If you haven't joined Omidyar.net you might want to check it out. Good discussions of giving, prosocial business, and social venture philanthropy. See the same names wherever I go these days, including Ted Ernst, Julie Evans, Marty Kearns, and Tom Munnecke. Interesting to see how the conversation about new models of giving is being conducted in so many venues. I hear talk about uplift, social ventures, networks, and even about activism, political engagement, and organizing. Even serious talk about what it means for a society to be democratic, stronger for all the differences of opinion and party. You get the impression that something will emerge as new a e-bay and as old as mutual trust and respect. Movement? Hub? Business? Network? Political force? A Gift Circle? What? Those who are read this stuff, what do you intuit about the next steps? It sure isn't elite philanthropy, old school. And it isn't left versus right, either. It isn't just bottom up (witness Omidyar on line chatting on his site), nor top down. It is peer to peer where wealth is less important than the ability to communicate, learn, and cooperate. Very promising. What Tom Munnecke would call a "a pattern of uplift."
Tried to leave this comment on Chris blog, in response to a great post on Lewis Hyde's The Gift, but the comment wouldn't fit in the box provided.
Great posts. "Solidarity" or community might be the words to use for that kind of human b*ondage, in which we are bound by duty, reciprocity, friendship, or love. Cluetrain is within the market. I once described it as choochoo train in a mall at Christmas carrying gifts for all the good little girls and boys. The book is political. Utopian rhetoric, but market solutions. Since then I think that Doc and certainly Weinberger have become more politically alert. "World of of Ends" is an attempt to get Cluetrainish about political life, or life in a polis. But it lacks a serious grounding in political philosophy and theory. Lenore's reading, by contrast, is deep, if lopsided. She could emerge as a bridge into the best contemporary thinking on civil society, through her connections with Hudson, Heritage, and other right leaning think tanks, through her friendship with the great writer and thinker of civil society, Dick Cornuelle, and through her growing if improbable friendship with Tracy Gary, whose connections go deep into the best educated of the leftists. Keep it up, Chris, OK? This open space thing is heating way up. You are on the right themes and are picking up readers like Lenore whose agreements and disagreements will push this conversation where it belongs - in the public eye among concerned citizens of all persuasions, as Americans.
Great posts recently from Lenore Ealy on the themes of Christianity, giving, and justice. She even draws on Milton and Shakespeare for models. She honors the conversation by forcing the hard issues to the surface, then responding openly and in good humor to the many passionate, and often dissenting comments. She is running a her own "Open Space" or Areopagus post by post. The most important thing is not agreeing or disagreeing, but honoring one another and the importance of the issues by giving our best, with passion and respect. She sets a wonderful example. Wish she did not to effectively refute me, but then, I could use a little debating practice. Now, if Tracy Gary just had a blog....
A feisty, good-hearted foundation leader from Maine said to me, via email, in effect, "We don't need no stinking bureaucracy called a 'Hub.' We will do what do right here in Maine." Relishing her response, I tried to clarify, in the note below, what we hope to accomplish. All criticism is very much welcome and needed.
Today, as we speak people throughout the US are talking to their JDs, life insurance agents, and financial advisors about their wills, trusts, and estates. Few will make bequests, and what bequests are made will most often be small. The advisors don't bring it up, and when they do it is a small ineffectual gesture, "Are you philanthropic?"
I find, though, that when I ask better questions, I get better answers: "Are there things you love other than self and family? Where do you volunteer? Are their things you have left undone, things that really matter? If you could make the world a better place in any way, what would it be?" That kind of open-ended conversation is easy for those with the heart for it, but almost impossible to teach to hard-boiled JDs and advisors.
We, and our clients, need those of you who are nonprofit activists more than you need us. We need you not just as people who represent a certain charitable entity; we and our client/citizen/donors need your love of humanity, your passion, dedication and moral example. The "Hub" is just a network right now of good people working inside and beyond their official roles, as advisor or foundation exec, to help fellow citizens be as generous and as effective in their giving as possible. Tracy Gary is piloting that effort, providing inspirational leadership to donors and advisors. As she succeeds, with friends of Changemakers, in San Francisco and elsewhere, we will share lessons learned. The Hub could take on other functions if certain resources are best centralized rather than duplicated, but its core mission is to pilot a financial and estate planning process that begins and end with love (caritas).
From Lenore Ealy a moving reminder of our mutual responsibilities, in a free society.
I wonder further whether it isn't also incumbent upon us all to remember as well that when someone attacks our argument, they may not necessarily be attacking our character. An important but overlooked virtue of a free, self-governing people is their slowness to take offense.
Bravo, Lenore. God bless America. May our better angels prevail.
How can we construct a "Hub" to support donor centered giving? Do we need a new profession, as part of this, a life coach? What about materials? Ownership? Marketing? Here are thoughts toward a business plan. With thanks to Jeff Weissglass of More than Money, Jean Russell (a professional financial writer), financial advisor Drake Zimmerman, and philanthropy consultant Lisa Tracy, all of whom have contributed to this conversation.
"Welcome to the debut of Planetwork Journal. In this issue we focus on the emerging systems for online social networking, and the new kinds of knowledge and information sharing they make possible...."
Wingnut Squares via Harry. How, when gloating invective is profitable to the media and convenient for political and corporate power, do we keep an open space for civic discourse? Well, satire certainly helps. Political Pornography and Bondage to Wealth have gone about as far as they can go. Maybe we will see a return to the civic virtues, if not among our corporate leaders, the media, and government, then among those of us on the web.