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August 2008
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October 2008

September 2008

New Role: Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy

In January I will be joining The American College as Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy:

The Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy is named in honor of its benefactors, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace, well-respected philanthropists with close ties to The American College and the insurance industry. Initially funded through annual gifts, the Chair will later be endowed through a charitable trust set up by the Wallace family. The mission of the Wallace Chair is to advance learning and professionalism in philanthropy through the College’s educational programs. The purpose of the chair is to raise the overall level of charitable giving by educating professional fundraisers serving the more than 1 million nonprofit organizations throughout the United States, in particular though the establishment of the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy certificate program. The program will cover the technical aspects of estate planning, trusts, and charitable giving, as well as the nontechnical aspects of fundraising, including communication and motivation.

The Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy is a fine program. I hope to constantly improve it with suggestions from those who have taken the program, or others who have best practices they are willing to share.  Ideally, we will co-create a learning community supportive of inspired partnership among advisors, nonprofit leaders, and donors. With so many social needs and the world of finance in turmoil, there has never been a more important time for us all in the planning field to help our clients do what they aspire to do for themselves, their heirs, and for the larger society.    

Bailout of Insiders by Insiders

Dennis Kucinich interviewed on the bailout by Amy Goodman:

I said we’re the Congress of the United States; we’re not the board of Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs is struggling to survive. And, you know, their former chief is now the head of the US Treasury. He’s in a position to be able to direct assets in a way that would help enhance his own financial standing. I mean, that’s a clear conflict of interest. And, you know, that’s something that needs to be said. You know, why are we permitting the person who has essentially been in a position where he’s managed assets that—you know, many of which are now in trouble, and he can come back and help clear the books for a lot of his friends? This is wrong. It’s fundamentally wrong. And, you know, it’s one of the things that adds a degree of stench to this.

And to the larger points, Kucinich says:

It seems to me there’s a possibility that this crisis has a little bit of manufacture to it. And that really concerns me, because we haven’t had enough time to look at this in an in-depth way, to analyze the impact of it on the economy, to see if it’s going to do anything about a recession that we’re obviously headed into, to see if it’s going to handle the underlying concerns on Wall Street about the speculation and a lack of regulation. The bill doesn’t, by the way, address anything about the speculation, anything about the lack of regulation. The SEC has failed. The Fed has failed. And we’re essentially telling all the same actors, “Go for it. You know, here’s another opportunity,” except this time it’s with taxpayers’ money.

Treasury Secretly Briefs Wall Street

Lovely to hear the sound of these voices: reality amidst all the spin. Friends talking to friends about the "kabuki theater" of government oversight as tax payer money is funneled to those who need it and those who may not, the weak and the strong, all the piggies with their snouts in the trough. 

Taxpayer losses: "golly, let's just pray to Jesus and hope he'll make sure that in a few years our country won't be bankrupt."

Sounds like DC to Wall Street, the people who really run things, laughing at the rubes whose money they plan to shall we say "reposition." What do we call it? How about, "Rescue Plan"?  O yes, Rescue Plan. 

From Success to Atonement: CEO's Journey

As Eric Reguly notes at Globe and Mail, CEOs of US financial firms have had every incentive to drive up their company's stock price by taking risky, highly leveraged bets, knowing that their personal upside was rapidly rising stock options and their downside was a very rich severance package.

Lehman Brothers had built up a $2.5-billion bonus pool before it went bankrupt two weeks ago. Lehman CEO Richard Fuld took home $22-million last year in salary, bonus and options. Stan O'Neil left the CEO's office of Merrill Lynch in 2007 with a goodbye package valued at $161-million. In the same year, Merrill lost $8-billion and was rescued earlier this month by Bank of America. Martin Sullivan left AIG with $14-million in his pocket not long before the U.S. government propped up the insurance giant with an $85-billion loan. In 2006, the year before Bear Stearns went under, CEO James Cayne made $33.6-million.

Stewardship is the belief that whether you win or lose personally you have a moral responsibility to do what is right for  the resources, whether a family, a company or a country, entrusted to your care. What has always bothered me most of about the incursion of winner take all attitudes into the public sector and the governmental sector, and even into business, is that we have lost the culture of stewardship. We honor Trump's Apprentice, and the finaglers who make their gain from a larger loss.  In a culture of stewardship, or of honor, the figures above would refuse to take their severance benefits. They would consider the money dishonorably earned and repudiate it. Unfit to lead? No, now these figures begin, we can only hope, their journey from success to significance through philanthropy and atonement, if The Happy Tutor gets through to them.

House Declares "Martial Law" to Expedite Freedom?

Robert Greenstein,  Executive Director, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:


....Among the matters the House may be asked to vote on under martial law are a major conference report on pension legislation, a costly bill that would permanently reduce the estate tax and extend certain expiring tax provisions, and a bill that could combine a controversial health insurance proposal with an increase in the minimum wage (there also are reports that the estate tax, minimum wage, and expiring tax provisions may be combined into a single bill). The House Rules Committee on Thursday afternoon reported a resolution that would provide martial law authority in relation to all of these bills.

 Others sound the alarm.

Resuming Normal Banking Scams Soon

Sold To US Tax Payers for $700 Billion: Banks Bad Assets, by Martin Crutsinger:

The ultimate goal of the plan remains the same: buy bad mortgage-related bets from weakened financial companies so they can raise fresh capital and resume normal lending operations to businesses, municipalities and consumers.

Excuse me, "resume normal lending?" What was the kind of lending that created this fiasco? Normal? Abnormal? Aberrant? Criminal? Who is being rescued here? The regulators who looked the other way? The head of a subprime lender whose personal fortune is estimated at $1.5 billion, who donated $1 million to Bush and became Ambassador to the Netherlands? What exactly is normal in these circles? What will be resumed? Who is responsible for the rule of law, when the the people at the top are so self-serving? I ask with all due respect, eying the Heat Ray and wishing that resuming normal operations included restoring our Constitution and my rights formerly under law. But, I guess, the people in charge know what is best for us.

Philanthropic Planning in The Robert E. Lee Room with Tracy Gary

I had a chance to hear Tracy Gary at the Association of Fundraising Professionals at Lee Park in Dallas last week. She called me from the audience to say a few words about planned giving and the role of advisors. Selected high points:

  • In Lee Park's Arlington Hall, Tracy Gary speaking eloquently about social justice and what she learned from her African American servants growing up in the Pillsbury family. "What would you like the change or preserve in the world?," she challenged the audience.
  • Sitting with Tracy, in the Lee Room, beneath a portrait of Robert E. Lee, discussing gender roles in wealthy families. When I said I thought the woman's vision should govern more than the philanthropic budget, that I thought men and women in a family ought to hash out a shared vision that would govern the family's total assets and income, Tracy smiled and said, "Pre-nup, Phil. Think pre-nup." Yes, since then I have been thinking about how pre-nups and also trusts, set up by husband's and fathers, can govern a family in such a way that the woman or the heir may have all the vision in the world, but never touch principal. (For some fine videos in and around these topics, by Kathryn Davision, go to fortunateisles, and click on the movie canister on the map.)
  • Reflecting later on how Tracy, her More than Money friends, and her friends at Bolder Giving have given away so much - sometimes half or sometimes all - I wondered if the system is not really wiser than it might appear. The hard headed one makes the money, and the kind hearted one is kept on a short leash, doing good - but not too much good, lest the system that supports her giving be supplanted or drained.
  • A big corporation has "silos" to generate and manage wealth and "silos" to do public relations and philanthropy. Maybe some wealthy families go at it that way too. Even then, though, there could be a shared vision, as long as a little slack is left in the system for hypocrisy. If we want our idealistic women folk to be spared that, we men must keep them in dark. Having come to that conclusion, I decided that my wife is far too well informed.

I feel very tentative writing about gender. What keeps me going is that several women have written me or taken me aside to thank me. I doubt I have any of this right, and dealing in stereotypes is always dangerous. I simply feel that the highest vision and best informed vision a family has should prevail and govern its overall plan.  For that to be possible men and women must participate as peers. Admittedly, this is not so in many cases today.

Social Capital Markets Conference

Julia Moulden:

The Social Capital Markets 2008 Conference (SoCap) is the world's first conference to bring institutional and individual investors together with social entrepreneurs. It will take place in San Francisco on October 13 - 15.

The conference goal is to validate the reality of - and accelerate the growth of - the social capital market. Conference sponsor, Kevin Jones (founder of Good Capital []) says that there's been an explosion of social venture funds in recent years. "From Austin to San Francisco, and Johannesburg to Rio, these funds are popping up all over the globe." He estimates, based on his conversations with the managers of these funds, that more than half a billion is being raised worldwide.

Register for SoCap here.