Author Archives: Caroline Preston
January 10, 2013, 4:15 pm
Mike Rea, founder of Give2Asia, calls the 2004 Asian tsunamis the “first global disaster of our time.”
Now an employee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Rea wanted to use the disaster’s 10th anniversary to investigate what had become of the millions of dollars his group contributed and the many people it aspired to help.
Then he learned that Hollywood was producing its own retrospective (of sorts) on the tsunamis. Even better, he thought, for educating people about a once-devastated land and ways to respond effectively in the wake of natural emergencies.
So Mr. Rea fast-tracked his plans for his “Tsunami Plus 10″ Project to coincide with last month’s release of The Impossible, a film starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.
Mr. Rea traveled to Sri Lanka in August where he filmed a “mini-documentary” called “To Sandy From Sri Lanka: Lessons in Diversified Disaster…
January 3, 2013, 4:51 pm
While the nation’s largest banks have used their charity to deflect criticism in the wake of the financial crisis, their actual philanthropic track record is “lackluster,” according to a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.
The report says that four banks’ corporate foundations — Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo — give only modest shares of annual corporate revenues to nonprofits. Bank of America gave a median of 0.15 percent over the last five years, while JPMorgan Chase gave 0.08 percent and Goldman Sachs, 0.03 percent, says the left-leaning watchdog group.
The median giving by corporate foundations in the financial industry, as a percentage of annual revenues, is 0.13 percent, according to data from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy cited in the report.
The report also faults the banks for…
December 19, 2012, 9:16 am
“Elite” nonprofits like arts institutions and colleges tend to benefit more from corporate giving than do social-welfare charities, according to a study published in the journal Organization Science.
The higher the concentration of corporate headquarters in a city, the faster the growth of local nonprofits, the study found. But the impact was greater on nonprofits that enrich the culture or higher learning of a community than on groups that aim to alleviate social problems.
The study examined the influence of locally headquartered corporations in 100 U.S. cities from 1987 to 2002.
“Corporations are vessels for aggregating resources,” Gerald Davis, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a co-author of the study, said in a written statement announcing the study’s publication. “We find that across every major American city, the resources of the…
December 17, 2012, 8:26 am
The Council on Foundations, an organization that represents many of the nation’s biggest grant makers, has eliminated 19 positions in the last two months, part of a “redesign” its president says will enable the organization to better serve its members.
In an interview, Vikki Spruill, who has led the association since July, said the change was driven by a need to work differently, not a decision to cut certain services or programs. The council, she said, would focus on better anticipating the needs of member foundations and would be creating up to a dozen positions next year that fit that new approach.
“It’s a different business model, and we need different skills and competencies to support a new business model,” she said.
The organization, Ms. Spruill said, would also aim to be less “hierarchical.” As an example, she said the council eliminated its chief operating officer…
December 14, 2012, 8:18 am
The Funding Exchange, a 33-year-old organization that helped to pioneer social-justice giving, announced this week that it is ceasing operations.
Financial woes stemming from declining investment earnings from the group’s donor-advised funds led to the decision, said Casey Cook, executive director of the Bread and Roses Community Fund and chairman of the Funding Exchange’s board.
“Ultimately the board had to make the very difficult decision to cease operations at this time in order to be able to honor our existing commitments,” she said. “The board acted on its fiduciary responsibility not to operate in a deficit.”
In addition to its donor-advised funds, the Funding Exchange held an endowment of roughly $12-million that supported the 16 member foundations that made up the collaborative. The board has yet to decide what exactly will happen to the endowment, but it will continue…
December 12, 2012, 9:15 am
Foundation jobs are often viewed as the most-desirable positions in the nonprofit world, but a new study finds they do not guarantee happiness.
Employees at the nation’s grant makers rated their job satisfaction an average of 5.3 out of 7, according to a study based on a survey of more than 1,000 people conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy.
Employees are far more likely to express satisfaction with their jobs if they feel they are respected, their ideas are valued, and they can use their skills and creativity to make a positive difference, according to the study. Those factors were more important than pay or workload, the study says.
To encourage a feeling of “empowerment” among employees, the study recommends, foundation leaders should clearly communicate goals, conduct employee reviews that are fair and helpful, and give workers the sense that they are valued.
December 5, 2012, 9:53 am
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has selected a longtime board member, Tom McDonnell, to serve as its new chief executive, the grant maker said today.
Mr. McDonnell is a business leader who is retiring this year after nearly 40 years as chief executive of DST Systems, a technology company in Kansas City. He has served on the Kauffman foundation board since 2003 and as its chairman since 2006.
Mr. McDonnell succeeds Carl Schramm, who led Kauffman from 2002 until last year.
Mr. McDonnell said in a statement that he was “honored” to serve as the foundation’s leader. “Our important work in education and entrepreneurship has made an impact both around the globe and in our hometown of Kansas City,” he said.
His nonprofit affiliations include serving as chairman of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and the Kansas City United Way Campaign.
November 5, 2012, 10:42 am
Bloomberg Philanthropies announced today the 20 finalists for a competition designed to spark innovation among U.S. cities.
The 20 finalists—including High Point, N.C., for a plan to adapt a nonprofit gang-violence program to reduce domestic abuse; Philadelphia’s proposal to “re-imagine” the government grant-making process; and Milwaukee’s ideas for using foreclosed property—will attend an “ideas camp” in New York later this month to share their ideas and help them take shape.
“We want to identify the best thinking and most creative solutions percolating up from across the country, elevate the solutions, and ultimately help them spread,” said Jim Anderson, who leads the foundation’s government-innovation work.
The cities are competing for a $5-million top prize and four runner-up awards of $1-million each. Winners will be announced this spring.
Mr. Anderson said 305…
October 29, 2012, 10:56 am
In an effort to educate lawmakers about health issues, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last week announced that it has appointed David Colby as its first vice president for public policy.
Mr. Colby currently leads the foundation’s research and evaluation work. He spent nine years in federal government before joining Robert Wood Johnson.
“David’s experience in both the federal government and academic sectors make him uniquely qualified to lead our representation on important matters of public policy,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the philanthropy’s president, in a statement. “He will significantly enhance our presence in Washington.”
Mr. Colby will split his time between Washington and the foundation’s headquarters in New Jersey. His responsibilities will include sharing with politicians the foundation’s research on health care, in an effort to influence how government…
October 22, 2012, 4:49 pm
Mr. Speirn has led the organization since 2006. He said in a letter that he does not plan to retire but will instead continue to focus on ways to help vulnerable children and families.
“He’s had a lot of accomplishments here, a lot to be proud of, and I think he likes the idea of going out on the top of his game,” said Joanne Krell, vice president for communications, in an e-mail. Mr. Speirn will be 65 at the time of his departure.
In a statement, Rod Gillum, Kellogg’s board chair, said Mr. Speirn had strengthened the foundation’s work aiding needy families by “creating new systems that provide better, more affordable food, higher-quality education options, and clear paths out of multigenerational poverty.”
The foundation also made explicit long-term …