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November 1, 2011, 12:26 pm
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says the “hyperpartisanship” in American politics keeps her up at night. She’s not alone.
Diana Aviv, president of Independent Sector, made the topic a theme of her keynote speech at the annual meeting in Chicago of the nonprofit coalition. Two other chief executives, Melissa Bradley, of the Tides Foundation, and Bob Edgar, of Common Cause, spent an hour and a half at the meeting discussing how it has posed challenges for their organizations.
In her speech, Ms. Aviv said that many important government social programs are being eroded because of fiscal challenges and the failure of politicians to reach agreement. Ms. Aviv urged nonprofits to play a leading role in promoting national discussions about the kind of society Americans want and the role of government in achieving it.
“What better meeting ground than our …
October 31, 2011, 10:19 pm
Many nonprofit workers are worried that they won’t have enough money to retire comfortably, according to initial results released today of a survey about financial security among nonprofit employees. The early findings were presented at the annual Independent Sector meeting in Chicago.
That concern is prompting some employees to consider leaving the nonprofit world, says the study, which was conducted by the TIAA-CREF Institute, an arm of the retirement-fund giant, and Independent Sector.
The telephone survey of 1,000 people found that only 18 percent say they are very or extremely confident that they’re putting aside enough money for retirement. About 45 percent reported that they have considered taking jobs outside the nonprofit world because of financial concerns, including retirement.
“There is a significant level of concern, particularly among early- and mid-career…
April 20, 2011, 9:24 am
Redwood City, Calif.
Plenty of examples exist of not-so-successful attempts by celebrities to engage in nonprofit work and advocacy. The Eastern Congo Initiative, started by the actor Ben Affleck, is winning some praise as an example of a smart approach.
Last week Mr. Affleck spoke about the project here at the Global Philanthropy Forum, an annual meeting of donors.
Mr. Affleck said he started thinking about getting involved in advocacy work when he was asked, like a lot of celebrities, to help raise awareness about the violence in Sudan’s Darfur region.
“I was sort of the 10th celebrity in line,” he joked. “They had George,” he said, referring to the actor George Clooney.
But in reading about Darfur, Mr. Affleck started to learn about Eastern Congo, where millions of people have died in civil conflict since the late 1990s.
That led to further reading, and then trips to…
April 18, 2011, 10:38 pm
Redwood City, Calif.
Like a lot of wealthy people, Ron Cordes started a family foundation with some of the money he received when another company acquired the business he had helped to create. But unlike most of those people, he’s focused more of his attention on using the foundation’s investment portfolio to advance social causes than on making grants.
Mr. Cordes talked about his experience during a session at the Global Philanthropy Forum, a meeting of donors involved in international causes.
He said that donors are missing a great opportunity by trying to influence social change only by awarding money to charities.
“We’re trying to solve all the problems with about $300-billion a year,” the amount Americans donate to charitable causes, Mr. Cordes said. That’s dwarfed, he noted, by the dollars invested in the stock market, about $41-trillion.
About a year and a half…
April 15, 2011, 10:43 am
Redwood City, Calif.
Three people who have signed the Giving Pledge—a commitment to give away at least half of their fortunes—spoke on Thursday about why they think rich people should donate more and what they hope the pledge will achieve.
John Morgridge, chairman emeritus of Cisco, and his wife, Tashia, were joined by Lorry Lokey, founder of Business Wire, for an evening conversation at the Global Philanthropy Forum, an annual meeting for donors.
The Morgridges were among a small group who attended the very first dinner organized by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in May 2009, even before the pledge idea was fully baked. Mr. Morgridge said that people at the initial dinner floated the idea of doing videos and interviews to promote the pledge to others but instead decided that hosting more dinners would be the best way to try to recruit other wealthy people to…
April 14, 2011, 10:26 am
Redwood City, Calif.
Could a national effort to fight malnutrition, backed with significant money from the World Bank, have no impact?
Yes, according to Howard White, executive director for the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, a nonprofit dedicated to determining what works in international antipoverty efforts. Mr. White was among more than two dozen speakers who participated in the opening day of the Global Philanthropy Forum, an annual meeting for donors.
His speech underscored the importance of testing whether programs work before putting more money into expanding them.
Mr. White described the Bangladesh Integrated Nutrition Project, an effort to fight malnutrition in Bangladesh supported by the World Bank. The program provided mothers with counseling on nutrition, supplemental feeding to severely malnourished children, and other kinds of support.
April 13, 2011, 4:47 pm
At the closing session of the Council on Foundations meeting on Tuesday, a majority of people voted to do away with the charitable deduction and other tax breaks that benefit foundations.
OK, not really.
It was all part of a mock trial the council put together—with philanthropy as the defendant—to debate whether foundations are fulfilling their mission of advancing the common good.
The sentence for philanthropy, if found guilty of falling short on its mission: losing its tax-exempt status.
Acting as prosecutor, Gara LaMarche, president of the Atlantic Philanthropies, argued that philanthropy has failed in three key ways.
First, it too often acts in its own self-interest. One example: Foundation leaders’ opposition to President Obama’s proposal to cap the charitable deduction, which the president floated as a way to help pay for a health-care…
April 13, 2011, 8:31 am
Foundations need to change their message to legislators, to focus on how philanthropy serves people and reduces the burden on government, said Steve Gunderson, president of the Council on Foundations, on the closing day of the council’s annual meeting. Philanthropy requires help increasing its resources so it can do more, not less, he said.
“We have to make the case that philanthropy isn’t a special interest, but it’s an entity in American society that’s a partner in building our community,” he said. “Every item on our legislative agenda is designed in a way to increase our ability to serve.”
Philanthropy also needs better research about how proposed changes to the charitable deduction and other tax policies would affect giving, said Carol S. Larson, president of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
“These aren’t going to be simple…
April 12, 2011, 11:35 pm
Foundations can play a more effective role in the future of media and journalism, say the authors of a report on grant making to journalism organizations during the Council on Foundations annual conference.
Michele McLellan, a consultant for the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, in Miami, offered five things foundations should know about journalism and media grant making:
April 12, 2011, 10:18 am
An afternoon session here at the Council on Foundations annual meeting tackled the big questions behind foundation-board diversity, including perhaps the biggest: how to explain the gap between talking about making boards more diverse and the current reality.
According to recent studies, 8 percent to 14 percent of nonprofit CEO’s and board members are minorities. Many in the discussion session believed that the gap was a lack of will. While most people would like to see foundation boards become more diverse, very few foundations have put in the necessary leg work and pushed themselves outside of their comfort zones to ask people from different backgrounds, speakers said.
“I don’t believe the will will be expressed by most boards whether they are philanthropic boards or corporate boards,” said Charlynn Goins, chairman of the board at the New York Community Trust.
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