Monthly Archives: May 2011


Former Cisco CEO and Wife Reflect on Challenges of Giving Away Money

John and Tashia Morgridge

John and Tashia Morgridge (Photo by Peter Jordan)

John and Tashia Morgridge would be near the top of any list of philanthropic power couples.

Mr. Morgridge, former chief executive of Cisco Systems, and Ms. Morgridge, who worked as a special-education teacher, have given more than $266-million since 2004, according to The Chronicle‘s annual tallies. Last summer they signed the Giving Pledge, a statement saying they will donate at least half their net worth to charity.

Married for 55 years, the Mo…


Common Mistakes Made by Grant Applicants

The best way to get a grant is to contact the grant maker directly, tailor your application to the grant you’re seeking, and not overpromise results or exaggerate your abilities. Those are some of the tips from the grant makers and consultants The Chronicle interviewed at this year’s annual meeting of the Council on Foundations in Philadelphia. Even organizations hand-picked to compete for a grant can fall victim to those mistakes, says one foundation staff member.

What common mistakes do you s…


George Soros on Philanthropy

What will Open Society Foundations look like without George Soros?

That’s one of many topics The Chronicle discussed with the billionaire hedge-fund manager during an hourlong conversation earlier this month. (Read the full profile of Mr. Soros here).

The 80-year-old philanthropist says he’s worried that the Open Society Foundations will lose its innovative spirit after he’s gone. His staff members say they are less concerned, noting that younger employees share Mr. Soros’s appetite for risk tak…


Big Gifts Make a Comeback

While many charities are still struggling to raise money in the face of a sluggish economy, giving by America’s wealthiest donors appears to be making a comeback.

From January 1 through May 15, The Chronicle has confirmed 225 donations of $1-million or more totaling close to $2.4-billion. That is at least $1-billion more than in 2010, when 145 such donations accounted for more than $1.3-billion.

And donations of $100-million or more also surged this year. In fact, gifts of that size have more th…


New Tool Can Help Charities Focus Their Pitch for Support

Three major nonprofit groups released a tool this week to help charities do a better job of describing their work so donors can easily assess their results.

The tool is part of a project called Charting Impact, organized by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, and Independent Sector. It lists five questions groups can use to create a report about a charity’s plans and successes or to devise a strategic plan:

*  What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

* What are your strategies for ma…


MacArthur’s President Discusses His First Two Years on the Job

Robert Gallucci served as special envoy for the State Department, chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994, and, for 13 years, dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

His first job in philanthropy is a plum one: president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Mr. Gallucci spoke recently with The Chronicle about what he’s learned since he took the job nearly two years ago.

In person, Mr. Gallucci is friendly and witty. He describes a …


New Site Hopes to Help Donors Improve Results

A new Web site seeks to help donors cut through “philanthro-babble” and jargon to provide advice on giving.

The site,, which is run by the Bridgespan Group, a consulting company, focuses on six questions philanthropists should ask, including, “What are my values and beliefs?” and “What am I accountable for?

The site borrows its concepts from the new book Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results, by Thomas J. Tierney and Joel L. Fleishman, and includes case studies, checklists, an…


What Foundation CEO’s Think About Evaluation

The Center for Effective Philanthropy released a survey at its conference in Boston today that injects some new data into the debate about whether foundations are doing enough—or too much, in the eyes of some—to measure their performance.

Seventy-two percent of 173* foundation chief executives surveyed said that assessing their organization’s performance is a high priority, and 68 percent believe grant makers have made great progress in measuring their performance over the past decade.

Just 19 p…


Lifting the Veil on Philanthropic Giving

The foundation world is notoriously private. So, too, are wealthy donors.

Yet their giving decisions can have huge implications for nonprofits—and can help inform the work of their fellow donors.

With this blog, we plan to report on what foundations are up to and what’s on the minds of wealthy donors. We’ll report news, like a major foundation’s decision to change its strategy or the settlement of a wealthy philanthropist’s estate. We’ll share tidbits from interviews with major philanthropists. …