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Weekend Link Roundup (June 21-22, 2014)

June 22, 2014

WorldCup_ballOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....

Climate Change

In an op-ed in the New York Times, former Goldman Sachs CEO and Treasury secretary (2006-09)  Henry Paulson argues that in order to meet "the challenge of our time" (i.e., climate change), the U.S. needs to "plac[e] a tax on carbon dioxide emissions," phase out all subsidies for fossil fuels and renewable energy ("Renewable energy can outcompete dirty fuels once pollution costs are accounted for"), and work hand-in-hand with China to transition to a global economy powered by clean energy.

Giving

The 2014 edition of the Giving USA report was released on Tuesday, and as usual, writes the AP's David Crary, "Wealthy donors are lavishing money on their favored charities, including universities, hospitals and arts institutions, while giving is flat to social service and church groups more dependent on financially squeezed middle-class donors."

Higher Education

Affirmative action as we know it is doomed, writes David Leonhardt on the New York Times' Upshot blog. "Five of the Supreme Court's nine justices have never voted in favor of a race-based affirmative action program," he notes, while "eight states have already banned race-based affirmative action, and four additional ones, including Ohio and Missouri, may consider bans soon." But maybe a system based on income and/or high school class rank rather than income is a better solution at this moment in history. "Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on the Supreme Court, has signaled some openness to letting institutions consider race," Leonhardt writes,

so long as race doesn't dominate their decisions. And in today's version of affirmative action, race dominates. The standard way that colleges judge any potential alternative is to ask whether it results in precisely the same amount of racial diversity, rather than acknowledging that other forms of diversity also matter.

"An affirmative action based mostly on class, and using race in narrowly tailored ways, is one much more likely to win approval from Justice Kennedy when the issue inevitably returns to the court.

"The next move belongs to those who believe in affirmative action. They can continue to hope against hope that the status quo will somehow hold. Or they can begin to experiment — and maybe end up with a fairer system than the current one."

 

Impact/Effectiveness

In many respects, healthcare in America is a mess, writes Mario Morino, Mario Institute chair and co-founder of Venture Philanthropy Partners, on the Markets for Good blog. But it's also "one of the very best places to look for insights on how to nurture a data-informed performance culture" in nonprofit organizations and the social sector. "Ultimately," Morino suggests,

the vast majority of the social sector will come under the kind of external pressures we see today in healthcare. Government and private funders will increasingly come to see that we simply don’t have a dollar to waste on efforts based primarily on noble intentions and wishful thinking. They will see that we need efforts built on a sound analysis of the problem or need, evidence-driven insights about how their activities can lead to the desired change, assessments to determine whether hard work is paying off, and a desire to keep getting better over time....

On the Rockefeller Foundation blog, Brinda Ganguly and Nancy MacPherson and Cynthia Muller and Whitney Mayer of Arabella Advisors share some lessons from a comprehensive evaluation of the foundation's Program Related Investment (PRI) Fund.

Net Neutrality

In the latest installment of her Social Good podcast for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Allison Fine chats with Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN, about the new rule changes proposed by the Federal Communications Commission to create a two-tiered Internet and why the preservation of the existing net neutrality regime is a social justice issue.

Philanthropy

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a scaling problem, writes Arthur "Buzz" Schmidt, the founder of GuideStar and GuideStar International, in the Nonprofit Quarterly. With annual contributions on the order of $1.5 billion from Warren Buffett and the Gateses' own generous contributions over the years, the foundation today is an unprecedently large philanthropic enterprise that awards some $4 billion in grants annually – more than the next eighteen largest foundations in the U.S. combined. To help the foundation meet the challenge of giving that much money away effectively, year after year, Schmidt offers three intriguing grantmaking strategies that it might want to consider.

Adam Kieper, editor of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, pays tribute to William Schambra, the iconoclastic founder of the Hudson Institute's Bradley Center on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, as Schambra, one of institutional philanthropy's most insightful and relentless critics, prepares to step down from his post after "a remarkable dozen years of writing, speaking, and [convening]."

And on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Ned Schaub, principal at Ned Schaub Consulting, says that while the newly launched IssueLab collection Improving Access to Palliative Care "is an asset to the field of palliative care advancement generally speaking,

it also has special significance for palliative care philanthropy going forward. Because of the way it has been set up it serves as rich repository for those seeking to initiate palliative care grantmaking, as well as for foundations already working in the field that want to make deeper impact and work in more strategic and sustainable ways. By focusing on what has already been realized by philanthropy – which is represented so vividly in this collection – there is a real opportunity to beat the learning curve and ensure greater return on investment with foundation dollars....

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

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