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Weekend Link Roundup (July 18-July 19, 2015)

July 19, 2015

Old-slip-watermarkedOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content from and about the social sector, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....


On the Bloomberg Business site, Alex Nussbaum reports that a new study released by the Analysis Group, a Boston-based consulting company, found that a cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide generated $1.3 billion in benefits for nine U.S. states, created more than 14,000 new jobs in the Northeast, and saved consumers $460 million on their electric bills over the past three years.


No Child Left Behind, the education policy overhaul introduced by George W. Bush in 2000, has more critics than supporters. But no one in Congress knows how to fix it. Mother Jones' Allie Gross reports.


The economy is recovering (slowly), but your fundraising results remain stuck in second gear. Future Fundraising Now's Jeff Brooks shares some thoughts on what organizations do — and don't do — to create their own fundraising recessions.

Higher Education

Should public university-affiliated private foundations be subject to state public-records laws? Of course they should, write Jonathan Peters and Jackie Spinner in the Columbia Journalism Review.In fact, courts "should cut through any artifice and conclude that a university-affiliated foundation that exists for the purpose of serving the university and performing public functions is an arm of the state and accountable to its citizens....[And] foundations should view those laws as a floor rather than a ceiling, making it a policy to release more than simply the minimum required by law.... "

International Development

The United Nations will commit to new Sustainable Development Goals in September. In advance of the launch of the SDGs, the folks at the Global Partnership for Education have put together a nice post explaining how education is essential to the success of every one of the seventeen goals.


What do Bill and Melinda Gates talk about in the privacy of their home? New York Times columnist Nick Kristof asked them. And on LinkedIn, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan explains what Bill and Melinda — and other modern philanthropists — do better than their distinguished predecessors in the field.

Inside Philanthropy founder David Callahan's call, in a New York Times op-ed, for greater government oversight of private philanthropy continues to generate pushback from certain quarters. Writing in the summer issue of Philanthropy magazine, Joanne Florino, senior vice president for public policy at the Philanthropy Roundtable (the magazine's publisher), argues that "Callahan's calls for more government intrusion stem from an essential presumption of public authority over private giving. He labels the donations of generous Americans...as 'public money'. He mischaracterizes the tax exemption and the charitable deduction as government 'subsidies' for giving. This," she adds,

is exactly backwards. The tax exemption protects the independence of private institutions of civil society from government manipulation and interference. The charitable deduction recognizes that donations given away for the public good provide no tangible return benefit to the donor, and must be excluded from the donor's income. The charitable deduction is unique among all other deductions in this regard, and its presence in the tax code reflects the central importance to our free society, since the nation's earliest years, of voluntary donations of time and money...

"What we find in Tocqueville [Democracy in America]," writes Olivier Zunz (Philanthropy in America: A History) on the HistPhil blog, "is a powerful theory that people work for the common good because they find their private interest in philanthropy. He wanted a democracy where people could have the liberty to improve their own lot and at the same time contribute to the common good. For him, there was no contradiction between these two goals. As he put it, 'American moralists do not hold that a man should sacrifice himself for his fellow man because it is a great thing to do; they boldly assert rather, that such sacrifices are as necessary to the man who makes them as to the man who profits from them'."

In a subsequent post on the HistPhil blog, Emma Saunders-Hastings, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, wonders whether American philanthropy today is "democratic" in the sense that Tocqueville used the word. To answer that question, she adds, we need to know more than the rates of citizen participation or state interference; we need to know whether the philanthropic sector is egalitarian or hierarchical in character — a question made "especially salient" in light of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, which "documents the increasing concentration of wealth at the very top of the income distribution — a far cry from what Tocqueville once thought was American society's inevitable tendency toward 'equality of conditions'."

The TCC Group's Marieke Spence's post on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog is more than a week old, but her advice for would-be philanthropy disrupter Sean Parker, who made a splash with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back, bears repeating:

  • Don't reinvent the wheel before you break it;
  • Effective philanthropy will always be an art as well as a science;
  • Humility. And collaboration. And ... humility.

In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Howard Husock weighs in on Mr. Parker's interest in philanthropy and what might be called "the professionalization of scaling," while reminding readers that the latter is not the only or even "the best way for good new approaches to social problems to gain reach."

Last but not least, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has launched a data visualization tool that details disaster declarations and grants by state, county, and tribal nation. "For the disaster philanthropist," writes Center for Disaster Philanthropy vice president Regine Webster, "it is an incredible resource."

(Photo: 32 Old Slip, also known as One Financial Square, the Foundation Center's new home as of Monday, July 20!)

That's it for now. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line at [email protected] or via the comments box below....

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