to uncover accurate information and verify facts before publishing. Social media — and the Internet — has accelerated the pace for spreading both journalism and false information. What is happening, of course, is the impact of social media on how we consume information. False information is flowing unfettered through social media channels and people are sharing it without knowing that what they are sharing is inaccurate. I see the concerns over fake news to be a symptom of the overall lack of trust in media and information. At Knight, we are supporting projects to help journalists and news organizations build trust with their audience by engaging more directly with community residents. As an example, we fund a Solutions Journalism project in Seattle and another in Philadelphia. We are funding the University of Oregon's Center for Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement to create case studies and best practices for journalism engagement. And we're also supporting the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's work in New Jersey, which has been focused in helping local online news organizations engage more closely with the communities they cover.

PND: Are you at all concerned that efforts to identify and minimize the influence of fake news could backfire by reinforcing people's existing filters and certainty in what they believe to be "real" news?

JP: It took a while, but we are seeing engineers and technologists becoming highly engaged in addressing the spread of false information, and it will be interesting to see their solutions. It is key, however, that First Amendment concerns are addressed. It was interesting to see how Facebook decided to partner with Politifact and ABC News. One of the best ways to fight misinformation is to support quality journalism, and that's why we launched the Knight News Match campaign.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (December 31-January 1, 2017)

January 01, 2017

20172016Happy New Year! After a break for the holidays, we're back with our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Fundraising

Change is inevitable and trying to predict a future unknowns, known and unknown, lying in wait in the new year, what's a nonprofit to do? Rather than try to predict the future, digital strategist and Ignite Strategy group founder Jeff Rum shares some good advice about how nonprofits can best prepare for

Giving

Have you resolved to be a better giver in 2017? Forbes contributor Leila de Bruyne asked Paul English, co-founder of Kayak and Lola, for his advice on how to give any amount of money away, effectively.

Higher Education

"U.S.  economic development has stalled. We've recently learned that only about half of people born around 1980 earn more today than their parents did at a similar age. The nation’s deteriorating education sector is one important factor, culpable for both weak economic growth and rising income inequality," writes Jonathan Rothwell, a senior economist at the Gallup organization, in an article on the Brookings site. And while education costs have soared over that period, he adds, learning has stagnated. Interesting comments as well.

International Affairs/Development

The UN estimates that almost 93 million people in 33 countries will need humanitarian aid in 2017 and has issued an appeal for a record $22.2 billion to help them. The Thomson Reuters Foundation (via the New York Times) asked aid agencies to name their top three priorities for 2017

LGBTQ

There were setbacks, yes, but the news for the LGBTQ community in 2016 wasn't all bad, as dozens of state legislatures and city councils considered or pass LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. On the Freedom for Americans site, Adam Polaski shares both the good and the bad from the year just passed.

Continue reading »

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts in 2016

December 30, 2016

So it ends, not with a bang but a whimper. Depending on whom you speak to, 2016 was a train wreck, a dumpster fire, a sure sign of the apocalypse, and just plain weird. If it was a year in which too many beloved cultural icons left us, it was also an annus horribilis for progressives, who will have to work twice as hard in the new year (and beyond) to preserve important policy gains achieved over the last eight years and limit the harm caused by a Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress.

But while our attention often was focused elsewhere, many of you were taking care of business and digging deep into the PhilanTopic archives for tools and ideas you could use — today and in the weeks and months to come. So, without further preamble, here are the ten posts you "voted" as your favorites in 2016. Enjoy. Happy New Year. And don't forget to check back next week, as we return to the office tanned, rested, and ready to fight the good fight.

What have you read/watched/heard lately that got your attention, made you think, or gave you a reason to feel hopeful? Feel free to share with our readers in the comments section below. Or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Weekend Link Roundup (December 17-18, 2016)

December 18, 2016

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

Climate Change

The government of the Netherlands has presented a long-term energy plan that stipulates that no new cars with combustion engines may be sold from 2035 on and that all houses in the country must be disconnected from the gas grid by 2050. Karel Beckman reports for the Energy Collective.

Fundraising

What's the best way to get donors under the age of 40 to donate to your nonprofit? Future Fundraising Now's Jeff Brooks shares a little secret.

Giving

In FastCoExist, Ben Paynter has a quick primer on what certain proposals in the Trump tax plan could mean for charitable giving.

The real possibility of lower marginal rates and changes to the cap on itemized deductions under a new Trump administration has many wealthy donors rushing to donate shares of appreciated stock before the end of the year. Chana R. Schoenberger reports for the Wall Street Journal.

As another year winds to a close, Elie Hassenfeld, Holden Karnofsky, and other members of the GiveWell team discuss the thinking behind their personal end-of-year giving choices.

Impact Investing

For those interested in keeping up with developments in the fast-growing field of impact investing, the Case Foundation's Rehana Nathoo has curated a list fifty impact investing "influencers" you should follow on Twitter.

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Weekend Link Roundup (December 10-11, 2016)

December 11, 2016

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

Black and white trees

Climate Change

In response to President-elect Trump's decision to stock his cabinet with climate change deniers, more than eight hundred Earth science and energy experts have signed an open letter to Trump, "urging him to take six key steps to address climate change [and] help protect America's economy, national security, and public health and safety." Michael D. Lemonick reports for Scientific American.

Community Improvement/Development

The Boston Foundation is bringing the global Pledge 1% movement to Boston. Through the initiative, individuals and companies plugged into the local innovation economy pledge 1 percent of the equity of their company for the benefit of the greater Boston region — or any other region or country. Learn more here.

Data

In this Markets for Good podcast (running time: 58:29) moderator Andrew Means, GuideStar president/CEO Jacob Harold, nonprofit innovator, blogger, and trainer Beth Kanter, and Rella Kaplowitz, program officer for evaluation and learning at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, share strategies and insights for using data to drive social sector impact.

Education

On the NPR website, Eric Westervelt weighs in with a balanced profile of incoming Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. And in Bridge magazine, Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Ron French offer a less-flattering account of DeVos' legacy as a leading funder of school-choice policies in Michigan.

On her Answer Sheet blog, Washington Post education reporter Valerie Strauss looks at a recent decision by the NACCP, America's oldest civil-rights organization, to ratify "a resolution calling for a moratorium on expanding public charter school funding until there is better oversight of these schools and more transparency from charter operators."

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What Do We Know About…Disconnected Youth?

December 07, 2016

Over six million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are not in school or working. Often known as disconnected or opportunity youth, they are among the upwards of fourteen million young adults who are only marginally or periodically in school or working. At the same time, several million young people have had almost no labor market or educational experience in the past year.

Youth and young adults represent the future of our country — our economy, our communities, our democracy — and it is in our best interest to help ensure that they’re engaged with and connected to school and jobs.

Special collection_disconnected youth

To that end, the Annie E. Casey Foundation asked Foundation Center to create a special collection on IssueLab about the group of young people known as disconnected youth. This new online resource houses nearly one hundred and forty recent reports, case studies, fact sheets, and evaluations focused on the challenges confronting youth today, as well as lessons and insights from the field.

The Casey Foundation's interest in these issues began in 2012, when we published Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity, signaling our recognition of the crisis facing young people and the need to create stronger pathways to education and jobs. Our commitment mirrored a national reawakening to the needs and aspirations of youth, including the White House Council for Community Solutions, the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, and the Obama administration's My Brother's Keeper initiative to improve opportunities for boys and young men of color.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (November 2016)

December 05, 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...and Hannukkah...and Kwanzaa...and the end of an especially eventful year. Before you get busy with your end-of-year tasks and holiday chores, take a few minutes to check out some of the PhilanTopic posts that other readers enjoyed and found useful in November....

What have you read/watched/heard lately that got your attention, made you think, or gave you a reason to feel hopeful? Feel free to share with our readers in the comments section below. Or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Weekend Link Roundup (December 3-4, 2016)

December 04, 2016

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

Aging

America is aging rapidly, and for "elder orphans" — the growing number of seniors with no relatives to help them deal with physical and mental health challenges — the future is a scary place. Sharon Jayson reports for Kaiser Health News.

Animal Welfare

Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther looks at the animal welfare movement, which, he writes, "is energized these days by the commitment, brainpower and moral fervor of a impressive group of activists in their 20s and 30s...crying out in opposition to what they see as an evil but widely-accepted practice."

Data

On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz explains why, given the threats the incoming Trump administration poses "to free assembly, expression, and privacy," the nonprofit and philanthropic communities need to do more to manage and protect their digital data.

Education

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's pick to be U.S. Secretary of Education, is a wealthy supporter of "school choice" and, as "one of the architects of Detroit's charter school system,...partly responsible for what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country." In an op-ed in the New York Times, Douglas N. Harris, a professor of economics at Tulane University and founding director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, explains why her "nomination is a triumph of ideology over evidence that should worry anyone who wants to improve results for children."

In a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, Paul J. Deceglie of Fairfax, Virginia, argues that poverty, not school choice (or lack thereof), is the chief driver of poor student performance.

In a new installment of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Re:Learning podcast, Goldie Blumenstyk chats with Jim Shelton, who recently was hired by the hired by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to head up its education work.

Fundraising

Guest blogging on Beth Kanter's blog, Rob Wu, CEO and co-founder of CauseVox, shares six insights the so-called sharing economy tells us about the future of fundraising.

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