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August 2004
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October 2004

September 2004

Private Funding for Public Works

Newsday via COF Listserv:

The state Department of Public Health has created a special nonprofit foundation to tap into private funding for public projects. The purpose of the Public Health Foundation of Connecticut, according to its mission statement, "is to solicit, receive and distribute private funds for charitable, scientific and health initiatives that improve or bolster the state Department of Public Health."

Could we take this farther with philanthropic funding for, say, Operation Iraqui Freedom?

On Evaluating Gifts and Grants

A wonderful paper by Heather Wood Ion. "Measure" she reminds us is also a musical term. Well worth reading with this paper, on evaluation, by William Schambra. Giving face to face, and hand to hand in your neighborhood, is a far cry from the scientific mananagement we associate with corporate business plans, social venture philanthropy, large foundations, and government programs. Big, scientifically managed enterprises have a part to play, no doubt, but it is interesting to see thoughtful people converging on the idea of getting small in a big way. (If I were Attila the Hun, I would hire a lobbyist and a pundit to make this case, so as to keep the peasants occupied as I pillaged the commons. The problem today is that the big profits go the few and the big problems, with the environment and poverty, for example, to the many. The result of concentrated wealth and power is that the world is going to heck faster than our small gifts can address. So, I applaud Small and look forward to the busting up of Big - not just foundations and gummit, but big bidness and big think tanks too. We need the small units to come together in a larger social movement, making democracy felt though its elected representative, more public-spirited than those we now have, if small and beautiful is to prevail over big and ugly. The results we seek will not come just by piddling about in isolation.)

A Primer on International Giving


The September Family Giving News explores some of the options available for families interested in international grantmaking. The issue describes how the USA PATRIOT Act’s requirements are affecting the philanthropic community, plus how intermediary organizations around the world can help grantmakers comply with the new regulations and accomplish their charitable goals abroad.

Cyber Beggar

Get your own cyber beggar website:

Do you need money, cash? If you can't get approved for a loan, don't want a loan to payback or have no family to rely on? Or if you just need money for whatever reason. The Solution: Ask for the money you need! "Ask and ye shall receive!"

Cut out the middleman? Give direct to those whose stories move you? Could this the future of welfare?

9/11 Gifts: Allocation by Sentiment?

LA Daily News via COF Professional Advisor Listserv:

An astonishing $3 billion was raised to help the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and nearly all that money has been spent, the bulk of it handed over in cash grants, some without regard to financial need. The practice of giving victims direct cash assistance was in part driven by pressure from donors and scrutiny from the news media over whether charities were spending the money quickly enough and putting it in the hands of grieving families, unemployed workers and people left homeless by destruction, ash and debris.

When donors are ruled by passion, must cooler heads at charities go along?

International Conference on th Gift Economy

Concept Statement:

The stage seems to have been set for the millennium by Patriarchy and Capitalism with wars and counter wars at the personal and at the political levels. Attack and reprisal seem to be the pattern of interaction of all. Even suspicion of intent to attack is thought to justify counterattack. The cycle of violence is based upon exchange, tit for tat, which is a development of the logic of the market, giving in order to receive a quantitative equivalent.

There is another logic, the logic of unilateral gift giving, that has not been considered, yet it is practiced in society at many levels all the time. First, the gift logic is necessary for mothering: satisfying the needs of children who cannot give an equal payment in return.

A critique of capitalism, drawing on the love of parent for child - where have I heard that before? Brothers and Sisters, it sounds like Christ. And is as hard to kill.

Statistical Christ

From In these Times:

In the late 19th century the debate turned on the question
What causes poverty? Advocates of public assistance blamed economic factors: Deprivation happened when the economy failed to provide jobs. Accordingly, those who profited most from the economic system had a responsibility to help those who could not find enough work. The Charity Organization Societies told a different story. Poverty, their members insisted, was a moral failure on the part of the poor. As Mrs. Glendower Evans argued at a charity conference in 1889, “Too often it will be found that the root of the evil lies in the character of the poor themselves—in habits of laziness, shiftlessness, intemperance or vice, which have reduced them to an irregular and meagre subsistence.”
Shades of Reagan, Bill Schambra, Charles Murray. Against such mean-spirited moralists, where will we find our Dickens?

Patriot Act and The Independent Sector

Detroit Free Press via Council on Foundations Professional Advisor in Philanthropy Listserv:

When Congress takes up renewal of the USA Patriot Act, the review should include a hard look at what the law, and related actions by the federal government, have done to charitable giving.
Right now, foundations are scouring multiple terrorist watch lists in the United States and abroad before awarding grants to charities. Not only do they need to examine what the charities do, but also the individual records of each board member, to see if there is any suspicion of ties to terrorism, or activities that "undermine democracy." While no foundation should want its money to aid terror, these hurdles seem extreme and could be unjustifiably blocking funds for legitimate humanitarian programs.

I suppose the threshold question is: What is the due process for getting names on and off such lists? In the absence of due process, why would any freedom loving person support their use in making important decisions? What percentage of names are wrongly added? How often might a name be held in common by many people (Smith, Jones, Kennedy)? If such lists have a chilling effect on dissent, which is often rhetorically compared to terrorism, is this an unintended consequence or a lucky coincidence? When did Americans live so in fear that they traded their freedom for a false sense of security? Shouldn't non-profits be in the forefront of helping government live up to its responsibility to protect not just our soil, but our ideals? Where do we petition for redress? And what happens to the names on that peitition? You have to ask yourself, and many do, in this land of liberty.

Winning The Game of Tit for Tat

The Happy Tutor is not my style, and I would not be caught dead in his Establishment, but every so often even a blind hog finds an acorn, and he does make a few good points here about giving. Read at your own risk. I find much of his oeuvre, brilliant though it is, and probably a work of genius, quite disturbing. Giving is not what it used to be when we could count upon one another to be civilized.

Transformational Philanthropy: Tuesdays at TPI

Tuesday, October 26, 2004 On Line as well as in Person

The Philanthropic Initiative:

For increasing numbers of donors, the heart of the matter, the reason they are drawn to philanthropy, is to find a way to effect significant change – to transform. The range of what constitutes significant change is vast and can often be disruptive. To challenge commonly accepted norms and practices is always difficult, and for the donor, there are many risks.

Open to the public. Register here. Unregenerate reprobates, welcome - and not the just the rich ones either.