Fundraising for Nonprofits

Inspiring Gifts that Transform

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ever wanted to tell a foundation what you really think?

As many of you are aware, there’s been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere lately around the issue of “foundation transparency.” Today the NY Times joins the conversation with an article, Foundations are Facing Up to Failures, which leads with the Carnegie Foundation’s mea culpa on its own failures in Zimbabwe.

The Times article references a podcast my friend Sean over at The Tactical Philanthropy did recently with Jim Canales, CEO of the Irvine Foundation. In the follow-up comments, Jim asks for additional feedback from the field about how they can improve foundation transparency. So if you’ve ever wanted to tell a foundation what to do -- particularly one of the large “gorillas in the room” -- here’s a great opportunity to voice your opinion.

Since starting his blog less than a year ago, Tactical Philanthropy has fast become one of the most important places online fostering dialogue around emerging trends in philanthropy. In my opinion, Sean's one of the few bloggers who's making a concerted effort to bring all voices to the table, not just his own. You can support him in this good cause by joining in the conversation today.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Philanthropy: Taking care of yourself and your community

San Francisco's Horizons Foundation has announced a series of free workshops around the Bay Area to help philanthropically minded individuals, couples, and families give to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community more effectively and strategically. These sessions are promoted as "donor networking opportunities in a solicitation-free space," though there really can be no doubt they are part of the foundation's larger endowment building cultivation strategy.

That said, I think they've come up with an interesting set of presentations. Have already sent in my reservation for the May 15 workshop entitled,
Caring for Community and Self: Giving as Spiritual Practice. According to the program description, "Generosity is seen by many world religions as how we nurture our community and ourselves. Those who give and those who receive are both transformed, whether the gift involves food, service or money. This panel discussion will explore spiritual insights on giving and transformation from leaders of various faiths."

Other workshops include:
  • Leave Your Story in Trust: Writing an Ethical Will - April 30
  • Socially Responsive Investing for the LGBT Community - June 13
  • Life Income and Testamentary Giving with Charitable Trusts - September 9
  • How to Evaluate Nonprofit Organizations - October 25
  • 2007 Legislative, Electoral, and Judicial Update - November 9
No one is going to check to see if you are a card-carrying pink triangle member at the door, so would encourage anyone who lives in the area and is interested in attending to do so. If you sign-up, drop me an email and we can go together.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Center on Philanthropy receives $40 million endowment grant

My Alma Mata, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, announced today that is has received a $40 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to establish a permanent endowment. This investment will generate about $2 million in earnings annually to replace the annual operating support that Lilly Endowment currently is giving to the Center.

Actually, I'm a graduate of the Center's Fundraising School, which is the only international educational program of its type housed within a university. Founded here in the Bay Area by Hank Rosso over 3o years ago, it later became a part of the Center and continues to provide superior training in fundraising principles and practices throughout the country.

So whether it is my heavily highlighted, dog-eared copy of Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising, my volunteer service with the Development Executives Roundtable Board, or my training through the Fundraising School, Hank's voice is never too far from my ear, reminding me that at the core fundraising is the "gentle art of teaching the joy of giving."

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Update on the health of California’s grant making community

This in via the Philanthropy News Digest. The Foundation Center, in cooperation with the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at USC, has just released a new report on the health of California foundations. Its findings include:
  • U.S. foundations awarded an estimated $4.4 billion to California-based recipients in 2005.
  • Number of California foundations grew by almost half.
  • California foundation assets surpassed $77 billion in 2004, but inflation-adjusted assets remained unchanged.
  • Health remained the top priority among sampled California foundations, followed by education.
  • Colleges and universities and human service agencies received largest, but lesser shares of support.
  • Program support dominated California foundation funding, while operating support displaced capital support as second-ranked priority.
  • Over half of California foundation grants target specific population groups; economically disadvantaged and children and youth benefit from largest shares of grant dollars.
  • International giving by California foundations grew faster than overall giving.
  • Giving by non-California foundations for California recipients grew by more than half since the late 1990s.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Help the Foundation Center celebrate its 50th birthday

Wow, 50 years of service to the community, that's quite an accomplishment! In celebration the San Francisco branch of the Foundation Center is offering a series of educational programs on how philanthropy and fundraising have evolved and what changes are happening in the field today. This month's Development Executives Roundtable (DER) noon luncheon on November 10th, will be co-hosted by the Foundation Center and the San Francisco Business Times, as part of this series. The discussion topic will be "Trends in Bay Area Bank Philanthropy." Here's a little language from the PR blurb.
"In 2005, the San Francisco Business Times reported that the greater San Francisco Bay Area's top corporate philanthropists increased their giving to about $107 million in cash contributions. In its annual ranking of the Top Corporate Philanthropists in the Greater Bay Area, four of the top ten corporate philanthropists are banks. This panel, made up of local banks who were recognized at the San Francisco Business Times Corporate Philanthropy Summit in July, includes three from the Business Times top ten list as well as the bank that placed 11th. Representatives from Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Union Bank of California will address current trends in how Bay Area financial service firms are selecting the organizations they support."
As always, I'll be at the door handling registration, so I hope to see you there. Please note that this is a special FREE event and is bound to sell out. So to reserve your space, please visit the Foundation Center website today.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Rick Cohen muses on how to make philanthropy more democratic

This just in via the White Courtesy Telephone. Philanthropy News Digest has posted online an interview with Rick Cohen, former executive director with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. Very juicy and definitely worth the read. Here are a few quotes:
"Philanthropy in the United States is still structured around a highly undemocratic dynamic, with few opportunities for the voices of communities, nonprofits, and their constituents to be heard."

"Philanthropy in general doesn't do that much to advance social justice, and by that I mean the serious imbalances in our society that have led to and perpetuated poverty and racism and other maladies in our society."

"The bulk of charitable and philanthropic giving goes to organizations that serve the needs and interests of the classes that are the sources of that giving."

"Foundations have been entrusted by the public to use their resources for the public good. And the public has a right and an opportunity to weigh just how much good they're getting from those dollars."

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Google.org, corporate philanthropy the usual way

If you were only to read mainstream media outlets, such as the New York Times and Slate, you’d think that Google.org’s for-profit philanthropy model is reinventing the concept of giving.
"Unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes."
"Google's willfully innovative approach to philanthropy has made the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seem like a 2.0 philanthropy in a 3.0 world."
But I think that White Courtesy Telephone has a better read on it when Glauco muses:
"It’s not a new philanthropy, it’s not a new way of doing philanthropy. It’s a corporate giving program not much different from any other."
Though Google's rapid market expansion has yet to cause the kind of blowback that occured to Microsoft and in the 90's with the browser wars (doesn't that now seem a lot about nothing), it is really only a matter of time, as demonstrated by the widespread negative reaction to its censored service for 1/5 of the world's population living in China.

When faced with such business challenges, conventional wisdom calls for publically launching a highly visible corporate giving program, while privately expanding government lobbying efforts, all in an effort to insure continued public good will.

Funny, that’s just what Google is doing.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Final word on Warren Buffett's transfer to the Gates Foundation

This just in via the White Courtesy Telephone: The The Onion, America's finest news source, reports that the Bush administration has unveiled a $64 billion spending package for a joint CIA-Pentagon program whose aim is to "neutraliz[e] the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's global humanitarian network."
"Once you educate a population--teach them to read, do math, give them access to the Internet--they can use those skills for the rest of their lives," the CIA's [Africa specialist Alberto] O'Hara said. "We don't know what these people would be capable of if left to their own devices. And quite frankly, we don't want to know," O'Hara added.
Thank goodness for The Onion, Jon Stewart and Judge Anna Diggs Taylor.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Are progressive nonprofits too dependent on foundations?

According to Giving USA last year Americans gave $260.28 billion, a rise of 6.1%, which approaches the inflation-adjusted high of $260.53 billion that was reached in 2000. 2005 giving was estimated to be 2.1% of GDP.

To those of you who are professional fundraisers, this is old news, as is the fact that individuals continue to play the most significant role in philanthropy. Last year, excluding bequests, they gave 76.5% of all gifts.

But a very interesting article recently published by In These Times will put these figures on end for many of you.
When you ask Daniel Faber [who teaches sociology at Boston’s Northeastern University and edited Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements] who funds the left, he bluntly says that the dirty little secret is that most of the money comes from large foundations. Faber estimates that “foundation dollars provide 70 to 90 percent of funding support for most social movements.”

... “The Heritage Foundation has 275,000 individual donors,” says Kim Klein. “The Right-To-Life organizations have thousands of small donors. The grassroots of the right wing is actually funded by the grassroots and the grassroots of the left wing is funded by foundations, and I think it’s an enormous problem."
Though Kim stands firmly on the left, on this point, she is absolutely right.

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Innovative nonprofit start-up funding

In the 90's there was Classmates and SixDegrees, but it wasn’t until the 2003 launch of Friendster that online social network websites really exploded into public consciousness. Today there are over 200 such services, with the popular MySpace getting more daily page views than Google!

Last month, a new nonprofit joined this competitive fray. YouthNoise, a spin-off from Save the Children, is the first nonprofit, youth-based social network dedicated to social change. Headquartered in San Francisco, the organization is bringing together young people ages 16-22 from around the world to form a global network for sharing and converting their ideas into action. Featuring 100% youth-generated content, it already has registered more than 113,000 youth from more than 170 countries.

Yet what I found interesting was its funding model, according to PNNOnline:
… YouthNoise recently received an innovative first round of $1.5m in financing to support the launch of YouthNoise.com. This first round of funding was led by Omidyar Network and a consortium of the Surdna Foundation, the Rappaport Family Foundation and Virgin Mobile USA, among others. This investment in YouthNoise represents a blueprint for capitalizing high-performance nonprofits in a way similar to funding for-profits.

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