Monthly Archives: October 2011
October 31, 2011, 10:11 am
Forget just telling success stories: Admitting mistakes has grown just as important in managing a foundation, said speakers at the Philanthropy Roundtable’s annual conference, in Scottsdale, Ariz., which concluded on Saturday.
Part of the new expectation of openness, said speakers, comes from tighter economic times and from the influence of corporate executives moving into foundation jobs, bringing with them a penchant for innovation and candor about what does and doesn’t work.
To get results, it’s important, “to go beyond the happy talk” between philanthropists and grantees, said Thomas Tierney, chairman of the Bridgespan Group, a consultancy that advises donors and nonprofits. In a presentation at the conference, he advised donors to ask grant recipients not only about their successes but also about their least effective programs—then work with organizations to set…
October 28, 2011, 1:33 pm
What role should philanthropy play in strengthening the U.S. economy?
The Chronicle and the Council on Foundations raised this question today on Twitter to start a conversation with foundation and nonprofit leaders. And the question drew many responses.
Participants shared advice on partnerships between nonprofits and foundations with businesses and government, discussed how they are working to help communities become more competitive, and offered suggestions about what the nonprofit world can do to be more effective in spurring economic growth.
Below are some excerpts from the conversation on Twitter. You can view the entire discussion by checking out the hashtag #philchat.
October 27, 2011, 10:48 am
About 14 percent of foundations invest some portion of their assets in a way that seeks to advance social or environmental returns, according to a new report by the Foundation Center.
The study, which is based on a survey of 1,195 foundations conducted in January, found that large foundations are more likely than small funds to hold mission-related investments. About a third of foundations that reported annual giving of $10-million or more said they hold mission investments, compared with 16 percent of foundations that award $1-million to $10-million and 7 percent of foundations that give less than $1-million.
The type of mission-related investments that foundations hold also varies.
Seven percent of the foundations surveyed reported that they make program-related investments, or PRI’s, which often take the form of loans to charities and usually yield below-market rates of …
October 27, 2011, 12:01 am
Half of big companies gave more to charity in cash and products last year than they did in 2007, just before the recession took hold, according to a report released today by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.
However, not all companies are increasing their giving: One-fifth of companies last year decreased their giving by at least 25 percent of the sum they gave away before the recession started. [Editor's note: The previous sentence corrects a factual error that previously appeared in this item.]
The study, “Giving in Numbers,” examined 184 companies. The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy represents company chief executives and grant makers.
The situation for cash giving was not nearly as rosy as overall donations, the report found. More than half of the companies surveyed gave less cash in 2010 than they did in 2007, and 42 percent reduced cash…
October 26, 2011, 9:56 am
Steve Jobs wasn’t simply too busy for philanthropy. The Apple co-founder found many things about professional philanthropy—the jargon, showiness, and all the rich people who thought they could shake it up—distasteful.
In his new biography, titled Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson explains why the technology pioneer quickly abandoned the foundation he started in the mid-1980s.
“He discovered that it was annoying to have to deal with the person he had hired to run it, who kept talking about ‘venture’ philanthropy and how to ‘leverage’ giving,” the book says.
In an interview with The New York Times, Mark Vermilion, whom Mr. Jobs reportedly hired away from Apple to run the foundation, describes the philanthropy’s brief run a little differently. “He…
October 20, 2011, 9:35 pm
Brad Smith (left), Microsoft’s general counsel, got the idea for the nonprofit after learning that many children who are caught up in immigration proceedings—about 4,000—never receive the help of a lawyer.
Mr. Smith recruited law firms, corporate legal departments, and the actress and refugee advocate Angelina Jolie to help form a nonprofit devoted to ensuring that any child who is separated from his or her parents and then faces immigration proceedings can get access to a lawyer.
Microsoft, which since 2002 had focused its pro bono legal efforts on helping immigrant children in Washington State, where its headquarters are located, contributes $1-million a year in cash to the charity, which was founded…
October 19, 2011, 11:03 am
Would you believe that the William J. Clinton Foundation’s next big project is a “global breathing initiative,” an effort to cut down on carbon emissions by encouraging people to hold their breath for one minute every day?
What about an “international bake sale, changing the world one cookie at a time”?
Such are the ideas playfully proposed by Kristen Wiig, the comedic actress, who appears with other A-list actors in a new Funny or Die video spoofing the Clinton fund as part of its 10th anniversary celebration.
With a deadline looming, Ms. Wiig and other members of the Clinton philanthropy’s “celebrity division” are frantically brainstorming new ideas to help the foundation “do even more good over the next 10 years.”
Matt Damon thinks the celebrity division can strengthen its cohesion by starting a softball team. Jack Black composes a theme song. A slacker Ted Danson proposes…
October 18, 2011, 1:43 pm
Nonprofit news organizations can’t live on well-reported articles and foundation support forever, says a new report by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The report, “Getting Local,” explores the local news operations of eight nonprofit groups, including MinnPost in Minnesota, the St. Louis Beacon, The Texas Tribune, and others. One, the Chi-Town Daily News, closed during the study.
None have developed a clear model for sustaining their operations independently, the study found, and each depends heavily on donations and grants. In 2010 more than 90 percent of the organizations’ revenue came from donations, including 57 percent from foundation support and 34 percent from individuals.
As they mature, these organizations need to find ways…
October 14, 2011, 11:09 am
A nonprofit that organizes young wealthy people to work for social change has started a Web site featuring young people who are pledging solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, who are advocating for increased taxes for the wealthy, and more equitable tax laws.
The site, produced by the nonprofit Resource Generation, includes photographs of people holding up signs that say they were born into wealth, and a message about their beliefs that wealthy people should pay higher taxes, or other like-minded messages. The signs all end with the slogan, “I am the 1 percent. I stand with the 99 percent.”
The site is calling itself, “We Are the One Percent,” to play off a similar site called “We Are the 99 Percent,” which was created by the Occupy Wall Street protesters and displays photographs and messages from working people who have struggled in the current economy.
October 14, 2011, 7:44 am
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a top official with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation until August of this year, will become the new president of the Wal-Mart Foundation, the Bentonville, Ark., philanthropy announced today.
Ms. Burwell succeeds Margaret A. McKenna, who is retiring today after four years at the foundation.
Under her leadership, the grant maker stepped up its efforts to use business expertise to advance social goals and made a high-profile, $2-billion commitment to fighting hunger.
Ms. Burwell begins at the foundation in January.
“Sylvia has proven expertise and real passion for giving people the tools they need to rise out of poverty, addressing hunger issues and promoting sustainable development,” Mike Duke, Wal-Mart’s president, said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have her in this leadership role, and her impact will be felt by the communities and people…