Monthly Archives: June 2011
June 30, 2011, 12:48 pm
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 president, announced that he would step down in part because the foundation, which has $2-billion in assets, planned to put more of its money into biomedical research and higher education in the years before it closes in 2016.
That touched off alarm among progressive groups, many of which sent a letter to Atlantic’s board encouraging the grant maker not to back away from its support of…
June 28, 2011, 3:09 pm
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 foundations to give away more of their money each year.
“We really believe that high-quality and timely data and research can raise the quality of policy debates and ultimately contribute to a policy environment that enables the charitable sector to thrive,” said Darin McKeever, Gates’s senior program officer for charitable sector support.
Mr. McKeever said that as a private foundation,…
June 27, 2011, 3:10 pm
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 foundation in 2000, serving for three years as its program director in Australia, Cuba, and Vietnam. He then oversaw grants on population and health until 2005.
He will take over on an interim basis from Gara LaMarche, who has led the grant maker since 2007. Mr. LaMarche announced this month that he would not seek a second, five-year term and would step down in September.
June 24, 2011, 3:24 pm
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, referring to the political group named after the Boston colonists who protested “taxation without representation.” “It’s just outrageous.”
Ms. Vrandenburg, a playwright and television writer, is on the board of DC Vote, a nonprofit that is working to get voting representation for the District in Congress and is planning a White House rally on Saturday.
June 14, 2011, 3:53 pm
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 cases, Mr. Harold says, these donors focus on the wrong type of information when making decisions about their giving, often looking only at organizations’ overhead and not at whether they are effective in fulfilling their missions.
Mr. Harold and other nonprofit leaders were gathered to discuss how charities and foundations could set up systems that would force organizations to do a better …
June 14, 2011, 11:58 am
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 dominance squashes smaller players. ‘Human beings are contradictory,’ he shrugs.”
But despite his reservations about charity, Mr. Slim has established two philanthropies, Fundacion Telmex and Fundacion Carlos Slim. They are focused on child development and education for young children, says the Financial Times.
And there’s little question that a lot more of Mr. Slim’s fortune, estimated a…
June 8, 2011, 8:25 am
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, which kicked off a controversy several years ago when it published a report that outlined several standards for foundations, including that they should give at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to help the poor and other disadvantaged people.
But now a number of foundations are agreeing to follow those…
June 3, 2011, 9:45 am
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 was created by the foundation’s founder, Todd Michael Krim, a former lawyer.
While the Hollywood Pledge was inspired by the Giving Pledge, the effort by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage billionaires to give at least half of their wealth to charity, it was not meant as a way to get…