« May 2012 | Main | July 2012 »

17 posts from June 2012

How Foundations and Immigrant Organizations Can Respond to Supreme Court SB 1070 Ruling

June 28, 2012

(Walter Barrientos is a program officer at the New York City-based North Star Fund.)

Walter_BarrientosOn Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the most chilling provision of the Arizona law known as SB 1070, a provision that allows police to stop anyone they believe to be undocumented and check their immigration status.

For most immigrants, including me and my family, the message from the Supreme Court is clear: the police have been appointed de-facto immigration agents. This means that any time an immigrant is the victim of a crime, he will have to ask himself, Is what just happened to me worse than being questioned about my immigration status, being detained, and possibly deported by the police?

I had to face this question myself when I was assaulted three years ago by gang members on the streets of Queens. At the time, I decided to call the police and report the crime. But when I was summoned to testify in court against the individuals who assaulted me, my knees grew weak. I knew that if my undocumented status were revealed in the course of testimony, I could find myself in deportation proceedings.

Because I had years of experience organizing immigrant communities, I was able to call an attorney friend who worked with community leaders to teach immigrants like me about our rights. From her, I learned that there's a visa for victims of violent crimes like the one I had been a victim of, and today I have that visa. But few immigrants have a trusted contact, as I did, to provide critical information.

My experience shows why it so important for us to build a robust network of immigrant organizations and leaders who can organize immigrants to protect and advocate for their rights. Thanks to the Supreme Court decision, local police departments in Arizona and at least four other states are no longer an institution immigrants can trust. Instead, immigrants must rely on their own community organizations and leaders as the first line of support and advice in critical situations, as well as to assert larger immigrant rights issues in public and policy forums.

From my vantage point as both a funder and a community organizer, there are several steps that community-based organizations and leaders need to take to build their strength and expertise in order to respond to the changing immigration landscape. Here are a few of them:

1. Community organizations need to build their capacity to reach deeper into and build stronger ties with members of immigrant communities. And they need to bolster their efforts to reach even the most marginalized members of those communities to ensure that everyone has basic information about immigration laws and that they trust the organization to be there for them in times of need.

2. Immigrant organizations need to build their capacity to respond to immigrant members who find themselves in dire situations, such as when an undocumented immigrant without a license is stopped by the police after he has gotten off work at 2:00 a.m., or when an undocumented immigrant has witnessed a crime and is afraid to report it. They need to expand their staff and train staff members to be liaisons between community members and police or immigration authorities. Staff also need to be trained and accredited by the Department of Homeland Security to represent individuals in detention. Organizations should encourage all their constituents, regardless of immigration status or citizenship, to complete the G-28 form, which allows accredited representatives to represent them in any immigration detention or matter.

3. Members of immigrant communities need to be taught how they can cooperate with the police without putting themselves at risk of deportation. This is a complex proposition but is critically important.

4. Legal groups, advocacy groups, and others need to develop and push for legislation like the California TRUST Act, which aims to rebuild much needed trust between police and California's immigrant communities. This legislation could offer a smarter alternative to punitive laws like Arizona SB 1070.

The foundation community has an opportunity in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to build on the best of our immigrant traditions by reaching out to our immigrant neighbors and the organizations that represent them and by supporting greater respect for immigrant cultures, immigrant rights, and immigrants’ sizeable contributions to our economic, social, and political life. Immigrants who pooled resources to support families back home were among the earliest American philanthropists. It's time to show them our gratitude.

-- Walter Barrientos

Evaluating the Impact of Social Media: Are We Wasting Our Time?

June 27, 2012

(Claire Gibbons, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a senior program officer in the Research & Evaluation Unit at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She spends most of her time managing R&E projects for the foundation's Quality/Equality team. A version of this post appears on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog.)

Claire_gibbonsLast month Steve Downs and I discussed some of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) experiences using social media and our first steps toward evaluating the impact of RWJF's social media use in a webinar for Council on Foundation members (you can view the slides here). In response to our evaluation discussion, a webinar participant asked whether it makes any sense to evaluate something as spontaneous and fun as social media. This was also a question raised by Allison Fine in her blog.

Allison expresses concern that a logic model "misses the essence of what makes social media so unique, the serendipity and fun that are essential parts of 'being' social." This is an interesting and valid question -- by creating a stodgy old logic model do we defeat the purpose of social media?

Before I share some thoughts on this question, let me describe briefly what we've been doing at RWJF. The staff at the foundation is using social media, and many are enthusiastic about its potential to increase our impact, but until recently no one had sat down to elicit exactly what we expect social media to accomplish. In fact, we engaged in a fairly lengthy period of discussion and experimentation before we began to plan for evaluation. One of RWJF's initial steps was to form a working group to consider how the foundation could best take advantage of Web 2.0 tools, and what it would mean for the foundation if it did use these tools. This working group released a report internally to all foundation staff in December 2009, and we began a period in which all staff was strongly encouraged to experiment with social media. (Just signing up for Twitter and listening to the conversation by following others was encouraged, for example.) A second Web 2.0 group was formed after some time passed that was charged with getting some sense of whether RWJF was moving forward with its use of social media and sharing lessons across program areas. It was at this point that we began to focus our attention on evaluation.

We decided that the first step in evaluating our use of social media should be to develop a logic model. With the help of consultant Victoria Dougherty, we did this based on interviews with staff that were knowledgeable and involved in our social media efforts and on a review of documents about our social media philosophy.

Then we created a logic model to help evaluate the impact of our social media use.


Click for a PDF version »

The logic model has two pathways: the first describes how RWJF can approach its work over the next five years and the second describes some of the outcomes of the work. For the foundation to realize the potential of social media and eventually reach its long-term goals for being a more effective agent of change and a connector and facilitator that spurs broad participation in our work, it must first position itself as a Web 2.0 organization and work to become more open and nimble. Social media use may also lead to creating new connections outside the walls of the foundation and in turn lead to a greater ability to gather information from a broad network that can result in more effective programming. (See my earlier blog post for a more in-depth discussion of our logic model.)

So, back to our earlier question: Does creating a logic model to drive an evaluation of the impact of social media use defeat the whole purpose of social media?

I don't think so. But I'm pretty sure you guessed I was going to say that, given that I'm a research and evaluation officer! So let me share my thinking.

  1. Yes, social media in many cases is driven by spontaneity. Videos that go viral on YouTube are completely driven by spontaneous interest. But not all social media use is purely spontaneous. We believe that social media can be used strategically to further our programmatic goals. That means we can plan ahead to use a social media tool or tools. For example, staff at the foundation used a virtual forum to create an open platform for discussion and idea-gathering about teen dating violence prevention. Through the platform, we received thoughtful input from people working in the field, teens who had experienced dating violence and parents who lost a child due to dating violence, and many others. Read more here.

  2. A logic model does not squash innovation -- it describes it. Logic models are made to be broken and expanded and changed over time. The presence of a logic model is not meant to limit anyone's activities to something that happens to be featured in a little box in a diagram. The model doesn't dictate our programming -- it's simply a way to describe what we are doing and what we think the result will be.

  3. RWJF's use of social media in the workplace is predicated on the idea that it will help us achieve our goals. We could be wrong. We won't know if social media is getting us anywhere good, or anywhere good faster, unless we measure some outcomes that we think are related to our programming activities. And one very useful tool for eliciting expected programmatic and policy outcomes is a logic model.

This isn't to say that we think all possible pathways between the use of social media and good outcomes are contained in our logic model. Absolutely not! This is just the best picture we could come up with at this point in time. New tools will become available, and we'll use them. Staff will continue to innovate in ways that we haven't imagined yet, and we welcome that innovation.

We still have a long ways to go in our journey to use social media in a way that helps us reach our strategic objectives -- and in measuring and evaluating our use of social media. We certainly don't have many answers, but I think we're on the right track. What do you think?

-- Claire Gibbons

Innovation Forum 2012

June 26, 2012

We thought it would be fun (and interesting) to share the livestream of the Rockefeller Foundation's 2012 Innovation Forum, which is supposed to start around 12:45 EDT and is one component of the storied foundation's centennial celebration.

The forum is designed to explore solutions to pressing global challenges and this year will focus on ways of ensuring that the benefits of new technologies do not bypass the world's poor. To that end, the event will showcase cutting-edge inventions, convene thought leaders from different sectors, and feature discussions that explore opportunities to help those who are becoming more vulnerable due to pernicious economic, social, and environmental forces.

Live streaming by Ustream

Later this evening, the foundation will honor Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons Ltd.; Sir Ronald Cohen, chairman of the UK-based Portland Trust and Big Society Capital; and J. Carl Ganter, director and co-founder of Circle of Blue, an international network of journalists, scientists, and communications experts working to address and raise awareness of the global freshwater crisis, for their innovative work and philanthropy. And you can watch the whole thing from the comfort of your air-conditioned office.

'On Being Unreasonable': A Conversation With Eli Broad

EliandEdyth_broadOver the course of a career that has spanned five decades and four industries, Eli Broad, who turned 79 this summer, has helped build two Fortune 500 companies, KB Home and SunAmerica, and, with his wife, Edythe, created the Broad Foundations, which focus on public education reform, scientific and medical research, art and culture, and civic projects in Los Angeles.

Needless to say, Broad has been asked many times to reveal the secret to his success. His new memoir, The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking, sheds some light on the path that took him from a job as an accountant in Detroit to fortune and fame. As Broad tells it, a good deal of his success stems from his willingness, over the course of his adult life, to take the kinds of chances others thought ill advised. What's more, he writes, he invariably succeeded because he and his partners did their homework and found a "niche where we could flourish."

As Broad explained during a recent conversation with PND, he hopes people looking to emulate his approach will read the book and "learn from my successes -- and, frankly, some of my mistakes."

Philanthropy News Digest: Your book celebrates the benefits of a certain kind of unreasonableness in terms of one's career path. Were you always unreasonable, or is it something you grew into?

Eli Broad: Oh, I've always thought of myself as being reasonable; it was others who thought I was unreasonable, because I'm demanding and always asking questions and not going with everyone else's flow.

I didn't start to think about unreasonableness until my wife, after we were married for several years, gave me a paperweight with a George Bernard Shaw quote on it that read: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man."

PND: One thing I really enjoyed about your memoir was the chapter on asking "Why not?" What are some of the things you've learned by asking that question in a business context, and how has it influenced your approach to philanthropy?

EB: When I was a kid collecting stamps I remember reading in one of those magazines that were sent to stamp collectors that Chrysler International was selling one-kilo boxes of stamps that had been cut from envelopes collected from around the world. I took a streetcar to their office and bought a box for I forget how much. I then advertised a hundred stamps for $1.95 in the stamp magazine. I became Eli Broad, postage stamp dealer, age thirteen. And people would write to me as if I were a forty-year-old. By the time I was sixteen, I had saved enough to buy my first car, a 1941 Chevy, for $200.

You see, I've always asked, "Why not?" And people would always say, "It's never been done this way. You can't do it." I'd listen to what they had to say, but most of the time I went ahead and did what they said I couldn't do. And they'd say I was being unreasonable.

In philanthropy, my wife, Edythe, and I decided a long time ago not to give money just to maintain the status quo. We want to make a difference, whether it's in education reform, scientific and medical research, the arts, or other areas. So if we think something ought to be happening that isn't and we ask, "Why isn't this happening?" and don't get a good answer, we'll be inclined to fund it. But only if the program, whatever it is, meets three criteria: it will make a difference in twenty years; it wouldn't happen without our support; and the right people are available to make it happen.

PND: Did you have a model, either an individual or an institution, in mind when you established the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation in the 1960s?

EB: I've always admired Andrew Carnegie and what he did in establishing libraries, colleges, and universities, and for what he said once: "He who dies with wealth dies with shame." I also agree with something someone else once said: "He who gives while he lives also knows where it goes."

PND: Is that why you and Edythe signed on to the Giving Pledge, the campaign started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to encourage billionaires to give at least half of their wealth to charitable causes?

EB: We were going to do that anyway, so when Bill Gates and Warren Buffett came around we decided to up the ante from 50 percent of our fortune to 75 percent. We hope that sets an example for others to follow.

PND: The Broad Foundations today focus on four areas: public education reform, scientific and medical research, art and culture, and civic projects in Los Angeles. What's the common thread connecting those interests?

EB: I'm not sure there is a common thread. Each came about in a different way. For instance, we started supporting public education reform initiatives after traveling to countries like Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Finland. At the time, about fourteen years ago, we realized American children were not getting the education they needed if the United States was going to maintain its preeminent role in the world. We came to the conclusion that our system of public education was broken and needed to be changed and strengthened to empower teachers and students to succeed. Since then, we've done a number of things in the education space, from helping to create a cadre of new public education leaders through our Superintendents Academy and Residency initiative, to creating a million-dollar prize that's designed to encourage urban schools to boost student achievement and close the achievement gap between ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

We believe the public education system needs to be reformed in other ways, too: our students need a longer school day and school year; we've got to expand digital learning and push more resources into classrooms; and more mayors and governors need to be involved. That kind of change is happening, albeit slowly.

Our interest in scientific and medical interest came about a different way. After one of our sons was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I did a lot of research and learned that no one had yet figured out the disease's cause or a cure. So I thought, "You know what? All these young scientists, doctors, and researchers have theories and thoughts about the disease but they're not getting funding from the National Institutes of Health or elsewhere, because they're not established." Soon after that, we went into the venture research business in inflammatory bowel disease, which led to other things. For example, it led to my giving a grant to a man by the name of Eric Lander who was decoding the genome for the federal government.

PND: Lander helped establish the Broad Institute. Tell us a bit about how that partnership came about.

EB: While I was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in October 2001 to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Science, Edye and I ducked into Eric's lab and we were blown away by the robotics and computers going twenty-four hours a day and all the bright, young researchers from Harvard Medical School and MIT who didn't want to go home because they were so excited about the work that was being accomplished there. So I said to Eric, "When are you going to be done with this?" And he said, "April 2003." I said, "What do you want to do then?" And he said, "I'd like to try and create an institute to take all we've learned and get it to clinical applications." I said, "Okay, what do you need to do that?" He said, "I need $800 million." And I said, "I hope you get it somewhere."

Well, he approached a lot of people, and he couldn't do it, so I told him we'd put up $100 million if Harvard and MIT would do likewise. And that's how the Broad Institute got created. Since then, it's become a huge success and today is number-one in the world in genomics.

PND: How did you get involved in the arts?

EB: Many years ago I was founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and then I got involved in a number of other projects in the city that people thought could never happen, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry. I could go on, but everything we've done is really different than just supporting the status quo. It's making a difference, creating things that didn't exist, that probably should exist, and will make a difference twenty, thirty years from now.

PND: You mentioned some of the work you're doing through the Broad Prize for Urban Education. Has that prize helped to improve public education in the United States?

EB: Absolutely. We're seeing results. There are some cities that haven't received the prize but have put in their contracts with their superintendents to get the Broad Prize within x number of years. So it's creating competition. And the districts that win the prize feel very good about it.

PND: Is it more difficult to affect change in public education than in other fields?

EB: Oh, absolutely. You know, we believe in teachers. Some 95 percent of all teachers are great, but they work in a system that's broken, that has all sorts of work rules that don't let them do all the things they need to do to succeed, and that diverts too much money into central office bureaucracies and not enough into the classroom.

Recently, the Council on Foreign Relations came out with a report that said education is a national security priority, not least because 70 percent of adults in this country -- people between the ages of 18 and 24 -- are not qualified to serve in our increasingly high-tech military. That's astounding. If we want to maintain our standard of living, if we want to be a secure nation, we've got to improve public education and we've got to do it quickly.

PND: Is it important, in your view, for Giving Pledge dollars, yours and those of other Pledgers, to be used sooner rather than later?

EB: Yes, I believe so. Warren Buffett and others may have a different view, that if they make a whole lot more with their money now instead of giving it away, eventually there'll be even more money for philanthropy. But Edye and I believe in giving while we're still alive. And we don't just give money; we've also got great people at our different foundations helping the institutions to which we give with their business plans and in other ways.

PND: How do you respond to the growing chorus of critics who say that philanthropy is an activity of and for wealthy elites and that, as such, it is inherently undemocratic?

EB: Well, I don't agree with that at all. America has a long, proud history of philanthropy, and I think it is important for the wealthy to give back. Through our philanthropy in education, for example, we are working to help transform bureaucracies so that students and teachers have a chance to succeed. Governments can and should be doing this themselves on behalf of the students, teachers, parents, communities, and democracies they are supposed to serve. Unfortunately, too many are not. I think philanthropy has the ability to step in and ensure that underrepresented voices in our democracy are heard, especially when government considers this too risky to do.

Let's not forget, over the twenty-eight years since A Nation At Risk was published, public education spending in this country in real dollars has tripled, while student achievement has gone nowhere. We used to be number one in the world in terms of high school graduation rates. Now we're closer to twenty. We used to be in the top five in mathematics and now we're twenty-fifth or thirtieth. We have a failing system that people are trying to defend, and when people like Edye and I or Bill Gates get involved in trying to change it, they say, "Oh, that's not democratic." I don't agree. I think what we're doing furthers democracy, and that those who want to maintain the status quo are undermining the strength of our democracy.

PND: Why did you decide to write a memoir?

EB: Over the course of my career I've been asked time and again, "How did you start two Fortune 500 companies in two different industries?" And more recently, after my wife and I really took the plunge into philanthropy, people have asked, "How do you do all of that?" So I thought if I wrote a book about how I've done all these things, people could learn from my successes -- and, frankly, from some of my mistakes. I hope the book is helpful to young people, to entrepreneurs, and to others in a variety of fields.

PND: What advice would you give to young millionaires who are eager to use some of their wealth to make the world a better place?

EB: I think a lot of them are doing it already. Look at John Arnold, who was probably the most successful trader of oil and gas contracts. He recently announced plans to close his fund to focus on philanthropy. I think what I'm doing, and what others are doing, is setting an example for other young millionaires who want to make a difference.

-- Regina Mahone

Weekend Link Roundup (June 23-24, 2012)

June 24, 2012

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


On the Deep Social Impact blog, Maureen O'Brien discusses the unique role each generation has to play in cross-sector collaborations. "Younger generations shouldn't underestimate the valuable knowledge and wisdom of the people who have been in this field for years. It is their work that has brought the sector to where it is today," writes O'Brien. "At the same time, older generations must not dismiss the ideas and innovative potential solutions that their younger colleagues suggest. It is their work that will help scale innovation and move the field to places never before imagined."


On her Nonprofit Communications blog, Kivi Leroux Miller is asking for comments on a chart (thumbnail above) that illustrates a dozen ways in which having a content strategy is immeasurably better than not having a content strategy. Good stuff.

In a two-minute video on the Communications Network blog, Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Public Life Project, shares his thoughts about how the changes wrought by the Internet on society are also causing foundations to rethink and retool how they communicate with external audiences.

Getting Attention's Nancy Schwartz shares findings from a recent Nonprofit Messages Survey which found that "76 percent of nonprofit marketers and fundraisers...say their key messages are irrelevant to the people who need to hear them to be motivated or reminded to act." That's a serious problem, writes Schwartz, but one that can be fixed.


On the Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington follows up on a post from January with "nine more ways board members can raise money without fundraising.

Leadership 2.0

On the Atlantic's Educating the Workforce of Tomorrow blog, Amy Southerland discusses the benefits and pitfalls of managing a virtual team. Among other things, writes Southerland, "virtual teamwork layers new challenges on top of the inherent challenges of teamwork, and the skills required do not come easily or automatically." To hone those skills, Southerland suggests that workers of all ages gain "higher-order digital skills in addition to familiarity with devices and applications" by taking "online courses, including hybrid classes where most of the coursework takes place virtually with less frequent in-person meetings.


In the sixth and final installment of a six-part series, Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan asks: Why do those who work in the nonprofit sector put corporations on a pedestal? Yes, many companies do good every day, writes Buchanan. "But we also need to speak up -- much, much more forcefully --

for the nonprofit sector's distinct role and relevance. For this, too, is a defining strength of our country. We need to point to the historic and present day examples of foundations and nonprofits that make communities stronger, people healthier, and our environment cleaner....

On NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Aaron Dorfman announces the first anniversary of the organization's Philanthropy's Promise campaign, an effort to get as many large foundations as possible to allocate at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to the needs of marginalized groups and at least 25 percent to high-impact strategies such as advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement. In the past year, a hundred and twenty-five foundations have signed on to the campaign, and in his post Dorfman highlights a few of the public statements they have made in support of the campaign.

On the Open Society Foundations' blog, Elizabeth Eagen, a joint program officer for the Information Program and Human Rights and Governance Grants Program, warns of an increase in physical and digital security threats to nongovernmental organizations and activists. Writes Eagen:

Though there has been a great deal of interest in digital security and secure communications training in the past few years, in fact, the process of uncovering an organization's susceptibility to digital attacks often reveals a whole host of other security and organizational issues. If we treat one type of threat while ignoring others, we miss an opportunity to promote long-lasting and resilient strategies....

While admitting that solutions are few and costly, Eagen calls on funders to keep in mind that "[f]unding and approaches in security need to be both incremental and tailored to work with the work of the institution" and to make all forms of security part of the support they [provide] to NGOs through information sharing; funding practice rather than tools; and being proactive.

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

-- The Editors

[Infographic] Understanding Social Enterprise

June 23, 2012

For a nice overview of the social enterprise universe, check out this infographic from the folks at GOOD and FedEx (h/t Jed Emerson/@BlendedValue).



Which Nonprofits Are Most Ready for Capacity Building?

June 20, 2012

(Alice Hill, a senior consultant at the TCC Group, has over twelve years of experience in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, with specific expertise in program design and implementation and nonprofit organizational capacity building. Hill served as project manager of the Challenge Fund for Journalism initiative.)

Alice_hill_TCCWith funds limited, foundations must constantly assess how their money is best spent -- and support for organizational capacity-building support is no exception. How can a funder determine which nonprofit is most likely to benefit from this sort of investment? After all, change is something many talk about, but few actually accomplish. It turns out that, at least in the nonprofit world, desire to change trumps many other factors that are used to gauge "readiness."

A recent study of an initiative to strengthen nonprofit journalism organizations found that mindset matters most. It is not just a willingness to change, but an embrace of the often-messy work of transformation that is the most important indicator of capacity-building success.

The Challenge Fund for Journalism, which I managed, was an innovative funder collaborative that provided matching grants and capacity-building support to fifty-three nonprofit media organizations. Launched in 2004, the initiative brought together and pooled funding from the Ford, Knight, McCormick, and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism foundations and enlisted the management consulting firm TCC Group to provide one-on-one coaching and other resources to participants to guide them on a journey of change.

Collectively, CFJ helped the organizations leverage $3.6 million in grants into almost $9.5 million in matches. Eighty-five percent of the grantees reported that they experienced some positive organizational change, and 90 percent stated that they were able to maintain the progress they had made in diversifying revenues.

My colleagues at TCC and I decided to dig deeper to understand which factors were most important to success. We examined nine criteria that were used to determine readiness at the beginning of the initiative, such as turnover in leadership and management, financial stability, and prior experience with organizational development efforts. Based on experience, we had a sense of what we would find, and our hunch was confirmed. Only one factor significantly correlated with positive outcomes: leaders' motivation to change. The initiative achieved the greatest impact with nonprofit media groups that were ready for transformation at the outset of our engagement with them.

What did this motivation look like? Those groups that flourished most had at least one leader who embraced adaptation and was able to give voice to the need to overhaul business models. He or she was able to turn this recognition into a bold vision for the organization's future. Just as critical, these leaders had the ability to inspire this mindset in others and mobilize teams of supporters. In other words, a leader who could do what so many have found elusive: take the idea of change and turn it into action.

One group I coached, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, was one of these success stories. The center's leaders were highly motivated to confront difficult questions, listen to new ideas, and engage in the complicated work of shifting their practices. They devised innovative approaches to both fundraising and earned income. They articulated a compelling vision and worked at better involving their board, building their networks, and engaging in planning. Executive director Andy Hall notes that "the greatest value of the initiative was that it enabled the center to try out new strategies for growth. Ultimately, we wound up changing our business model."

So, how can funders screen for something as hard to pin down as motivation? At TCC Group, we start with listening. During an in-depth conversation, one can begin to detect whether a nonprofit leader wants a check -- or "seal of approval" from a foundation -- as opposed to being genuinely interested in improving organizational effectiveness. For example, does he or she resist the results of an organizational assessment or challenge the validity of the tool or process? Does a leader invite senior staff and board members to join the conversation? Does a leader demonstrate at the outset a basic understanding of how the organization could grow and improve

In our experience, having a competitive process to select grantees, even if it involves a few relatively simple steps, goes a long way toward weeding out groups and leaders who lack motivation. It's helpful to conduct an organizational assessment upfront, talk about the findings with key leaders, and agree on what needs to be addressed. In this way, funders can be more intentional about looking for the mindset that will put an organization on the path to success.

-- Alice Hill

Weekend Link Roundup (June 16-17, 2012)

June 17, 2012

Fenton_data_pyramid2Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


In a lengthy post on the Fenton blog, Leslie Lipsick shares six tips for nonprofits looking to turn their data into stories. Her terrific suggestions are summed up nicely in the data pyramid to the right.

On her Non-Profit Marketing Blog, Katya Andresen highlights some of the key findings of the 2012 Millennial Impact Report, a survey of more than 6,500 people between the ages of 20 and 35:

  • Millennials give for emotional reasons and like to "give in the moment."
  • 75 percent said they made a cash gift in 2011.
  • 70 percent said they had fundraised for their favorite causes.
  • 67 percent have interacted with nonprofits on Facebook and 92 percent have “liked” a nonprofit’s Facebook page, while only 28 percent had interacted with a nonprofit on Twitter.
  • 39 percent of those who gave in 2011 did so in response to an in-person request, while only 7 percent said they gave via text message or through a mobile site.
  • More than 40 percent said they plan to volunteer more in 2012.


Writing on the Huffington Post, management consultant David La Piana says that "great things are possible when nonprofits can put their own organizational concerns aside and join forces to achieve a big idea." We couldn't agree more.

In a video interview ("Philanthropy Debate: Investing's Most Important Evolution?") on the Euromoney site, the Rockefeller Foundation's Margot Brandenburg argues that what the field needs in terms of infrastructure to support the growth of impact investing is reporting standards for non-financial as well as financial performance, networks of investors and service providers willing to share lessons learned, and continual innovation. You can read the entire interview here and find interviews with other impact investing thought leaders here.


After posting a brain dump earlier in the week about how data can change philanthropy, Lucy Bernholz follows up on her Philanthropy 2173 blog with a thought-provoking post about half- and full-step practice changes with the potential to reshape the field. Writes Bernholz:

If foundations really valued data as an output, they'd rewrite their grant agreements and contracting language. Creative Commons or other public re-use licensing would be the norm not the exception. Sharing data sets produced by philanthropic dollars (in machines readable form) would be standard practice (as would be the real-time publishing of grants data). Foundations would promote, experiment with, and build communities around their data and their grantees data -- they would structure their grants to produce and release data for others -- designing the grants from the beginning for the multiplying effect of the data products (and the open source tools to make sense of the data)....

Highly recommended (as are the comments that follow the post).

In response to the fourth installment of Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan's six-part series on the slow but steady intrusion of for-profit thinking and concepts into the nonprofit sector, Greater New Orleans Foundation president Albert Ruesga writes that "it's easy to see why we look to the for-profit world for our models.

The work of philanthropy is often framed as a social mini-max problem: We are in situation X facing social problem Y. We are given $Z to (a) solve this problem in the least amount of time, using the fewest resources; or (b) maximize the benefit to low-income communities; or perhaps (c) most fully satisfy the ego-needs of our CEO. This framing leads us to conclude that philanthropy is essentially about spending money to create a product or service. So we run into the arms of the nearest MBA, and while in that tender embrace are bidden to "allocate resources on a dynamic basis," "foster partnerships," "develop innovative approaches to evaluation," and do other things couched in toothless bromides we tearfully accept because we have it on good authority that this splooge will finally fill the Great Gnawing Void in our professional lives....

In a guest post on the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation blog, Nina Stack, president of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, speaks out against the tendency of grantmakers to award "project-only funding" -- which usually means "no money for rent, electric bills, audits, or key staff implementing the core mission activities that may not be directly involved with the special project. It also means no support for exploration or innovation." So how much of a nonprofit's budget should be spent on management, general operations, and fundraising? "The truth," writes Stack, "is that it depends on the organization. Regardless of what anyone will tell you, there is no set guide or percentage. There can't possibly be...."

Social Media

Social Media for Social Good author Heather Mansfield lists five new enhancements to the Facebook site that could benefit your nonprofit.

In a guest post on Beth Kanter's blog, Taryn Degnan, manager of social media and online community at CommonSense Media, outlines the "seven ways your organization can put privacy into practice." In tracking, profiling, and marketing to your organization's supporters and Web site visitors, writes Degnan writes, you need to "create an environment of trust around the information [you] collect and be crystal clear" about how that information is being used. Degnan then shares her seven basic privacy principles:

  • No surprises. Constituents have every right to know when you're collecting their data. Be specific about your purpose for gathering it, and only keep the data for as long as you will need it to serve that purpose.
  • Real choices. The industry standard for privacy should be opt-in -- especially for kids. Promote accountability by giving your constituents and Web site visitors the opportunity to make informed choices, and ask for their active participation in keeping your records up to date.
  • Limited data. Collect only what you need. The Web is a "shared public resource to be cared for, not a commodity to be sold." Use non-personally identifying forms whenever possible.
  • User control. Do not disclose your constituents' and Web site visitors' personal information without their consent. It's easy to post an off-the-cuff, friendly Facebook post about a donor or volunteer, but make sure it's okay with them first.
  • Trusted third parties. When it comes to selecting service providers and partners for projects and collaborations, make sure they are just as committed to privacy as you are.
  • Privacy across the board. Does your organization have a mobile app? A blog? A YouTube channel? Make sure your privacy principles apply across all platforms, both on your own hosted sites and elsewhere.
  • Security. From restricting wireless access points to encrypting data on your organization’s portable laptops, keeping a secure environment is an integral part of preventing data leakage and upholding your constituents' trust.

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

-- The Editors

Yearly U.S. Charity Checkup

June 16, 2012

In conjunction with the recent release of the 2012 Metro Market Survey, our friends at Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator, have created their first infographic.


Charity Navigator Metro Market Infographic


Pretty cool...

5 Questions for…Kimberleigh J. Smith, Board President, Paul Rapoport Foundation

June 12, 2012

(Laura Cronin is a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. Recently, she chatted with Kimberleigh Smith, board president of the New York City-based Paul Rapoport Foundation, about the foundation's decision to spend down by 2015, what the foundation is doing to help grantees navigate that transition, and Smith's advice for other foundations that may be considering spend-down scenarios. In her last post, Cronin wrote about the Disability Funders Network's efforts to make access to arts and culture a central focus of their education and convening efforts.)

Kim_Smith_headshotPhilanthropy News Digest: As a founder of two of the most important nonprofit organizations in New York City -- the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center and Gay Men's Health Crisis -- and as the donor who created one of the first foundations to make grants in support of LGTB communities of color, Paul Rapoport left not only a financial legacy but a substantial legacy as an innovator in the nonprofit sector. How has that legacy shaped the Rapoport Foundation's giving program?

Kimberleigh J. Smith: Unfortunately, I never knew Paul, but from what I've been told, he was sharply intelligent, funny, and a generous human being who sought to give to and support communities that were marginalized, including the LGTB and queer community. That has always been at the core of PRF's giving and it has not changed in the years since Paul's passing. But the foundation has adapted with the times, and today we pursue this vision in a slightly different way in order to continue to reach those least likely to access resources from mainstream sources -- those being communities of color, young people, seniors, and gender-non-conforming folks. This shift in the foundation's mission is, in and of itself, a reflection of Paul's original innovative spirit. Furthermore, we don't just confine this legacy to our giving. Our board of directors, for example, reflects the racial diversity we promote in our giving. I wonder whether Paul could have ever imagined that one day his foundation’s board would be led by an African-American lesbian! We're very proud of how Paul's life as a gay, Jewish, attorney, lover of culture and the arts, and philanthropist has impacted our foundation and its giving today.

Continue reading »

[Review]: 'Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power'

June 11, 2012


That's the first adjective Inderjeet Parmar uses to describe American philanthropy in his study of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations and their impact on U.S. foreign policy in the twentieth century.

Indeed, his startling characterization of what traditionally has been considered a benevolent enterprise is the first of many surprises in this provocative and meticulously researched book, the result of over a decade of research in the archives of all three foundations.

The author, professor of government at the University of Manchester, characterizes his own worldview as "neo-Gramscian," after Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Marxist who coined the concept of cultural hegemony, and his central thesis is that, far from being independent "third sector" institutions committed to solving problems of human suffering, the "Big Three" foundations have instead acted as champions of pro-American free-market capitalism and opponents of "nationalistic/leftist philosophies and alliances."

Parmar opens the book with brief histories of the three foundations and biographical sketches of their founders, noting in the case of the latter their shared characteristics as white privileged males "implacably opposed" to organized labor and condescending toward the common man. The trustees of the three foundations over the years similarly are characterized as unrepresentative of the general American population but closely aligned -- in terms of ethnicity, education, and economic status -- with their counterparts in business, government, and academia.

Given that background, Parmar argues, it was natural for American philanthropy to take up pro-American, internationalist causes. For example, starting in the 1930s, the Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations spearheaded the creation of international relations and area studies programs at elite universities to promote the moral and economic superiority of the United States and, ultimately, prepare it for a war that many thought likely. Through Princeton University's Office of Public Opinion Research, Rockefeller also supported the study and manipulation of public opinion to "engineer the consent of the American people."

After World War II, the three foundations, echoing the worldview promulgated by the American foreign policy establishment, essentially identified any opposition to Western capitalism as "anti-Americanism" and fostered what Parmar calls "elite knowledge networks" comprised of intellectuals at universities, think tanks, government agencies, and media outlets committed "to the maintenance of the existing global hierarchy of power."

Parmar uses three case studies to argue that these networks, supported by the foundations' programs and activities during the Cold War era, were geared not to promote humanitarian causes but "to penetrate foreign societies, economies, and polities and draw them into the American orbit."

First, he contends that by funding the training of pro-capitalist economists and sponsoring ideologically slanted research in Indonesia, the Ford Foundation paved the way for the overthrow of Sukarno, the leader of Indonesia's struggle for independence from the Netherlands and the first president of the country, followed by the rise of Suharto's pro-American military regime in the mid-1960s.

Second, he maintains that in the newly independent Nigeria of the early 1960s, all three foundations worked to promote "a pro-free market 'modernizing' elite, regardless of its levels of corruption and violence," at the expense of their purported mission to reduce poverty and promote equality. At the same time, African-related programs in the U.S. such as the Carnegie-sponsored African Studies Association were characterized by "racism and elitism in excluding black Americans and concentrating resources at a few elite institutions."

Third, he characterizes the activities of the Rockefeller and Ford foundations in Chile during the 1970s as at least partially responsible for creating the unfettered free-market mindset that led to the overthrow of Salvador Allende's socialist regime in 1973 by a military junta led by Augusto Pinochet.

Indeed, since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, many foundations have adopted the Rockefeller-coined concept of "smart globalization," which Parmar characterizes as putting a more human face on U.S. economic imperialism while ignoring "huge social and economic inequalities within and between nations" and "impoverishment on a massive scale." Similarly, he sees "democratic peace theory," in part legitimized by research and publications funded by the three foundations, as a modern rationale for expanding American influence around the globe, whether through the "democratic enlargement" policy of the Clinton administration, the "war on terror" of the Bush administration, or the national security strategy of the Obama administration.

In short, Parmar sees little reason to believe that American foundations can or will change. While foundation trustees are now more representative of the general population, and while new institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have begun to overshadow the Big Three, Parmar believes that U.S. foundations are "hard-wired" to support the status quo by virtue of the interconnected nature of government, business, academia, and private philanthropy in the U.S. "The overall strategy remains unchanged," he writes, "even as programs and personnel change: Americanized or American-led globalization remains the aim."

So what is the reader to make of Parmar's critique? While polemical in tone, his book is well organized and engagingly written, and its conclusions, however controversial, are based on events that are thoroughly documented, with the author relying heavily on annual reports, internal memoranda, correspondence, and grant reports produced by the three foundations.

The author also makes clear what he is not alleging: he does not accuse anyone of criminality, and he pointedly states that foundations in general neither mandate nor manufacture the results of the research they fund. He also praises foundations' positive contributions in areas such as immunization, health and safety programs, and educational reform.

Still, few would argue the story Parmar tells is balanced. While the evidence he presents is fascinating, particularly concerning the sometimes cozy, sometimes antagonistic relationship between foundations and government entities, those relationships are subject to multiple interpretations. As Parmar himself says, "Knowledge is not neutral — it is thoroughly immersed in the struggle to define the world in particular ways."

With that in mind, Foundations of the American Century is a valuable resource for historians of philanthropy and U.S. foreign policy, as well as anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes activities of the Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller foundations from their inception to the present day. At the very least, Parmar raises a number of challenging questions about three storied institutions and longstanding philanthropic practices that many of us take for granted, and he highlights a power dynamic involving foundations and other sectors of society that, "malignant" or not, merits additional exploration.

Chuck Bartelt
Electronic Grant Information Liaison
Foundation Center

Weekend Link Roundup (June 9-10, 2012)

June 10, 2012

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


What to do when people say bad things about your organization online? Before you respond in kind, take a deep breath -- "then suck it up and deal," writes Network for Good's Katya Andresen on her Non-Profit Marketing blog. "As long as the person isn't a troll, he or she deserves to feel heard, acknowledged and understood. I've found some of my biggest fans were initially critics. By taking the high road with them, I won them over and learned something from them in the process...."

Community Improvement/Development

After looking at how Kepler's, an independent bookstore in Menlo Park, California, is using crowdsourcing and other digitally enabled techniques to reinvent its business model, Philanthropy 2173's Lucy Bernholz asks: "If you run an institution that thinks it has a community purpose...what would your community do for you?"

Corporate Grantmaking

Here at PhilanTopic, the Foundation Center's Andrew Grabois shares the news that the center has begun to add CSR data to Foundation Directory Online. "Appearing as a separate tab on individual company profiles," writes Grabois, "more than fourteen hundred companies will have at least one CSR measure that users of FDO can incorporate into their prospect research."


"If we're going to be the leaders of 'learning organizations', we need to be learners ourselves," writes GuideStar president and CEO Bob Ottenhoff on the GuideStar blog. "That means sharing problems and opportunities with not only your closest allies, but also building a network of interesting people we can learn from...."

Nonprofit Management

At the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Susan Stehling of the Minnesota Council on Foundations discusses the benefits of collaboration, with a focus on what collaboration expert Karen Ray calls the "four phases of alliance" –- cooperation, coordination, collaboration, and consolidation.


On NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Christine Reeves recaps a recent event at the Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement dedicated to Inderjeet Parmar's new book Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power. Reeves writes that she was disappointed the panelists -- which included Parmar, Thomas Asher of the Social Science Research Council, Kathleen McCarthy of the Graduate Center of CUNY, and Patricia Rosenfield of the Rockefeller Archives Center –- did not get around to discussing "truly urgent and important questions such as:

How can philanthropy be more responsive to disparities, diseases, hunger, discrimination, poverty and other urgent issues of our time? How can philanthropy, nonprofits and marginalized communities partner together to leverage philanthropy’s limited dollars? How can we shift the philanthropic power conversation away from the power of philanthropic institutions and towards empowering historically underrepresented populations or fostering equality of opportunity? [And how] can we all better understand, attack and solve the important and urgent problems that disproportionately affect marginalized communities?...

Instead, the panelists discussed what Andrew Carnegie might have done today, a hundred years after founding the Carnegie Corporation. But, writes Reeves, the questions that went unanswered "need to be at the forefront of philanthropy, and [they] require all the time, talented people, and resources we can give them...."

Social Media

On her blog, Beth Kanter shares a very good "remix" of a Link Building by Imitation presentation that highlights the differences between good and bad content curation.

Last but not least, in a guest post at the Philanthropy 411 blog, Brad Aronson offers twenty-two tips for nonprofits interested in extending their reach and impact through social media.

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

--The Editors

Funding for Inclusion: Bringing Women and Girls Into the Equation

June 07, 2012

(Nicky McIntyre is executive director of Mama Cash, an international women's fund based in Amsterdam. This is her first post for PhilanTopic.)

MamaCash_coverMany foundations in Europe are actively focusing on issues related to social exclusion, considering it a key strategy for bringing about a more fair and just society for all. As much as race, class, ethnicity, or disability, gender is a factor in social exclusion. Yet foundations often say they don't "do gender." This doesn't mean their work ignores the different experiences men, women, and trans people have, but rather that foundation staff and leadership are not intentional about integrating this perspective into their work.

Why do foundations say they don't "do gender"? It may be due to a perceived notion that "gender" is only about women and girls, and that by bringing in a gender lens you effectively "privilege" one group over another. Viewed this way, gender may be seen as a characteristic of beneficiaries, instead of as an integral part of a foundation's mission and programmatic strategies.

GrantCraft and Mama Cash commissioned a new guide, Funding for Inclusion: Women and Girls in the Equation, to explore what foundations in Europe already are doing to bring a gender lens to their work -- and, when necessary, to set up specific funding aimed at women and girls. The guide follows on recent research that showed that while there is considerable interest in funding women and girls among European foundations, in practice a significant gap exists between interest and action.

Mama Cash believes that applying a gender lens is about recognizing there is no "neutral" philanthropic effort and that women, trans people, and men have different experiences of inclusion, exclusion, discrimination, and inequality. Given that the "status quo" is characterized by inequalities and power imbalances, not applying a gender lens to a foundation's work may mean reinforcing stereotypes, attitudes, or practices that could result in discrimination against women, girls, and trans people.

As such, applying a gender lens gives us an opportunity to shed light on differences in power and access that may otherwise remain invisible and negatively influence the effectiveness of a foundation's efforts. If we are not conscious of these differences, then our solutions to societal problems may not take into account the different realities of our neighbors. By applying a gender lens, we can help foster consistency across funding portfolios, ensuring that work is broadly inclusive of women and girls while also taking into account the specific needs of men and boys.

"Balancing the equation," then, is really about working more intentionally with women, men, and trans people to ensure that a foundation’s efforts are not "gender blind" and inadvertently marginalize or exclude particular groups of people.

The new GrantCraft guide is filled with examples of what foundation professionals in thirty-one European foundations (and their advisors) are doing to integrate a gender perspective in their work and/or to focus some of their investments on women and girls. The guide is purposefully framed around a broad definition of gender and provides insights into how gender analysis can reveal the diversity among men, women, and trans people.

Funding for Inclusion highlights how foundations identified entry points to a discussion of gender internally and with partners and how they adapted processes and procedures to favor programs that bring women and girls into the funding equation. The guide also includes an extensive list of relevant resources and contacts covering a range of thematic topics.

Some highlights:

  • Support from foundation leadership is an important ingredient in efforts to use gender analysis and enables a foundation to explore, innovate, network, develop new partnerships, and take calculated risks. Support from above helps to build an enabling internal and external environment and is essential in order to deepen and institutionalize inclusion and gender sensitivity in an organization.
  • Bringing a gender lens into a foundation's work does not necessarily require great effort or organizational upheaval. For instance, some foundations have chosen to set up specific projects, while others have diversified their boards. Examples in the guide show how this can be done by foundations at any stage in their organizational development.
  • Adjusting communication materials, application processes, and the like can help a foundation become more accessible to a broader range of organizations. For instance, one foundation interviewed for the guide found that once it made explicit on its Web site that it was open to women's organizations, the number of applications from these groups increased significantly.
  • The guide also shows how many foundations find that drawing on existing expertise can be a useful starting point. For example, a number of individual philanthropists and larger foundations argue for working through intermediaries such as women's organizations and funds as a strategy to reach small, grassroots initiatives led by women and girls and to foster the development of local philanthropy that is inclusive of women and girls.
  • In recognition of people’s diverse experiences and expressions of gender, the guide moves away from seeing gender as a binary and includes references to trans and intersex people, two groups that face both overt and subtle forms of violence and discrimination but are often invisible in discussions of gender and development.

We are encouraged by the examples in the guide that illustrate how gender is a cross-cutting issue relevant to all areas of philanthropic focus -- be it education, migration, health care, or the environment. And we look forward to continuing our conversations in the philanthropic community to encourage foundations to take gender into account in all their work.

-- Nicky McIntyre

Nonprofits Missing From Big Battles

June 06, 2012

(Mark Rosenman, a Washington-based scholar-activist and director of Caring to Change, a D.C.-based effort to promote foundation grantmaking for the common good, is a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic. In his last post, Rosenman and co-author Gary D. Bass, executive director of the Bauman Foundation, wrote about efforts by Congress to curtail the advocacy rights of nonprofits.)

Rosenman_headshotWe are seven months from what some are calling "taxmageddon" and others describe as a "fiscal cliff." And while leaders in the nonprofit sector are narrowly focused on proposed changes to the charitable tax deduction that could reduce charitable donations by about $2 billion a year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already approved cutting trillions of dollars from programs critical to low- and moderate-income people and the charities that serve them.

Charities and foundations should be gearing up to confront immediate and near-term policy battles of extraordinary consequence to them. Instead, they seem to be wearing blinders -- or simply fear controversy, no matter the stakes.

Congressional Republicans seem to want a repeat of last summer's divisive struggle over raising the debt limit and are committed to pursuing new budget cuts. This comes after the House recently approved changes to last year's deficit-cutting sequestration agreement and shifted what was a shared annual burden of $109 billion entirely to domestic programs.

House Republicans also are trying to preserve Bush-era income tax cuts for wealthy Americans, an action that if successful will cost an estimated $1 trillion in revenue over ten years -- and doesn't include the loss of billions in revenue from estate tax reductions for millionaires. They have already passed the budget put together by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a plan that goes well beyond a renewal of the Bush cuts and give millionaires an additional tax break averaging $265,000 a year while cutting over $3 trillion from programs that serve low-income people or fund the charitable programs that help them.

This is not chump change. To give you a sense of the magnitude of the proposed cuts, the shift in sequestration alone is more than the total annual giving of all U.S. foundations combined. And the so-called Ryan plan calls for cuts in domestic program over ten years that are about seven times the equivalent projected total of foundation giving -- a shortfall that would result in some two million people losing their access to food stamps and another forty-four million having them reduced. The Ryan plan also would eliminate the social service block grant through which nonprofits now provide services to some twenty-three million people, over half of them children, as well as invalids dependent on Meals on Wheels programs, those in foster care, and those who rely on nonprofit childcare.

Continue reading »

Foundation Center Adds CSR Data to Foundation Directory Online

June 04, 2012

(Andrew Grabois is manager for corporate philanthropy at the Foundation Center.)

FDOWhen Deep Throat advised Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward to "follow the money" in that underground garage back in the '70s, he could just as well have been dispensing advice to a corporate grantseeker. That is, until recently.

For many years, individuals and organizations looking for funding from companies or their foundations were only concerned about the availability of funds and meeting a company's grant requirements, not whether a grantmaker was a "good corporate citizen" (with the exception, perhaps, of anti-apartheid activists). And while notions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been around for decades, CSR only recently has gained traction with the general public.

According to a 2010 CSR Perception Survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, 55 percent of survey respondents said they would be more likely to purchase a product with an added social benefit; 70 percent said they would be willing to pay a premium for a product from a "socially responsible" company (and 28 percent said they would pay up to $10 more); and, perhaps most surprisingly, 34 percent said they would be willing to take a pay cut to work at a socially responsible firm. It would appear the CSR train is leaving the station. Indeed, in the last month alone, Morgan Stanley announced the launch of a new "impact investing" platform to "help clients align their financial goals and personal values," while Bloomberg LP, which already provides more than one hundred CSR indicators through its Bloomberg terminals at no extra cost, announced that it will publish the results of The Civic 100 survey conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship and Points of Light in the November issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.

Recognizing the importance of corporate social responsibility information to today's grantseekers, the Foundation Center has been busy collecting over forty separate CSR data points, including carbon emissions and energy usage metrics as reported to and analyzed by folks at the Carbon Disclosure Project, employee volunteer hours, workforce diversity percentages, and recognition by eleven "green" or "best practices" lists, including those compiled by Boston College, Corporate Responsibility magazine, DiversityIncHuman Rights Campaign, Newsweek, and Working Mother. We're also collecting corporate CSR pledges tracked by the Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact, and A Billion + Change. And, starting tomorrow, we'll be making all that data available in Foundation Directory Online. Appearing as a separate tab on individual company profiles, more than fourteen hundred companies will have at least one CSR measure that users of FDO can incorporate into their prospect research.

We think the addition of corporate social responsibility data to FDO is the most significant enhancement to our company information in years, and we know it will provide FDO users with the most complete profiles of corporate citizenship and transparency in any single database around. For today's corporate grantseeker, just following the money is no longer enough.

-- Andrew Grabois

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

Subscribe to PhilanTopic


Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Filter posts