Good of them to collect these philanthropy course syllabuses and make them searchable and downloadable online. I emailed mine in, at the suggestion of Sean Stannard Stockton at Tactical Philanthropy. It is interesting to note how 100% of the courses and the case studies in the Duke database start from existing pools of philanthropic capital (foundations). The other half of philanthropy starts from wealth creators and the founding of foundations, or other charitable tools and strategies. These two worlds, that of established foundations and those who study them, on the one hand, and the world of financial advisors who counsel wealth creators on getting into philanthropy, on the other hand, barely know the other even exists. A figure like Bill Gates spanned both worlds in a single lifetime. Generally, it may take 2-3 generations. Perhaps we could speed up the process by which the wealth creator morphs into an effective grantmaker.
Nancy Kline once taught literature in a Quaker private school. She has adapted the disciplines of Socratic dialogue and deep listening to create a "thinking environment" for individual clients, and businesses. She teaches a repeatable, somewhat formulaic, way to get the "thinking partner" to liberate his or her own thoughts from crippling assumptions. The idea is that the thinker has an inner dynamism that, when unleashed, can solve the problem without the expert or consultant providing an answer. The book would have value to advisors and fundraisers seeking to position themselves as "trusted advisors" to affluent clients. Another approach, I have found, is to run around naked in business settings, as Diogenes taught, or eat food from the floor like his dog, or urinate, like the dog, on the pant legs of those whose glowering faces would otherwise intimidate. These exercises too, at least Diogenes thought, could liberate us from the conventions that hold back our natural selves. Generally, though, thinking, like art, or laughter in church is best kept in check. What if we all started thinking? Maybe we could introduce into corprate life a bell, as with Pavlov. When rung it is "time to think." When rung twice it is time to follow orders. When rung three times, shuffle paper and look busy. Excuse me, Sir, is it time to think?
I would like to turn Gifthub into a serious site about philanthropy. I could put up all kinds of content to help not only advisors and fundraisers but also high capacity (rich as hell) donors and clients. I could attract, serve, and retain "hyperagents" who could change the world into the world we (Royal Plural) want. I could probably make a pretty good buck reforming the morals of the rich man's wife and kids, and sending him the bill. Every time I consider doing this I am torn.
- To the extent I am serious, I am playing the reader, let alone the client, for a damn fool.
- To the extent I play the Fool, I might do serious harm to mine own comfort and dignity.
A Case in Point
I am working with a family systems therapist to write an essay about multi-disciplinary wealth planning. Her husband happens to be a minister. They are both quite serious about their efforts, at least on company time, and quite sincere, but how can they heal what is sick in us? Therapy makes us normal, when it works, and in our society it is normal to be crass, materialistic, selfish, blind to what matters, deaf to the cries of those in need, dumb in the face of planetary collapse, and paralyzed. We are lepers whose disease is materialism. We are as sick as those we seek to heal. With the therapist and the priest I plot fundraising to support the Church to heal us of materialism.
Mentors in my Noble Trade
Jesus raised the dead, cured the halt, the lame, the blind - so they say. But he never cured a rich man, did he? (I hope I am wrong but wasn't Lazarus the beggar at the rich man's door? Jesus raised the one dead man, and left the other to his feasting.)
Jesus is kind of a pariah, really, even now, and I do not mean to invoke him as if I believed in him, that would mark me out at as partisan, and either ill-educated or much too literal. Instead let me recall another healer, the master my therapist friend must follow, Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Do you recall how he went to see Democritus, the laughing philosopher? Hippocrates like Freud, Jung, Adler, and Bowen took himself quite seriously. Democritus poked fun. The Father of Medicine frowned, feeling himself insulted. "Laughter," said Democritus, "is the best medicine." "That is so stupid," replied Hippocrates, "you are a Fool." Democritus nearly choked laughing. "What have I been telling you?" Then the healer started laughing. "Now I see! I finally get the joke! That was a good one, on me." And so this sick healer was cured of his sobriety. (Integrity whose opposite is corruption means being whole or all of a piece. And what are we through and through all of us but fools?)
All this is to say that my becoming serious about philanthropy would be a joke. Not even funny. I would be a fool to try. Democritus, by the way, means "beloved of the people." Philanthropy, starts at the top, among hyperagents, and is no laughing matter - at least to them and those who would earn their trust. The servants in red jackets, or dressed in suits as wealth counselors, or as French Maids of all work, must not break a smile. Faith, hope, and charity get you to the same point. But the way of the cross is no laughing matter either. I would rather get drunk. Ah, fabulous Rabelais, trained as a doctor, collector of folk tales and folk cures, please pass that pitcher of beer. Let us die laughing. That is our beggar's legacy.
Deepening family relationships is the subject of this recent post by a Jane Holliday Wilson, drawing on what she leared from Charles Collier about wealth in families. The liberal arts can be conducted by adults in a public setting. Charlie demonstrates that in his open dialogs with small groups. He asks the most probing questions. He says he learned it from, say, Bowen theory (family systems theory). I believe he learned it by age 14 around an oak table in a liberal arts prep school. He learned and like a true Fool, refused to forget, or back off. He asks others the questions that haunt him. I once asked him if he had succeeded in training anyone else to do it. He essentially said he had not, though he had often tried. The ability is rare. The courage is far rarer. By what right does anyone ask the authentic questions in public, often of strangers? Yet how sterile is our planning without such a challenge to authentic thought and conversation. This post witnesses to benign effect that Charlie's cordial impertinence has on his audience.
Micro-blogging platform Twitter could generate as much as $250 million in ad revenue by 2012, according to a report by research firm eMarketer. Twitter, now valued at $3.7B, has over 175 million users but has failed to monetize its success until recently. With $45 million in ad revenue in 2010, the privately held company will introduce a self-serve ad system to bolster future profit.
I only wish I had more attention to supply to the attention economy. By the same token, I wish my supply generated an income me rather than for social platforms. The personal is political, but the social is zoned commercial. So far I have failed to monetize the success of my Dumpster. More fool I.
If the commercialization, commodification and militarization of the university continues unabated, higher education will become yet another one of a number of institutions incapable of fostering critical inquiry, public debate, human acts of justice and common deliberation. Such democratic public spheres are especially important to defend at a time when any space that produces "critical thinkers capable of putting existing institutions into question" is under siege by powerful economic and political interests.
For Interfaith Worker Jistice, I am conducting a little informal research into the question, "Who is the new William Sloane Coffin?" Beats me, is the answer, I hear most often. On a more positive note, a libetarian tough love philanthropy discussion group funded by David Koch, has a journal that is doing well. I look forward to my next copy and hope some day to be published there.
In eight years the review team that evaluates our nonprofits has grown from 20 to 100 members: our rigorous evaluation process is designed to provide you with a carefully vetted list of excellent, trustworthy nonprofits — so you can spend your valuable time reading, exploring, and discovering what matters to you.
About 32 leading advisors, fundraisers, and community foundation staff in Dallas have formed a study group to take Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy. I have recorded lectures to guide the people through the material. After the lecture, and having done the readings, they take a self test. Then they get together for 2 hours every other week for 6 weeks, to discuss how they will use the material to help donors and clients, to advance their own practices, and to make Dallas a better place to live. Each course concludes with an action project.
Meeting with the group for their kickoff was a big moment for me - so much energy and idealism, and so much talent.
One of the participants, who works for Texas Presbyterian Foundation, gave us the following quotation:
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Frederick Buechner, 1926 -
A number of other study groups are forming or trying to form in cities across the country. To get a sense of the content, here is a link to the lecture for the first class. More on the curriculum here.
Not a good morning for me. When the call came from the Corner Office, I knew it was going to be bad, but not this bad.
What am I paying you for, Moron? Did you see those stupid hats on all all those stupid consumer-people in Times Square?. Every one of those morons, and the newscasters, was shilling for Nivea? For Nivea, what the F is Nivea, some down market skin cream? Why the F were those hats not carrying the Wealth Bondage Name and Logo? Or my Signature Boots? Why the F were we not giving out free knee high patent leather boots to those morons? They could be Free. Bill the cost to our Charitable Budget, next time, from the Wealth Bondage Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society. If we don't have the money, because I gave no money, go do some freaking fundraising for a change, you Lazy Idiot. You are always on about philanthropy, go fleece some of your rich liberal friends. Tell them you want to revitalize the public square. Tell them it is all about Habermas, or some bullshite.
On and on Candy ranted. And I stood there and took it, "Yes, M'am, Yes, M'am, I am sorry, Mistress. It will never happen again, Mistress. After she calmed down, and got done with my beating, and the medic bandaged my bleeding posteriors, we agreed that on the Fourth of July we (I and my Wealth Bondage For a Better World Team Green) will give out Free Gold Toned Chains at the Casinos and Bordellos and clip joints, and Corporate Offices, and Malls, and Media Outlets all over America. We have to get the word out that Wealth Bondage is ubiquitous, like Freedom and Joy! Millions have died defending your precious liberties in Wealth Bondage. Wear these Gold Toned Freedom chains proudly!