1475 posts categorized "Philanthropy"

SPARCC: Rewriting the Playbook on Equitable Infrastructure Investment

September 21, 2017

Sparcc_for_philantopicThroughout the history of the United States, major public infrastructure investments have spurred economic development and shaped entire regions. From the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 to the completion of the Interstate highway system in 1992, publicly funded infrastructure has played a critical role in the development of our modern economy.  

Yet the story of major infrastructure investments is hardly all positive: Residents of nearly any city in America can point to a large-scale project that displaced and decimated the wealth and social fabric of communities of color, for example. Interstate 81 destroyed the 15th Ward of Syracuse, New York, while Interstate 75 dismantled Detroit's "Black Bottom" neighborhood, home to thousands of people and three hundred and fifty African American-owned businesses. In New York City, mega-projects like the Cross Bronx Expressway put a physical barrier between low-income communities of color and opportunities to earn better livelihoods.  

Major public infrastructure projects can also have harmful impacts on health and climate by increasing our dependence on fossil fuel consumption, increasing CO2 emissions, exacerbating respiratory illnesses like asthma, and inhibiting people's physical activity. And too often, infrastructure investments in walking and cycling amenities, new transit, improved stormwater drainage, broadband, or parks don't reach the people and neighborhoods that need them most.

Mindful of the high stakes of getting infrastructure right, several leading foundations, working in close collaboration with four national partners, have launched the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge. SPARCC aims to create opportunities for low-income people and communities of color through strategies that promote equity, better health outcomes, and climate resilience. All three of these goals can be realized by amplifying regional public investments in housing, transit, and other impactful infrastructure so that their benefits can be shared equitably—and by empowering the communities that stand to benefit.  By demonstrating how investments in the built environment can create a path for all of a city's residents to thrive, we aim to rewrite the national playbook for how such projects are designed and implemented in the future.

In this month's edition of the Community Development Investment Review, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, we describe how the Robert Wood Johnson, Ford, Kresge, and JPB foundations and the California Endowment — along with our implementing partners, the Low Income Investment Fund, Enterprise Community Partners, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco — worked together to develop this ambitious six-site, $90 million initiative. Together, we aim to test a different model for development — one that harnesses a major public investment in infrastructure to prioritize the needs of low-income people for healthy, resilient, and connected communities, rather than cutting people off or displacing them. We hope that SPARCC can point the way toward reversing a series of urban policy and programmatic decisions that kept communities of color out of the decision-making process, and resulted in decades of disinvestment in low-income communities across the nation, fueling enormous disparities in health and economic opportunities between zip codes that are often just a few miles apart.

We designed SPARCC to capitalize on catalytic moments, those rare times in the life of a community when it is ripe for action. While a significant infrastructure initiative (like the buildout of a regional transit system) is often that catalyst, new leadership, population shifts, strong public will, policy overhauls — or even efforts to recover from a natural disaster, like Superstorm Sandy — can also attract a significant pool of private and public capital and accelerate opportunity. SPARCC pursues a multiplier effect in that opportune moment — for example, taking advantage of the buildout of transit to prioritize affordable housing development near transit stops, or ensuring that a major investment in greenways or revitalization offers benefits to low income communities, rather than triggering rising rents and displacement.

After a competitive review process, the SPARCC partners selected six places for SPARCC to support over the next three years: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis and the San Francisco Bay Area. In that period, each region will be awarded $1 million in direct grant and technical assistance funds to support cross-sector efforts to retool policy and development practice. Collectively, the regions will benefit from an additional $14 million for programmatic support in areas including data systems, policy, and communications. A $70 million pool of investment capital — some from the participating foundations, some leveraged through institutions that finance community development — will also be available for community-based projects.

Kabel_kenyon_roertyRecognizing that SPARCC's ambitious goals will require more than a three-year grant period to achieve, we will support cross-sector leaders and accelerate change so that the six regions are equipped to carry out the vision over the long term — and share their learning with communities across the country. We plan to share our own learnings along the way, and invite the engagement of new partners who are also interested in learning how to leverage systems to achieve health, climate and equity goals.

Public infrastructure dollars can and should do much more to promote equitable, resilient, and healthy communities. Our aspiration is that SPARCC will begin to provide a new roadmap, based on the experience of these six regions, that can inform policy and practice in cities across the U.S.

Read our full article here.

Chris Kabel is deputy director of health at  the Kresge Foundation, Amy Kenyon is a program officer for equitable development at the Ford Foundation, and Sharon Z. Roerty is a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Keeping the Dream Alive: The Case for Faster Funding

September 13, 2017

DACA_protestThis is a difficult time for our country. The forces of hate and bigotry have emerged from the shadows. White supremacists are marching through the streets proudly waving swastika-adorned flags. And Donald Trump has validated them by throwing more than 800,000 immigrant Dreamers under the bus, revoking their immigration status in a callous act that could have repercussions for years to come.

The hard truth is that, in this moment, funders have to rethink "business as usual" to meet the needs of the moment: with the world aghast at the prospect of 800,000 hardworking Dreamers being deported, and with a White House tacitly endorsing white supremacy, we have to rally behind and expand the fight for justice. Now.

That means identifying innovative mobilization efforts, funding them fast, and taking our cues from the communities we are trying to empower.

Right after Election Day, the Women Donors Network worked in partnership with Solidaire Network and other funders to launch the Emergent Fund, a new kind of fund that was designed to be nimble, responsive, and led (at all levels) by people who are the most marginalized. With quick-turnaround grants of up to $50,000, the fund made it possible for new organizations springing up in response to Trump's policies, as well as those that have been organizing their communities for years, to quickly mobilize, train, and act for social justice.

Here is what we learned from that effort.

First, with flexible, no-strings-attached funding, innovative mobilizations can materialize overnight in response to the kinds of regressive policies being pushed by the White House.

In Texas, after the state government passed a bill that would ban sanctuary cities and endanger tens of thousands of immigrants — Emergent Fund grantee Jolt Texas sprang into action and staged a "Quinceañera at the Capitol" that brought teenage girls in beautiful Quinceañera ball gowns to the steps of the state capitol and rallied thousands of new and old supporters around a message that speaks to our core American values. The event quickly went viral online, got more than a million RSVPs, and drove new members and energy into Jolt's immigrant rights work across the state.

In the wake of a series of ICE raids in January, Emergent Fund also made a grant to the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) in support of a rapid-response plan that helped a coalition of immigrant-rights groups fight the state's proposed anti-sanctuary cities bill neighborhood by neighborhood.

For both efforts to succeed, we had to mobilize our funding quickly and do it without strings attached, allowing both Jolt and TOP to collect and use the funds without having to file detailed proposals or grant reports, enabling them to focus, instead, on the threat at hand and on mobilizing new supporters.

Another lesson learned: marginalized voices often are not heard in national media conversations because organizers working on issues that affect marginalized groups often find it difficult to secure funding.

As threats to DACA heated up over the last couple of months, for instance, organizations like the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), realized that a key demographic was missing from the conversation. While Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric has been directed, for the most part, at Latinos and Muslims, more than 130,000 young people eligible for DACA are Asian Americans. Likewise, other Emergent Fund grantees came out in full force — Movimiento Cosecha organized an emotional sit-in outside Trump Tower in New York; United We Dream held protests across the country and organized know-your-rights clinics and published resources for Dreamers and their families; and Mijente staged a creative protest outside the Department of Justice. And as the threat of deportation became more real, many joined dozens of immigrant-rights groups for a 24/7 vigil in front of the White House that has been going since August 15.

More than 86 percent of Americans support DACA and the Dreamers, and this kind of organizing is essential, in that it gives new supporters an opportunity to engage more deeply in the fight for justice.

When we launched the Emergent Fund, we were inundated with proposals that had the potential to create real impact but required fast and flexible support. And within six months, we had granted $1 million to fifty diverse organizations on the front lines of the resistance.

In the process, we learned that our model works, that it infuses energy into organizations we've supported for years in more traditional ways, and that $1 million isn't nearly enough to meet the urgency of the moment.

We challenge all philanthropists and donors to join us at this moment of crisis for 800,000 Dreamers who have only done what they were asked and expected to do. Innovative mobilization efforts need your funding, and they need it now. As donors who believe in social justice, we need to show up, with humility, and to trust in the communities that are fighting for their future.

We have an opportunity to empower communities and bring our nation together, and the philanthropic community has an important role to play in that effort. The time is now. The future cannot wait.

Donna_p_hall_for_PhilanTopicDonna P. Hall is president and CEO of the Women Donors Network, a community of more than two hundred progressive women donors who invest their energy, strategic savvy, and philanthropic dollars to help build a more just and fair world.

Philanthropy Teams Up With Institutional Investors to Fight Climate Change

September 07, 2017

Carbon_0As the world works to tackle climate change without the leadership of the U.S. government, there's a growing need to connect philanthropy to institutional investors and catalyze change at a pace rapid enough to be meaningful. Because philanthropy typically is associated with nonprofit activity, that combination may sound surprising. But because climate change represents such an extraordinary threat, it's imperative we compress the dynamics of innovation and scale through new approaches.

That's why Planet Heritage Foundation, where I am the executive director, co-created and funded the launch of Aligned Intermediary, a global investment advisory firm that works with institutional investors to channel capital into "climate infrastructure" sectors such as clean energy, water, and waste-to-value. These investors — sovereign funds, pensions, endowments, insurance companies, family offices, and foundations — represent more than $80 trillion in assets and are the only stakeholders other than governments with the capacity to invest at a scale that can begin to slow and, ultimately, reverse the world's spiraling carbon emissions.

With less than 1 percent of institutional capital currently being deployed to the climate infrastructure space, we simply do not have the luxury of letting markets organically dictate the timing of our climate change actions. The climate infrastructure industry needs to be exponentially ramped up over the next five to ten years, and that will require the development of new financial products, business models, and business practices. Put another way, we need to make institutional investing in climate infrastructure as easy and standardized as investing in global real estate — and we need to do it quickly. Patient capital, the kind provided by foundations and philanthropy, will be critical to those efforts, and jumpstarting the flow of it into climate change efforts is crucial.

After only a year, the Aligned Intermediary model is already demonstrating promise in this regard. Led by co-founder and CEO Peter Davidson, who previously ran the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office, the organization has secured member commitments totaling $1.45 billion from institutional investors in five countries — the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Institutions making commitments include the Regents of the University of California, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, TIAA Global Asset Management, Ontario Public Service Employees Union Trust, the Wellcome Trust, the Church Commissioners for England, the Wafra Investment Advisory Group, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and Cbus (in Australia).

The model is an entrepreneurial one, with the founding partners behind it each possessing a necessary asset: Davidson (domain expertise), Ashby Monk (advisory experience in the institutional investing world), and myself (a history of collaborative platforms for social change).

In partnership with Sarah Kearney (PRIME) and Alicia Seiger (Stanford University), we initially attracted grant funding totaling $500,000 from four philanthropies — the Hewlett Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the ClimateWorks Foundation, and Planet Heritage Foundation — for research that demonstrated the potential of our model. Planet Heritage then funded the first year of Aligned Intermediary's operations as a public benefit corporation with a $1.5 million program-related investment (PRI), which made it possible for Davidson to start assembling a team of experts and analysts.

In the year since it opened for business, Aligned Intermediary has closed two deals and advised on a number of others, resulting in about $150 million in climate change investments. That's an impressive return on our $1.5 million PRI and underscores the potential of the model with respect to climate infrastructure for both philanthropic and institutional investors.

But perhaps most exciting is that the organization almost immediately began receiving requests for opportunities from a broader group of investors — beyond the member institutions noted above, who are looking for market returns on transactions of $25 million and up. So a related vehicle called Aligned Partnerships was created to mobilize smaller investors for infrastructure investments that fall below the $25 million+ threshold.

In addition, the organization recently started building out a strategy to de-risk climate infrastructure investments in emerging markets by blending institutional capital seeking market returns with concessionary capital seeking specific social, development, and/or economic goals. And it is actively considering additional offerings to meet growing demand. In other words, the organization is evolving into a much-needed hub for climate infrastructure capital and, with a little luck, will begin to transition into a financially self-sustaining one in 2018.

As governments become less willing to bankroll transformative change, innovative funding mechanisms will be a critical component of our efforts to address climate change. Bringing foundations and institutional investors together to fast-track investments in climate infrastructure that also generate significant returns is one way to do that. If you're a foundation or institutional investor and would like to learn more about how you can participate, we’d love to hear from you.

Headshot_tracey_durningTracey Durning is the executive director of the Planet Heritage Foundation.

The Long Haul: Lessons From Charitable Responses to Previous Disasters

September 06, 2017

Disaster_response2-800x500While media outlets — both online and print — have been quick to offer suggestions as to how individuals should channel their charitable impulses to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, many Americans have been inspired by the stirring images of neighbors and strangers lending a hand to help each other.

Alexis de Tocqueville, the Frenchman who documented our voluntary impulse during a tour of a young America in the 1830s, would nod knowingly if he were around to see the extraordinary outpouring of generosity we have witnessed since the first days of flooding in Texas.

Time and again over the last twenty years , I've watched Americans respond quickly and generously to a series of natural and man-made disasters. Corporations and foundations also have risen to the occasion, and the lessons they've learned from their responses are of considerable value as we all weigh how to use our resources to the greatest effect in the wake of a disaster like Harvey.

But I've also learned a few things of my own from the responses to disasters like Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and would like to share them with you.

First, businesses, foundations, civic and fraternal associations, faith communities, and the public at large must be prepared to invest in both relief and rebuilding efforts. Relief from the immediate suffering and dislocation caused by an unprecedented rain event like Harvey is, rightfully, the first order of business, and Texans know that the road ahead will be long and winding. But the rest of us must be willing to hang in with them for the long haul. As Texas governor Greg Abbott said earlier this week, "Digging out of this catastrophe is going to be a multiyear project for Texas."

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in the summer of 2005, Nancy Anthony, executive director of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, recounted how her community was still responding to the mental health needs of first responders and survivors of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City ten years earlier.

Because they're seen as entities with significant resources, corporations are always under pressure to "get the money out the door" after a disaster occurs. But many companies have discovered that a pledge or commitment with a dollar amount attached to it can be announced immediately while the actual funds are distributed for different phases of the recovery and rebuilding process over time. In fact, that was the course of action taken by the Toshiba Corporation after Hurricane Katrina.

It was also heartening to see the pledge of $36 million made by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation — the largest to date for Harvey relief and recovery efforts. In announcing the gift, Michael Dell noted that "[i]t will take all of us together, over the long term, to rebuild our Texas communities." Interestingly, the foundation has chosen to pool its resources with others by seeding the Rebuild Texas Fund under the aegis of a charitable intermediary, the OneStar Foundation. The approach is consistent with the one taken after 9/11 by the New York Community Trust and the United Way of New York City, when they joined forces to create the September 11 Fund with the aim of both maximizing the impact of their own resources and creating a vehicle for thousands of others eager to contribute to recovery efforts.

Second, given the scale of the destruction caused by Harvey and regardless of the truly impressive scope of the charitable response, charity cannot presume to be a substitute for action by government at the local, state, and federal levels. It is estimated, for example, that rebuilding the flood-ravaged parts of Texas and Louisiana will far exceed the $50 billion in funds allocated by the Congress to states in the Northeast after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 — and that figure is likely to increase as the full scope of the devastation becomes apparent.

Third, while the dollar amounts attached to relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in Texas truly are staggering, small acts of kindness should not be discounted. The images of Houstonians helping neighbors through flooded streets will stick in people’s minds for decades. Something similar happened after the Indian Ocean tsunami created devastation from Thailand to Kenya in December 2004 and many tourists were stranded without access to telephones or other means of communication. However, American Express was able to track many survivors through their credit card charges and notified their loved ones back home, bringing unimaginable relief to countless families.

Fourth, national organizations like the American Red Cross are vital frontline responders. But the hard work of recovery and rebuilding inevitably falls on the shoulders of community-based organizations that are most attuned to local residents' needs. While most such organization are unknown to the general public and almost always are underresourced, they are in the best position to make a small contribution go a long way. In fact, after the Loma Prieta/Bay Area earthquake on October 17, 1989, the only large kitchen in the area in good operating shape belonged to Project Open Hand, the local Meals-on-Wheels organization for homebound people living with AIDS. Over the next few days, its staff and volunteers were able to get meals to many of the 12,000-plus residents of San Francisco's Marina district who had lost their homes.

Fifth, rebuilding efforts at their best must address underlying factors that contribute to a disaster's destructive impact, whatever they may be. While New Orleans cannot hope to avoid hurricanes in the future, the strengthening of the city's levees after Katrina should help to mitigate the damage and dislocation caused by future storms. Such efforts require stakeholders to raise their voices and make the case to government at all levels for the funding of preventive measures.

And finally, government, businesses, foundations, and the public must act to ensure that the lessons learned from previous disasters — and the stories of those who lost their lives or were profoundly affected — are not forgotten. In the fourth decade of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., a number of local foundations were sufficiently moved to erect a memorial in a park in Greenwich Village to the 100,000-plus New Yorkers who have died from AIDS, while memorials and museums like those in Oklahoma City and on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center serve as much-needed reminders of those tragedies for future generations.

Recovery, rebuilding, and healing after a disaster know no timetable. However, small and big acts can ease the suffering of the survivors and help build stronger and more resilient communities. We just have to pay attention to the lessons learned by those who have already been through it.

Headshot_michael seltzerMichael Seltzer directs the New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows program at Baruch College's Marxe School of Public and International Affairs in New York City. A version of this post appears on the Philanthropy New York site.

Weekend Link Roundup (September 2-3, 2017)

September 04, 2017

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

RosieClimate Change

Did climate change magnify the destructive power of Hurricane Harvey? Robinson Meyer The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer uncovers a fair amount of evidence which suggests that global warming is making a bad situation worse.

On the Yes! Magazine site, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben talks with Jacqueline Patterson, director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program about the threat of climate change as a lens to understand many of the injustices confronting the planet.

Collaboration

Which of the following elements of effective collaboration is the most challenging: reaching consensus, bringing diverse perspectives to the table, taking meaningful action? Hop over to the Kauffman Foundation site and cast your vote, then read on to learn how "to apply the principles that matter to move to [a] place where collaboration can happen on a much larger scale." 

Data

Could data science be the key to unlocking the next wave of social change? Elizabeth Good Christopherson, president and chief executive officer of the Rita Allen Foundation, talks with Jake Porway, founder of DataKind, a global network of volunteers skilled in data analysis, coding and visualization, about changes in technology that are influencing the work of his organization and the prospects for accelerated social change.

Disaster Relief

The New York Times has a good roundup of federal assistance for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Looking for commonsense advice about the best way to donate to Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts? This article by Pam Fessler on the NPR site is a good place to start.

In a post on Slate, Jonathan M. Katz explains why the Red Cross, the default disaster relief recipient for a majority of corporations and individual Americans, won't "save" Houston.

And in a post on the NCRP site, Ginny Goldman, founder and former director of the Texas Organizing Project, the Houston-based affiliate of the Center for Popular Democracy, reminds Americans that "[w]hen camera crews head home and it's time to rebuild Houston, the people on the ground will need organizing capacity and legal support to fight for themselves." 

International Affairs/Development

According to a Better Business Better World report, the UN's Sustainable Development Goals could open up an estimated $12 trillion in market opportunities in four economic systems: food and agriculture, cities, energy and materials, and health and well-being. But, writes Nazila Vali, seizing such opportunities will require many more and much stronger partnerships.

Speaking to a small crowd at the Overseas Development Institute in London, Rajiv Shah, the new head of the Rockefeller Foundation, shared the following math: If the top fifteen foundations in the United States pooled their annual giving, their collective contributions would not fill the gap left by President Trump's proposed 30 percent cuts to foreign assistance. Devex's Molly Anders reports on what Shah is doing to position his foundation for the realities of an "America First" world.

Nonprofits

What can a nonprofit board do to make sure its members are evaluated honestly for their effectiveness? In a post on his Nonprofit Management blog, Eugene Fram shares some good advice.

Philanthropy

Prompted by the recent events in Charlottesville, Nellie Mae Education Foundation president and CEO Nick Donohue argues that maybe philanthropy has become to comfortable in its response to, and efforts to combat, white privilege.

And in her monthly commentary, Kiran Ahuja, CEO of Philanthropy NW, echoes that sentiment.

On the Glasspockets blog, Nicole Richards, chief storyteller at Philanthropy Australia, the national industry association for giving Down Under, argues that when it comes to storytelling, philanthropy generally gets a failing grade. 

And the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has launched a new blog, and it looks like it's going to be a good one. Content coordinator Abby Rolland explains what she and her colleagues hope to accomplish.

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

Weekend Link Roundup (August 26-27, 2017)

August 28, 2017

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

Harvey-goes-82517_0Disaster Relief

Harvey has slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast and flooding from the rainfall accompanying the storm appears to be as bad, if not worse, than predicted. NPR has put together a very helpful list of sites and resources for those who would like to help.

Fundraising

The team behind the Fundly blog shares five tips aimed at helping your organization improve its crowdfunding goals. 

International Affairs/Development

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a framework for what might just be the most ambitious development effort ever. And if that effort is to succeed, every dollar contributed toward one of the goals needs to be spent effectively. On the Triple Pundit site, Mandy Ryan, managing director at Changing Our World, has some good tips for companies looking to align their citizenship work with the SDGs.

And what can we learn from UNLEASH, an "innovation lab" where a thousand young people from a hundred and twenty-nine countries spent ten days in Aarhus, Denmark, developing solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals?  Catherine Cheney reports for Devex.

Journalism/Media

Google News Lab, in partnership with ProPublica, is launching a new, machine learning-powered tool to track reported hate crimes across the country. Taylor Hatmaker reports for Tech Crunch.

We were saddened to learn of the death of Jack Rosenthal, the great  New York Timesman (and our UWS neighbor), at the age of 82. In a long career at the Times, Rosenthal served as urban affairs correspondent in Washington, deputy editorial page editor, editorial page editor, editor of The New York Times Magazine, and president of the New York Times Company Foundation. Eighteen months after 9/11, we had an opportunity to interview him as he was serving in that latter role  an interview that still has much to teach us.

Nonprofits

Does your nonprofit struggle to find board members eager to advance the work of your organization instead of their own career? On her Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington shares three questions designed to help you determine whether a prospective board member is a good fit.

Good news: Stanford Law School's organizations and Transactions Clinic has launched a website that offers free access to hundreds of sample legal documents for attorneys who represent nonprofit organizations. 

Philanthropy

Many of today’s emerging mega-philanthropists aspire to "audacious" success. But audacious social change is incredibly difficult, and it never results from a single grant or silver bullet, write Susan Wolf Ditkoff and Abe Grindle in the Harvard Business Review; instead, "it takes collaboration, government engagement, and persistence over decades." Based on a deep dive deep into fifteen breakthrough initiatives, Ditkoff and Grindle share five elements that together "constitute a framework for philanthropists pursuing large-scale, swing-for-the-fences change."

In a finance-driven economy that of late seems to reward equity holders at the expense of almost everyone else, donor-advised funds, which give donors an immediate tax break and enable them to avoid capital gains taxes on gifts of appreciated stock, have become the fastest-growing segment of American philanthropy. But do they create incentives for providers to hoard rather than distribute charitable dollars? Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther takes a deep dive into the increasingly popular, and controversial, world of DAFs.

On the Impact Alpha site, Ross Baird, president of Village Capital, asks,:After Charlottesville, does impact investing even matter?

Poverty

Is poverty the result of "the wrong mind-set," as Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, recently told an interviewer? On Valerie Strauss's Answer Sheet blog, Richard Rothstein, a former education reporter for the New York Times and author of the new book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America, looks at the factors that really drive poverty in America.

Public Policy

The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin looks at the dozen or so national monuments most at risk from an executive order signed by Donald Trump earlier this spring. 

Racial Justice

And in an op-ed in the Washington Post, Wes Moore, chief executive of the New York City-based Robin Hood Foundation,  wonders what his grandfather, who was born in South Carolina and chased out of the United States (along with the rest of his family) by the KKK when he was just six, would say about the resurgence of white supremacy in America today.

(Photo credit: Global Online Enrollment System)

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

Newsmakers: Laura Callanan, Founding Partner, UpStart Co-Lab

August 25, 2017

In its most recent Arts & Economic Prosperity report, Americans for the Arts found that the U.S. nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity in 2015, prompting Robert Lynch, the organization's president and CEO, to comment, "Leaders who care about community and economic vitality, growing tourism, attracting an innovative workforce, and community engagement can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts."

But where were the impact investments? While the economic importance of the arts has long been recognized, arts-related organization and businesses often fly under the radar when it comes to comprehensive community development, and the relative lack of such investment in the creative economy was one of the things Laura Callanan was determined to explore when she established Upstart Co-Lab in 2016. What's more, Callanan — who majored in theater in college and began her professional career in the financial world, working as an investment banker on Wall Street after graduate school before serving as an endowment manager at the Rockefeller Foundation, a consultant to foundations at McKinsey & Company, and deputy chair of the National Endowment for the Arts — was well positioned to find out.

Earlier this year, Callanan and her colleagues at Upstart Co-Lab released Creative Places & Businesses: Catalyzing Growth in Communities (55 pages, PDF), which identified a $1.54 billion pipeline of more than two dozen projects administered by twenty-two creative places and businesses seeking impact capital. The findings came as a pleasant surprise to many in the arts community, and, according to Callanan, who was recently named to the NonProfit Times' Power & Influence Top 50 list, are a clear sign that the creative economy is ready for impact investment on a significant scale.

PND sat down with Callanan earlier this summer to discuss the findings of the report and the role philanthropy can play in catalyzing impact investments in the creative economy.

Headshot_laura callananPhilanthropy News Digest: The first thing that jumped out at me in the report was the almost complete lack of impact investment in the creative economy, despite the fact that the arts, in the most recent year of record, generated $704 billion in nonprofit and for-profit economic activity, or 4.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

Laura Callanan: Actually, since we published the report in April, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis have updated their assessment of how much of the U.S. economy is driven by arts and cultural production. It's still 4.2 percent of GDP, but the dollar total is $730 billion, $26 million more than the figure mentioned in the report.

That's the best number currently available on the size of the creative economy, of which the arts are a core part. The National Endowment for the Arts emphasizes music, literature, visual art, and activities related to artistic disciplines. That means it's light on things like fashion, food, furniture making, and some other areas that we at Upstart Co-Lab include in our definition of the creative economy.

PND: That only makes the lack of impact investing in the creative economy more surprising. Why hasn't impact capital been flowing to these areas?

LC: We don't yet have dedicated investment products, investment funds, or investment managers with strategies that make it easy for individuals who are impact investors — or for institu­tions like foundations doing mission-related investing — to target their capital to the creative economy. Yes, an individual investor can buy a share of stock in Etsy, which is a public company, and feel like they're supporting the creative economy. And a foundation can make a program-related investment with a nonprofit arts organization or creativity-based social enterprise. But these one-off investments don't equal scale.

Let me give you an example of why that's a problem. Stockade Works and Stockade Studios in Kingston, New York, were started by the actress Mary Stuart Masterson and her business partner Beth Davenport. Stockade Works is structured as a nonprofit. Stockade Studios is structured as a for-profit social-purpose business. They've been approaching foundations about supporting their efforts to create a film/TV/media hub in the Hudson River Valley. This could be through a grant to the nonprofit, or a program-related investment, or a mission-related investment in the social-purpose business. But a foundation has to know that Stockade Studios exists, so it needs to have an active deal-sourcing process. And then the foundation has to do its own due diligence, its own risk assessment of the oppor­tunity. Plus track performance on the investment once it's made. These are things that an investment manager could do once, and then make the information available to any number of potential investors. Not being able to get information easily is a disincentive to investment.

Today, there are products, funds, and strategies that facilitate impact investment in education, in affordable housing, in support of women and girls, in support of the environment. Not surprisingly, those are all big areas where impact investors are directing their money. And it's not that we can't tweak and re-deploy existing investment products and funds and manager strategies for the creative economy. It's just that it hasn't happened yet.

PND: Looking out five or ten years, would you expect impact investing in the arts and the creative economy to be a focus only for larger foundations, or will foundations of any size have opportunities to participate?

LC: Everyone's able to pursue impact investing, from the individuals who invest $20 in a Calvert Foundation Community Investment Note to ultra-high-net-worth individuals, and from small foundations to some of the largest in the country, like the Ford and Gates foundations. Once we have the dots connected, and the products, funds, and strategies are in place, it won't matter whether you're an individual or an institution, or whether you have a modest amount of capital to deploy or a lot of capital to deploy. People and institutions today should be able to support the creative economy with impact investments just as they can support the environment, affordable housing, education, and other important priority areas.

PND: Do the politics of the moment help or hinder what you're trying to do with Upstart Co-Lab?

LC: To my mind, they shine a bright light on the gap we're trying to fill. There was a story in the Wall Street Journal recently that said: "No matter what the Trump administration does to the Environmental Pro­tection Agency, impact investing for the environment cannot be stopped." Of course, we can’t expect that to be the case if the administration pulls the plug on the National Endowment for the Arts, because impact investing for the creative economy hasn't gotten off the ground. But that just underscores the significance of the opportunity.

The NEA deploys $150 million a year for the arts. That's far less than the $17 billion annually that philanthropy puts into the arts. It's certainly a lot less than $8.8 trillion of impact investing assets under management in the United States today. If we can target a small portion of impact investing assets for creativity — as much, say, as currently flows through crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo — it would be many times more than the budget of the NEA. As a country that cares about free speech, it's important that we support arts and crea­tivity at the federal level. But on a pure dollar basis, there are a lot of resources available in the impact marketplace that can be deployed in support of arts and creativity.

PND: What do you hope to accomplish with the Creative Places & Businesses report?

LC: I hope the report is the beginning of a robust conversation that intro­duces the concept of a "creativity lens" to impact investing and leads, sooner rather than later, to concrete action.

It is incredibly important that any definition of a creativity lens highlights creative places and creative businesses as an important long-time contributor to comprehensive community development. That's why we started the conversation where we did. There's a lot of discussion in the foundation arts community about cultural equity. If we want to shape a creative economy that is inclusive and equitable and sustainable, we have to back up our words with resources.

We know the future of the United States is the creative economy. We're no longer an agrarian economy; we're no longer a manufacturing economy. Today, what we really have is an innovation economy, an ideas economy. But what do we want that economy to look like in the decades to come? Do we want an economy where a few people get paid a lot of money to make apps, and the rest of us are driving for Uber and Lyft and don’t have a retirement plan or health benefits? Or do we want an economy that is inclusive, equitable, and sus­tainable; that is generating quality jobs at every level of the wage scale; and that fully celebrates the imagination and inno­vation that is present in every community in the United States?

PND: Where do you see things going with respect to impact investing and the creative sector?

LC: Upstart Co-Lab has had hundreds of conversations with impact investors and wealth managers over the last couple of years, and they all have clients who have been asking for impact investing opportunities related to arts, culture, and creativity. There's great potential here. Philanthropy did a lot to build the ecosystem of impact investing, social inno­vation, and social entrepreneurship. Arts philanthropy absolutely has a role to play in enabling this new creativity lens for impact investing. The work that philanthropy has done to build thought leadership, technical capacity, and awareness around creative placemaking has been an important early step.

PND: Has it been difficult to build on that early momentum?

LC: It's only just begun! What I'm excited about are the examples, those mentioned in the report and others that I learn about every day. In the last couple of weeks, for instance, I've had a chance to make site visits around New York City and visit Chicago. I see people who are ambitious and thinking big, who see the potential that can be unlocked by connecting impact capital with creative places and businesses. In Chicago, for example, there's an effort under way to redevelop the Avalon Regal Theater. Jerold Gary, an investor-entrepreneur has been actively working in the African-American community on the South Side, investing in residential housing. He had an opportunity to buy the theater — it's a landmarked 1920s property, amazingly detailed, with an ornately painted lobby. In its day, it was a large-capacity venue that drew A-list performers like Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Jackson, but it has been shuttered for quite some time. The good news is that they're on course to re-open the theater by the end of the year.

But it's not just about the theater. The Avalon is an anchor for a whole new cultural corridor on the South Side that's going to include retail space, incubator space where people can do creative work, and a museum of black music. The project is crucial to ensuring that the South Side has a stake in the emerging creative economy, because it's not just about nostalgia and the cultural expression of the past, it's about recognizing that creativity exists in every neighborhood, and that every neighborhood deserves places where people can develop and showcase their creativity.

PND: What role do you see for arts foundations in the development of an impact investing market linked to the creative economy?

LC: Philanthropy played a crucial role in establishing impact investing, social innovation, and social entrepreneurship. It was early philanthropic support that made it possible for people to explore these new ideas, build awareness and understanding, and establish standards, tools, and metrics that enabled the impact investing community to coordinate and grow. And now we see philanthropy taking the next step, bringing more endowment resources to bear on critical issues through mission-related investing. Foundations that support the arts, creativity, and innovation can follow this playbook for the creative economy.

For foundations that have been making traditional grants to the arts — but may not yet be ready to embrace impact investing as a tool to advance their mission — there's a lot to be done by supporting the growing ecosystem, investing in new ideas, investing in thought leader­ship and convening activities, in standards-setting and documentation of the types of projects we describe in the report. I wrote for Grantmakers in the Arts ;about what program officers can do, even if they don't have mission-related investing avail­able to them, and that includes things like making grants to build the ecosystem for impact investing in the creative economy and using their bully pulpit and convening power to spotlight what's happening in creative communities around the country.

One key thing program officers can do is bring to the attention of their fellow grantmakers the artists who are social entre­preneurs who are doing great work. They could be artists focused on the environment and climate change, artists who are focused on reforming the criminal justice system, artists who are focused on immigra­tion. You name it. Folks handing out social entrepreneurship awards always overlook the artist social entrepreneurs.

In short, philanthropy can play an important role in jump-starting the new idea of a creativity lens for impact investing and getting it to a place where the market can take it to scale.

PND: Have we reached a tipping point with respect to how philanthropy views impact investments in the creative economy?

LC: I certainly hope so. And we think there are three reasons why. One: creativity is cool. The excitement around creativity is palpable. You have mayors and governors commissioning creative economy reports and plans. They recognize that creative activity is going to be crucial to building wealth, ensuring social cohesion, and creating quality jobs in their com­mun­ities. When you look at surveys that ask corporate CEOs what will drive business success in the future, creativity in their workforce is top of the list. Just look at how many billions of dollars people have put through platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo — in small increments — to fund creative projects. Even people who don’t think they are particularly creative themselves are happy to invest $25 in someone else’s creativity, whether that's making a film, starting a band, painting a mural, you name it. Creativity is having a moment.

Two: at the same time, impact investing is having a moment. McKinsey & Company, the World Economic Forum, Forbes — all are telling us that impact investing is going mainstream. And as they launch first-time impact investing portfolios, there's no better time to encourage new impact investors to focus on an area that we know they care about: arts, culture, and creativity. As the field of impact investing becomes more devel­oped, there are more targeted opportunities for impact investors to put their money to work: for women and girls, organic food, education, housing, aging in place, sustainable fisheries. These are things that impact investors can support right now. The creative economy is simply too big to be left out of the picture.

The third reason this is a great oppor­tunity is because creative people gravitate toward solving problems, whether that means bringing jobs to the Hudson River Valley or launching an innovation district on the South Side of Chicago. In our research, we identified $1.5 billion in demand for impact capital over the next five years from creative places and businesses catalyzing growth in communities across the U.S. There are investable opportunities searching for values-aligned capital.

At Upstart Co-Lab, we think this is the right moment to apply a creativity lens to impact investing, and we're trying to bring as much energy, intelligence, and workable solutions to the challenge as we can.

— Matt Sinclair

Making Sense: Reflecting on Evaluations at the Jim Joseph Foundation

August 23, 2017

QuestionsanswerssignA core part of the Jim Joseph Foundation's relational approach to grantmaking is supporting the efforts of grantees to evaluate their programs — either through engaging an external evaluator or by collecting and analyzing data internally. The foundation has always believed this is a key part of good grantmaking, in that it builds the capacity of organizations to ask questions, to collect data, and to reflect on findings in a way that then enables them to make changes that increase the chances of success.

In this period of transition at the foundation, the grantmaking team has asked some pertinent questions regarding our own evaluation program: "What are we learning from the evaluation work we have supported over the past eleven years?” And, "Are there common lessons and emerging themes that we should recognize and reflect upon?"

To begin exploring these and other questions, the entire foundation team gathered for a full day earlier this year to share and discuss learnings and common themes discovered from a comprehensive review of nearly all the key evaluations and reports commissioned by the foundation since its inception.

To make the day as productive as possible, the foundation grantmaking team completed "homework" in the weeks leading up to the day-long session, dividing up the responsibility for reviewing a sample of forty-two evaluation reports, capacity-building and business plans, and field-building research reports — all commissioned and completed in the foundation's first eleven years — among team members and asking them to summarize the challenges, outcomes, and successes they identified in their respective documents.

This "day of evaluation reflection" (as we called it) turned out to be well worth the collective time and effort and, importantly, offered space for the team to discuss how the information and lessons that surfaced in our conversations might guide our future work. The summary below includes highlights from those discussions.

The foundation's effect on Jewish life and learning

How has the Jim Joseph Foundation influenced Judaism and Jewish peoples' approach to Jewish life and learning? This overarching question speaks directly to the foundation's mission. A common theme across many of the grants we have funded and evaluated is fostering community and positive relationships within the Jewish community. With few exceptions, evaluations show that participants in foundation-supported programs report feeling more connected to their Jewish identity and to Israel when those are the intended outcomes of the program. Since the DNA of the foundation includes a broad interpretation of and approach to Jewish learning, these programs encompass every kind of setting and activity, from camps, to schools, to service experiences, to Jewish outdoor food and environmental education. And, almost without exception, they have all proved to be effective while remaining aligned with our mission and values.

Lessons learned that have potential to inform foundation grantmaking

Several key themes emerged from the day's discussions that highlight opportunities for reflection, focus, and improvement:

  • Young adult communities can be brought together successfully through different interests and avenues that resonate and are relevant to the lives of young adults. Social justice and service increasingly are reasons for young Jews to engage in Jewish life.  And follow-on programming after an immersive experience is critical to deepening programmatic impact, creating community, and achieving positive outcomes.
  • Successful programs vary in cost and scale, and while immersive programs can be expensive and reach a relatively small number of people, they also tend to have a deep and lasting effect on participants. Other programs, such as doctoral programs in Jewish studies or education, are a longer play, with a relatively high cost per student or participant.
  • Mentorship and time for reflection are key elements in the success of many programs, particularly those focused on educator training. In addition, students value a reputable university program and also desire flexibility and diversity in their program options.
  • Capacity building with respect to evaluation, development, and growth planning can be important investments for grantees. As a relational grantmaker, the Jim Joseph Foundation is in a position to help an organization pivot and/or engage in long-term strategic planning. These plans must be right-sized, however, with realistic revenue targets and investments.
  • Relationships among organizations and people matter. There is value in collaboration and strength in building networks; both also are integral components of successful culture-change initiatives.
  • Some grants are designed to leave a system in place so as to create impact long after the grant period ends. Admittedly, this is an ideal scenario, but local and national funding partners with aligned interests can leverage their resources to both widen and deepen the impact of their grant dollars.

Challenges grantees often encounter

The day also brought to the fore some of the common challenges grantee partners experience.

  • The majority of challenges experienced by the foundation's grantees were related to marketing, recruitment, and retention. Retaining current participants can be just as valuable as bringing in new participants to a program/initiative. Another common challenge relates to hiring and retaining the right personnel — at all levels.
  • Fundraising for sustainability and growth frequently is a challenge — and many effective programs end up being not "sexy" enough for donors.
  • Whole school and/or organizational culture change is an effective way to create impact, but it often involves a lengthy process that requires significant staff capacity and buy-in.

Reflections on evaluation

In discussions about our evaluation support moving forward, the team discussed the importance of elevating the following concepts:

  • Asking good questions and being data informed in our decision-making. Related: evaluations help tell a story for newer foundation staff members about what is working and what is not.
  • It's important to create opportunities for funding to follow what is working — and evaluations can help inform both the "if" and "how" with respect to scaling a pilot program.
  • We should "celebrate failure" in appropriate ways and for the purposes of learning. It's also important to acknowledge that some "failures" actually turned into partial successes years after the grant and evaluation periods had ended. In other words, sometimes an evaluation simply captures a moment in time that may not be representative of the true impact of the program.
  • Field-building research reports frequently raise the profile of certain programs and certain issues — and dissemination is a very important part of the process.
  • Assessing return-on-investment from a grant or series of grants is a daunting challenge. Numbers (e.g., program participants) do not tell the entire story about the long-term effects or how someone's experience influenced their worldview and connection to their faith and community. As a result of its experience, the team reaffirmed our commitment to understand more deeply how Jewish life and learning is experienced and fostered.

Our team viewed the Day of Evaluation Reflection as a productive, enjoyable time for learning. And staff expressed positive sentiments toward the day itself in terms of the structure, presentations, and team-building environment — as well as the preparation process outlined in advance. The conversations we had were open and honest, and signaled that the current grantmaking team is willing to critically examine the foundation's past, current, and future work in a manner that emphasizes transparency, trust, and patience.

The exercise also raised a number of interesting and important questions that we will continue to explore. As is our tradition, we will continue to ask new questions and encourage dialogue as a means to advance our work and deepen our understanding of the most effective ways to practice and evaluate philanthropy.

Headshot_stacie_cherner_156x200Stacie Cherner is senior program officer at the Jim Joseph Foundation.

Embrace Racial Healing to Change Hearts and Minds

August 22, 2017

Hands_photo_from_iStockPrior to the displays of hatred and the tragic loss of Heather Heyer,
a young woman who seemingly embraced the virtues of healing, a transformation was taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia. This college town, where roughly 80 percent of the residents are white, culminated a lawful process in February when its city council voted to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from a city park.

Passionate acts came from opposing sides, as opponents filed suit
to stop the removal and the city changed the name of Lee Park to Emancipation Park. But there was honest dialogue and truth-telling, the ingredients for healing. Neighbors learned more about one another, their culture, and motivations. But the progress was derailed.

The protesters who converged in Charlottesville were largely white men often perceived as privileged in our society, and among their slogans was "We will not be replaced" by immigrants, blacks, Jews, or homosexuals. Instead of feeling empowered, they were threatened and seemed in pain. Their hearts and minds needed healing.

But racial healing doesn't begin until you intentionally, respectfully, and patiently uncover shared truths, as Charlottesville residents had begun to do before the violence and turmoil. Shared truths are not simply the removal of physical symbols, like monuments. While that may begin to change narratives, it doesn't reach the level of healing that jettisons racism from the land or creates equitable communities. Racism has persevered because remedies ranging from public accommodation laws to Supreme Court rulings are limited in scope and reach: They fail to change hearts and minds.

A new approach is needed that penetrates the full consciousness of our society, draws in all communities, and focuses on racial healing and truth-telling.

Racial healing can facilitate trust and authentic relationships that bridge vast divides created by race, religion, ethnicity, and economic status. Only after truths are shared, racism is acknowledged, and hearts begin to mend will communities begin to heal the wounds of the past and together move forward to address the bias in employment, education, housing, and health that causes widespread disparities and denies opportunities to our children.

To be sure, racial healing is predicated not just on emotional encounters such as saying, "I'm sorry"; rather, it's predicated on truth-telling. But who's truth? We all have our own truths, and we need collective conversations to help us in reaching a common truth and vision for the future based on what we decide.

And while sharing our individual truths requires that we share stories, reaching a common truth is more than a blending of stories. It's about co-creating morals, principles, wisdom, and guidance that is written on our hearts and captured in our faith and how we treat each other as human beings. It is developed by all of us in the courtyard, in town halls, and in living rooms with family and neighbors. That's where we develop "the" truth.

At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we promote racial healing because it moves people to act from their hearts. Real change happens when people work together and build relationships. Rarely does it occur when it is forced upon communities by laws and rulings. Last January, WKKF coordinated an annual National Day of Racial Healing that inspired civic, religious, community, and philanthropic organizations to collaborate on activities designed to facilitate racial healing. But we can't wait until next January to embrace racial healing.

Today, with the threat of unrest billowing through communities, our country needs to heal. All sides must air their fears and anxieties, and articulate their visions for a future where all children can thrive.

After centuries of racial hierarchy, all sides have been wounded. Whenever a policy or decision gives privileges to some and not others or perpetuates injustices, the collective community suffers, and part of our common humanity is lost. It leaves some wounded and unable to work toward our collective interest.

What is inspiring is the healing that is happening around the country. Earlier this year, two hundred people gathered at the Chicago Theological Seminary for an extraordinary day of racial healing. People of all races, genders, religions, and ethnicities gathered in healing circles to share their "truths" on the racism they endured or (consciously or unconsciously) unleashed on others. The healing circles were sanctuaries for truth-telling and helped people see one another, acknowledge differences, and begin to build authentic relationships.

WKKF, through our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) framework, is supporting racial healing in fourteen places where the framework is being implemented. Since 2010, when our America Healing initiative launched, WKKF has actively promoted racial healing and supported racial healing practitioners who are available to help communities, concluding that:

  • Racial healing accelerates human capacity for resilience, for embracing one another, and for reconnecting people who previously had their identities denied back to their roots, culture, language, and rituals.
  • The focus of racial healing is our "collective humanity" and lifting up that which unites us rather than that which divides us, while discovering, respecting, and indeed honoring our unique experiences.
  • Racial healing will facilitate narrative change, which will help everyone in communities articulate the truth about their collective histories and be exposed to full, complete, and accurate representations of themselves and their communities.

Headshot_montgomery_tabronCommunities must heal so they can grow. Let's heal and build sustainable progress neighbor by neighbor, community by community, to transform America so all children can have a brighter future.

La June Montgomery Tabron is president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Weekend Link Roundup (August 19-20, 2017)

August 20, 2017

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

206_460x460_Front_Color-NACurrent Affairs

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University has put together a partial list of social impact leaders who spoke out against the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. The list includes statements by Elisa Villanueva Beard  (CEO, Teach for America), Ben Hecht (CEO, Living Cities), Danyelle Honoré, (President, UVA chapter of the NAACP), Jonathan Reckford (CEO, Habitat for Humanity International), and Kevin Trapani (CEO, Redwoods Group).

Half a dozen Connecticut Council on Philanthropy members also weighed in, including Michael Johnston (President/CEO, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford), Martha McCoy (Executive Director, Everyday Democracy), and Frances G. Padilla (President, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut)

Other social sector leaders who made powerful statements include Jean Case (CEO, Case Foundation),  Kristen Clarke (President/ED, Lawyers Committe for Civil Rights Under Law), Aaron Dorfman (Executive Director, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy), Grant Oliphant (President, Heinz Endowments), and Rip Rapson (CEO, Kresge Foundation).

The violence in Charlottesville prompted the American Civil Liberties Union, on Thursday, to announce that it would no longer represent white supremacist groups that protest with guns. The PBS NewsHour's Joshua Barajas has the story.

In the Daily Dot, Andrew Wyrich explains why there's no such thing as the "alt-left."

On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz reminds us that "Racism is a problem created by white people. People of color suffer, but white people are the ones who created it, benefit from it, perpetuate it, and, I believe, also suffer from it. None of us are free when some are not. It's not enough to say this, we need to act to change it, persistently and continuously...." 

Education

From 2003-2015, U.S. reading scores on the two most respected achievement tests, the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) and the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), remained essentially flat. So why aren't we making any progress? The answer, according to Paula J. Schwanenflugel, PhD, and Nancy Flanagan Knapp, PhD, writing in Psychology Today, is pretty straightforward: poverty.

Environment

The Society of Environmental Journalists is proud to present the winners of the 2016-2017 Awards for Reporting on the Environment. Congratulations to the winners!

International Affairs/Development

Convinced that the United States is losing the war of ideas in the Middle East, the Center for American Progress has issued a new guide to countering extremism in the region.

So you want to change the world and know exactly how to do it? Entrepreneur magazine's Jeffery Hayzlett shares five things you should consider before you get started.

And in Good Housekeeping, Melinda Gates, who knows a thing or two about the subject, shares her top ten tips for making the world a better place.

Philanthropy

On his Nonprofit Chronicles blog, Marc Gunther profiles Unorthodox Philanthropy, a program of the San Francisco-based Lampert Byrd Foundation that, in the words of founder Mark Lampert, looks for "opportunities with the greatest potential exist where others aren't looking."

In Fast Company, Ben Paynter reports on the work of a handful of foundations, including Ford and Omidyar Network, that are leading the charge into the brave new world of impact investment. And The Economist reports that even the Catholic Church is dipping its toes into the impact investing water.

The always level-headed Bruce DeBoskey has some good advice for families looking to engage "rising-generation members" in a mutigenerational family endeavor like philanthropy.

And Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors has three tips for NextGen philanthropists.

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

Weekend Link Roundup (August 5-6, 2017)

August 06, 2017

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

African Americans

We begin with this week's startling statistic. According to the Pew Research Center, one out of four black Americans have faced online harassment because of their race or ethnicity.

Arts and Culture

On the James Irvine Foundation blog, Leslie Payne, a senior program at the foundation, asks: What does it mean to participate in the arts today?

Education

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Jen Wilka, executive director of YouthTruth, reports  on key findings of a survey of more than 55,000 high school students that asked them how prepared they feel for life after high school.

Here on PhilanTopic, Alexis Morin, co-founder and executive director of Students for Education Reform, reports that a survey of first-generation college students conducted by her organization found that the majority of them feel unprepared for college.

And in a post for the Hechinger Report, Nicole Dobo shares key findings from Time to Act 2017: Put Data in the Hands of People, which argues that while the use of data in formulating education policy has evolved for the better, parents and teachers still find it difficult to get access to that data.

Immigration

The last time the federal government tried to slow the legal immigration to the United States by adopting a merit-based system was fifty years ago — and Lyndon Johnson was president. Alana Semuels reports The Atlantic.

Nonprofits

Writing in the MinnPost, Kristi Rendahl, an assistant professor and director of the Nonprofit Leadership Program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, argues that repeal of the so-called Johnson Amendment "would mean de facto campaign finance through religious and charitable organizations, but with none of the rules." 

In the New Hampshire Business Review, Jeff Feingold chats with nonprofit activist Robert Eggers about nonprofit stereotypes and whether nonprofits should be more politically engaged.

Philanthropy

"Philanthropy has come a long way since [Andrew Carnegie] took a childhood experience and turned it into a national legacy," writes Courtney Martin on The Development Set website. But too often, Martin adds, "it feels like we’ve lost our core wisdom about how change actually happens." What does that mean? "It means that the only philanthropy worth engaging in — both ethically and strategically speaking — is the kind that honors the wisdom of relationships and the power of money."

According to Rob Reich,  director of the Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford University, charitable foundations are a “donor-directed, perpetual, tax-subsidized exercise of the liberty to give public wealth away.” And what, Reich asks Quartz' Olivia Goldhill, is “the democratically good part about that again?"

New research from the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University finds that philanthropists in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo (Michigan) give generously to improve their respective communities, but that they go about it in vastly different ways. Jane C. Simons reports for MiBiz.com.

In Philanthropy Daily, Martin Morse Wooster, a senior fellow at the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C., suggests that maybe "there is no one best way to give. Sometimes charity is the answer, and sometimes it is philanthropy. Sometimes program-related investments may be the right way to go." The point is, the "mix should vary with each donor and aim."

"America’s foundations spend many millions of dollars every year on investment advice. In return, they get sub-par performance." On the Transparency Talk blog, Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther explains why this may be about to change.

Science/Tech

Because "those who experience hate, marginalization, and discrimination on a daily basis know it when they see it," writes Lucy Bernholz on her Philanthropy 2153 blog, "[m]ainstream nonprofits struggling to understand how and why they must investigate the technology on which depend [their] 'values fit' would do well to turn to such groups for guidance."

Social Innovation

And almost all the way back from a self-imposed social media "break," Nell Edgington checks in with a list of ten great social innovation reads from June and July.

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

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (July 2017)

August 01, 2017

The most popular posts here on PhilanTopic in July include strong calls to action from sector veterans Gary Bass and Mark Rosenman, Cathy Cha, and Kate Kroeger; new posts by Blackbaud's Annie Rhodes and PEAK Grantmaking's Michelle Greanias; and a couple of "repeaters" (John Hewko's account of how Rotary International manages to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world, Kyoko's Q&A with the Rockefeller Foundation's Claudia Juech). Check 'em out (if you haven't already)!

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

Toward More Inclusive Diversity in the Philanthropic Sector: LGBTQ People and People With Disabilities

July 28, 2017

DiversityThe philanthropic sector has taken steps to address the lack of inclusion of women and people of color in its talent pool. But newly released research from the Council on Foundations reveals that several demographics often are missing from philanthropic talent conversations and decisions.

The reason for this may well be a lack of data. For almost thirty years, the council has collected data on grantmaker staff composition and compensation in the United States. Our annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey represents a set of data points from more than a thousand grantmakers, including data on nearly ten thousand full-time paid professional and administrative staff members.

Using this rich dataset, we analyzed the demographics of the philanthropic sector looking back five and ten years, with a focus on the representation of women and people of color. Our recently released report, State of Change: An Analysis of Women and People of Color in the Philanthropic Sector, highlights findings based on that analysis.

Even our large dataset, however, lacked sufficient data for us to be able to conduct any meaningful analysis with regard to sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical/intellectual disability.

That raises a number of important questions. Are the LGBTQ population and people with disabilities simply underrepresented within the talent pool available to the sector? Are survey respondents reluctant to report on these particular demographics? There are no simple answers. Much has been said about the underrepresentation of women and people of color in top jobs at the nation's foundations, and several organizations have developed fellowship and pipeline programs designed to bolster the diversity of the next generation of philanthropic leaders. Role models such as the California Endowment's Robert K. Ross and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's La June Montgomery Tabron also serve as champions for the importance of diverse and inclusive institutions that embrace equitable grantmaking practices.

But who are the role models for the LGBTQ community? Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation is often recognized as the organization's first openly gay leader. For two consecutive years, Out Magazine has included Walker among its annual Power 50 list of the most influential LGBTQ people in American culture. Clearly, he is a role model for many, and his influence as the leader of the Ford Foundation, the second largest foundation in the country, is beyond dispute. Kevin Jennings, formerly of the Arcus Foundation (and now at the Tenement Museum in New York City), and Daniel Lee at the Levi Strauss Foundation are also openly gay leaders within the sector. Advocates for diversity, they both use their voices to champion causes of concern to the LGBTQ community and the manner in which philanthropy responds to the community's needs.

While we applaud these gentlemen for their efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ community, they represent a small percentage of the sector's leadership. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, approximately ten million American adults, or approximately 4.1 percent of the U.S. population, identify as LGBTQ, up from the 3.5 percent who identified as LGBTQ in 2012.

But why is that increase not reflected in the sector's leadership? It could be as simple as an inability to attract LGBTQ individuals to the field. It could also be a matter of the field not being sufficiently welcoming and inclusive. Within the private sector, there are indicators designed to measure how inclusive organizations are with respect to the LGBTQ community. The Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, for example, examines corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ employees. Individuals looking to work in corporate America may factor in those ratings when deciding whether or not to accept a job offer. In contrast, our sector hasn't developed a comparable tool for assessing foundations' level of inclusion and/or cultural competency. And while some may be content to argue that the world of philanthropy is a "good" place to work, not to mention one that attracts and serves people from a variety of backgrounds, the fact remains that the data on sexual orientation and gender identity within the sector is not representative of the nation's growing diversity.

Moreover, as it relates to people with disabilities, the narrative is again one of underrepresentation. A person with a disability may or may not opt to disclose his/her disability to an employer. Any perceived stigma associated with the disability and the degree to which the disclosure may influence an employee's experience in the workplace will likely influence his or her decision, as will the extent to which the sector as a whole is inclusive of people with disabilities. At the council's 2017 annual conference, we made an intentional effort to create an experience that was more inclusive of people with disabilities. We hope we succeeded, but we also recognize that our effort, and the efforts of other organizations in this regard, must be part of a broader commitment by the sector to attract, retain, and advance a pool of talent that reflects the diversity of American society.

The council's Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey continues to be a valuable dataset with respect to the diversity of the philanthropic workforce. As conversations regarding the representation of women and people of color in the field have advanced, so too has our ability to track the shifts among these demographics within the survey. As the sector's cultural competency with respect to additional dimensions of diversity advances, new groups of people will be able to bring their whole selves to work. Our hope is that the sector will learn to leverage this diversity of talent, and the diversity of thought and perspective it brings, to better serve our communities. With a concerted sector-wide effort and a little luck, we fully expect this diversity will soon begin to "show up" in our report and other benchmarking surveys.

Headshot_floyed_mills_250x300Floyd Mills is vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Council on Foundations, where he provides leadership related to the development and implementation of strategic initiatives designed to support the council’s internal and external goals.

'Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy': What Does the Data Say?

July 27, 2017

The following post is part of a year-long series here on PhilanTopic that addresses major themes related to the center's work: the use of data to understand and address important issues and challenges; the benefits of foundation transparency for donors, nonprofits/NGOs, and the broader public; the emergence of private philanthropy globally; the role of storytelling in conveying the critical work of philanthropy; and what it means, and looks like, to be an effective, high-functioning foundation, nonprofit, or changemaker in the twenty-first century. As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback.

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It's no secret that many Americans are wondering whether our democracy is still working. The signs of dysfunction are everywhere — allegations of election tampering, voter suppression, and "fake news" comprise a continuous soundtrack accompanying distressingly low levels of electoral turnout, ever more bizarre examples of gerrymandering, and perpetual government gridlock.

Concerns about U.S. democracy are on the minds of America's philanthropic institutions as well. We know, of course, about the "dark money" that is being pumped into the electoral process in an attempt to influence the outcomes of U.S. elections. But what about the efforts of U.S. foundations who see the task of improving U.S. democracy as an important part of their philanthropic missions? (And which, unlike dark money vehicles, are required to disclose information about their giving in publicly available tax documents.)

In partnership with eight foundations, Foundation Center, in 2014, developed Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy, a free online portal that tracks the efforts of foundations to improve American democracy. The tool provides detail on more than 35,000 relevant grants, with additional data added regularly. (Next week, I'll be providing a tour of this mapping platform via a free webinar. Register here.)

Since 2011, U.S. foundations have spent more than $3.7 billion on efforts to improve our democracy. Our data show that foundations are almost equally focused on the areas of encouraging civic participationimproving how government functions at the national, state, and local levels; and supporting an accountable and democratic media, with about  a third of their democracy-focused grant dollars going to each area. Campaigns and elections, the fourth major area of foundation funding for democracy, received about 10 percent of democracy-focused grant dollars. (This adds up to more than 100 percent, because some grants address multiple issues.)

US Democracy_funding by category_fb

These findings suggest that important issues need to be addressed in all four areas — civic participation, government, media, and campaigns and elections — and that focusing on any single area isn't sufficient to ensure a well-functioning democracy. Civic participation funders are focused, in particular, on encouraging issue-based participation by the public; government-focused funders prioritize grantmaking in the area of civil liberties and the rule of law; media-focused funders split their grantmaking almost equally on strengthening journalism and improving media access and policy; and those focused on campaigns and elections are primarily funding activities to educate voters and increase voter turnout.

In three of the four major areas of funding — civic participation, government, and campaigns and elections — the type of support most often provided by foundations was for advocacy and public policy, accounting for nearly a third of foundation funding in these areas. This doesn't necessarily mean that foundations are themselves engaged in political advocacy, which would compromise their 501(c)(3) status. Rather, they fund organizations whose work focuses on policy research or on promoting discussion and debate on public policy issues.

In addition, foundations provided general operating support for organizations focused on democracy-related work at a rate that is roughly consistent with the field as a whole — more than a quarter of funding took the form of unrestricted grant dollars. Altogether, more than half of foundation funding for democracy-related initiatives takes the form of either general operating support or support for advocacy and public policy.

Not surprisingly, a significant amount of democracy-related funding — almost a third — goes to organizations based in Washington, D.C.  And much of that funding supports national-level efforts to improve democracy. Among grants that specified a geographic focus for the work (about half), 44 percent supported national-level efforts, 50 percent supported state-level efforts, and 12 percent local efforts.

The relatively low amount of support for locally-focused work seems surprising. But it probably reflects the fact that much of the data on democracy funding comes from large foundations, which are more likely to be engaged in national- or state-level work.  Could this be a missing piece of the puzzle? Or, are foundations simply better suited to play a role in supporting organizations that focus on broader, systemic aspects of democracy?

If foundations were more focused on local-level work, one might expect to see community foundations playing a prominent role. But, so far, the evidence is inconclusive. Based on the data we have now, community foundations are no more likely to focus on democracy-related issues than are other types of foundations. And the geographic focus data we have for community foundations suggests that they are only slightly more likely than other foundations to support local-level work on democracy issues.

The question that looms over all these initiatives is, Are they making a difference? But that may not be the best question to ask. It may be more important to ask, How does the work of foundations fit into the bigger picture in which the most important roles are played by individual citizens, groups, and communities? Foundation funding can help create the kinds of conditions under which democracy may thrive, but foundations can't engage directly in political advocacy and they can't vote. That's up to us.

Headshot_lawrence-mcgillLarry McGill is vice president for knowledge services at Foundation Center. On Wednesday, August 2, he’ll be hosting a tour of the data mapping tool featured in the post, Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy. You can register for the free webinar here. For more posts in the FC Insight series, click here.

5 Questions for...Laurie Tisch, Founder/President, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund

July 26, 2017

Laurie Tisch, whose Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund is gearing up for its tenth anniversary and will have given $100 million to support access and opportunity for New Yorkers by year's end, describes philanthropy as something that's in her DNA. Foundation Center's Jen Bokoff, a former employee of the foundation, spoke with Tisch about her recent donation to a new fund, her investment philosophy, and how philanthropy creates impact.

Headshot_laurie_tischJen Bokoff: Your family is known for funding major institutions, but your foundation was set up in part to help you make new, innovative gifts. What's a gift you're particularly proud of that defines your philanthropy?

Laurie Tisch: The New York City Green Cart Initiative, which was a $1.5 million public-private partnership. Initially, it was a city government initiative that created new permits for street vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables in food deserts in New York, and we signed on to it soon after I started the foundation. It was a large amount of money for us, which some might call risky, but I prefer to think of it as following one's instincts. The data was clear: there are tremendous disparities in the rates of diabetes and heart disease among neighborhoods, with epidemic levels in certain low-income communities. Street vending was a way to increase access to healthy foods, and the program would also create hundreds of jobs for entrepreneurs. With our mission of increasing access and opportunity, the idea was just too interesting not to try; we pretty much went all in! For us, it was big on so many levels, from the number of organization involved to the number of vendors we hoped would be involved.

There were a lot of unknowns, though. No city had ever tried a program like this. How would we measure success? How would we let people know about it? I had a lot of questions, but the answers weren't always there. If we were too rigid, we might not have made the grant. But we're lucky to be a small foundation with the flexibility to see something like this through, which is a philosophy that has really defined our grantmaking. If an organization or initiative decides to change course, it's okay with us so long as the course correction is in dialogue with us.

JB: I read about your recent gift of $500,000 to a new fund established by Agnes Gund with the proceeds of the sale of a famous painting from her collection. Had you ever sold a painting with a philanthropic cause in mind? And why do so now?

LT: I've donated paintings to the Tang and to the Whitney, but I've never sold one with a cause in mind. I was invited to lunch at Aggie's about a month ago by Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. The purpose was to meet Ava DuVernay, who directed the film 13th about racial inequity in the prison system. Aggie got up to speak about how the film and over-incarceration made a strong impression on her, and then she announced she was going to make criminal justice her major focus.

When she revealed she had sold her Lichtenstein to establish a new fund focused on criminal justice, it was remarkable. She had a real personal connection to that painting, and seeing her commit so deeply to a cause really showed how serious she was. When Darren later called me to talk about the initiative, I remembered that I had sold a painting a month earlier, and I thought to myself, "This fits perfectly." Max Weber, who painted the painting I had sold, was known for his passion for social justice causes, so it just was bashert! I donated most of the proceeds to Aggie’' fund, because when she and Darren are backing something, trust is not an issue. And the more I think about it, the more I realize there are so many collectors and wealthy people who could do this. It will be interesting to see whether people look at Aggie as a model and start to sell some of the art they've acquired for social justice causes; it really could add up to something significant pretty quickly.

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