Monthly Archives: June 2011


Atlantic Philanthropies Sends Positive Signal to Advocacy Groups

Progressive nonprofit leaders who are worried that they won’t be able to count on support from one of the wealthiest grant makers in the United States took some comfort from the Atlantic Philanthropies board meeting this week. Trustees approved all but one of 80 grants, including some large donations to advocacy organizations.

But the board also made clear that long-term decisions about the foundation will be put off until a new leader is chosen.

In early June, Gara LaMarche, Atlantic’s presiden…


Gates Backs Efforts to Study Impact of Tax Policies on Nonprofits

As charities around the country fret about deficit-minded politicians stripping away the tax benefits they enjoy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is paying for new research on how tax policies affect nonprofit groups.

The $1-million, three-year grant to the Urban Institute will help the Washington think tank study the impact of tax proposals such as reducing or eliminating the charitable deduction, revoking charities’ exemptions from property taxes, simplifying the excise tax, and requiring …


Atlantic Philanthropies Names Interim President

Christopher Oechsli, a lawyer who previously was an aide to former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, will lead Atlantic Philanthropies until a new president is named, the board of the grant maker, which is worth about $2-billion, announced today.

The announcement came as leaders of progressive groups expressed concern to the foundation’s board about Atlantic’s future direction.

Mr. Oechsli is not new to Atlantic, which is based in Bermuda but has a New York headquarters: He first joined the f…


Foundation Leaders Become Jailbirds in Push for D.C. Voting Rights

Foundation leaders are not usually known as lawbreakers. But in Washington, some have been writing articles lately with titles like “Confessions of a Jailbird” and “Why I Got Arrested for D.C. Voting Rights.”

The reason: They have been arrested for protesting the District of Columbia’s lack of voting representatives in Congress—and the ability of Congress to overrule its laws and budgets.

“We’re the real Tea Party,” says Trish Vradenburg, vice president of the Vradenburg Foundation, referr…


Donors Are Settling for a ‘Bronze Standard’ for Measuring Charities

In the genteel world of philanthropy, people rarely say out loud that some nonprofits are better than others, and some donors are better than others.

But those two notions are often lurking in the conversation, because sometimes even the best donors give money to bad organizations, Jacob Harold, a program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, told a meeting Monday of nonprofit officials held at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

In some case…


Carlos Slim Is Skeptical About Philanthropy

The Financial Times has an interview with Carlos Slim, the Mexican multibillionaire, in which he exhibits more of his characteristic ambivalence about the potential of philanthropy to improve people’s lives.

The Financial Times writes:

“Rather than charity, Mr. Slim believes the solution to Mexico’s problems, and his own conundrum, is more investment, especially among small businesses as they create the most jobs. It is an apparently contradictory claim given criticisms that his own market dom…


Foundations Sign Their Own Giving Pledge

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Giving Pledge has inspired yet another pledge for big donors: Today more than 60 of the country’s foundations have signed Philanthropy’s Promise, a pledge to channel a majority of their grant money to needy people as well as to advocacy efforts and projects that encourage citizens to get involved in their communities.

The pledge was circulated by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, wh…


The Giving Pledge Goes Hollywood

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian (Photo by Vincent Damourette/EFE/Newscom)

Laurence Fishburne, Kim Kardashian, Richard Gere, Ricky Martin, and Justin Bieber, have joined dozens of other entertainers and sports figures to sign the Hollywood Pledge, a new effort to enlist celebrities to use their fame to promote their favorite charities and encourage their fans to donate time and money to the organizations.

So far about 45 celebrities have signed the pledge, which is run by the Give Back Hollywood Foundation, and w…