Philanthropy

How funders can help overcome the Overhead Myth
“Among the many myths that pervade the nonprofit sector, the Overhead Myth is perhaps the most destructive,” Nell Edgington says. “It is the erroneous idea that nonprofits must keep their fundraising and administrative costs cripplingly low, which leads to anemic...  more
Nonprofits need a new social contract with foundations
With the new year, changes in many aspects of American society are bound to come. Nonprofit organizations supporting conservation, human rights, and women’s health, to name just a few initiatives, will feel headwinds from Washington. Some nonprofits have reported...  more
Ed Scott, Silicon Valley’s most effective giver
Ed Scott is not as well-known for his philanthropy as the high-profile residents of Silicon Valley like Mark Zuckerberg and eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, but his activities are notably wide-ranging. He has a special interest in Africa but also founded the Scott...  more
The yacht owners saving the seven seas
As worrying as the condition of the world’s oceans is—90 percent of the oceans experience a combination of overexploitation, pollution, acidification, and climate change—more and more people are working to overcome those problems. Prominent in the effort are yacht...  more
Grants management and the foundation of the future
Experienced philanthropists know that every aspect of a foundation’s work has an impact on its effectiveness and the success of the programs it supports. There seems to be increased awareness that grantmakers and the organizations they support can both achieve more...  more
To get on the same page as grantees, funders must play the same game
Foundations and the organizations they fund have the same goal, at least on the surface: alleviate suffering and foster change. And though they want to be parthers, they take vastly different approaches on the way to that goal. As one observer put it, nonprofits are...  more
How donors can spread ideas to help kids
Education receives a great deal of attention and money, yet preparing children for their first years in school is shockingly underfunded. Consider that as many as 25 percent of children from low-income families are not ready for kindergarten, as J.B. Pritzker and his...  more
For foundations, succession planning should be a high priority
“Plan ahead” was IBM’s famous motto, while the Boy Scouts reminded its members to “Be prepared.” What was good advice for corporate employees and young men is equally relevant to private foundations that have to replace an executive. “You should already have a well...  more
Report urges nonprofit boards to ‘do better’
For all the nonprofit organizations with decades-long histories, there are also those that end abruptly. New York’s City Opera had a lengthy and public end, while the Federation for Employment & Guidance Service (FEGS) collapsed in a few months and received less...  more
Wall Street philanthropy: The 6 do’s and don’ts from the trading floor
“Wall Street is having an ever-growing influence on philanthropy,” Chris Addy says. “A 2015 research paper titled ‘The Wall Street Takeover of Nonprofit Boards’ found that the percentage of nonprofit board members who come from finance has doubled since 1989.” Addy,...  more
Funding documentaries to drive policy change
Some of the ways a philanthropist can promote social change are by supporting intervention with at-risk groups or lobbying legislators. Education is also important, and one effective means of educating the public is through film. Documentaries, whether shown on...  more
How to give away $1 billion
It only seems like being a philanthropist should be easy. To be a truly effective philanthropist is challenging. Decisions confront would-be donors at every turn, and answers are difficult to find. Moreover, a new generation is trying to find its own way through the...  more
Never lose sight of these bedrock fundraising truths
Nonprofit board members who are new to fundraising may find the assignment daunting, as most people likely would. Even veterans could pick up a pointer or two from fundraising consultant and author Kay Sprinkel Grace. In this blog post for GuideStar, Grace chooses...  more
How offering an innovation prize energized our grant making
The J.M. Kaplan Fund held an open call for social entrepreneurs and found itself changed by the selection process. The foundation created the J.M.K. Innovation Prize to “seek out boldly promising ideas in the field of social-sector innovation—however untested or...  more
Miriam Heatherich and First Hand: Rescuing children
The mission of Singapore-based nonprofit First Hand is protecting children, particularly disabled children from Cambodia, who are in desperate need of aid. Although the Pol Pot regime was overthrown in 1979, the damage done to the country is still being felt. “There...  more
Make advocacy a part of every board member’s duty
For a nonprofit board member, just showing up is not even close of 80 percent of the job. There is governance and fund raising, for example, and there is advocacy. Stand For Your Mission is a campaign that promotes “creating positive change through board advocacy,”...  more
Knowledge Services for smarter philanthropy
For family foundations that may operate with limited resources it would be beneficial to have access to information about how other foundations have solved problems, what issues they have worked on, and what they are working on now. The good news is that just such a...  more
Classical music philanthropy
The dire state of the classical music recording industry is well known. CD sales are dropping every year and the major labels take on few new artists. Even so, performing organizations and individual musicians continue to prepare new works, rehearse and perform them,...  more
Foundations must move fast to fight climate change
Climate change’s impact on the mission of most foundations could be profound, even to the point of negating supported programs’ ability to improve people’s lives. Yet with all that has been done, it may not be enough. Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer and...  more
Aiming to Succeed: Measuring Gift Effectiveness
Satisfaction in philanthropy doesn’t come from just writing the check, but also from knowing that the money was used effectively. This white paper from GenSpring Family Offices and The Philanthropic Initiative is a guide to evaluating philanthropy, as it applies to...  more
Building Capacity by Transforming Grantor/Grantee Relationships
“We often hear that nonprofits desire a closer and more open relationship with their funders,” Sai Siegel says. “And while many grantmakers support this idea, it’s not always clear what it actually means in practice.” Siegel was the director of the Bayview Hunters...  more
Conserving the Galápagos
“There must be many people in the cut-throat world of corporate finance who have vowed to abandon a life driven by money in order to do something to save the planet. But how many actually follow through?” How To Spend It writer Simon de Burton asks. One who did was...  more
St. Barth: How The Top Five Resorts Compare
A Caribbean vacation can be wonderful no matter the time of year, but after one of the coldest and snowiest winters the Midwest and Northeast have seen in years, it is practically de rigueur. Fortunately, Gary Walther, the Hotel Detective, has done the hard work of...  more
Perceiving Progress
Ask a foundation CEO how his organization is achieving its goals and he’ll tell you it’s doing fine, though the sector as a whole could do better. But if that is the consensus, then something is amiss, just as all the children in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake...  more
Billionaire Whisperer Teaches Donors to Expand Philanthropy Beyond Checks
Dog whisperers and horse whisperers tame animals but “billionaire whisperer” Jennifer McCrea has a rather different specialty. McCrea, whose appellation comes from Bloomberg writer Anthony Effinger, specializes in imparting best philanthropic practices to the top...  more
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