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26 posts from April 2011

Corporate Contributions to Japan Relief

April 13, 2011

(Andrew Grabois is manager of corporate philanthropy at the Foundation Center. This is his first post for PhilanTopic.)

Japan_earthquake Just one month ago, a powerful 9.0 earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that devastated the northeastern coast of Japan, killing at least 13,000 people, leaving more than 154,000 homeless, and creating what is likely to be the most expensive, if not the worst, nuclear disaster in history.

Within hours of the disaster, the Japanese government had issued a statement saying it was fully capable of responding to the needs of the affected population and that international assistance, while appreciated, was better directed elsewhere. Despite those entreaties, major humanitarian and relief organizations almost immediately began to raise funds for relief and recovery efforts and businesses with interests in Japan started to step with charitable contributions. Given the evolving situation, especially with regards to the ever-changing situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, this seems like a good a time to examine the global corporate response to the disaster.

According to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS), a real-time database managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), just over $1 billion (USD) has been contributed, committed, or pledged to relief and recovery efforts in Japan by countries, private individuals and organizations, and companies. While the scale of physical destruction and human displacement was large, many nonprofits with limited resources struggled with the fact that Japan is home to the world's third-largest economy and was itself, according to OCHA, second only to the United States as a donor to humanitarian emergencies in 2011. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the charitable response to the disaster in Japan has been dominated by public charities and for-profit corporations.

Monitoring the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Corporate Aid Tracker, OCHA's Financial Tracking Service, industry wire services, and reports received directly from companies, the Foundation Center has identified 307 grants for Japan relief efforts made by 275 companies and their foundations totaling $261,390,953 (USD). More than three-quarters of the grants and almost two-thirds of the total grant amount identified by the center were from U.S.-based companies and company-sponsored foundations. Below is a breakdown of corporate aid to Japan by countries that account for at least 1 percent of total contributions:

CountryNo. GrantsTotal Grant Amt ($)Avg. per Grant% Total Grant Amt
United States 231 $150,648,551 $652,158 58%
Japan 31 $76,203,827 $2,458,188 29%
South Korea 9 $11,830,695 $1,314,522 5%
Germany 8 $10,293,294 $1,143,699 4%
England 4 $3,992,705 $998,176 2%
France 3 $3,400,000 $1,133,333 1%
Canada 11 $2,902,694 $263,881 1%

How do corporate contributions to Japanese relief and recovery efforts compare to other recent humanitarian relief campaigns?

For U.S.-based companies at least, we can compare the response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to contributions earmarked for emergency aid and assistance following the devastating quake that struck Haiti in January 2010. In that case, the Foundation Center identified 294 grants from 240 companies and their foundations totaling $105,949,875, with the average individual grant amount roughly $360,374.

While the number of U.S. corporate grants to Japan may not match the total identified for Haiti, other data points have increased substantially: the number of contributing companies by 15 percent; average grant amount by 81 percent; and total grant dollars by 42 percent. Corporate contributions to the American Red Cross accounted for 41 percent of grants and 21 percent of total grant dollars for Haiti; to-date, contributions to the ARC for Japan relief is an identical 41 percent of grants but just 10 percent of total grant dollars.

Given its role as an important regional and global financial hub, a critical manufacturing platform, and an important base for countless multinational corporations, it would be hard to overstate the importance of Japan to international commerce or global supply chains. It produces a huge portion of the world's supply of semiconductors and electronic components, and Sony alone is responsible for 10 percent of the world's laptop batteries. In our interdependent global economy, however, how much a country produces misses the point. As economist Kim Hill at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor put it: "You can't build a car with 97 percent of the parts. You pretty much need all of them."

The Japanese people will be digging out from this epic disaster for months, if not years, to come. Our thoughts are with them. In the meantime, we'll continue to track the corporate response to relief and recovery efforts in Japan, and you can do the same with the RSS feed we've created for that purpose. To submit information about your organization's response to the disaster, please e-mail us at Japancrisis@foundationcenter.org.

 -- Andrew Grabois

'We Interrupt This Program...'

April 12, 2011

As the Council on Foundation's 2011 conference comes to a close with philanthropy on "trial" (click here for a live webcast of the event featuring the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Ralph Smith and the Atlantic Philanthropies' Gara LaMarche), White Courtesy Telephone blogger (and Greater New Orleans Foundation president) Albert Ruesga shares some pointed thoughts about the celebration of philanthropy that is the CoF annual conference:

I've learned to expect far less than civic grief from these great gatherings of grantmakers. As in times past, we will urge one another to provide general operating support to our grantees; to work in meaningful partnership with the communities we serve; to collaborate for greater impact. As before, we'll feel a slight pang as an army of mostly black and brown waiters fans out across the ballroom to serve mostly white patrons. There will be the customary bouts of self-congratulation and a heart-warming video of poor children who are now college-bound. Then, we will pack our bags and leave.

Perhaps this is as much as we can expect from philanthropy, a discipline that has become increasingly technocratic over the past several years. Perhaps this is what inevitably happens when a calling is transformed into a career.

I'm inspired by the younger people coming into philanthropy. They're smart and talented, and the more irreverent they are, the more I admire them. But I don’t believe, as some do, that the salvation of the field will come from them. My fear is that us old-timers have done too good a job of reproducing ourselves in the next generation of grantmakers. Nor will the salvation of the field come from technology. Technology will at best enable us to use ever-more complicated tools to leave untouched the basic structures of social, economic, and political oppression.

I don't know about the field of philanthropy, but what I most need right now is a brutal honesty about my very limited relevance as a grantmaker, a hard look in the hallway mirror before I leave my hotel room and turn in my keys....

Is Albert right? Has philanthropy become too technocratic? Does the salvation of the field lie in new tools and/or a new generation of young people? And, given the complexity of the problems that confront us, do these large annual gatherings of grantmakers still serve a purpose?

Foundations and Power: Beyond Advocacy

April 11, 2011

(Mark Rosenman, a long time nonprofit sector activist and scholar, directs Caring to Change, a D.C.-based effort to promote foundation grantmaking for the common good. A version of this piece appeared on the Huffington Post.)

Rosenman_headshot Grantmaking foundations are being taught an important lesson, but most of them don't seem inclined to learn it. The Tea Party movement has shown that building political power is of much greater consequence to the causes foundations care about than is their support for innovative and scaled-up programs in the nonprofit sector.

Although foundations desperately want to be "more impactful" than current practices allow, they generally settle for becoming more effective at what they already do. Rarely does any truly fresh approach to grantmaking get serious consideration. And in spite of this being a "teachable moment," too few funders fully recognize the importance of government and even fewer are willing to talk about power. Unfortunately, that has become the essential conversation.

The import of government for foundations has long been clear to some funders, many of whom have pushed themselves and their peers to provide greater support for critical public policies and programs. Today's challenge to philanthropy, however, goes far beyond its support for advocacy and an often narrow focus on parochial interests.

Indeed, what is at stake today is nothing less than who has the power to define government's role with respect to the common good. The lesson being taught foundations is that without the power to implement advocated policies, problems of concern to philanthropy will rapidly grow more complex and intractable.

Most of the troubles we face as a society, and that foundations seek to address, reflect failures of government to effectively moderate the forces that created those problems in the first place. Whether those problems originate in the failures of the market and the sometimes-destructive behavior of corporations, in the poor performance of public and private institutions, or in the dysfunctional conduct of individuals, governments can and should do something about them.

Markets and corporations need effective regulation to ensure the orderly conduct of business and to provide public protections. Institutions need leadership, accountability, and resources to promote the public interest. And individuals can both be encouraged and helped to behave in their own and society's best interests. Government is a critical player in each of these realms and an essential partner to philanthropies that seek to address problems in all of them.

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Advancing the Next Generation: EPIP's Impact on Philanthropy

(Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference in Philadelphia with the help of a blog team. This is a joint post by Rusty Stahl, executive director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and Kris Putnam-Walkerly, president of Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc., and is re-posted here with their permission.)

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) is an affinity group of the Council on Foundations. Its mission is to develop extraordinary new leaders to enhance organized philanthropy and its impact on communities. EPIP released the findings of its 2011 Impact Assessment (32 pages, PDF), in conjunction with its 10th anniversary and national conference held in Philadelphia. Last week we highlighted seven ways EPIP provides support and opportunities for emerging leaders in philanthropy. Below we share six key findings about EPIP's impact on the broader field of philanthropy.

1) EPIP's focus on multigenerationalism has had a positive impact on philanthropy.

  • Ninety-seven percent (97%) of survey respondents reported that as a result of EPIP, there is increased interaction and dialogue between senior and new foundation staff
  • 95% said they believe philanthropy has benefited from EPIP's efforts to prepare the next generation of leaders.
  • They also reported that young or new foundation staff now have more opportunity to get involved in philanthropy (60%) and that these staff are more active in the field than they were before (50%).

    "To the extent that you care about the future of philanthropy, you've got to care about the next generation of philanthropic leaders. EPIP represents a group from which the next generation of philanthropic leadership will be drawn." -- Ralph Smith, Executive Vice President, Annie E. Casey Foundation

2) EPIP has expanded professional and leadership development opportunities for emerging practitioners.

  • 60% of survey respondents believed that EPIP increased the opportunities for involvement in philanthropy for young or new foundation staff.
  • Almost all (98%) believed that EPIP has been "somewhat to very effective" in increasing the presence and participation of new, emerging staff at philanthropy conferences and in increasing the number of sessions and workshops for and about younger/new foundation staff at conferences.

    "Being part of the EPIP network helped me hone my leadership skills and take risks in my career. I was able to build relationships outside of my region and state and was able to apply those leadership skills not just in my own foundation but on a national scale, which allowed my national network to flourish." -- Melissa Johnson, Executive Director, Neighborhood Funders Group

3) Employers benefit from EPIP's contributions to professional development.

  • 75% of EPIP members surveyed reported making positive contributions to their organizations as a result of their involvement with EPIP.
  • This includes becoming more confident in taking on more responsibilities (37%), becoming better able to advocate for issues they feel are important in their foundations (24%), and learning ways to do their jobs more effectively (23%).

    "From my perspective as the executive director, our staff who have been engaged with EPIP have brought a capacity for bold vision and for confident and competent leadership." -- Ned Wight, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

4) EPIP brings value to national and regional associations of grantmakers.

  • EPIP has collaborated with a wide range of funder networks, including 11 regional associations of grantmakers (in the locations of all its chapters), national affinity groups, and the Council on Foundations.
  • According to those interviewed, EPIP provides value because these associations can leverage EPIP’s network of next generation leaders, expertise, and infrastructure.

    "For affinity groups that want to engage younger and newer foundation staff, it makes sense to partner with EPIP rather than reinvent all the work yourself." -- Carly Hare, Executive Director, Native Americans in Philanthropy

5) EPIP fills an important need in educating and orienting those new to philanthropy.

  • Many senior leaders and EPIP members interviewed described the need to "demystify" philanthropy and grantmaking work, and to orient those new to philanthropy.
  • This was recognized as an important need that EPIP helps to fill, with several executive directors stating appreciation that their staff has a venue for learning about the field beyond their own institutions.

    "Increasing the pipeline of people who are familiar with philanthropy -- familiar with how it works, its challenges, and its opportunities -- is an important service to the field. I think it is a great opportunity for philanthropic institutions to pay attention to EPIP, and to make sure that we're connected with them, and helping them place the people that they're training." -- Luz Vega Marquis, CEO, Marguerite Casey Foundation

6) EPIP brings increased attention to social justice philanthropy.

  • About one-third said they feel that there is increased dialogue and awareness in the field about social justice philanthropy as a result of EPIP (36%)
  • 30% reported that as a result of EPIP there is increased attention on racial, gender, and class diversity at foundations.

    "The EPIP conference is probably one of the most diverse cross-sections of people that I've ever seen in a philanthropic meeting, and social justice philanthropy is integrated into all the sessions. This requires courage and commitment. To see that social justice is front and center at EPIP gives me hope in the next generation of philanthropists." -- Daniel Jae-Won Lee, Executive Director, Levi Strauss Foundation

EPIP's 2011 Impact Assessment was conducted by Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc. It included a national survey of EPIP members, alumni, prospective members, and partners; in-depth interviews with twelve active members and ten senior philanthropy leaders who have partnered with EPIP; and a review of existing EPIP data and documents. To learn more about EPIP's impact, read the full report.

Weekend Link Roundup (April 9-10, 2011)

April 10, 2011

Forsythia2 Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


In a post on her redesigned blog, Katya Andresen offers a few tips to nonprofit marketers looking to convince colleagues they've made the right choices with their copy/design.


Writing in the Huffington Post, Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek says that the "failure to fully engage minority and urban communities is not only bad for the environmental movement, it also gets in the way of minority communities having a direct say on the future of the lands and waters that provide people food, shelter and income."


The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's Yna C. Moore shares a video in which NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman introduces the organization's latest report, Towards Transformative Change in Health Care: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy (52 pages, PDF).


Minnesota Council on Foundation research manager Anne Bauers shares six recommendations from the recent TCC Group webinar "Research and Development: A New Form of Evaluation."

In a post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, CEP president Phil Buchanan cautions against believing that something is a trend just because a speaker at a conference or an "expert" blogger says it is. Writes Buchanan:

Our desire for something to be true, or to position ourselves as the chroniclers of a trend, does not make it true. It's a disservice to everyone in the sector when the media, consultants, or academics ignore the data to overstate a case -- or to create one out of whole cloth....

On his Full Contact Philanthropy bog, David Henderson suggests that "Social Impact Bonds and nonprofit market exchanges that mirror the world of finance dance around, rather than address, the core issues facing the social sector."


"Once we accept the responsibility to do what we are called to do now...we will begin to see alternative ways in which we can change the world," writes Rosetta Thurman in a recent post on her blog about why she quit a PhD program and eventually started her own business. "We will realize that we do not need any external validation to give us permission to help others. And in the process of living out our own true purpose, we will, in turn, encourage others to do the same."


Kris Putnam-Walkerly's Philanthropy411 blog is covering the Council on Foundation's 2011 annual conference in Philadelphia with the help of a star-studded blog team. The posts are coming fast and furious, and we'll be sharing some of them here at PhilanTopic over the next few days.

On his Tactical Philanthropy blog, Sean Stannard-Stockton examines a new white paper which "provides evidence that cause marketing results in lower charitable giving and lower happiness."

Philanthropy 2173 blogger Lucy Bernholz offers a thoughtful review of Tom Tierney and Joel Fleishman's new book Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results. While Bernholz "found a lot to like" in the book, she also noticed a few instances where the authors' information fell short. Writes Bernholz:

The book makes no mention of peer networks -- online and off -- critical components of doing everything for just about everybody younger than a baby boomer. It makes no reference to the changing landscape of data on giving. It largely ignores the growth of tertiary products and services that donors navigate even before they begin giving. This is a funny oversight, since Tierney runs Bridgespan, a dominant firm in the advisory services industry....

Give Smart also makes short shrift of the selection process from investing to giving that more and more donors (and foundations) are integrating into their strategies. Whether you're a billionaire philanthropist or one of the 100s of millions of people who make up the long tail of the philanthropic revenue stream, you face daily choices about supporting causes by shopping, giving or investing...That's the new landscape -- and smart givers are navigating it with data, relationships, peer groups, giving circles, and professional advisers. Tierney and Fleishman's book will help them with one important piece of that puzzle. Now if only we had a similarly useful manual for guiding the bigger discussion about public responsibilities and this changing philanthropic landscape....

Social Media

In the latest installment of Allison Fine's Social Good podcast series on the Chronicle of Philanthropy site, Bernholz joins Joel Fleishman to discuss "how age and technology are affecting giving and which foundations have embraced social media."

Last but not least Beth Kanter, who co-authored the Networked Nonprofit with Fine, has some advice for nonprofit communicators interested in creating a social media policy.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone

Investing in Impact: Combining Social and Financial Returns

April 08, 2011

(Ashley Allen is a partner in the Endeavor Group, an innovative consultancy offering an integrated suite of strategic, legal, and communications solutions to advance its clients' complex global agendas. In her previous post, she wrote about investing in policy advocacy.)

Social_impact_linked_hands Social impact investing -- a concept frequently raised but not clearly defined or understood -- presents a compelling opportunity for foundations and philanthropists to maximize the leverage and impact of their work. Innovative philanthropists with higher risk tolerances such as Pierre Omidyar, Jeff Skoll, and Bob Pattillo, along with leading foundations and social impact funds like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Calvert Foundation, Acumen Fund, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are increasingly using social impact investing to expand their influence and introduce market-based solutions to the complex world of social change.

The increased interest of the philanthropic sector in social impact investing is driven in part by the desire of philanthropic funders and private investors to fuel sustainable interventions that address economic inequities and systemic, structural barriers to economic and social development. Leaders in the field believe that traditional charity often meets immediate needs but too often fails to enable people to solve their own problems over the long term. Accordingly, the social impact investment approach aims to catalyze the power of private markets to stimulate long-term social, economic, and environmental solutions.

Definition of Social Impact Investing

To date, no single definition of social impact investing has taken hold. The Global Impact Investing Network, a group of organizations working to strengthen the field of social impact investing, defines it as investments that "aim to solve social or environmental challenges while generating financial profit." This approach contrasts with "socially responsible investing," which uses negative screens to avoid investments in companies whose behavior is deemed "bad" or "harmful." We at Endeavor further delineate social impact investments as investments that actively seek to develop and prioritize market-based social and environmental solutions above financial returns. Accordingly, social impact investors have lower financial return expectations.

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Council on Foundation’s Film and Video Festival

April 07, 2011

(Kathryn Pyle is a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. In her previous post, she wrote about memory as an instrument of peace.)

Cof_logo Attendees at this year's Council on Foundations conference (April 10–12) in Philadelphia will have the opportunity to view some excellent documentary films during the conference's Film and Video Festival. Held in cooperation with Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media (GFEM), the festival is a regular feature at the annual CoF conference and this year will feature a number of special screenings co-sponsored by council affinity groups like the International Human Rights Funders Group and Funders Together to End Homelessness. There will also be a presentation for funders on how to use short videos and other media to educate the public and explore community issues.

As I described in a previous post, documentary films are growing in popularity, both at festivals and via television and the Internet. Indeed, grantmakers and nongovernmental organizations increasingly grasp the potential of documentary films to tell their stories and advance their priorities -- not only in terms of traditional "public relations," but by conveying with deep-felt passion a subject or story that aligns with their own interests.

The Council on Foundations recognized the importance of film and video early on, launching a film and video festival ("in a closet," as Phil Hallen, formerly of the Falk Foundation, puts it) at an annual conference in the late 1960s. Today, the festival, a regular feature of the conference since then, is a juried exhibition of a dozen films with its own on-site screening room; conference participants can also borrow a DVD of any film to watch on their hotel television sets or their laptops.

Continue reading »

Key Facts on Social Justice Grantmaking: An Update

April 06, 2011

A year ago we shared some key facts related to social justice grantmaking, which the Foundation Center defines as "the granting of philanthropic contribututions to nonprofit organizations based in the United States and other countries that work for structural change in order to increase the opportunty of those who are the least well off politically, economically, and socially."

Last week, our Research Department colleagues published their annual update of that report (Key Facts on Social Justice Grantmaking), which found, among other things, that social justice grantmaking accounted for 14.2 percent of grant dollars and 11 percent of foundation grants awarded by the largest foundations in 2009. The chart below shows the number of grants and percentage of grant dollars allocated to social justice as a share of overall foundation giving from 1999 to 2009.


In terms of major fields, the biggest share of social justice grant dollars awarded in 2009 (29 percent) went for economic and community development, followed by healthcare access and affordability (17 percent), and human rights and civil liberties (13 percent).

The report also found that the top twenty-five social justice funders, led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- the nation's largest grantmaker --  accounted for more than 70 percent of social justice grantmaking in the Foundation Center's latest grants sample.


To read or download the report (4 pages, PDF), click here.

Philanthropy and...Job Creation

April 05, 2011

Job_creation Whether you interpret the jobs report that was released Friday by the Labor Department as promising or disappointing, the fact remains that the country is still mired in a joblessness crisis, with an unemployment rate of close to 9 percent. Amidst the talk of how the job market is faring in the business community, nonprofits in the U.S. are quietly creating jobs by cultivating entrepreneurship, ensuring that new jobs are both environmentally sound and pay a living wage, testing (and proving) the viability of worker-owned businesses, and advocating for the necessity of subsidized employment programs.

The Foundation Center and IssueLab joined together to interview six nonprofit and foundation leaders working on the urgent issue of job creation. Learn more about their unique perspectives on the issue and what they think is missing from the national discourse.



Stangler_dane Dane Stangler
Research Director
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

The Kauffman Foundation's Approach:
Support and develop programs that make entrepreneurship a more viable option and commission research measuring the impact of entrepreneurs in the United States and the global economy.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. One reason for that is that policy makers often frame private sector job creation exclusively in terms of the size of businesses. Research increasingly shows, however, that the age of businesses is much more important in terms of net new job creation. Young firms — particularly those that grow — are the most essential piece of job creation in this country. Researchers at the Census Bureau have done an outstanding job of sorting data on firm creation and job creation by age. This has contributed to precision in terms of understanding data but also illuminated larger questions about the nature of entrepreneurship. We are only at the beginning of understanding this phenomenon, which is critical to economic growth."


Howard_ted Ted Howard
Executive Director
Senior Fellow for Social Justice at the Cleveland Foundation
Democracy Collaborative, University of MD College Park

Democracy Collaborative's Approach:
Work with the Cleveland Foundation to create worker-owned cooperative businesses that build longer-term wealth for residents of low- and moderate-income communities.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "At the federal level the discourse is feeble....We are in a situation where if we don't watch out as a country these eight million jobs that we lost are going to be lost for good. This 9 percent employment is going to become the new norm.

"We have systemic problems in this country that are going to require something other than tinkering at the margins....The issue of job creation and local economic development is not just an economic issue but is a very fundamental issue about the future of our democracy. A lot of democratic theorists agree that the future of a democratic state becomes deeply imperiled when you have tens of millions of people frozen out of the system and that's what we've got. It's a very serious situation, and so we have got to try new approaches to not only create jobs but also to create wealth."


Walz_jo Joanne G. Walz
Community Philanthropy Officer, Promoting Economic Vitality
Minneapolis Foundation

The Minneapolis Foundation's Approach:
Fund with an equity lens, supporting initiatives that address barriers for employment for African Americans, women and refugees, and bringing the public and private sectors together to align funding efforts.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "I haven't seen evidence of the level of creativity and innovative thinking needed to make changes as rapidly as warranted. Unless we can get some synergy with the changes in education in terms of higher education and postsecondary options and begin to blend that with internship options and mentorship programs from not just big business but middle-size businesses and little businesses and entrepreneurs, especially in our more diverse communities, we're not going to adapt as quickly as we need to.

"There's a significant opportunity with the retirement of the baby boomers. We haven't done enough to create strategies to transfer knowledge and empowerment from baby boomers to the younger generation, who are going to take the hit and the responsibility of moving forward. So the national discourse has helped, but we really need to speed it up and get it on multiple tracks in order to make the changes we need."


Shanley-hope_sarah Sarah Shanley Hope
Director of Strategic Growth
Green for All

Green for All's Approach:
Employ a bold strategy that leverages public dollars, attracts private investment, and mobilizes civil society to create an inclusive green economy in which everyone has access to opportunity and the earth is sustained.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "What's missing is the immediacy. There is no question that we must take a long view — focusing on good jobs and a healthy environment for all — but the immediate, deep crisis afflicting Americans seems to be lost. Even with a righteous mission, if you're not talking about job creation today and relieving the crisis facing poor and working families, it's hard to get people engaged on your agenda. Looking at want ads is more urgent to folks than e-mailing members of Congress."


Alpert Sharon Alpert
Senior Director, Programs and Strategy and
Program Director, Sustainable Environments
Surdna Foundation

Surdna's Approach:
Support the development of a new energy economy by funding national, state, and local policies and projects that are creating jobs in the energy efficiency, manufacturing, and transportation sectors and playing a bridge-building role between those places of innovation and national policymakers.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "The national discourse around the green energy economy has focused a lot on renewables and less on energy efficiency until recently. We think energy efficiency is a key area because it's ready to go -- the jobs can be created today and can begin to help businesses and homeowners and consumers immediately reap the savings of a more energy efficient home or a more energy efficient place of business. The savings goes back into the economy, but more importantly, it is one way we can create champions for the new energy economy. We're very interested in having a better national conversation about the mismatch between skills and current job openings out there for the Americans that are out of work. I'm heartened when I hear the national discourse look at the jobs that can be created in a new energy economy and in infrastructure investments, in particular. I get disheartened when I hear that the jobs are not out there or that they are not 'new jobs', which really misses the point. There is plenty of evidence to point to across the states -– from Massachusetts to Ohio to California –- of new economic value and real jobs and new businesses being created in the new energy economy."


Rynell_amy Amy Rynell
National Transitional Jobs Network and Social IMPACT Research Center

The National Transitional Jobs Network's Approach:
Ensure that publicly supported job-creation programs serve those that need them most by advocating for strategies that help the hardest to employ; document and evaluate these job-creation efforts.

Q: What's missing from the discourse?

A: "The large gap between available jobs and people in need of work requires continued discussion about the role of subsidized employment programs to support disadvantaged workers and struggling businesses through the recovery. There is widespread agreement among economists that people with low incomes are very good stimulus engines because they will spend their earnings, thereby supporting local businesses and helping to preserve other jobs. We are very concerned that a very successful job-creation effort for disadvantaged workers, funded through the TANF Emergency Fund, was not extended and allowed to continue. Given the lackluster recovery on the jobs side, those dollars would have continued to bolster low-income communities in key ways."

Those are just a few perspectives from nonprofit and foundation leaders working on job creation. What do you think is missing from the national discourse? What efforts are your organizations undertaking to foster job creation?

Talking Philanthropy: Holly Ross, Executive Director, Nonprofit Technology Network

April 04, 2011

Holly-ross_cropped In the latest installment of our monthly podcast series, hosts Larry Blumenthal and Bill Silberg talk to Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) chief Holly Ross about how philanthropic organizations are harnessing technology to more effectively pursue their goals. Larry and Bill spoke to Holly at NTEN's recent -- and very busy -- annual conference in Washington, D.C.


Running time: 00:11:06

(Right-click to download mp3)

Is your organization experimenting with new technologies such as GPS or video? What have you found are the value-adds? Any lessons learned along the way that might help others?

Do you have a topic you'd like to hear Larry and Bill address? Let us know in the comments section below, or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Weekend Link Roundup (April 2-3, 2011)

April 03, 2011

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

Nonprofit Management

Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta shares six tips on how to avoid neglecting the last 1 percent of a project when doing so has the potential to destroy 100 percent of an organization's effort.

Host of this month's Nonprofit Blog Carnival, Katya Andresen offers a selection of posts that highlight "the good, the bad and the ugly" of the nonprofit world.

Rosetta Thurman suggests in a recent post on her blog that the "traditional...compete-for-money-or-close-our-doors...organizations led by 60-year-old white men are...becoming unsustainable in a rapidly changing world." Adds Thurman, "We've got to learn from what's working in other sectors, incorporate new approaches in our work, partner with those who are making an impact, and focus on getting even better at what we do."


Responding to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune which reported that a number of local foundations had been asked, and agreed, to pay for Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's transition, the Nonprofiteer writes that she "doesn't blame the foundations for ponying up," though she wishes they hadn't. Part of a foundation's job is to influence public policy and make change, she adds, "and the mayor's office is an important route (sometimes the only route) to doing so. But the Emanuel administration-in-waiting should never have asked...the request makes it appear that access to city government is restricted to those who tithe."

On the Opinionator blog, New York Times Magazine contributor Tina Rosenberg explains the difference between "old-school fundraisers" and new crowdfunding sites that collect donations for various charities and causes. Writes Rosenberg:

It's true that some crowdfunding is the online equivalent of what's been going on in the real world for decades. There are numerous giving sites that try to take advantage of donors' contacts -- online contacts, but the idea is traditional....

Other crowdfunding sites, however, offer something new. Scroll through these sites and you will find catalogs of dozens or even hundreds of small projects, each with its own mini-site, for potential donors to consider....

There are some perils here. People give to Save the Children or Environmental Defense for a reason -- we can be confident these proven organizations know what they are doing. Giving to Joe's Social Change is a gamble. A good number of the projects you can find on crowdfunding sites seem more like whims than serious efforts, and many others look like well-meaning but inefficient efforts to duplicate work established groups are already doing....

Social Entrepreneurship

Philanthropy 2173 blogger Lucy Bernholz, a participant in this year's Skoll World Forum, advises social entrepreneurs to follow the advice of Water for People's Ned Breslin and listen "to the roar of the crowd." Writes Bernholz, "Social entrepreneurs need to listen to what they hear if they ask for it. The only thing worse than never listening is giving a voter, an activist, a dad, a schoolkid, a consumer, a mom a chance to voice their opinion and then ignoring it...."


In a post on the Tactical Philanthropy blog, ZeroDivide CEO Tessie Guillermo shares findings from Amplifying Social Impact in a Connected Age, a new report that looks at the "gap between the demand for and supply of technology funding, particularly as it relates to the application of technology for program impact."

On the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Diana Jue takes a look at the dissemination problems that keep new poverty-reducing technologies from reaching their target audience.


And National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy executive director Aaron Dorfman applauds the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation for its "commitment to transparency," as evidenced by its newest publication, Helping People and Places Move Out of Poverty: Progress and Learning 2010 (46 pages, PDF).

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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