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Barron's 'Best Givers' List

November 29, 2009

Giving_flower With Thanksgiving behind us (hope you had a good one!), list season has begun in earnest. And to kick things off, Barron's, in collaboration with Global Philanthropy Group, a U.S.-based consulting firm that designs "highly leveraged philanthropic strategies" for foundations, corporations, and high-net-worth individuals, has just published its list of the "25 Best Givers."

To compile the list, GPG and Barron's "considered scores of philanthropists, rating them on such criteria as innovation, quality of alliances with other groups, the ripple effects of their giving and the extent to which their successful projects can be replicated." The result, according to the editors, is a list that focuses not on the biggest givers but rather on those "who are getting the results."

It's an odd list, both well intentioned and too cute by half (do we really need to know that Brad Pitt has commissioned the design of a house that would float if there was another flood in New Orleans?). It's also peppered with the names of individuals who made their fortunes in high tech or finance and got into the giving game believing they could leverage business discipline and their faith in metrics into a lean, more effective philanthropy for the twenty-first century.

I know what you're thinking, and so do the folks at GPG and Barron's. "By its nature," they write, "an exercise like this involves a lot of subjective calls. Facts and figures about philanthropy are much harder to come by than data on corporations. One giver's definition of success can differ sharply from another giver's -- or from ours."

Well, yes. And lists like this are designed to spark conversation and debate. So what do you think? Did the folks at GPG and Barron's get it right? Who's on the list that doesn't belong there? And more importantly, who's not on the list that should be?

Use the comments section to share your thoughts....

-- Mitch Nauffts

Comments

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do we really need to know that Brad Pitt has commissioned the design of a house that would float if there was another flood in New Orleans?

****

That's the fun thing about these lists- everyone looks at things differently. The floating house idea sounds silly on the face of it, but it's not so different an idea from something like designing earthquake resistant elements into buildings.

Given enough time, there are very few problems that advances in technology cannot help us overcome.

I'm wondering if Barron's can throw in a couple more qualifiers into their description of the list. And is this supposed to be a list only for 2009? It seems to give short shrift to long-term initiatives and slathers praise on innovation without any sense of whether it will lead to real and positive solutions. Weren't derivatives "innovative" not so long ago?

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