Monthly Archives: October 2011


Smart Ways to Talk About Failure

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, i…


Philanthropy’s Role in the Economy

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 d…


Roughly 1 in 7 Foundations Holds Mission Investments

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 pe…


Some Companies Increase Giving as Downturn Recedes

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 appear…


Steve Jobs Found Much to Dislike About Philanthropy

(Credit: Jessica Brandi Lifland/Polaris/Newscom)

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 hir…


Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Recruits Celebrities and Colleagues to Start Charity

Kids in Need of Defense provides free legal assistance to immigrant children in courtrooms across the country. Its roots are in an unexpected place: the Microsoft Corporation.

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 hel…


Celebrities Spoof Clinton Philanthropy

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 annivers…


Nonprofit News Groups Face Uncertain Financial Future, Study Finds

Illustration by Matt Bors for the Knight Foundation

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 thei…


Nonprofit Brings Together Young Wealthy People to Support Wall Street Protesters

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 ot…


Former Gates Official to Lead Wal-Mart Foundation

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. …