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19 posts from August 2013

Hey, Wall Street, Can You Spare a Dime?

August 05, 2013

(Mark Rosenman is an emeritus professor at the Union Institute & University and directed Caring to Change, in Washington, D.C. In his last post, he urged nonprofit leaders to speak out when confronted with evidence of illegal or unscrupulous behavior in the sector.)

Rosenman_headshotWhile religious groups and nonprofit organizations are forming new coalitions and joining established leaders in the fight to preserve the charitable tax deduction, most charities have remained silent about cuts in government funding for domestic needs. Even more disturbing, few in the nonprofit world seem aware of a new legislative initiative that could add billions of dollars to such programs -- and their own funding streams.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have introduced a financial transaction tax modeled after one approved by the European Parliament that is being adapted in eleven nations. Oddly, though Harkin and DeFazio's version of this "Wall Street speculators sales tax" has attracted support from over forty national nonprofit organizations and labor unions, it has not captured the imagination of local and regional charities or nonprofit sector leaders.

According to one study, up to $350 billion a year might be raised by a tax on equity and bond trades as well as the trading of options, swaps, futures, and other derivatives. Such a tax would not apply to the day-to-day financial transactions of individuals or to things like loans and debt issuance.

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Weekend Link Roundup (August 3-4, 2013)

August 04, 2013

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

Climate Change

According to a post by Rebecca J. Rosen in The Atlantic, a new paper in the journal Science finds that climate change is set "to occur at a pace 'orders of magnitude more rapid' than at any other time in the last 65 million years" -- and that is going to make it difficult, if not impossible, for many species to find appropriate habitats in time to avoid extinction.

Communications/Marketing

Writing in Forbes, Harish Bhandari, director of digital engagement and innovation at the Robin Hood Foundation, argues that digital tools have changed the the way people think about charity and nonprofit work and that communicating with donors and advocates today is a 24/7 operation. With that in mind, Bhandari offers five tips designed to help your organization build greater digital engagement with and awareness of your cause.

Impact/Effectiveness

On the Mission Investors Exchange blog, Peter Berliner, MIE's managing director, shares "a few (carefully chosen) words" about the terminology that has developed around investing for both social and financial returns. But no matter which term we use to describe such activity, writes Berliner,

we want to keep sight of the critical role that foundations play in the broader field of impact investing. Foundations have attributes that other investors do not. Many foundations are less constrained than other types of investors. They can be more flexible relative to risk and rates of return. They can be more patient. [And] because of their commitment to mission, they are better positioned to monitor and evaluate social returns, and hold investees accountable....

How does any social-purpose organization know whether it is having an impact? By analyzing and measuring outcomes, of course. But that's easier said than done. Or is it? In a two-part series on the magazine blog, Ruth Whateley, manager of the UK-based Social Impact Analysts Asssociation (SIAA), offers some real-life examples of organizations and individuals from across Europe engaging in social impact analysis and provides some practical advice with respect to educating and engaging with funders and government to ensure that the discussion around impact analysis is not a top-down conversation.

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The Next Affirmative Action

August 02, 2013

On August 28, 1963, America witnessed what was arguably the greatest demonstration for racial justice in the history of the country. Half a century after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the looming question of racial equality in America remains.

In the lead-up to the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, PhilanTopic is publishing a ten-part series, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in which some of America's most important writers explore our race issues, past and present.

In the fourth installment of that series (click here for the third, "A House Divided," by Thomas J. Sugrue), Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy program at the New America Foundation, argues that while affirmative action "as we know it is dying," the Supreme Court's targeting of current policies may be "an opportunity to change the way people think about race and higher education." The essay below first appeared in the Washington Monthly and is reprinted here with the permission of that publication.

Affirmative-actionAffirmative action as we know it is dying. A growing number of states have moved to prohibit public universities from considering race in admissions, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in an anti-affirmative action lawsuit that left little doubt about where the Court's conservative majority stands. Less than a decade after the Court upheld racial admissions preferences in Grutter v. Bollinger, newer jurists like Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts seem ready to render unconstitutional a policy that has helped generations of minority students grab a rung on the ladder of opportunity.

The Court's likely decision is particularly odious given the college admissions apparatus it will leave in place. Elite colleges warp and corrupt the meritocratic admissions process in a wide variety of ways. Academically substandard athletes, for example, are allowed in so they can play for the amusement of alumni and help shore up the fundraising base. While some men's football and basketball players come from low-income and minority households, many athletes at the highly selective colleges where affirmative action really matters engage in sports like crew and lacrosse that are associated with white, privileged backgrounds. Colleges also give preference to the children of legacies, professors, celebrities, politicians, and people who write large checks to the general fund. All of these groups are also disproportionately wealthy and white.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (July 2013)

August 01, 2013

It's the first day of a new month, which means it's time to look back at the most popular posts on PhilanTopic over the last month:

What have you read/watched/listened to that PhilanTopic readers should know about? Share your favorites in the comments section....

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

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