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Weekend Link Roundup (December 16-17, 2017)

December 17, 2017

Last-minute-gift-ideasOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Civil Society

Philanthropy 2173  blogger Lucy Bernholz has released the latest edition of her Blueprint year-in-review survey and is inviting readers (and everyone else) to share their civil society predictions for 2018, which she will review in a live discussion on January 11 with David Callahan (@InsidePhilanthr), Trista Harris (@TristaHarris), Julie Broome (@AriadneNetwork), and moderator Crystal Hayling (@CHayling).

Democrat Doug Jones's victory over Republican Roy Moore in the special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Session's vacated seat in deep red Alabama was "a victory for the black women-led voter registration and mobilization movement...that has been working against stiff headwinds for months — decades, really — to ensure democracy prevails in a state with some of the most onerous barriers to voting in the country," writes Ryan Schlegel on the NCRP blog. 

And here on PhilanTopic, Mark Rosenman argues that the threat to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid represented by the Republican tax plan making its way through Congress means that, now more than ever, foundations need to step up for democracy.


Can a little behavioral economics help nonprofits raise more money? Bloomberg View columnist and legal scholar Cass R. Sunstein thinks so.


There’s no one right way to give. But there are lots of things you can do to make yourself a better giver. The folks at Bloomberg Business have put together a great guide to help you get started.

In his latest, Denver Post On Philanthropy columnist Bruce DeBoskey reviews Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors Are Revolutionizing Giving, by Sharna Goldseker and Michael Moody. And be sure to check out our review, by the Foundation Center's Erin Nylen-Wysocki, here.

International Affairs/Development

Before heading Down Under for the holidays, our Foundation Center colleague Lauren Bradford shared this excellent post on the role of philanthropy in conflict prevention. 


This has been a long and difficult year for a lot of people. But in her year-in-review essay, Sue Desmond-Hellmann, president and CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reminds us that around "the world, more people than ever before are leading healthy, productive lives." And though there is still lots more to do, writes Desmond-Hellmann, 2017 has been a year of "remarkable progress."

Michael E. Hartmann, director of the Center for Strategic Giving at the Capital Research Center (and a former longtime staff member at the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation), weighs in on Philanthropy Daily with a balanced critique of Participatory Grantmaking: Has Its Time Come?, a Ford Foundation-commissioned paper by Cynthia Gibson (@cingib) that challenges the "liberal elitism" (Hartmann's phrase) and grantmaking-by-expert that has come to typify many large foundations. Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther also has a take on the report.

Felix Salmon, one of our favorite contrarians, shares an interesting take on donor-advised funds, "the duck-billed platypus of the philanthropic world: a very weird creature that shouldn’t, by rights, exist. When described, they make very little sense, and it’s easy to get angry about them as a result. But you shouldn’t. Because, weirdly, for all that they are bad things in theory, they turn out to be good things in practice...." And if you haven't been paying attention to the debate over commercially-sponsored DAFs, this explainer by The Atlantic's Helaine Olen is a good place to start.

Here's a provocative question: Is it unethical for people to pass on their wealth to their children? In The Atlantic, Helaine Olen chats with philosopher Martha Nussbaum and law professor  Saul Levmore about that and other timely questions related to the practice and meaning of philanthropy.

On the GrantCraft blog, Maya Winkelstein, a veteran nonprofit practitioner, shares three uncomfortable truths she's learned after jumping over to the grantmaking side of the sector.

Public Affairs

And for a social sector perspective on the likely impact of the Republican tax bill that is likely to become law, check out this joint statement from the Pittsburgh Foundation, the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

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

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