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14 posts from March 2019

7 Things One Family Foundation Is Doing to End Poverty

March 29, 2019

End_povertyThe Skees Family Foundation (SFF) is just one of the more than 86,000 private foundations in the United States, and with a corpus of just over $2 million, we're consistently the smallest foundation in the room at any peer gathering. Undeterred by the magnitude of the challenge, however, we've invested $1.7 million over fifteen years in efforts to end poverty. Along the way, we've learned a few things about how to leverage our funding:

1. Philanthropy of the hands. We named SFF after the grandparents (my parents) who struggled to feed their seven children but always added a dollar to the church basket and could find an hour when needed for community volunteering. Hugh and Jasmine believed in giving whatever they had: Hugh donated blood to the American Red Cross and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the Dayton International Peace Museum, while Jasmine sang in the church choir, crocheted prayer shawls, and visited with surgery and hospice patients. They taught us that so many of things we take for granted — abundant food, clean water, shelter, good health, security — were not ours because we deserved them but because of a combination of luck (being born in a stable, prosperous country) and hard work. They also taught us that all humans are created equal, deserve equal access to respect and opportunities, and are part of one big family. Their legacy — of humility, gratitude, and belonging — may seem idealistic in today's polarized world, but it's the core value on which all of our own families and careers, as well as our philanthropic collaborations, are based.

2. Diversity of viewpoints. SFF unites more than forty family members ranging in age from nine to ninety-one. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Socialists, occupy different places along the gender spectrum, are of many different ethnicities and nationalities, and work at a range of occupations, from nurse and nanny to soldier, salesman, accountant, Web developer, and writer. Each family member is invited to collaborate on an annual grant to an organization that reflects his or her passion for a cause — whether it's self-esteem training for at-risk young girls in California, tutoring and job skills development for young men in Chicago looking to make a new start after time spent in a gang or jail, or business skills training for a beekeeping women’s co-op in Haiti. As well, members of each of our three generations convene biannually to select grant partners with expertise in a specific area — whether it's mental health, veterans' issues, or survivors of trafficking — that are near and dear to their heart. When it comes to our major multiyear grants, we encourage loving debate by members of our all-family volunteer board, with a focus on programs that have the potential to reach the greatest number of people and to create a holistic ecosystem of respect and care.

3. Unity around a core value. Coming together on video chats and conference calls, at family reunions and our annual Skees Family Foundation retreat, we are pleasantly reminded that while we may look and behave differently, deep down we embrace the same ambitious goal: to end global poverty by doing what we can to support equal opportunity for all. "Our interest in human rights and social justice," says foundation director and CFO Sally Skees-Helly, "probably can be traced to a dominant gene passed down through the generations." It's not that our family is unique or special; rather, we believe what we believe because we are humanists and Christians, Americans and global citizens. Too often, people choose to see the world in one of two ways: as something finite that must be fought over and guarded from others, or as a place of abundance where all can thrive. We choose the latter.

4. Our mission serves our core value. Fifteen years on, we've honed our mission to support social enterprises (through impact investments) and innovative nonprofits (through unrestricted multiyear grants) working to provide access to education and jobs to underserved people, in the U.S. and around the world. We strongly believe that the gaping needs we see around us should be addressed now. But the feedback we consistently receive from our nonprofit partners and their clients is that most poor people simply want their kids to be able attend a good school and to be able themselves to secure a job that provides them with dignity and economic security.

5. Building community. The website that broadcasts our audacious intention to end poverty within our lifetimes also serves to unite a community of like-minded believers. A hundred nonprofits that have received grant support from SFF and five social-sector businesses in which we've invested can see profiles of their organizations — and in some cases their own dedicated page — on the site. Five hundred people subscribe to our biweekly blog, "Seeds of Hope," where they read stories of unsung heroes who are changing the world. It's always good news, and it is what keeps us, and others, optimistic about the future. In part because of the great response from readers, we’ve begun work on a social-mission book series that extends the reach of our community far beyond our immediate network of grantees while helping us raise funds for additional job-creating programs.

6. Listening to feedback. Since the foundation's earliest days, we've asked our partners how it's really going and how we can better support them. The rawest feedback always is shared during site visits — whether in Appalachia or Africa — when the people with whom we are meeting are too tired to be polite. In addition, we've formalized an annual process for gathering candid partner reviews by a third-party contractor, and we've made significant changes to our intake processes, eliminating applications and mandatory follow-up reports and taking steps to match partners doing similar work for mutual learning and lesson sharing. Formalized review platforms such as GrantAdvisor and Great Nonprofits also help keep us honest and self-aware.

7. Taking risks. We believe that the immense privilege and responsibility entailed in shepherding $2 million of charitable giving (along with a legal regime that allows foundations to move quickly and try new things) requires us to act. We desperately want to do something meaningful to address inequity and poverty, and, without losing our heads, we have positioned ourselves as first-in funders for many nonprofit startups and impact investments in our priority areas, education and job creation. Because our dollars are few, we feel they can do the most good at the beginning of a project. Operating this way requires us to constantly survey the landscape, keep up with the latest innovations and information, and do our best to discern what is working and what is merely trendy. We consider it a win when programs began to scale, and other funders follow in our wake. But what it always comes down to is people. People who are willing to lead ethically and ferociously; people who can innovate new ways to reach the underserved where they are; people who listen to community members and deliver from the resources available to them exactly what is needed. Just as all human beings deserve a chance to attend a good school, secure a good job, and build a life of security, freedom and choice, we believe all humans are capable of working together to make this vision come true.

Headshot_suzanne_skeesSuzanne Skees is the founding board chair of the Skees Family Foundation, which supports innovative self-help programs in the U.S. and developing countries. Her latest book, MY JOB, Book 2, More People at Work Around the World, is available on Amazon.

5 Questions for...James Cadogan, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures

March 27, 2019

Arnold Ventures (formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation) has been a leading supporter of criminal justice reform since 2011. Under the leadership of James Cadogan, vice president of criminal justice, the organization recently launched the National Partnership for Pretrial Justice, a community of practice involving more than two dozen Arnold Ventures grantees working to eliminate unnecessary and unjust detention practices, with new investments totaling $39 million.

Cadogan joined the organization after serving as the inaugural director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and as a counselor to the attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he helped design comprehensive federal reentry reforms; served as a lead staffer on an initiative to reduce the use of solitary confinement at the Federal Bureau of Prisons; developed national community policing initiatives; and supported access to justice programs.

PND asked Cadogan about the initiative's goals, the emerging field of pretrial justice reform, and the role of pretrial justice reform in advancing racial equity.

James Cadogan_PhilanTopic_squarePhilanthropy News Digest: Your organization is on record as saying "money bail obscures legally required risk analyses, traps people in jail, and contributes to unconscionable racial and economic disparities in our justice system." How does the cash bail system exacerbate the mass incarceration of people of color? And how central to the National Partnership for Pretrial Justice is the goal of advancing racial and economic equity?

James Cadogan: A fundamental principle of our justice system is the presumption of innocence: the idea that, when accused of a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But across the country — right now — there are hundreds of thousands of people sitting in jail who haven't been convicted of any crime, nearly half a million at any given moment. They haven't even been tried. That's because of our current system of money bail.

Generally, after an individual is arrested they go before a judge who reads the charges and sets bail — an amount of money that the arrestee must pay in order to be set free. If you can pay that money, you go free; if you can't afford it, you go to jail. In other words, the size of your bank account determines your freedom. Simply put: that is unjust.

To avoid jail, those who can't afford to pay the bail amount directly might turn to a bail bondsman who can post the amount with the court while charging the individual a fee, often 10 percent of the bail amount. But if bail is set at $2,000, many people are equally unable to afford the $200 fee a bondsman would charge as the $2,000 bail imposed by the court. The money bail system discriminates against the poor — and people of color are disproportionately poor. Research has also shown that people of color are treated more harshly within the money bail system: for example, African-American men on average receive 35 percent higher bail amounts than white men who are arrested for the exact same crime.

PND: Arnold Ventures, formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, has supported pretrial justice reform since 2011 — support that has included efforts to increase transparency around and the use of validated, evidence-based risk assessments in judges' decisions to release or detain defendants. Beyond strengthening implementation of the Public Safety Assessment— which was created from a database of more than 1.5 million cases in over three hundred jurisdictions — what is the partnership planning to do to reduce "unnecessary and unjust detention"?

JC: Pretrial detention rates are driven by a number of decisions and processes under the control of judges, prosecutors, public defenders, court administrators, and other system actors and stakeholders. The National Partnership intentionally connects and elevates partners with different types of expertise — for example, research, policy development, or litigation — and supports them in taking on projects that span a range of pretrial justice challenges such as evaluating the impact of bail practices, working to expand the use of prosecutorial diversion that moves people out of the criminal just system, or undertaking advocacy related to the impossible caseloads many public defenders face.

Pretrial justice practices and operations vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so the breadth of the work we support to reduce unjust pretrial detention is important: National Partnership initiatives span four hundred counties across thirty-five states. At this pivotal time in the pretrial justice reform movement, it's important to understand that even though experts nationwide may have different approaches and don't agree on everything, they're all committed to the same end goal: reducing our unconscionable rates of pretrial detention. By supporting a diversity of efforts, we can help harness that momentum in a variety of places and spaces across the country and give ourselves the best chance of bringing about lasting policy change in pretrial justice. That's where see the biggest value of the partnership.

PND: The Arnolds and your colleagues have long been advocates for the use of data in decision making — not only in pretrial release decisions, but also in clinical trials, the evaluation of addiction treatment programs, and policies aimed at reducing gun violence. Are you seeing promising data from judges' use of the Public Safety Assessment?

JC: Yes. The pretrial detention population in New Jersey has dropped almost 35 percent since the state's criminal justice reform bill was passed and went into effect in 2017, which, among other interventions, required implementation of the PSA. Yakima County, Washington, found that pretrial release rates increased by 24 percent for people of color after implementation of the PSA. And in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, fewer defendants were detained and money bail was used less often after the PSA was implemented.

PND: Criminal justice reform is one area where progressive- and conservative-leaning donors and organizations have been able to get together and actually accomplish something. Why do you think that is, and how optimistic are you about the prospects for progress in this area?

JC: Every interest and political perspective can find something to dislike about the current state of criminal justice in the United States. It is one of those areas in which the impacts of a broken set of systems with misaligned incentives result in complex, deep-seated problems that connect to virtually every public policy domain — education, economics, health care, good governance. That motivates a lot of people who have very different perspectives. Whether your issue of choice centers on the moral dimensions of how we confine human beings, or the massive economic drain criminal justice causes on state and local budgets, or a commitment to constitutional principles like the right to assistance of counsel or the presumption of innocence — we all find ourselves pulling together to reimagine the system, to help people who are suffering unnecessarily right now and to try to prevent others from falling victim to the same fate.

PND:You've served in a number of roles within the federal Departments of Justice and Defense. What is government able to do that philanthropy can't do? And what should the role of philanthropy be in advancing criminal justice reform?

JC: Government is far bigger and more complex than any philanthropy could ever be. And, whether federal, state, or local, the range of responsibilities that governments have is also unrivaled. No other entity is charged with trying to ensure the safe, efficient operations of our daily lives at scale. And no philanthropy could or should replace that.

Our mission at Arnold Ventures is to maximize opportunity and minimize injustice by seeking lasting, evidence-based policy change. That mission is a recognition of the fact that we can't spend our way out of big public policy problems. But we can be bold and innovative in supporting pilots or demonstrations that government may not be able to support. We can move more quickly than government in launching programs and initiatives. We can focus on evaluating the impact of discrete interventions. We can drive advocacy to open up our collective imagination about what is possible.

In criminal justice, philanthropy should be a strong catalyst for new ideas and experiments in reform. Criminal justice philanthropy at its best creates the space for interventions that can be replicated, adopted, and implemented — all to ensure we live up to our ideals as we try to deliver justice to people and communities across the United States.

Kyoko Uchida

3 Ways to Educate Donors About Movement Building

March 26, 2019

DownloadAt your most recent meeting with donors, you probably discussed the impact of your programs and perhaps even asked for commitments for the upcoming fiscal year. Did you also talk to them about funding the movement itself to ensure its future viability and success?

Donors typically give for two reasons: 1) to leverage gifts from other donors; and/or 2) in response to short-term needs. In both cases, the impact of their gifts plays out across two dimensions: helping bring others to the cause, and helping the people or cause served by your organization.

So while it's common for nonprofits to pitch donors in terms of the tangible difference their gifts will make for intended beneficiaries or the cause, organizations also need to learn how to demonstrate to donors the value of supporting the broader movement itself.

How to build a movement

Over the years I've been involved in movement building, clients often have shared with me the names of donors they believe are open to taking a broader view of the movement. On occasion, clients even have asked me to speak with certain individuals to gauge their interest in funding movement-building activities and to share any thoughts I might have about the approach they should take in subsequent conversations with those donors.

Below, I share some of what I've learned from my interactions with donors in the belief it will give you something new you can use in your conversations with donors to educate them about the importance of movement building.

Theme: Elevate Your Donors' Role in Social Change

Rationale: Every day, members of the public are invited to support various causes and are reminded about the impact their support will have. The subtext is: "Give, and you'll make a difference in people's lives." Demonstrating that impact is crucial to the success of your fundraising efforts, but your donors also need to see that your cause — their cause — is being picked up by the general public and that their involvement in the issue is critical to sustaining the effort over the long term.

Talking point: "I don't know if it has occurred to you, but your gift has a two-fold effect. It makes it possible for us to [describe impact in terms of the target population or cause]. But your gift also has an impact on the public. When people see evidence that things are getting better for [the target population or cause], they often are inspired to join in and do their part. Your gift influences the public's attitudes toward [your issue], generating more giving in support of the cause and helping create a virtuous cycle. That's how you sustain a long-term social change effort."

Theme: Promote the Role of the Public in Social Change

Rationale: If you've done your job, your public engagement strategy should already be generating support for your cause or movement. Your goal now is to get to a deeper level of engagement.

Talking point: "We need to continue to serve our beneficiaries while inspiring the public to care more about the issue than they do. Investment in the cause/movement will benefit us all in two ways: 1) better results for the people we serve; and 2) changed public attitudes resulting in more dollars we can reinvest in positive social outcomes and additional public engagement. That's why we wanted to talk to you about helping us galvanize a cycle of movement building." [Consider creating a visual graphic to help make your points.]

Theme: Explain How Public Engagement Can Take Social Impact to a New Level

Rationale: Creating a narrative around the importance of public engagement can help persuade stakeholders to provide additional resources, advocate for policy change, and/or take direct action that ripples through and strengthens the cause or movement.

Talking point: "With your support, we can illustrate impact for the target population and use our next milestone to influence public discourse, sentiment, and participation related to the overarching goal — igniting a virtuous cycle of issue engagement. We need donors like you who understand how such a holistic and complex strategy works." [Consider creating a visual timeline of public engagement milestones to which the donor’s infusion of resources can be added.]

Tap into beliefs

As marketers and fundraisers, we should be cognizant of how supporters of causes tend to act on their beliefs rather than out of loyalty to an institution. Movements are built on these passionately held beliefs. To generate support for those movements, nonprofits must demonstrate that they are fighting in lock-step with their donors to strengthen and advance the movement.

Many organizations know all too well the frustration of only receiving project support or one-off grants that never really lead to much. Funding public engagement with your issue or cause and, by extension, movement building, is an opportunity to challenge donors to look beyond the short term and leverage their influence and dollars to bring new people to the movement. What could be better than that?

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

Weekend Link Roundup (March 23-24, 2019)

March 24, 2019

Robert-mueller-gty-ps-190212_hpMain_16x9_992A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Communications/Marketing

On the Communications Network blog, Katie Smith Milway, principal at Milway Media and a senior advisor at the Bridgespan Group, and Rick Moyers, director of communications at the Fund for Shared Insight, explore four lessons in effective storytelling they have learned while shepherding a campaign to encourage client feedback as a measurement norm.

Current Affairs

"Thirty years from now, a majority of Americans believe that the U.S. will be less globally important. They believe that the inequality gap between rich and poor will have widened. And they expect that there will be even more political polarization. That future sounds pretty bleak, especially given the fact that nearly 9 out of 10 Americans are at least fairly worried that current politicians aren’t capable of changing it." Fast Company's Ben Paynter talks to Brookings' David Wessel about what can be done to shape a brighter future for all Americans.

Health

On the Robert Wood Johnson's Culture of Health blog, Dwayne Proctor, a senior advisor to the foundation's president, speaks with Yolo Akili Robinson, a 2018 Award for Health Equity winner, about how the stress of being black in America leads to physiological responses that raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Nonprofits

Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther continues his series on workplace problems at the Humane Society of the U.S. and concludes that the organization's efforts to hold itself accountable for the actions of its former leader, Wayne Pacelle, are "unsatisfying."

Yes, the doubling of the standard deduction poses real challenges for nonprofits. But the challenge s also an opportunity, writes Social Velocity's Nell Edgington, to embrace — truly embrace — change. 

Can Marie Kondo help you "tidy up" your organization? Definitely, says Nonprofit AF's Vu Le, who then shares ten lessons derived Kondo's method guaranteed to make you more joyful at work.

Good post by Andrew Shulman being shared across Candid's field office blogs about the pros, and cons, of separating from your fiscal sponsor.

Beth Kanter has a nice post on her blog about the importance of rituals in building workplace resilience.

Philanthropy

In a post on the Center for Effective blog adapted from his forthcoming book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count, CEP president Phil Buchanan argues that "there is no formula — no 'plug and play' analogy [from the for-profit world] to be adopted by the world of giving. There are many choices and many ways to be an effective giver, but none are simple." 

In a post that originally appeared on Global Fund for Community Foundations blog, Jan Jaffe, the founder of GrantCraft and now a senior partner at The Giving Practice, a consulting group at Philanthropy Northwest, shares some thoughts about how reflective practice — an approach that has been incorporated into professional development and onboarding programs as a way to help practitioners learn to navigate challenges that arise in challenging experiences on-the-job — reflects on how approach can be used to help shift the power in philanthropy.

Science/Technology

Marielle Velander, research manager at Reboot, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that works with change agents in government, civil society, and philanthropy to achieve their social missions, shares a set of best practices the organization has developed through a collaboration with the Ford Foundation's Office of Strategy and Learning for bringing public interest technologists into an organization.

Women/Girls

To celebrate Women's History Month, the team at CRE talked to three inspirational nonprofit women leaders who have all been through a CRE Leadership Development Program. Here, Dianne Morales, executive director of Phipps Neighborhoods, New York City nonprofit that provides children, youth and families in low-income neighborhoods with services and the opportunities they need to thrive, about the challenges and rewards of being a woman leader in the nonprofit sector. 

(Photo credit: CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE)

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

5 Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Donor Data

March 20, 2019

Prospect-research-ds-pngYour nonprofit understands the value of a personalized approach when it comes to communicating with donors. When its collects and uses donor data effectively, it's able to tailor its outreach strategy to individual donors and strengthen its relationships with them.

Your data becomes especially useful when you're able to see and use it to develop an outreach strategy that acknowledges donors' reasons for supporting your organization. In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can use donor data to help your organization:

  1. automate parts of the data collection process;
  2. reach out to donors more effectively;
  3. identify opportunities for matching gifts;
  4. create and distribute an effective annual report; and
  5. thank your donors personally.

For your fundraising efforts to succeed, your outreach strategy needs to be both personalized to your donors and efficient in terms of organizational resources. It's easier to strike this balance when you've automated parts of the process.

1. Automate parts of the data collection process. Prospect research is key to unlocking effective nonprofit fundraising. And the data you collect is especially valuable as you create outreach strategies for different groups of donors. That's why you need to automate prospect research data collection wherever possible.

One way to automate the process is to integrate your prospect research software with the CRM in which you store donor data. Whether they're newly minted or a long-time donor, you'll learn:

  • Who has a history of giving. Good prospect research will include a donor’s history of giving to your organization as well as their history of giving to other nonprofits.
  • Who is capable of making a major gift. If your current lower or mid-level donors have made major gifts to other organizations, your prospect research software should be able to capture this information and store it in your CRM.
  • Who you need to reach out. The data captured by your prospect research software can help your team prioritize your outreach to certain donors who have positive indicators for potential giving.

After your organization has supplemented the donor information already stored in your CRM with prospect research data, you should have plenty of data you can use to connect with donors. If you're using Salesforce, you can even integrate prospect research software from vendors like DonorSearch to further automate the data collection process.

2. Reach out to donors more effectively. Personalized communications are key to creating and maintaining lasting relationships with your donors. Which is why it's important to use the information you've collected, stored, and organized in your CRM to develop communications that appeal to different types of donors.

Making good use of donor data is an important component of an effective nonprofit marketing strategy, so your organization will want to develop a strategy for segmenting your donors and creating communications that appeal to the different segments. Consider trying categories based on information such as:

  • History of engagement with your organization. Create different messages and communications that recognize loyal donors for their commitment and that answer the questions newer supporters are likely to have.
  • Age, location, and other demographic data. To personalize your approach to different types of donors, segment them according to demographic information and develop communications that relate to their specific reasons for supporting your cause or organization.
  • Activities, hobbies, and interests. Your supporters' activities and interests can help you tailor your communications as well as inform your strategy for reaching out.

The effectiveness of your communications improves when you avoid a generic, one-size-fits-all approach toward your donors and address the various individual reasons they have for supporting your cause or organization.

3. Identify opportunities for matching gifts. People are more likely to give if they know they are eligible for a matching gift from their employer. Corporate matching gift programs are also a great way to maximize donation revenue. Be sure to encourage eligible donors to participate in their employers' matching gift programs.

Often, employees don’t know about these programs — or don't know how to submit the required matching gift request documents to their employer. With the help of donor data, your organization can make the most of matching gift opportunities by:

  • Identifying donors who work for companies that match gifts. Collecting information about your donors' employers becomes especially important when your donors work for corporations known to have generous matching gift programs.
  • Making donors aware of matching gift opportunities. You can include reminders in your communications to all donors or use matching gift software on your website that makes it easy for donors to identify these opportunities when they are ready to make a gift.
  • Reminding donors to complete their matching gift request. Eligible donors must complete and submit a matching gift request in order for their employer to match their gift. You can help by reminding them to complete the process.

Matching gifts can be a great way to build lasting relationships with donors. Check out 360MatchPro's guide to matching gifts to learn more about this valuable means of increasing contributions to your organization.

4. Create and distribute an effective annual report. Your annual report is an opportunity to address your donors' concerns and interests, demonstrating how you've used their donations and gifts to benefit the cause or community.

An annual report that effectively showcases the work your organization is doing is one that puts your donors' support front and center, illustrating their centrality to that work and your reliance on their generosity and passion for your cause. Don't forget to use your annual report to acknowledge:

  • Your donors' support of your fundraising campaigns. Include information about each of the fundraising campaigns donors have supported throughout the year.
  • Your volunteers' hard work. Your annual report provides an opportunity to recognize the essential work your organization's volunteers do throughout the year.
  • Your supporters' feedback. Show that you value your donors' and volunteers' efforts as you gather the information you’re planning to include in your annual report. When you reach out to supporters this way, you can also pick up more information about why they value and support your organization.

As you're creating your report, don't shy away from emotion. Be sure to show your donors just how essential their donations and gifts have been, and how much you value their continuing support.

5. Thank your donors personally. While you may think of prospect research and donor data primarily as a means to identify new donors and encourage them to support your organization, they're also important when it comes time to thanking your donors. In fact, your organization can use donor data to create personalized thank-you notes that help build and foster long-term relationships with individual donors.

Your organization should strive to be donor-centric throughout the giving process, from cultivating potential and new donors to thanking your most loyal supporters. Address their reasons for supporting your organization and remind them of their individual significance to your work.

Providing personalized thank-yous and acknowledgments is an important component of any strategy to motivate donors and transition them from first-time to recurring giving.

Collecting, organizing, and analyzing donor data might seem like a steep hill to climb, but the more you know about your donors, the better you'll be able to connect with them and demonstrate the importance of your organization's work. And the stronger that connection, the more likely they'll be to provide you with support — today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Headshot_Bill-TedescoBill Tedesco is a well-known entrepreneur in the field of philanthropy and, since 2007, has been the CEO and managing partner of DonorSearch.

What's New at Candid (formerly Foundation Center and GuideStar) (March 2019)

March 19, 2019

Candid logoMarch brings the first days of Spring and the beginning of new things. At Candid, we've been marking new beginnings with game-changing training programs and convenings, attendance at great conferences, and valuable research. Here are some of the recent highlights:

Projects Launched

  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution to capacity building, but a new series of GrantCraft case studies provides funders with networking and collaboration insights that can empower their grantees to invest in capacity building. Each case study has been developed in partnership with Community Wealth Partners and draws on that organization's capacity-building work with funders and grantees. Together, the studies showcase varied approaches to addressing the long-term capacity needs of grantees and provide valuable insights for foundations, consultants, and practitioners. The series also pilots a new approach for GrantCraft in which we tap the wisdom of technical assistance providers in making sure learnings from foundation projects are shared widely.
  • Glasspockets recently hit a milestone, publishing its one hundredth profile of a funder that has publicly participated in the "Who Has Glass Pockets?" self-assessment. To celebrate, Glasspockets has launched a blog series, the "Road to 100 & Beyond," featuring foundations that have played a part in the site reaching this milestone. In addition to helpful examples, the series highlights reflections on why transparency is important, how openness inside foundations evolves over time, and lessons learned.
  • We added a new infographic to the Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy portal which shows the U.S. dropping to #71 on the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index — the first time since 2011 the U.S. has fallen out of the top 20. According to the infographic, about 3 percent of overall funding for democracy work goes to open government and transparency efforts. You can check it out and more at foundationcenter.org/infographics.
  • Grantmakers in the Arts published its annual Arts Funding Snapshot in the Winter 2019 edition of the GIA Reader. The snapshot looks at foundation giving for arts and culture for 2016, based on the most recent complete year of data for a set of the largest U.S.-based private and community foundations (by total giving). A webinar that explores the findings is available on the GIA website.
  • GuideStar launched updated APIs with new data and filters, as well as new internal administrative functions, meaning you can now get more data through GuideStar's Premier API that you can't find anywhere else, including nonprofit logos, demographic information, and due-diligence information. You can also search for organizations in new ways, thanks to new filters that enable users to sort by organizations that are in good standing with the IRS and by cause area.

Content Published

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Out in the community! On March 13, our San Francisco office kicked off a new series of monthly orientations at our nearby Funding Information Network partner location. The staff presentation at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library featured forty minutes of training, twenty minutes of Q&A, and an hour of one-on-one support for those who needed it, drawing a great crowd and generating rave reviews. Candid staff in San Francisco is excited to pilot this new program model, which among other things addresses how we can best partner with our Funding Information Network (FIN) partners in San Francisco (and beyond) in anticipation of our San Francisco library closing for good on June 30.
  • What's that, you say? In 2019, Candid will start shifting its efforts from maintaining regional direct-service locations to focusing more on our 400+ FIN partner sites, which are located in communities across the U.S.as well as several countries. Through deeper and closer collaboration with our FIN partners, we hope to make our Social Sector Outreach services available far and wide — services that include the same great programming and access to tools and expertise you’ve come to expect at our regional locations. Please check out this interactive map to find a FIN location near you. And read the full announcement from VP of Social Sector Outreach Zohra Zori.
  • We are working with Sustain Arts and See Chicago Dance on the first data-driven analysis of the Chicagoland dance sector since 2002.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 252,817 new grants added to Foundation Maps in February, of which 5,762 were made to 4,251 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Leverage insights from Foundation Directory Online to connect to funders: Connect Guide.
  • 12 participants from the Bay Area and beyond participated in a three-day Proposal Writing Boot Camp. Check out all 2019 boot camp dates here.
  • New data sharing partners: Aesop Foundation Australia, Colorado Plateau Foundation, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, InFaith Community Foundation, Kalliopeia Foundation, Klein Family Foundation, Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation, St Mary's Medical Center,Notah Begay III Foundation, Scriven Foundation, and the Steele-Reese Foundation. Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world! Learn more about our eReporting program.
  • New customers: RoundUp APP, Tides Foundation, University of California, Santa Barbara, California State University, Los Angeles,F.B. Heron Foundation, Barr Foundation, Elevation Web, Nathan Cummings Foundation.

Data Spotlight

  • In honor of Women's History Month, we are highlighting data centered around support for women and girls across our research:
    • Funding directed for women and girls made up 23 percent of all foundation funding for human rights, some $2.1 billion, between 2011-15. Over the course of those five years, funding for women and girls increased by 43 percent, representing the greatest share of funding targeted to a particular population group.
    • Of all international giving by U.S. foundations between 2011-15, 13.8 percent, or $4.8 billion, was targeted to women and girls. And while overall giving increased by 36 percent over the five-year period, funding targeted to women and girls increased 77 percent.
    • Between 2014-15, 13 percent of all funding from U.S. foundations directed to Latin America targeted women and girls, including a grant of $1.3 million over three years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to Mexico's National Institute of Public Health in support of research on the promotion of professional midwifery.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email. I'll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

New Tax on 'Excess' Executive Compensation Poses Challenge for Tax-Exempt Organizations

March 18, 2019

Tax_puzzleThe ability to attract and retain high-quality executives is an important component in the success of any tax-exempt organization and the fulfillment of its mission. A new provision of the Internal Revenue Code added by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will have a "sea change" impact on the cost of compensating such individuals. Under the provision, "excessive compensation" paid to executives by a tax-exempt organization will subject the organization to a substantial excise tax liability. The penalty may be viewed as an attempt to level the playing field, inasmuch as the tax consequences associated with the payment of "excessive compensation" paid by for-profit employers, in particular by for-profit public companies, to their senior executives can result in the loss of a tax deduction for excessive compensation payments.

What Is the New Excise Tax?

Effective as of January 1, 2018, "applicable tax-exempt organizations" are subject to a 21 percent excise tax on the sum of (i) compensation paid by the tax-exempt organization (and certain entities related to the tax-exempt organization) for a taxable year to a "covered employee" that exceeds $1 million, and (ii) any "excess parachute payment" paid by the tax-exempt organization to a covered employee.

Which Tax-Exempt Organizations Are Subject to the Tax?

Any organization that is exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code section 501(a), such as public charities (e.g., United Way), exempt farmers' cooperative organizations, certain state or local governmental entities, and certain political organizations, are subject to the tax.

What Is a "Covered Employee"?

A "covered employee" for purposes of the new excise tax is an employee (or former employee) of a tax-exempt organization that (i) is one of the five highest paid employees of the organization in a taxable year, or (ii) was considered a covered employee under clause (i) for any preceding year after 2016. Once an employee (or former employee) is considered a "covered employee" for a taxable year, he or she will be treated as a covered employee for all subsequent taxable years. Therefore, over time, a tax-exempt organization's covered employees may well exceed its current top five highest-paid employees.

What Kind of Compensation Is Subject to the Tax?

For purposes of the new tax, compensation includes wages that are subject to federal income tax withholding, as well as certain non-qualified deferred compensation at the time it is included in income (e.g., when such amounts become vested). Interestingly, compensation paid to a licensed medical professional (e.g., doctor, nurse, or veterinarian) for the performance of such medical services (but not for any administrative/executive services performed by such persons) is excluded from the $1 million compensation limit under the legislation.

What Is an "Excess Parachute Payment"?

Under the new tax, an "excess parachute payment" is the amount by which a "parachute payment" exceeds the covered employee's "base amount." A parachute payment is one or more payments of compensation to a covered employee that is contingent on the employee’s separation from employment and where the present value of such amounts equals or exceeds three times the employee's base amount. An employee's base amount is the employee's average taxable compensation over the five taxable years (or lesser employment period if applicable) immediately preceding the taxable year of the termination of employment. In calculating an employee's parachute payments, amounts paid (i) from a qualified retirement plan (e.g., 401(k) plan, 403(b) tax-deferred annuity plan, or 457(b) eligible deferred compensation plan), (ii) to a licensed medical professional (as described above), and (iii) to an employee that is not a "highly compensated employee" (as defined for purposes of qualified plan requirements), are excluded.

What Steps Should a Tax-Exempt Organization Take?

A tax-exempt organization subject to the new excise tax should be proactive in taking the following steps:

  • Identify all "covered employees" for 2017 and 2018 (remember, once an employee, or former employee, is determined to be a covered employee, he or she will thereafter be treated as a covered employee regardless of their later years' compensation level).
  • Review all compensation arrangements with covered employees.
  • Determine the organization's potential tax liability under the tax.
  • Consider whether any current compensation arrangements with covered employees can be revised, if necessary, to avoid or reduce excise tax exposure.
  • Be mindful of the new tax rules when negotiating new compensation arrangements with executives or others who are currently covered employees or may be expected to become covered employees in the future.

Conclusion

The new excise tax is a major change with respect to the landscape in which tax-exempt organizations compensate their executives. Failure to understand and properly apply these new rules can result in significant tax liability for the tax-exempt organization. Accordingly, it is strongly recommended that all tax-exempt organizations subject to the new excise tax take the above action steps now so that they may appropriately mitigate or eliminate any potential excise tax liability.

Headshot_Bruce_Wolff_Hi-ResBruce L. Wolff (bwolff@bracheichler.com) is counsel in the Labor and Employment Practice at Brach Eichler LLC, a law firm located in Roseland, New Jersey.

How Philanthropy Can Catalyze Private Investment in Opportunity Zones

March 13, 2019

Oppzones_792x800The U.S. Department of the Treasury expects Opportunity Zones to unlock well over $100 billion in private investment in low-wealth communities across the United States. The tax incentive, which became law as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, seeks to encourage patient capital investments in more than eighty-seven hundred designated census tracts across the country by permitting investors to reinvest capital gains in designated census tracts in exchange for tax benefits.

Opportunity Zones represent the first time federal tax policy has sought to tap unrealized capital gains to advance economic and community development. Proponents believe the incentive will help transform low-wealth communities, while skeptics have doubts that funds will flow to the people and places most in need — and, even if they do, that the ensuing transformation will have a positive impact on longtime residents and small businesses.

Against this backdrop, philanthropy should step up and help shape the Opportunity Zone landscape so that benefits of the legislation also accrue to longtime residents and businesses.

Here are six ways philanthropy can help:

1. Shape the rules of the game. Philanthropy can influence IRS guidelines for Opportunity Zones — and, if necessary, follow-on legislation — to ensure that the incentive is implemented in a manner that reflects the interests of communities and the intent of the program. For some foundations, this may include support for developing and tracking metrics, stakeholder interviews to uncover opportunities and issues, and/or deep-dive case studies of specific transactions. The data from these activities can then be used to generate valuable tweaks to the design of the program. As always, data-driven insights will be critical to making the case for modifying, fine-tuning, or extending the incentive.

2. Level the playing field. Foundations are well suited to ensure that communities are poised to attract investor interest and have a seat at the table as Opportunity Zone transactions are negotiated. Organizations such as Accelerator for America are already working with cities across the country to create investment prospectuses, while others such as the Governance Project are working with municipal leadership to develop business cases and strategies for priority projects in communities such as Louisville and San Jose. There is far more that can and should be done, however, and the unique features of rural Opportunity Zones must also be accounted for so that those communities are not left behind.

3. Incentivize investor behavior. Capital is likely to follow the path of least resistance. This does not imply that social returns cannot be integrated effectively into Opportunity Zone transactions. Rather, it is incumbent on philanthropy to help create an environment where community benefits, standardized impact reporting, and related activities become "no-brainers" for investors. The Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework, a voluntary guideline recently introduced by the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, is an important initiative aimed at defining best practices for investors and fund managers looking to deploy capital in Opportunity Zones.

In addition to support for emerging norms and guidelines, we see a few additional ways to create incentives for investors to focus on social returns. Philanthropy can partner with impact-oriented investors to demonstrate what is possible in real-world transactions. A few carefully selected and constructed demonstration deals could begin to unlock practices across similar asset classes in different places. Philanthropy could also support a high-profile annual award for the highest-impact transactions, as well as the equivalent of a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for Opportunity Zone transactions and funds.

4. Create investable opportunities. Now that the Opportunity Zone incentive exists, the challenge is to develop a robust pipeline of transactions that meet both the needs of communities and the return expectations of investors. To that end, philanthropy can help by identify projects for investment and provide the upfront investment needed to take an idea to the project proposal stage. Once a deal has been conceptualized, philanthropy can play a role in reducing risk exposure for investors so that deals with the greatest potential to drive positive change proceed.

In addition, because Opportunity Zones are a new tool, template agreements and other documentation needed to enable transactions do not yet exist. Philanthropy can help there by investing in efforts to establish a collection of model agreements that could be shared across locations and projects. Such an investment would reduce transaction costs and help establish norms and expectations with respect to social impact.

5. Build wealth for local residents. It's inevitable that new investment dollars will change Opportunity Zone neighborhoods. As such, it's important to minimize displacement risks and create upside for residents, including small business owners, by better meeting their current needs and creating mechanisms for wealth creation throughout the process, including at exit. This could include clauses that commit project sponsors to hiring from within the community, financial upside for local organizations, and/or clauses for business owners to buy back their equity at a pre-agreed price. To do this effectively, philanthropy should engage with investors and local leaders to seed and share demonstration transactions that show the way.

6. Accelerate progress via coordination and knowledge sharing. Ultimately, the strength of the Opportunity Zone program is that it is inherently local. While each of the designated census tracts is unique, there are common challenges and patterns across designated zones. Philanthropy can help accelerate results and improve the allocation of scarce resources by supporting coordination and communication within and across markets. These activities might include seeding "open-source" solutions, sharing learnings across stakeholder groups, and promoting coordination among leading actors across the country. While informal coordination and information sharing happens today, thoughtful investments by philanthropy could truly super-charge impact.

It seems as though Opportunity Zones have captivated all of us working to build more equitable communities and a more inclusive economy for all Americans. Though the debate about the incentive's long-term impact will continue, the reality is that Opportunity Zones are here to stay. Whether you are an optimist or skeptic, now is the time for philanthropy to step up and demonstrate how this new source of private capital can shape the evolving market landscape and positively impact communities in need of a boost.

Headshot_rhett_tammy_janeRhett Buttle is founder of Public Private Strategies (PPS) and a former Obama administration official. Tammy Halevy is a senior advisor with PPS and an expert in innovative community development finance with a focus on small business. Jane Campbell is a senior advisor with PPS and the former mayor of Cleveland. The PPS team is advising philanthropies on how to best engage with Opportunity Zones.

Weekend Link Roundup (March 9-10, 2019)

March 10, 2019

John-Oliver-picture-1A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

"We have reached a moment when foundations must face the ways they may be reinforcing inequality," write Brittany Boettcher and Kathleen Kelly Janus in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. But, they add, there are three things funders can do to improve their efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Grantmaking

Candid, PND's parent organization, will be well represented at this year's PEAK Grantmaking conference in Denver. On the GrantCraft blog, Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Candid, previews the sessions she and our colleague Jen Bokoff will be leading.

Health

On the Commonwealth Fund's Tipping Point blog, Billy Wynne, co-founder of Wynne Health Group, and Josh LaRosa, a policy associate at the firm, look at actions taken by the Trump administration and Congress to rein in prescription drug prices — and find little to cheer about. 

Journalism

The sale of the Newseum building in Washington, D.C. to Johns Hopkins University is a cautionary tale — one that the museum’s leadership must take to heart when and if it ever opens its doors again. Kriston Capps reports for CityLab.

Nonprofits

On her Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington looks at five key traits that separate nonprofits that grow their work and impact from nonprofits that don’t. 

In a new post on his Nonprofit Chronicles blog, Marc Gunther updates readers on the steps taken by the Humane Society of the United States to recover from the charges of sexual harassment levied against Wayne Pacelle, its former chief executive.

Philanthropy

Jeff Polet, a professor of political science at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, argues in a post on the Philanthropy Daily site that that the first rule of philanthropy (and economics and politics) ought always to be "First, do no harm."

In a post on the HistPhil blog, Drummond Pike, the founder and former president of the Tides Foundation, details the fall of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, better known as ACORN — and, in the words of the site's editors, provides "a new perspective on an important development in the recent past — the tension that arose between grantmaking foundations and more radical grantee organizations." 

How are millennials and Gen Z changing the landscape of philanthropy?

Social Justice

In his latest, Nonprofit AF's Vu Le argues that it is critical that all "communities of color examine [their] relationships with one another, [their] own biases, and how [they] may be benefiting from the oppression of others, especially of the Bback community, without even realizing it." 

Women and Girls

In Fast Company, Eillie Anzilotti examines an unconditional cash transfer program in Kenya which found that when people in a relationship — especially women — received extra money, rates of physical and sexual violence declined.

And on the GuideStar blog, Erica Roberts, a communications coordinator for Candid, shares key findings from the report Encouraging Giving to Women's and Girls' Causes: The Role of Social Norms, which examined survey responses from more than twenty-five hundred people who were asked questions like "How interested do you think others are, or will be in the future, in giving to women's and girls' causes?"

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

4 Questions You Should Consider Before Giving Internationally

March 08, 2019

512x512bbWhether you've traveled to distant parts of the world and were inspired by the inventiveness of the communities you visited, read about an issue in an article, or maybe just feel a kinship with a special place, the desire to help others can quickly move to the top of your priority list. Supporting the efforts of nonprofits working on issues you most care about is a great way to take action. But giving outside the U.S. can be daunting. Luckily, there are lots of resources that can help you achieve what you hope to with your generosity.

Whether you're considering a one-time donation or providing sustained support to a charity somewhere else in the world, there are a few things you should consider before taking the plunge.

1. Where would you like to donate? There are plenty of issues around the world that could use, and are deserving of, your help. But which of those do you feel passionately about? Rainforest conservation in Brazil? Great! Schools for girls in Kenya? Fantastic! The first step is narrowing it down.

Do some research to find out which charities align with your giving goals. A quick glance at most charities' websites will give you a good idea about the impact the charity has had in the past and how it is working toward its mission today.

This kind of research sometimes can be more challenging than a simple Web search. Some foreign organizations have a great online presence with lots of good information translated into English. When this is not the case, donors have some options:

There are a number of 501(c)(3) organizations that facilitate international grantmaking and also provide extensive databases of organizations eligible to receive funding (the CAF America Global Database is one).

Some countries also maintain national registries of charities. The UK Charity Commission and Canadian Revenue Agency List of Charities are both good country-specific resources.

2. How do you make sure you're not breaking any rules? As you might imagine, giving to charity across borders — like any financial transaction — is subject to oversight by both the U.S. and foreign governments, which makes cross-border giving more complex than simply writing a check and dropping it in the mail. In many cases, there's a complicated matrix of regulations related to money laundering, terrorism, and organized crime that donors are required to follow.

While you might think most of these regulations apply to entities on the receiving end of a charitable contribution, they impact the donor — whether it's an individual, corporation, or nonprofit organization. The bottom line? If you're initiating the financial transaction, you are responsible for making sure the funds are used appropriately. This might seem like a bridge too far, but working with an intermediary or other U.S. public charity can take the guesswork out of it. An experienced intermediary organization will be able to conduct the necessary due diligence and protect a donor's reputation, ensure regulatory compliance, and eliminate any risks.

3. Are there tax benefits to giving abroad? When you're looking to support a charity that impressed you with their work on, say, ocean conservancy, getting a tax break is probably the last thing on your mind. But it's not nothing and it's not a bad thing to keep in mind, because being able to claim a deduction for your gift means you'll have more funds available to donate to other causes.

Not all charitable donations are tax deductible, and in fact donations made directly to charitable organizations outside the U.S. do not qualify. That said, there are several ways to receive a tax deduction while supporting charitable work overseas. For example, you can opt to support a U.S. charity that operates programs abroad. Or, if you prefer that your donation go directly to a foreign charity, you can opt to make your gift through a U.S. intermediary organization. Intermediary organizations are U.S. public charities that often assume the risks inherent in making donations to organizations outside the U.S. and make it possible for the donor to receive a tax receipt at the time of their donation. The donation is made to the intermediary, but you'll be able to recommend which foreign charity is supported by your gift.

Donors should check how the intermediary organization they choose to work through operates, as there are differences among intermediaries with respect to the amount of due diligence performed, fees charged, etc.

4. What impact would you like to make with your donation? Whether you'd like to effect change over the long term by paying for a child's education or would like to help in a more immediate way by supporting a community after a disaster, it's important to be clear about your expectations. Clarity about what you'd like to accomplish with your donation is key to establishing reasonable expectations that both you and the charity in question are comfortable with.

Giving outside the U.S. is complicated, but there are a number of organizations that specialize in cross-border giving and have made it relatively simple for Americans to support charitable causes in nearly any country. With the assurances provided by a comprehensive due diligence process and some patience, giving internationally can be a fulfilling experience. By being realistic about the needs on the ground and your own good intentions, anyone can take advantage of the capacity and efforts of charities around the world to do good.

Headshot_ted_hartTed Hart (@cafamerica), ACFRE, CAP®, is the president and CEO of CAF America and has over thirty years' experience in global philanthropy. He is also the editor of Cross-Border Giving: A Legal and Practical Guide, Workbook Edition (Charity Channel Press, 2019).

New Study on the Role of Philanthropy in a Safe, Healthy and Just World

March 07, 2019

Globus-icon-300Candid (Foundation Center + Guidestar) and Centris (Rethinking Poverty) are conducting a study on the role of philanthropy in producing safe, healthy, and just societies.

At a time when many people are questioning the value of philanthropy, the study aims to clarify its role in creating peaceful and inclusive societies that provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and responsive institutions.

A survey designed to identify stakeholders, strategies, and outcomes across a variety of dimensions of social progress is the first component of the study.

Initial results of the survey will be published in the June 2019 issue of Alliance magazine, a leading source of comment and analysis on global philanthropy that is read by over 24,000 philanthropy practitioners around the world.

The June edition will include an in-depth feature exploring the role of philanthropy in peace building — thirty pages that illuminate philanthropy practice around the world, explore the merit and value of community-based approaches to conflict resolution, and profile some of the pioneering people and networks in the field. The issue is being guest edited by a new generation of practitioners working at the intersection of philanthropy and peace — Hope Lyons of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Lauren Bradford of Candid, and the Dalia Association's Rasha Sansour. (For examples of the magazine's recent special features, see https://www.alliancemagazine.org/magazine/.)

A full report on the survey will be produced for discussion by the field at a variety of venues. All those who take part in the study will receive a copy of the report.

The survey has twenty questions and only takes seven to eight minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey now: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Candid_Centris

Barry_knightThe survey closes on Wednesday, March 27, and all answers will be treated in confidence.

Please take part. Your views are important to us.

Barry Knight (barryknight@cranehouse.eu)

What Is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Thinking?

March 06, 2019

Untitled_1960After more than forty-five years in the museum field as a curator, director, consultant, museum studies professor, writer, and trustee, I have observed that in spite of an abiding concern for the integrity of their collections, and despite the sincere anguish expressed whenever a collection is destroyed by a natural disaster or is sacrificed to human impulse, museums too often are willing to compromise that integrity.  

What? 

Museums are willing to violate the public trust?  

Yes. And they do it when they sell objects from their collections on the open market. 

By now, most of you have read or heard that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is planning to sell Mark Rothko's Untitled, 1960, which it has not exhibited since 2002The picture has an enviable provenance, and Sotheby's will auction it this spring in New York City. Reports in the media say that proceeds from the sale will be used by SFMOMA to acquire art by people of color and women, as well as to establish an endowment for future acquisitions. Estimates of what the painting might fetch range from $30 million to $50 million — an amount, it would seem, SFMOMA trustees could raise among themselves if they were truly interested in keeping an important example of the work of one of the world's foremost abstract expressionists in the museum's collection.  

Why does it matter?

Museums are more than just repositories of stuff. They long ago evolved beyond their origins as cabinets of curiosities and today function as social hubs, conveyors of cultural status, catalysts for economic development, and retail trade operations, as well as places for object-based learning, contemplation, and enjoyment.

Notwithstanding the cumulative impact of these changes, the core precept of museums as thing-centered operations is what makes them unique. The museum was invented as a place where the tangible is used to explain the intangible. Collections are assembled for their evidentiary value, the objects in them providing direct proof of the topic at hand. And once they've been selected, those objects should be preserved and protected. The obligation to preserve and honor objects that have been acquired plays out most obviously in the areas of safe and secure storage, scholarly access, and public exhibitions. Indeed, museums have been so successful in making this point that the response to selling a work, as SFMOMA has decided to do with one of its Rothkos, is almost always calamitous.

Except for loss of life, the tragedy museum officials fear most is the destruction of an institution's collections. Museums are stewards of our shared cultural patrimony, and those who curate the collections they hold recoil at the thought of losing objects to chance, negligence, or something more insidious. Notable museum losses that continue to reverberate include the unsolved theft in 1990 of thirteen pieces of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the looting in 2003 of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad in 2003, the ransacking in 2015 of the Mosul Museum by ISIS, and the recent horrific destruction by fire of the National Museum of Brazil

Museums devote considerable resources to protecting the art, artifacts, and specimens in their collections. Tens of thousands of skilled professionals — curators, conservators, directors, collection managers, security and maintenance staff — are employed by museums around the country to collect and safekeep these objects. One must assume that SFMOMA has many such professionals on staff. One could be forgiven, however, for thinking that the museum's decision to sell the Rothko suggests that some of these folks see themselves as temporary custodians of highly profitable and expendable goods.

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Weekend Link Roundup (March 2-3, 2019)

March 03, 2019

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

Criminal Justice

There's a gender imbalance in many African-American neighborhoods, and mass incarceration is largely to blame. Mike Maciag reports for Governing magazine.

Economy

"Much has been written about the massive changes that are underway in the nature and future of work, but we still have more questions than answers," writes Ritse Erumi on the Ford Foundation's Equals Change blog. "But the fact remains that the scale of this challenge requires new ideas, frameworks...experimentation" — and, not least, "the participation of workers."

Giving

When is giving $100 million not necessarily a brilliant act of generosity? When the giver is a Wall Street hedge fund manager and the recipient is...Harvard University. Larry Edelman reports for the Boston Globe.

Could the next big thing in philanthropy be the use of donor-advised funds to support marginalized groups and causes such as women's rights, LGBTQ rights, and climate funding? Gender lens expert Katherine Pease, managing director and head of impact strategies for Cornerstone Capital, thinks it could be, and tells Philanthropy Women's Kiersten Marek how it might work.

Leadership

The "default assumption" in the social sector "that people with for-profit or academic backgrounds are somehow better leaders in general, even in fields where they have no experience or knowledge," is, well, a questionable assumption. Nonprofit AF's Vu Le explains.

Nonprofits

What will nonprofit organizations look like in 2025? Nine members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council share their thoughts.

Can the experience of one San Francisco nonprofit tell us anything about why nonprofits, generally speaking, have short lives? Courtney E. Martin, the author most recently of The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream, reports for the New York Times

Continue reading »

Newsmakers: Jean Case, Author, ‘Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose’

March 01, 2019

Jean Case is a woman on a mission. As the youngest child of a single mom working to raise a family in the small town of Normal, Illinois, and then in the Fort Lauderdale area, Case studied hard and dreamed big — of becoming a lawyer and maybe having a career in politics. But a few years out of college, something new called the Internet beckoned, and she found herself working at the one of the first pure-play online services. In short order, she took a similar position at General Electric and then, in her late twenties, landed a job at another startup, soon to become America Online (AOL), where over the next decade she and her colleagues helped usher in the Internet revolution.

In 1997, Case left AOL and not long after, with her husband Steve, then the chair and CEO of AOL, started the Case Foundation with an eye to "investing in people and ideas that can change the world." As the organization's founding CEO, Jean has helped guide its investments in online platforms like Network or Good, Causes, and MissionFish, and has spearheaded its forays into the still-nascent impact investing field. She currently serves on the boards of Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) and the White House Historical Association, and on the advisory boards of the Brain Trust Accelerator Fund, the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and Georgetown University's Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation. In 2016, she was named chair of the National Geographic Society’s board of trustees, the first female chair in the society’s history.

Case attributes much of her success to her mother, her "first and most enduring role model" and the person who taught her "to take risks, to see possibility, and to be good to others." In her new book,Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose, Case shares the stories of ordinary people who overcame their fear, took a bold risk, and did something extraordinary.

PND spoke with Case in January about the book and the lessons she has learned about success and the people who achieve it.

Headshot_jean_case2Philanthropy News Digest: Jean, I think a lot of people would like to know why you decided to write this book.

Jean Case: Well, the book is premised on research the Case Foundation undertook a number of years ago, where we set out to investigate the core qualities of great entrepreneurs and change makers, past and present, from around the world. And what we discovered was really surprising. When you think about what vaults people to success, it wasn’t genius, or privilege, or wealth. Instead, it boiled down to five things that are present whenever a transformational breakthrough happens. We thought it was interesting research, and we wanted to share it. And we quickly learned that what we were sharing resonated with people in every sector, with leaders of organizations in every sector, from college students to CEOs, in terms of challenging them to think about how they might move something for­ward that might have been languishing, or that they didn’t think they could do.

PND: The transformational breakthroughs you talk about in the book are almost always rooted in the willingness of an individual or an organization to make a big bet, take a risk, and let urgency conquer their fear. Urgency is key in that equation, isn't it?

JC: It is. In fact, I think the role it plays is often underestimated. I like to say that there is no better time to do something than when your back is against the wall, because you have nowhere left to go. It's what Martin Luther King called the "fierce urgency of now," and sometimes it's exactly the motivation we need to get out there and try.

That's really what the book is about. It's a call to people who have an idea about how to make the world better to get out there and try. And it provides a playbook, based on five principles, to help get folks started and to give them a sense of what they need to think about as they try to execute on a big idea.

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    — Anne Lamott

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