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29 posts from September 2011

Ten Years Later: A Q&A With Joel R. Charny, Vice President for Humanitarian Policy and Practice, InterAction

September 11, 2011

If 9/11 didn't change everything, it certainly changed many things. From the way we fly, to our awareness and knowledge of Islam, to the war on terror, the events of September 11 changed us as individuals and as a country and society. One of its most telling legacies, the USA Patriot Act, was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, reauthorized (with most of its provisions intact) by Congress in 2006, and extended in large part by President Barack Obama earlier this year. The act, which includes watch list and anti-money-laundering provisions intended to impede the flow of funds to suspected terrorist groups, has had a significant impact on international aid organizations working in some of the most unsettled and impoverished regions of the world.

Joel_charney_interaction Last week, as part of our "Ten Years Later" series, we asked Joel Charny, Vice President for Humanitarian Policy and Practice at InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based relief and development organizations, to comment on how the funding and operating environment for U.S.-based nonprofits working overseas has changed since 9/11, what aid groups can do to combat the waste and corruption that hampers so many international aid operations, and whether the recent easing of restrictions on NGOs working in the Horn of Africa represents a permanent change in U.S. policy.

To access the other Q&As in our 9/11 series, click here.

Philanthropy News Digest: How has the funding and operating environment for U.S.-based nonprofits working on international issues changed since 9/11? Do those changes represent a seismic shift in the international aid paradigm, or has the impact of 9/11 on nonprofits working internationally been less than predicted?

Joel Charny: Since 9/11, the global war on terror has become the dominant paradigm for U.S. foreign assistance. One consequence -- until the very recent emphasis on reducing the budget deficit -- has been strong bipartisan support for increases in overseas aid in the name of addressing the root causes of extremism and winning the "hearts and minds" of people who may be susceptible to affiliation with terrorist groups. U.S. programs in countries on the front lines of the war on terror, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, have received huge budget allocations, while programs in more peripheral countries have been sustained.

The strong support for international relief and development programs has been a boon, but not an unmitigated one. Groups accepting U.S. government funding in the battleground countries are de facto signing up for the war on terror, with the expectation that they will collaborate closely with the joint U.S. civil, military, and diplomatic effort in the affected countries. This compromises their ability to act independently. Further, the post-9/11 decade has seen a dramatic increase in the direct involvement of the U.S. military in relief and development work, which means that even groups that strive to retain their independence of the U.S. war effort may find themselves working in the same locations as the military, creating confusion in the minds of local people and jeopardizing their security.

The past decade has seen erosion in the respect for and the possibility of humanitarian action. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously described the Geneva Conventions as "quaint," undermining the very foundation of international humanitarian law that has protected civilians in armed conflict for six decades. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the organization mandated to ensure the implementation of the conventions' provisions, has seen their staff targeted and killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Governments from Sudan and Zimbabwe to Sri Lanka and Pakistan have aggressively restricted the access of international and local agencies to vulnerable people, often using the imperative of combating terror as the rationale. The ruthlessness of governments and the nihilism of extremists have mutually reinforced the assault on humanitarian agencies and the values that they represent.

Nonetheless, the post-9/11 world in the relief and development sphere is largely familiar to anyone who tried to implement and support independent assistance during the Cold War period, when both the U.S. and the Soviet bloc identified enemy countries and movements and subjected aid agencies to political manipulation. The comprehensiveness of the war on terror as a guiding framework is reminiscent of the anti-communist one that prevailed from the 1950s to the early 1990s. While the erosion of the respect for humanitarian action is disturbing, on the whole the post-9/11 decade does not represent a seismic shift in the funding and operating environment for U.S.-based nonprofits working on international issues.

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Weekend Link Roundup (September 10 - 11, 2011)

9-11_ten_years_later In conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, this week's roundup features a selection of blog posts, articles, and magazine features that look back and reflect on one of the worst days in American history.

Disaster Relief

In a recent CNNMoney article, Aaron Smith shares a chart from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University that compares the charitable response to five of the biggest disasters of the last decade: 9/11, the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year.


Instead of shrinking from the enormity of the events of September 11, the editors and staff at New York magazine decided to embrace it. The "Encyclopedia of 9/11" is likely to stand as the definitive chronicle of that terrible day for years to come.

Today's New York Times offers a special section "on the decade's costs and consequences, measured in thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and countless challenges to the human spirit."

In the Atlantic, journalist and New York World producer Michael Keller interviews Columbia Center for Oral History director Mary Marshall Clark about the September 11th Oral History Narrative and Memory Project, which attempted to capture "how the attacks affected the lives of everyday New Yorkers over three years following the attacks...."

"If you'd asked me in the days after the event what I'd be feeling now, on the 10th anniversary, I think I'd have told you this would be a momentous anniversary with much introspection, many lessons learned," writes Public Parts author Jeff Jarvis on his Buzz Machine blog. "I'd have vowed that we must never forget and thus must revisit the scene and our memories, as I did even days later (that's why this blog was born). [And] I'd have been wrong...."

Nonprofit Management

Given the many the challenges of the last decade, GuideStar president and CEO Bob Ottenhoff explains why it's important for nonprofits to focus on developing resiliency. Writes Ottenhoff:

Resilience is an intriguing word to be used in the concept of 9/11. The dictionary defines resilience as "the power or ability to return to the original form after being bent or stretched." It doesn’t mean simply enduring or succumbing -- but taking determined steps to return to normal.

It's an important concept for all of us aspiring to run high-performing organizations. Adapting suggests we need to constantly respond to the world around us and not get so fixed on a certain course of action. The word "resilience" reminds us that despite our best efforts, bad things will happen to us and our organizations, but it is within our power to respond affirmatively....

On the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Christine Reeves reflects on a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article in which David Campbell, former vice president for programs at the Community Service Society of New York City, looked at how donors and nonprofits responded to the September 11 attacks and offers some takeaways of her own.


On her About.com blog, Joanne Fritz urges individuals and nonprofit organizations to visit the 911.org Web site and share what they will be doing to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

Julia Smith and Diana Hsu of Idealist share a list of special events and volunteer opportunities for individuals interested in participating in the federally designated National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Last but not least, the Case Foundation's Jean Case offers a few reflections on the anniversary and a list of resources for Americans who want to honor those who perished on 9/11 with an act of service. "No matter how you choose to get involved," writes Case, "I hope you'll take a moment this weekend to pause and reflect on the significance of the day, and find opportunities to join with your community and loved ones to honor our nation and all those who have sacrificed in the name of freedom."

-- Regina Mahone

Ten Years Later: Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York

September 10, 2011

Vartan_gregorian_centennial We had hoped, as part of our "Ten Years Later" series, to share the 9/11 reflections of Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. (You can read our earlier interviews with Gregorian here and here.) Unfortunately, Dr. Gregorian was busy with 9/11 commemorative events and his responsibilities as a member of the 9/11 Memorial board.

However, the folks at Carnegie did graciously allow us to reprint an essay written by Dr. Gregorian that appeared in the September/October issue of World Affairs. We hope you enjoy it.


It is still shocking to remember how utterly the peace of that beautiful September day was shattered. The image of the Twin Towers as they fell to earth, carrying with them so many souls, became the collective symbol of our grief. After all, the World Trade Center towers were the icon of American strength and economic power and emblematic of New York City as a world capital of finance.

It was possible, that day, to believe that the towering strength of our nation was itself, in some fundamental way, at risk. But that did not prove to be so. The cowardly attacks that we endured, which did not distinguish between people of different races, ethnicities, faiths, or beliefs, did not divide us but instead forged stronger bonds between us. And nowhere was the indivisibility of those bonds more evident than at the memorial service at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on September 23.

Prior to that service, most Americans had seen or taken part in religious ceremonies particular to their own faith, be it Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, or other. But it is probably fair to say that most Americans had never seen or heard a Muslim cleric, let alone a group of Muslim imams taking part in an ecumenical service. On September 23, however, that is exactly what happened. I was watching the service on television, and as the rabbis, priests, ministers, and other members of the clergy made deeply moving and heartfelt remarks, I found myself greatly affected by their words. Still, it was with a mounting sense of apprehension that I waited to hear what would happen when Muslim clerics came to the podium to speak. As I waited for the first of them to utter the first words of prayer in Arabic, my heart, as they say, was in my mouth. I thought that members of the victims’ families, as well as others in the audience, might send the imams off the stage amid a flurry of catcalls. They did not. Everyone present listened with the same attention and respect as had been accorded the representatives of all the other religions. The dignity and solemnity of the day was unbroken. The memory of those who had died was uniformly held in reverence because it was understood by every individual at Yankee Stadium that day, and the millions watching and listening elsewhere, that the terrorists had targeted all of us who happened to be on American soil the morning of September 11. They recognized no differences between us. They spared no one based on class or race or nationality, or even religion.

Those who spoke at the "Prayer for America" service were eloquent in expressing how, as Americans, we are one people sharing one ideal of peace and solidarity. Imam Izak-El Mu'eed Pasha, who was the first Muslim chaplain of the New York City Police Department, said, "We, Muslims, Americans, stand today with a heavy weight on our shoulders that those who would dare do such dastardly acts claim our faith. They are no believers in God at all....We condemn them and their cowardly acts, and we stand with our country against all that would come against us."

Edward Egan, then the archbishop of New York, said, "Almighty and eternal father, we are gathered here as your people and your children....We need courage to deal with our pain, we need justice to deal with the evil doers who have harmed us so fiercely. We need faith, wisdom and strength of soul for ourselves, each and every one."

Rabbi Marc Gellman, the senior rabbi of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, New York, said, "The Talmud and the African tribe, the Maasai tribe, both teach a wisdom for our wounded world. They both taught sticks alone can be broken by a child, but sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. The fears and sorrows of this moment are so heavy, they can break us if we try to bear them alone. But if we are bundled together, if we stick together, we are unbreakable."

Calvin Butts, the noted pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, said -- simply and powerfully -- "Be not afraid. Together we will get through [this], because we are the United States of America."

As an Armenian Christian born in Iran, I am aware of the historical vulnerability of ethnic and religious minorities. Hence, as I watched the service, I found myself thinking that I could not imagine such a peaceful, even loving coming together of different peoples and groups if the terrorist attacks of 9/11 had taken place in the Middle East or Africa, or Eastern Europe, or Asia. In those regions, nationalist and religious fervor would have likely led to atrocities visited upon those who happened to share the faith of the perpetrators of such attacks. Imagine if the attacks had been carried out in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Kenya, or Sudan. We have already seen the kinds of horrendous reprisals that have sometimes followed acts of sectarian violence in those countries and others.

But thank God that is not the path we followed. On September 23, watching the service at Yankee Stadium, I felt that I was bearing witness to a maturing of America. I saw an educated citizenry sharing the common experience of almost unspeakable loss, unbearable pain. I saw intelligent men and women who understood the historical significance of the heartbreaking events they were memorializing, and who did not want those who had attacked us to succeed in dividing our nation or weakening our resolve to go forward, to go on.

I also saw America as a mature political power, with resolute and steady leaders such as Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and President George W. Bush, with the entire bipartisan New York delegation and all members of Congress standing behind them. On that day, the entire political leadership of America acted as one. There were no Democrats or Republicans, no Independents or Libertarians. They were all Americans. And as Americans, they transcended their ideological differences in order to honor the victims of our national tragedy.

President Bush, among many others, continued to reflect about the meaning of 9/11, forcefully declaring that "Americans understand we fight not a religion; ours is not a campaign against the Muslim faith. Ours is a campaign against evil." He made those remarks to airline employees at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on September 27, 2001, but this was a concept he repeated many times over, in many venues, in many different ways. In the days following 9/11, President Bush also visited several mosques to reinforce the idea that Muslim Americans were an integral part of American society and that indeed, their faith and support were a critical component of the struggle against terrorism. The president made this clear on September 17, 2001, at the Washington Islam Center mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the United States, when he read this verse from the Koran: "In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule."

It was during this time that I stumbled across a sermon by C. S. Lewis. This was purely coincidence, but a comforting and uplifting one. The sermon is called "Learning in Wartime" and was delivered in the autumn of 1939 when Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Among the most evocative passages in the sermon are these extraordinary words: "I think it is important to try to see the present calamity in a true perspective. The war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would have never begun....[People] propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss poetry while advancing on the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache; it is our nature."

I sent copies of this sermon to my friends and to my colleagues, hoping that it helped them, as it helped me, to regain my feeling of optimism about our nation and our future. That is because indeed, it is in the nature of men and women to look ahead, past the darkest of times, to the brighter days that always follow. All of human history is a play of light and darkness. And through all of human history, we travel together through the longest night into the dawn.

-- Vartan Gregorian

Ten Years Later: A Q&A With Mary Marshall Clark, Director, Columbia Center for Oral History

September 09, 2011

For many people, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks promises, as FDNY lieutenant Adrienne Walsh recently told New York magazine, "to be huge. An end point of sorts." We will always remember, Walsh added, but "the city can't stop." And life goes on.

Mary_marshall_clark_2011 Collective memory, in all its mutability, is the specialty of Mary Marshall Clark, director of the Columbia (University) Center for Oral History. When we first spoke to Clark, in 2003, she and her colleagues were wrapping up their work on the September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project. That project eventually became part of the larger 9/11 Oral History Project, which comprises more than nine hundred recorded hours with over six hundred individuals. Many of the accounts gathered for the project have been collected in After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 2001 and the Years That Followed.)

Earlier this week, we asked Clark about the project, the difference between the mainstream media's version of 9/11 and the individual stories collected by Clark and her colleagues, and what has changed over the last ten years in the way individuals construct meaning out the events of September 11.

This is the fourth in our series of Q&As with executives and thought leaders in the field about the meaning and impact of 9/11. (Click here for our Q&A with Gordon J. Campbell, president/CEO, United Way of New York City; here for our Q&A with Lorie Slutsky, president, New York Community Trust; and here for our Q&A with David R. Jones, President/CEO, Community Service Society of New York.) Check back over the weekend for additional 9/11 reflections.

Philanthropy News Digest: What has the September 11th Oral History Narrative and Memory Project done to preserve the events of 9/11 for historians, scholars, and others?

Mary Marshall Clark: We at the Columbia Center for Oral History have conducted nearly one thousand hours of interviews with around six hundred people on the effects of September 11, 2001, as event and aftermath, on the city as a whole. We began our work in the immediate aftermath of September 11 and went back to those we interviewed in 2001 in 2002 and 2003. We interviewed additional people in 2004 and 2005, when the project officially closed. The scholarly value of these interviews lies in the fact that the project was interdisciplinary in nature. Peter Bearman, sociologist and head of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University, was critical in establishing the intellectual framework and methodology for the project, teaching oral historians how to think about conducting interviews in the present and how to widen their curiosity to include people who might not be in their personal and professional networks.

The life histories we took with people at the site and people dispersed throughout New York City -- immigrants, Muslims, Afghans, Sikhs and Latinos -- together form a living quilt of memory that shows how 9/11 was perceived distinctively by New Yorkers. We conducted life histories that demonstrated how differently 9/11 was experienced by people according to class structures, ethnic and national origins, immigrant history, proximity to the towers and those who lived at a greater distance but might have been vulnerable in other ways. It is too soon to describe our archive, now fully accessible and available to the public, as a collective memory of New York City over the last decade. But we believe that along with other distinctive and important oral history projects like Ruth Sergel and Pamela Griffiths' Voices of 9.11 Project, we have created the basis for an oral collective memory of the last decade that can serve historians and others for the next fifty to a hundred years.

PND: Is the mainstream media's version of 9/11 different from the version, or versions, you're hearing in individual oral histories?

MMC: The mainstream media cannot contain a collective or even social memory of the events. What it is good at is highlighting individual stories, usually those that revolve around dramatic escape, dramatic loss, or highly personalized stories of recovery. Peter Bearman, co-founder and co-director of the Narrative and Memory Project, was especially interested in how the mainstream media might tempt people to talk in formulaic ways about the tragedy, and made it possible by securing an emergency fieldwork grant from the National Science Foundation to get out into the field quickly before that happened.

We agreed that the life history method is the finest way to mine the rich diversity and multi-generational history of New Yorkers, and that approach worked against a sound-bite or greatest-hits approach to telling stories. As we invited people to tell their stories of origin and personal development before and after their 9/11 story, the temporal and geographical span of the interviews was a large one. To give you an example, one of the Afghan cultural leaders we interviewed began his personal history by reaching four hundred years into the past, in his effort to establish the historical context in which the story should be listened to and interpreted.

PND: What, if anything, has changed over the last ten years about how people construct meaning out of the events of 9/11?

MMC: We see both subtle changes and more profound changes in individual life stories. For those who experienced extreme loss or injury, of course there was change and struggle. But we also see tremendous resilience and recovery, especially for those who crossed lines of social difference to embrace Muslims, Arab Americans, Sikhs, Latinos, and people of lower-economic status who were very affected in the aftermath. In many ways, New York recovered more quickly and effectively than we could have anticipated. This is no surprise, as it is a global city made up of refugees, immigrants, and sympathetic people who embrace difference as a natural part of daily life. And individuals, institutions, and organizations worked extremely effectively with each other to help those in need.

Strange as it may seem, it is still too soon to say what 9/11 meant to the city as a whole. We asked questions we knew were important to this generation. We hope those were the right questions, but we also hope that we have collected the kinds of narratives that can answer the questions of the next generation.

PND: When we last spoke, you said that new technologies such as e-mail did not pose a threat to oral history. With the advent of social media, do you still feel the same way?

MMC: I do. Twitter doesn’t impress me or scare me. The process of telling, face-to-face, in uninterruptable ways will never be replaced by the social media, not in a city like this one.

-- The Editors

Ten Years Later: A Q&A With David R. Jones, President and CEO, Community Service Society of New York

When we last spoke with David Jones, president and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York, in December 2002, the New York City economy had, in his words, come "unglued." As we noted then, the city lost 83,000 actual jobs and more than 60,000 that would have been created had the attacks not occurred, with job losses spread evenly over a range of industries, including financial services, aviation, apparel manufacturing, retailing, and tourism. Estimates of the negative impact on the city's economic output ranged from $20 billion to $39 billion. And, of course, the toll in human terms was incalculable.

David_jones_css Earlier this month, we reached out to Jones to get his views on whether New York City had recovered economically from 9/11, what had happened to the "gentler, kinder" New York of the immediate post-9/11 period, and whether he thought New York was still seen as a gateway to opportunity by the poor, the persecuted, and the downtrodden.

This is the third in our series of Q&As with executives and thought leaders in the field about the meaning and impact of 9/11. (Click here for the first, with Gordon J. Campbell, president/CEO, United Way of New York City, and here for the second, with Lorie Slutsky, president, New York Community Trust.) Check back over the weekend for additional 9/11 reflections.

Philanthropy News Digest: Has New York City recovered from the economic impact of 9/11?

David Jones: Perhaps we have recovered somewhat psychologically, although the tenth anniversary will inevitably bring back bad memories. Economically, it depends on who we are talking about. The poverty rate in New York City is higher today than ten years ago. There are more people working, but there are also more people living in poverty. In fact, a large portion of the poor are the working poor, those who toil in low-wage jobs with little or no job benefits. And long-term unemployment is endemic today among people of color, especially young people. A recent CSS report revealed that in the eighteen-month period from January 2009 to June 2010 a third of black men in New York City between the ages of 16 to 24 were unemployed. And over 50 percent of young black men without a high school diploma were jobless. This in a city where the rate of success on the GED was abysmal -- less than half taking the exam passed -- and little more than half of black youth graduate from our public high schools. All of this has a detrimental impact on the city's economy -- and on our quality of life.

PND: In the weeks and months after the attacks, residents of the city seemed to see their fellow New Yorkers in a new, more sympathetic light. Have we lost the connection to that kinder, gentler New York?

DJ: I think that when disaster strikes, New Yorkers pull together. We saw it when Irene threatened the city last month. After 9/11, using our portion of a special Neediest Cases drive in 2001, CSS provided about $5 million in aid to about two thousand families who lost loved ones, jobs, or homes. That may not be true in everyday life. Public officials and the media don't often focus on the problems of the city's most vulnerable populations. They talk about "shared pain" in hard times, but budgets are still balanced on the backs of the poor. This is why the annual New York Times Neediest Cases stories are so important. They give a public stage to New Yorkers who are striving to better themselves in often-desperate situations. We should be more inclusive as a society. Poor New Yorkers should not have to worry about losing their jobs or their family health insurance every time there's an economic downturn.

PND: The city has received its share of economic and psychological blows over the last decade. Yet a new study by Crain's New York finds that more people call the city home than ever and that New York is within 56,300 jobs of its 1969 employment peak. Is New York still a gateway to opportunity for the poor, the persecuted, and the downtrodden?

DJ: To a certain extent. But over the past several decades, economic mobility -- the idea that with hard work you can rise from the working poor to the middle class, a historically American ideal -- is no longer widely true. In fact, this latest recession has caused many black and Latino families who reached the middle class in terms of family income because of the boom times of the 1990s to fall back economically. It is not just a question of the number of jobs. NYC has been producing jobs lately, but they are overwhelmingly low-wage, dead-end jobs, with little or no opportunity for advancement.

PND: What can philanthropy do to help the city, and the country, live up to that ideal?

DJ: There was a time when philanthropy meant providing resources to the poor. But the tax code has been manipulated to the point where much that is called charity now goes to places and institutions that would never qualify as needy -- universities with billion-dollar endowments, museums, performing arts organizations -- places that the wealthy enjoy and support. Also, many foundations that provide philanthropic support are characterized by boards that usually consist of upper class white men who have little understanding of or connection to the real poverty that still exists in the city. Foundations have a responsibility to provide long-term support for issues like employment, wages, and poverty. That's not happening.

-- The Editors

Ten Years Later: A Q&A With Lorie A. Slutsky, President, New York Community Trust

September 08, 2011

On September 11, 2001, Lorie Slutsky was president of the New York Community Trust -- a position she was appointed to in 1990 (and still holds). Early that afternoon, as Manhattan slowed to a standstill, Slutsky began to talk to executives of the United Way of New York City about a joint response. The result of those discussions, the September 11th Fund, was announced by the end of the day, and the fund began to make emergency cash-assistance grants a week later. Nine months later, PND sat down with Slutsky to discuss the events of September 11, the thinking behind the creation of the September 11th Fund, and the effectiveness of the philanthropic response to what many people at the time were calling the worst day in the history of New York City.

Lorie_slutsky Earlier this month, we reached out to Slutsky to ask whether she thought the city had recovered from 9/11, whether the September 11th Fund had achieved its purpose, and what she might have done differently as president of the Trust in the weeks and months after the attacks.

This is the second in a series of Q&As with executives and thought leaders in the field about the meaning and impact of 9/11. (Click here for the first, with Gordon J. Campbell, president/CEO, United Way of New York City.) Check back tomorrow and over the weekend for additional 9/11 reflections.

Philanthropy News Digest: As the president of the largest private funder of nonprofits in New York City -- a position you've held since 1990 -- you’re uniquely qualified to comment on whether the city has fully recovered from the September 11 attacks. Has it?

Lorie Slutsky: Given the market collapse of 2008, a struggling economy, the job loss, and a jittery Wall Street, it's hard to evaluate the city's recovery. Certainly, downtown has come back, perhaps even stronger than it was before September 11. New Yorkers always adapt to change, and we were already a suspicious lot, aware of our surroundings. And as much of the country has descended into deadly partisan and ethnic battle, New Yorkers still manage to get along -- although I think many of us miss the added feeling of community that animated us after the tragedy.

PND: Did the September 11th Fund, which was set up by the Trust and United Way of New York City on the afternoon of the attacks, achieve its intended purpose? Looking back, is there anything you and your colleagues would have done differently with respect to the fund?

LS: The short answer is yes, we achieved our purpose. As experienced grantmakers who know the city, we knew that needs would emerge weeks, months, and years after the event. And as a community foundation, we knew that giving narrow definitions to both victims and geography would restrict our ability to respond to problems we didn't yet understand. We were able to ensure that a broad swath of people, institutions, and geography were included as "victims" and would be eligible for funding. That allowed the fund to support a review of the environmental impact of the collapse, which ultimately led it to fund health care for first responders, cleanup workers, and residents until government stepped in. It enabled the fund to bring relief to residents and businesses in Chinatown, which was part of the "frozen zone" yet not recognized as a "victim."

Although there isn't much I'd do differently, I wish I'd been more mindful of the difficulties of partnerships, something that foundations, including mine, sometimes push on their grantees while not doing much of it ourselves. Here we were dealing with two old institutions, each with its own culture, structure, fees, expectations, and personalities. But because we didn't want to create another nonprofit, which might have been hard to close when its work was done, and we sought to reduce confusion for the millions of people who wanted to donate, I'd do it again.

PND: Not a philanthropy question per se, but are you surprised it has taken as long as it has to build the 9/11 memorial and redevelop the WTC site?

LS: I haven't been following the memorial or rebuilding of the site, but I can tell you that any real estate project in New York City is beyond complicated and always takes longer and costs more than projected.

PND: When we spoke back in 2002, you expressed some concern that the line between philanthropy and charity, in the public's mind, was becoming blurred. Do you still have those concerns? And why is it important to preserve the distinction between the two?

LS: At the time, my concern about blurring philanthropy with charity was the notion that "charity" helps individuals and families -- the "victims." With that definition, the press immediately attacked some of the September 11th Fund's most important grants. For example, initial cash awards to the families of victims were perceived by some as too small, despite the fact that they were for immediate basic needs and that we were awaiting the announcement of federal compensation, which ultimately was considerable. The fund was criticized for making grants to nonprofits that had lost revenue because they were not "victims," as defined by this notion of charity. But as a philanthropic institution, the fund was obligated to broadly support recovery, which meant making grants to retrain displaced workers, help arts organizations revitalize downtown, shore up nonprofits that provide critical services, as well as contributing to initial emergency efforts and supporting victims and their families.

-- The Editors

Ten Years Later: A Q&A With Gordon J. Campbell, President/CEO, United Way of New York City

September 07, 2011

For most Americans, New Yorkers in particular, September 11, 2001, is a day they will never forget. As the towers burned, then collapsed, and as we waited -- hopefully but helplessly -- for survivors to emerge from the rubble, many took it as a given that everything had changed. In the months that followed, PND interviewed dozens of thought leaders from philanthropy and the civil society space about the philanthropic response to the attacks and the meaning of 9/11. Those interviews subsequently were collected in two volumes and made available as downloadable PDFs on the Foundation Center's Web site.

Gordon_campbell_UWNYC Ten years later, we know that 9/11 didn't change everything -- although it changed much. With the ten-year anniversary of the attacks approaching, PND reached out to some of the people we interviewed back then -- and a few we didn't -- to ask them what had, and hadn't, changed in the ten years since that terrible day.

On September 11, 2001, Gordon Campbell was chief executive of Safe Horizon, the largest victims' services agency in the United States and -- through the September 11th Fund -- the first organization to issue emergency-relief checks to 9/11 families on a same-day basis. In July 2007, Campbell was named president and CEO of the United Way of New York City, another critical provider of short- and long-term services after the attacks. Check back throughout the week for additional 9/11 Q&As.

Philanthropy News Digest: Did 9/11 change the way human service organizations in the city work together?

Gordon J. Campbell: I have long felt that the Family Assistance Center set up on Pier 94 represented "best in class" from a social services perspective. Federal, state and city agencies, along with local human service organizations were co-located under one roof -- providing victims and family members with a "one-stop shopping" experience in meeting their immediate needs. It was not about one organization, but many organizations collaborating in a client-focused, results-oriented way. Just imagine the progress we could make if we could use that model in helping everyday New Yorkers access the benefits, supports, and assistance they need to lead safe, healthy, and productive lives.

PND: Did the United Way of New York City change the way it does its business as a result of 9/11?

GJC: On the day of the attacks, United Way of New York City joined the New York Community Trust in establishing the September 11th Fund to meet both the immediate and longer-term needs of victims, families, and communities that were affected. Time has shown that the Trust and United Way made the right decision when they kept the fund's mission broad and recognized that mental health and other needs created by the tragedy would last for many years.

God forbid New York City should have another disaster on that level, but if that were to happen, United Way would be prepared to step up and create a similar fund to channel the world's generosity to where it is needed most. I think we also learned a great deal about harnessing the skills and in-kind resources made available by corporate America. IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and McKinsey & Company are just some of the corporate partners whose pro-bono assistance was crucial, especially during the early days of the fund.

PND: Did 9/11 create needs in the greater New York area that have not been addressed? Is the United Way doing anything to address those needs?

GJC: We now know that first responders, day laborers, and volunteers who were part of the rescue and recovery effort in Lower Manhattan were exposed to hazardous environmental conditions, as were residents and workers who fled the area. The effects of that exposure are really coming to the fore ten years later, as more and more of these people are diagnosed with cancer and devastating lung ailments.

A little over a year ago, United Way of New York City awarded a one-time grant of almost $750,000 to the WTC Health Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center to provide a comprehensive range of treatment services to responders to the 9/11 attacks who lack adequate health insurance and require treatment for life-threatening conditions not covered by federal funding. Truth be told, we all recognize that this is a relative drop in the bucket compared to the medical needs that will inevitably crop up in the years ahead.

PND: Are social service organizations in the city better prepared to respond to a disaster of the magnitude of 9/11 than they were on September 10, 2001?

GJC: Before 9/11 there was no single go-to organization when it came to coordinating post-disaster services, ensuring consistent case management, tracking clients, and the like. The September 11th Fund supported the 9/11 United Services Group, an organization created to maintain a database of victims and coordinate the efforts of forty charities. USG ensured that agencies talked to each other so people in need would not fall between the cracks. USG is now dormant, housed by the Human Services Council; however, should a similar disaster occur, the organization would be in an excellent position to take a leadership role. Unfortunately, there hasn't been funding to support the kind of disaster planning that would ensure that the city's nonprofit sector would be fully prepared to respond.

-- The Editors

Talking Philanthropy: Leslie Crutchfield, Co-Author, 'Do More Than Give'

September 06, 2011

LCrutchfield_full In the latest installment of their Talking Philanthropy podcast seriesLarry Blumenthal and Bill Silberg talk to author Leslie Crutchfield about her book Do More than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World. In the book (which was co-authored by FSG managing directors John Vania and Mark Kramer), Crutchfield advocates for "catalytic philanthropy" -- a somewhat radical approach that pushes foundations out of the comfortable world of making grants into the dynamic world of being agents of social change. Crutchfield, a leading authority on high-impact philanthropy, is a senior advisor at FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm specializing in social sector strategy, evaluation, and research. 


Running time: 00:17:35

(Right-click to download mp3)

In the podcast, Crutchfield talks about the process and goals of catalytic philanthropy, the challenges donors are likely to face in adopting a catalytic approach to social change, whether private foundations are looking for alternatives to the status quo, and the power of collective action.

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.

Labor Day 2011 Roundup

September 05, 2011

Class-warfare Happy Labor Day. Hope you got to spend some of it with family and friends.

Taking a cue from local and state-wide celebrations in the 1880s, President Grover Cleveland, who earlier that year (as Brendan Koerner, writing in Slate, explains) had ordered the brutal suppression of the Pullman Strike, established Labor Day as a federal holiday in 1894 as a way to "curry favor" with an increasingly restive and organized labor movement. (It didn't work; Cleveland lost the Democratic Party nomination to William Jennings Bryan in 1896.)

Over the decades, the first Monday in September has been adopted in the U.S. as a low-key celebration of the American worker as well as the informal end of summer (complete with barbecues, yard games, and horrendous traffic jams). Manhattan isn't such a great place for yard games, so instead I decided to take a look at how the average worker is doing as another summer of discontent fades into history.

Let's start with some stats:

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (September 3 - 4, 2011)

September 04, 2011

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


On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen reflects on a recent AdAge article in which Bonnie Carlson writes that the "national mood of anxiety is causing interesting marketing trends," including the general public giving more credence to their friends' opinions than to corporate marketing messages. For nonprofits, writes Andresen, "this means we need our champions reaching out to their circles of influence -- and we need to treat social media not as a fundraising tool but a listening post and relationship-builder."

Corporate Philanthropy

In response to a recent New York Times article in which it was reported that twenty-five of the nation’s largest corporations paid their CEOs more than they did in taxes, Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan revives his argument against the blurring of "the 'boundaries' between" for-profit and nonprofit entities.  Writes Buchanan: 

Perhaps, rather than looking to major corporations as our saviors, we should ask them to do what they do best -- create products and jobs that make our lives better and economy stronger -- while fulfilling their responsibilities by paying their taxes. We should ask them to spend a little less time devising elaborate -- if legal -- strategies for avoiding taxes. And perhaps we should also ask them to spend a little less time pretending that their role in dealing with our social problems is bigger than it is, can be, or should be....


Following the announcement last week that Hewlett Foundation president Paul Brest will retire next summer, Tactical Philanthropy's Sean Stannard-Stockton shares a few examples of Brest's contributions to the field.


Philathropic Initiative chairman and founder Peter Karoff revisits an article he wrote in December 2001 on the "ways that philanthropy could play an important role in shaping the post-9/11 world" and offers some thoughts on where stand a decade later. Writes Karoff:

Over the past ten years, more foundations, more donors, and more NGOs have increasingly focused on addressing many of these strategies and related themes, and that does represent progress.

U.S. philanthropy is more global than before.

Since 9/11 the intersections and linkages between issues facing the U.S. and the rest of the world have become clearer, and public perspective broadly reflects that change, even if what to do about these issues has not.

With philanthropy, there is, and always will be, a relevance question.

Is philanthropy’s role material to the scale of issues that are rooted in massive social, cultural, and religious disruptions -- the answer today is no.

Could it become so in the future? I believe the answer is yes, but only in combination with others -– civil society, corporations, social enterprises based on the market economy or hybrids, and government....

Lisa Ranghelli, director of the Grantmaking for Community Impact Project at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, has some advice for donors looking to support rural communities.

On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz shares a list of philanthropy-related books worth reading this fall, including Laura Arrillaga Andreessen's Giving 2.0 and Philanthropy in America: A History by Olivier Zunz.

Social Media

Zoetica partner Geoff Livingston says "we've [now] entered the post social media revolution era...when the dust settles...when consolidation occurs, and best practices are refined."

In a related vein, NTEN's Holly Ross, in a guest post on the Getting Attention blog, shares some lessons about approaching various social media "places" through "channel-specific conversations."

Last but not least Beth Kanter wonders whether, and how, stories can be turned into useful data.

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

-- Regina Mahone

The 'Philanthropy' of Steve Jobs

September 03, 2011

Steve-jobs In a DealBook post on Monday, the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin took a hard look at the personal philanthropy -- or lack thereof -- of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Jobs, 56, has been battling a rare form of cancer and in January took a medical leave of absence from the widely admired computer and consumer electronics company he helped found in 1976. Then, at the end of July, he announced he could no longer perform his CEO duties and was stepping down from the position (while remaining chairman), effective immediately. The news touched off an outpouring of tributes and accolades. Jobs, "perhaps the most beloved billionaire in the world," was lionized as a visionary, a genius, an innovator -- despite having publicly given very little of his personal wealth (estimated to be more than $8 billion) to charitable causes. Indeed, the different approaches to philanthropy taken by Jobs and his great rival, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who created and chairs the world's largest private foundation, is striking.

Because Jobs has never really "craved money for money's sake and has never been ostentatious with his wealth...his lack of public giving [is] all the more curious," writes Sorkin. Jobs himself has had little to say on the subject beyond what he shared in a 1985 interview with Playboy Magazine: "That's a part of my life that I like to keep private. When I have some time, I'm going to start a public foundation. I do some things privately now." In fact, in 1986 Jobs did set up a private foundation, only to close it a year later.

Sorkin's piece generated all sorts of responses from the blogosphere and mainstream media, some defending his philanthropic approach (here, here, and here) and others more critical (here and here). And then there's Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta, who argues on his Harvard Business Review that Jobs quite simply is the world's greatest philanthropist. "What a loss to humanity," writes Pallotta,

it would have been if Jobs had dedicated the last 25 years of his life to figuring out how to give his billions away, instead of doing what he does best.

We'd still be waiting for a cell phone on which we could actually read e-mail and surf the web....We'd be a decade or more away from the iPad, which has ushered in an era of reading electronically that promises to save a Sherwood Forest worth of trees and all of the energy associated with trucking them around. That's just the beginning. Doctors are using the iPad to improve healthcare. It's being used to lessen the symptoms of autism, to improve kids' creativity, and to revolutionize medical training.

And you can't say someone else would have developed these things. No one until Jobs did, and the competitive devices that have come since have taken the entirety of their inspiration from his creation....

Is that enough to secure Steve Jobs' reputation as a philanthropist? Or, as Andrew Carnegie famously argued more than a century ago, do those who have amassed great wealth in their lifetimes have a responsibility to "administer" their wealth in a way that produces "the greatest benefit for the community"? That would seem to be the idea behind the Giving Pledge campaign launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010, an effort that to date has seen sixty-nine wealthy couples and individuals commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes -- and has generated it's fair share of pushback and criticism.

So what do you think? Is Steve Jobs a philanthropist, a businessman who created a lot of wealth for himself and others, or both? Is one more admirable than the other? And why do so many people care?

-- Regina Mahone

A Strange Catalyst for Philanthropy in South Korea

September 02, 2011

(Nick Scott is assistant to the publisher at PND. In his last post, he wrote about U.S. aid policy and disaster relief efforts in the Horn of Africa.)

Chung Mong-Koo Philanthropy News Digest recently ran an item recounting the rather bizarre saga of South Korean billionaire Chung Mong-Koo's record-setting philanthropic pledge of nearly $1 billion.

Some sources in the region optimistically speculated that the gift might encourage more philanthropy by the mega-wealthy in South Korea -- a strange conclusion to draw from the more-or-less coerced pledge that Chung, the chairman of Hyundai Motor Group and the second wealthiest man in South Korea, seems somewhat reluctant to fulfill. Taking a very charitable view of the situation, the Korea Herald professed uncertainty about what might have inspired Chung to make his pledge before adding this postscript:

One may recall that Chung Mong-Koo had made a commitment to donate 840 billion won in 2007 when he was accused of making illegal profits through business improprieties. As the criminal charges were denied later by the Supreme Court, Chung was relieved of the obligation, but he must have felt moral responsibility to make good on his pledge....

Maybe he did, but the Herald apparently felt no moral responsibility to report that the charges were actually dropped after Chung received a presidential pardon based on his importance to the fast-growing Korean economy. Apparently, this sort of crony-capitalist two-step is a rite of passage among South Korea's mega-wealthy, as evidenced by billionaire tycoon Lee Kun-Hee receiving a similar pardon after being convicted of tax evasion in 2008. Following a two-year hiatus (and no time in prison), Lee has returned to his former position as chairman of the Samsung Group, the multinational conglomerate. Despite a certain amount of outrage on the part of South Korean civic groups about the government's lenient attitude toward corporate malfeasance, it would seem that in South Korea, the health of the country's surging economy trumps concerns over corporate governance.

When it comes to philanthropy, Chung Mong-Koo and Lee Kun-Hee are hardly ideal role models. Their charitable gifts surely will be welcomed by many NGOs and civic groups, but the idea of philanthropy as a "Get Out of Jail" card seems like a troubling precedent to embrace -- in South Korea or anywhere else.

-- Nick Scott

ANNOUNCEMENT: Hurricane Irene Emergency Funds

September 01, 2011

Dysonfdn_logo To help nonprofits in the Mid-Hudson Valley region that were affected by Hurricane Irene, the Dyson Foundation in Millbrook, New York, has created two emergency grant programs for organizations in Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster counties. The foundation will expedite reviews of all requests for emergency funding.

Nonprofit organizations can apply for emergency funds to help cover uninsured damages or losses incurred because of Irene. To apply, organizations should submit a one-page narrative describing the damage or losses and a budget and/or invoice of estimated recovery costs to submissions@dyson.org.

The foundation also will make grants to nonprofit organizations providing direct services to residents of the Mid-Hudson Valley. These funds are to provide emergency financial assistance to help people impacted by Hurricane Irene. The foundation will accept applications from organizations with well-established emergency financial assistance programs. To apply, organizations should submit a one-page narrative description of the expected use of the funds and a supporting budget to submissions@dyson.org.

Residents and businesses in selected New York State counties may be eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. To reach FEMA by phone, call (800) 621-3362.

The Dyson Foundation does not provide financial assistance to individuals and does generally not fund faith-based organizations or institutions for activities and/or programs of religious teaching or training.

For further information or questions about emergency funding from the foundation, contact Michell Speight at (845) 790-6315 | mspeight@dyson.org, or Cecilia Stancell at (845) 790-6319 | cstancell@dyson.org.

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (August)

As is our custom at the end of the month, we've pulled together a short list of the most popular PhilanTopic posts in August. Enjoy.

What's the best thing you've read/watched/heard this month?

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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