Category Archives: Resource Allocation


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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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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Aug

28

2014
Is this a Good Idea?

Is this a Good Idea?

Do we need yet another group organized to promote nonprofit organizations and defend their good name? Do we need a march to support “the cause of causes?” Dan Pallotta, the controversial special events organizer and TED talk champion of nonprofit organizations’ need for such things as sufficient overhead and competent administration, has just formed the Charity Defense Council. Do we need Defense, or do we really need Offense? The Council purpose is to create better, widespread public understanding of nonprofits’ need for appropriate overhead, for market compensation of workers and for greater public support for increased giving. The CDC’s agenda…

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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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Jun

19

2014
What Does the Village Need?

What Does the Village Need?

Often, in many contexts, we hear the saying about, “It takes a Village to…” But what does the Village itself need these days to be able to do what it is supposed to do? Ultimately, if the Village is that important, we’d better make investments, positive investments, in any way we can. Conventionally, we look to three sources for this investment in the Village, here and abroad: government, private enterprise and philanthropy. Not one can do the job. It seems that two of the three are becoming quite limited in ability to invest. Government investment in infrastructure is at a…

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Mar

03

2014
Are There Too Many Nonprofits, or Too Few?

Are There Too Many Nonprofits, or Too Few?

We read and hear volumes about the growing number of nonprofit organizations, now approaching one million nationally, with consequent warnings of imminent disaster for many. The causes of the disaster vary, according to source of commentary. Competition for resources is big: there just isn’t enough charitable money to pay for it all. Too many groups asking foundations, corporations and individuals for much more than is available makes difficult choices. Then there is the claim of overlapping service or uncoordinated outreach, followed by lack of efficiency, thus reduced effectiveness. Underpaid staff almost exploited by mission and rapid turnover of personnel complete this analysis….

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Nov

18

2013

The Million Dollar Charitable Gift Givers

 A post from James V. Toscano Building on their annual Million Pound Donors Report, the Coutts Institute in Britain, in combination with Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy have issued a report covering million dollar charitable gifts from six geographic regions: the US, UK, Russia, the Middle East, China and Hong Kong. Gifts of one million or more totaled $19 billion in these six areas in 2012. The lion’s share came from the US: $13.96 billion; Britain, £1.35 billion; Russia, $239 million; Middle East, $727 million; China, $1.18 billion; and Hong Kong, $877 million. Estimates go from relatively accurate…

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Jul

29

2013

The Charitable-Industrial Complex

  A Post from James V. Toscano In a provocative op-ed piece in Saturday’s New York Times. Peter Buffett, Warren Buffett’s son, takes on the present system of philanthropy with deep insight, passion and some outrage. Buffett focuses on the growing inequality in the society, with the consequent increase in philanthropy by the rich, and the corresponding rise in the number of nonprofits to help “solve” the problems created by the inequality. He points out: “As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give…

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Feb

07

2013
Guest Post – In Defense of Taxes—Even If They Might Cut into Charitable Giving

Guest Post – In Defense of Taxes—Even If They Might Cut into Charitable Giving

 A post by Andy Robinson This article was originally published by the Nonprofit Quarterly on January 4, 2013 In recent weeks, nonprofit organizations mobilized against the threat that Congress would limit tax deductions for charitable gifts. Because charitable deductions provide an incentive for giving, many nonprofit leaders fear that scaling them back will make it harder to raise money. Following the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, the charitable deduction remains more or less intact—at least for now. As we consider the broader implications of tax reform and government spending and gear up for legislative fights to come, I am concerned that many…

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Jan

14

2013
To B or Not to B?

To B or Not to B?

 A Post by James V. Toscano The B Corp is emerging as an innovative way to use the power of a business model and the market to help impact the major societal problems of our times. The B Corp may emerge as an alternative or a complement to much of the work being done now by the nonprofit sector. Time will tell how they are perceived, although both options are obviously important and both should prosper. There is room for both and more. The idea is certainly welcome. For years, I have been railing about our sector calling itself  “non-profit,” one of…

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