Category Archives: Philanthropy


Sep

30

2016
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New Twists on Philanthropy

Last week saw an interesting development in the world of philanthropy, usually defined as giving money to good causes. Often there is also an assumption that it’s done as a donation to a charity, with a tax deduction for the gift. Now we have two examples where that isn’t the case, or almost not the case. Variants on the impact investments of foundations and greater flexibility allowed private business, these new efforts have a much more defined focus. When the examples are provided by George Soros and Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, other philanthropists take notice. George Soros’ Focus on…

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Sep

08

2016
Let’s Prove Howard Buffet Wrong!

Let’s Prove Howard Buffet Wrong!

Here’s what Buffet believes: “Charity doesn’t solve a long-term problem. It addresses an immediate situation, but it won’t solve anything.” He still gives money philanthropically, but prefers to be part of the movement to achieve impact through entrepreneurial solutions. Yet, we in the nonprofit world, certainly up to our eyeballs in immediate situations, also know a considerable amount about longer-term solutions. Take homelessness. Much of the resources that are available are spent in the day-to-day task of sheltering and feeding those experiencing homelessness. Yes, true, although we do know that first obtaining secure, long-term, safe housing in an environment where…

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Jun

30

2016
Mixed denomination coins in various currencies

Is Impact Investing Working?

A Post from Jim Toscano An early indicator in preliminary findings in an ongoing study from the Wharton School is demonstrating that impact investing in companies doing desirable social or environmental work does not necessarily have to compromise financial return. The dual bottom-line goals of financial return and long-term impact seem possible. “Great Expectations: Mission Preservation and Financial Performance in Impact Investing” analyzed the performance of over 50 private equity funds focusing on impact investing. Examining more than 500 specific investments, the study found these investments had similar results as such indices as the Russell 2000. The private equity funds chosen…

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Apr

07

2015
A New Collaboration?

A New Collaboration?

Foundations must spend at least 5% of their corpus each year, under a federal requirement governing their activities. Imagine what could be done if all of their corpus–spending and investments-were directed at their missions? What about their staffs—those substantive and technical experts they hire—could they work cooperatively as truly equal partners with nonprofits and for-profits in the formulation of the very projects they all want to see succeed? For many years, a handful of foundations have been making program-related low interest loans to further their mission; others have been managing investments away from certain areas, e.g. cigarettes, fossil fuels, gambling…

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Feb

02

2015
A New, Old Fear

A New, Old Fear

Since the great recession of 2007-2010, gifts to charities have changed in subtle ways. Not only was there a temporary reduction in overall totals, but the mix has also changed. The interior and shape of the gift pyramid have changed. Donor behavior has changed. There are many bright spots as we emerge from the crisis. We hear many accounts of increases in digital giving, often in small amounts, although in larger numbers. Certain “days” resound with increasing totals, such as the Give to the Max and Giving Tuesday. Crowd-funding may be a new avenue, or a temporary fad. We also…

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Dec

29

2014

2015: Ten Nonprofit Trends

The new year will be a better year all around for the nonprofit sector, part of the post 2008-09 recovery. Many variables are in play, as always, with the following ten standing out for special attention in 2015. 1. The Growing Disparity within the Nonprofit Sector Similar to the growing disparity in family household incomes, there is and will continue to be a growing gap between the well-established large nonprofits and the smaller less stable mass. In terms of percentage growth, in terms of income growth, in terms of program growth, the larger organizations are thriving while the others are, in…

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Dec

04

2014
Ten Behaviors: Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

Ten Behaviors: Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

The idea of creating a culture of philanthropy is hot right now, either a fad or a real commitment by nonprofits to envelop boards, staff, volunteers and constituency (visitors, members, clients, patients, volunteers, staff, committee members, board members, donors, legacy leavers, etc.) in deep recognition of the overall importance of philanthropy in the life of the organization. (See my earlier posting on the Culture of Philanthropy) There are many websites talking about it, listing what to do in training, offering training, listing qualities to be achieved, selling packages, offering consulting and on and on. We know it takes years, often,…

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Oct

06

2014
What Next?

What Next?

Will all nonprofits-agencies, foundations, associations, support groups, etc.- have to register with the feds as commodity-pool operators if they have endowments or other invested assets? In his Wall Street Journal column, Jason Zweig reports that the Dodd-Frank Act requires Commodities Future Trading Commission registration if an organization that oversees money “for more than one entity-other nonprofits, certain affiliates, or individuals- and invests, even indirectly, in certain financial contracts.” Nonprofits, per se, are not exempted from the provisions of the Act, which is aimed at the causes of a number of financial collapses due to investments in high risk deals including…

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Sep

22

2014
The New Role – Will Our Sector Lead?

The New Role – Will Our Sector Lead?

The number of challenges to the nonprofit sector, what I call the civil benefit sector, is increasing at a rather rapid rate. What the economists characterize as the “failures of the market” are under increasing pressures to be something else. At heart, we are the embodiment of the noble American traditions of collective action for the common good. We always cite the neighbors who bring the lumber and the lunch to rebuild the barn. Toqueville recognized a good thing. What we symbolize is the great stream of generosity toward others, of mutual help, of teaching our neighbors “to fish,” rather…

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Jul

14

2014
Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

Everyone these days appears to be using the concept of a “Culture of Philanthropy” to get the point across that nonprofit organizations rely on resources and relationships for their sustenance, if not their existence. When googled, the concept receives 461,000 entries, seemingly mostly from consulting firms seeking business. The phrase is a great summary of what nonprofits are all about, especially in a procedural way. Substantively, we research, we teach, we feed, we exhibit, we heal, we preach, we tinker—we do many things benefitting civil society. Procedurally, we’re being told that our culture—our beliefs, opinions, values, orientations, relationships, and interactions—needs…

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