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Weekend Link Roundup (February 15-16, 2014)

February 16, 2014

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


Interesting article by Rick Cohen in the Nonprofit Quarterly arguing that charitable gift funds created by the likes of Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab, and Vanguard have made "charitable giving for moderately wealthy people easier, more strategic, and more natural."


"That the nonprofit sector has changed hugely in recent years is beyond dispute," writes Tris Lumley, director of development at London-based New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog. "It has grown, become increasingly professionalized, and over the last decade started coming to grips with planning and measuring its impact," Lumley adds. "Yet these are incremental changes, and I believe that the sector's trajectory does not point to a pivotal future role in solving social problems and delivering social justice." Lumley goes on to explain why this is the case and what a "new paradigm" for the social sector would look like.


Which global companies/organizations are the most innovative? Google, certainly. Netflix and Airbnb, sure. But Bloomberg Philanthropies? Absolutely, says Fast Company, which cites the foundation's "sophisticated, data-driven solutions for every step of the [philanthropic] process, from identifying priorities to monitoring progress to scaling pragmatic solutions," as the chief reason for ranking it #2 on its list of the Most Innovative Companies of 2014.


In the New Yorker, staff writer Russ Juskalian wonders whether philanthropy by the most affluent makes up for the negative consequences of inequality. At the center of the debate, writes Juskalian,

is how to quantify the positive impact of philanthropy by the world’s wealthiest people on the world's poorest, along with the negative impact of inequality — both tasks that are difficult, and perhaps impossible. Giving by the ultra-rich is significant but makes up only a small proportion of total giving. A recent report puts total annual giving by individuals in the U.S. at around two hundred and thirty billion dollars — about thirty times the amount given last year by the people on the Philanthropy 50 list.

[The] list suggests that rich donors spend less on causes having to do directly with poverty alleviation than on other areas. The categories that got the greatest amounts of funding from the fifty highest givers were foundations, colleges and universities, and hospitals and medical centers....

"It's certainly admirable that wealthy individuals are willing to give away large chunks of their wealth,” [former Secretary of Labor Robert] Reich said. “But, as in the late nineteenth century, when Carnegie, Rockefeller, and others did so, these philanthropic actions are small potatoes relative to the large and growing problems faced by the poor and lower middle class."

And in a post on her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz argues that "disruptive wealth" -- the huge fortunes earned by tech company founders who have done so much to disrupt a variety of traditional industries -- has yet to disrupt philanthropic forms. "What you don't see on the Philanthropy 50 list, writes Bernholz, "is innovation in the form in which the giving is done.

There are lots of folks at the other end of the giving spectrum foregoing tax deductions to give money through crowdfunding platforms. There are folks at the wealthiest end of the spectrum foregoing traditional foundation forms (and tax deductions) to use LLCs or who are outsourcing some of their research and program costs. There are a variety of ways to structure the giving - but you don't see them on the Philanthropy 50 list....

What do you think? Does philanthropy by the most affluent make up for the negative consequences of inequality? Or are billionaire philanthropists, regardless of age, doing what they've always done? And are those even the right questions to be asking? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts....

On the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan looks at five myths that often lead to poor philanthropic strategy.

And on her Philanthropy 411 blog, Kris Putnam-Walkerly shares five tips from a webinar featuring Buchanan and his CEP colleague Ellie Buteau that addressed the unique challenges of foundation strategy:

  1. Don’t worry about being unique, focus on being effective.
  2. Don’t be afraid of strategy.
  3. Don’t stress out.
  4. Involve your staff, board and relevant stakeholders.
  5. Start with your goal.

This week's installment ("I Heart Institutional Funders") of Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio features noted author, program strategist, and "pracademic" Cindy Gibson, who chats with Tony about what small and mid-sized nonprofits can do to build relationships with institutional donors. (Running time: 59:00)

Social Good

On the Huffington Post Impact blog, Dan Klinglesmith, diretor of communications at Water for People, explains how he and his colleagues have rethought the organization's approach "to transform the very nature of the development effort."

Last but not least, a nice piece by Tom Watson on Forbes about Idealist founder Ami Dar, who, with his colleagues, is launching a new network on March 11 that aims to leverage the power of the Idealist community into a movement "that encourages organizing in everyday life, for causes big and small."

That's it for this week. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org or via the comments box below....

-- Mitch Nauffts


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hey, Mitch Nauffts! I hope you're doing well.

Many thanks for including Nonprofit Radio in your weekly roundup. Cindy Gibson is a smart lady and will be contributing monthly to the show.

Thanks, Mitch, for the nice shout out!

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