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April 2006

Strategic Philanthropy to Undermine Internet Neutraility

I was talking to Candidia Cruikshanks, CEO of Wealth Bond*ge,  about philanthropy and public policy.  She pointed out that doing well for your company by doing good for politicians and their charities is a well-proven strategy for serving stockholders.  I am glad to see Corporate America catching on to "selfish giving."  Here is a good example from the Chicago Sun Times of how charity for the good of the poor can be used to bias the internet for the good of the few.  It all works out, I guess. 

WASHINGTON -- An Englewood community center founded by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), a key player on telecommunications legislation, received a $1 million grant from the charitable arm of SBC/AT&T, one of the nation's largest phone companies.

The chief of a congressional watchdog group says Rush's ongoing association with the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation and his role in shaping telecommunications law as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee is a conflict of interest. Using charitable giving as a backdoor way to curry favor with lawmakers is coming under increasing scrutiny, figuring in controversies associated with former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) andRep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), who was forced to temporarily step aside as the ranking Democrat on the Ethics panel.

Senator Dick Minim, (D) Mass, contacted at his campaign headquarters, had this to say:  "You can't stop progress.  It goes forward on all fronts. While I am in favor of internet neutrality, we have to respect certain realities, such as Wealth Bond*ge, America's Leading Brand.  What Candidia wants, Candidia gets.  Why force her to bribe politicians? Philanthropy to influence public policy is the lesser of evils. The main thing is to soften the impact on my Dumpster Dwelling constituents. I applaud Candidia's continued support for Gifthub, the people's blog. We must be grateful for small blessings, however mixed. Well, wealth will be served. It is a win win all around.  The Senate Ethics Committee meets in three minutes. Must scoot! More anon."


The Hidden Economy of the Spirit

Alvin Toffler at the Milken Institute Global Conference:

"Today's wealth revolution is far greater than today's statistics suggest."

The famed futurist suggested that there is a vast, worldwide economy at least as large as the global GDP of $50 trillion or so that is hidden - it's the "work" done by volunteers, by families, by consumers who actively change the products they buy. Toffler calls this group "prosumers" and it's the basis of his latest theory of change, which values transactions that do not include money. "As it turns out," said Toffler, "there actually is a free lunch."

It is a shame we cannot measure this hidden sector and the value created. How do copyrights, for example, or increased consumption of entertainment products, increase or decrease time spent creating value in the voluntary sector? What crowds out what? I have a feeling that when all we measure is the GDP that we understate and under value  the good works created for free in the Dumpster out behind WB. And the petty trademarks  and copyright rules of the ownership society may militate against the value created in the commons.  And the mindset  induced by advertising to ramp up GDP, and the rich branded infotainment that distracts us in our idle hours,  may deaden the soul, and leave the body slumped alone in a chair.  The hidden cost of the ownership society may be death of the spirit.  I have known many whose spirit would be better off dead, rather than lingering on death's door for decades.  And I have known a few whose spirit made them constant trouble-makers, what with political organizing, the writing of satire, the promulgation of riotous Carnivals, and what not. The quicker the spirit dies the faster we can get things done and with less resistance.  "There is a free lunch."  My fellow Prosumers! That is how the mouth sounds after the soul dies. 


Thank You For Submitting Your Proposal

Martin Teitel , Executive Director of the Cedar Tree Foundation, a private foundation headquartered in Boston, has written a book, "Thank You For Submitting Your Proposal," on how foundations select among grant proposals. Per a press release for his book,

Teitel, is the first (and only) foundation director in America – in the 100 year history of modern foundations – to pull back the thick curtain of confidentiality to reveal how this select club of 70,000 decides which projects to fund.

More info in pdf here.

ORDERING INFORMATION

Visit http://emersonandchurch.com, call 508-359-0019, or send $29.90 postpaid to Emerson & Church, P.O. Box 338, Medfield, MA 02052.


On a personal note, this is the first formal press release I have received at Gifthub, though others have called or emailed informally to provide "news" of their work. It is strange to see blogs emerging as "media" in the eyes of professional marketers. Maybe we have arrived or been absorbed into the daily grind. The Happy Tutor tells me, somewhat resentfully, I might add, that he has been blogging philanthropy much longer than I and that no respectable person has ever admitted to visiting WB, even in the dark of the night, even in a wig, sunglasses, and false nose, much less vying for publicity there. So, I guess I should be flattered. At least I am not a pariah.


Taking up the Slack as Federal Budges are Cut

Via Aspen Newsletter:

Increased private giving, including foundation funding, would not be able to offset the overall cuts in federal spending in program areas of concern to nonprofits that are proposed in President Bush's FY 2007 budget. That's according to the latest analysis of federal budget changes and their impact on nonprofits from Alan Abramson, Lester Salamon, and John Russell of the Aspen Institute and Johns Hopkins University. In The Nonprofit Sector and the Federal Budget: Analysis of President Bush's FY 2007 Budget, the researchers indicate that the president's budget would reduce overall federal spending in areas of interest to nonprofits, outside of Medicare and Medicaid, by a total of $78.6 billion over the next five years below current levels, after adjusting for inflation. As a result of these overall reductions, federal support of nonprofits, excluding support of nonprofit health organizations through the Medicare and Medicaid programs, would fall by a cumulative total of $14.3 billion over the same period. Future reports from the Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector Research Fund will update the analysis as the FY 2007 budget moves through Congress.


CrossPoint Study on Executive Director's Career Paths and How Funders Can Help EDs Succeed

CompassPoint has issued a new study about nonprofit executive directors' career paths, likely tenure, management teams, and challenges and frustrations.  Nearly 2,000 executive directors in eight U.S. metropolitan areas were surveyed.  The 36-page "Daring to Lead 2006" can be downloaded from www.compasspoint.org in pdf here.  Funder behaviors--e.g., lack of operating support, limitation to short-term funding, lack of support for fundraising--were identified as major sources of stress for executive directors.

How we work together across the "silos" is so critical for the success of family finance, effective philanthropy, and effective nonprofits.  What are the "best practices of leagacy leaders" as they bridge these worlds, or realms? Perhaps, Tracy Gary's Inspired Legacies will help catalyze this legacy leadership field among advisors, funders, and nonprofit "do-ers." (Tracy is now focused on this theme. If anyone can create effective leadership teams across the silos in our emerging fields of practice, she can.)


New Media for a More Just and Enjoyable Society

New Media Consortium (NMC) Online Conference on Personal Broadcasting (April 26-27, 2006 - via the Internet). From podcasting to video blogging (vlogging), personal broadcasting.
visit:

~

The NetSquared Conference (May 30-31, 2006 - San Jose, CA). Nonprofit, philanthropy, and corporate funders who have laid
the foundation for the innovative use of technology throughout the
nonprofit community will meet at the TechSoup Net2 Conference. How will nonprofits and government agencies use the web to achieve their missions?


and --

Hye-Jung Park now begins as Program Officer for the Media Justice Fund
of the Funding Exchange
. She will promote more collaboration between community media and social justice organizations around the issues of media policies and corporate accountability.

Worlds seem to be coming together. Technology, funders, progressive politics: Seems like people, even the older ones with the foundations and philanthropic budgets, are beginning to awaken at last to the power of the net to model and propagate a more just and democratic society, in which the energies of ordinary people are engaged for purposes of creating their own fun and their own politics.


Philanthropy $465 Billion Short

Albert Ruesga has fallen far below himself. He now blames a $465 billion shortfall in the fabled philanthropic wealth transfer on Candidia Cruikshanks, our generous patron. I am not sticking up for her just because she pays my bills, or serves on our Board of Trustees. You can call me submissive, if you must, but what would you do in my position, as Executive Director of Gifthub? She is holding $465 billion and Gifthub is in dire need of cash. It is not that I want it just for myself, but to keep our doors open to better serve Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals for the good of mankind. What bothers me most is Albert's tone of insubordination. We aren't rich, Albert. When you are a Hyper-Agent yourself, you will be  welcome to an opinion. Until then, better to be seen than heard unless you have something flattering to say, like Schervish and Havens. What happens in Philanthropy, stays in Philanthropy. Mums the word!  I just hope this doesn't jeopardize estate tax repeal. Candidia is not going to like it if we take her money away. She will give it to charity, just not yet. If we got rid of all taxes she would have more money and give even more as she reached the limits of her own propensity to consume. It is just moral physics. OK? Now, Mistress Candidia, can I have lunch money?   


Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks

Yochai Benkler teaches law at Yale.  Yale press will publish his new book, The Wealth of Networks, but it is also available, appropriately enough, online in its entireity. Excerpt:

This book is offered, then, as a challenge to contemporary liberal democracies. We are in the midst of a technological, economic, and organizational transformation that allows us to renegotiate the terms of freedom, justice, and productivity in the information society. How we shall live in this new environment will in some significant measure depend on policy choices that we make over the next decade or so. To be able to understand these choices, to be able to make them well, we must recognize that they are part of what is fundamentally a social and political choice—a choice about how to be free, equal, productive human beings under a new set of technological and economic conditions. As economic policy, allowing yesterday's winners to dictate the terms of tomorrow's economic competition would be disastrous. As social policy, missing an opportunity to enrich democracy, freedom, and justice in our society while maintaining or even enhancing our productivity would be unforgivable.

High praise, for what it is worth, from The Happy Tutor here.


Love and Justice in the Ownership Society

Martin Luther King, the descendent of slaves, in a prior society of ownership wrote,

 

Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It isthe strength required to bring about social, political, or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice. One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by
Clayborne Carson, pp. 324-325.

I was impressed enough with these words that I asked Smoky Joe, Executive Director of Rooster Foundation: Crowing in the New American Century, what he thought. "Justice," Joe explained, "is whatever the market dishes out. The Hidden Hand provides tough love, separating winners from losers. What could be fairer? Thus, yes, love and power go hand in hand to bank and back, with a sidetrip to Capitol Hill for those with funds sufficient." So, I guess there are some things we can all agree upon. (In the  interest of full disclosure, Rooster Foundation funds Gifthub on behalf of Candidia Cruikshanks and the good people at Wealth Bondage.)