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April 2011
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June 2011

May 2011

Sleepwalkers making $70,000 an hour on Strategic Planning for Philanthropy

Business thinkers from the best business schools and top consulting firms are turning their hands to phlilanthropy consulting - or social investing, or giving smart, or creating shared value, or giving for results, or doing more than giving to get results. I read these books carefully, and teach them with great (feigned but credibly mimed) respect. (People who make $70,000+ an hour for a speech are wiser in the ways of wealth-in-the-world than I.) They are very good on the how of giving, or other ways of coercing and changing society towards ends envisioned by the giver - who may be a human without any moral imagination or taste, or conscience. All we need posit is an end in view, a lot of money, and strategy. Of course all such books of strategic result getting have to mention setting goals, or vision. Those sections of these books are utterly banal. We set goals by writing them on a sheet of paper, or sorting values cards. Prayer, meditation, the dark night of the soul, listening to faint signals of the future, repentence, or the death of the daylight self and the birthing of new shared social consciousness - these are "out of scope" for such strategic philanthropy texts. Equally out of scope are all of literature, philosophy, psychology, sociology, dance, music, or any other way of elevating the mundane often narrowly educated thinking of the philanthropic strategist. Exceptions to such business thinking are Presencing and Theory U. These are far better on the emergence of true vision (for a person, company, community) from the muck and mire familiar to the poets, c.f. "the rag and bone shop of the heart," Yeats, "the place were all poems start.") Yet, the books don't mention philanthropy as an expression of such higher, transpersonal, intentions. Peter Karoff stands at this intersection between poetry and philanthropy as a sole figure gesticulating like a man directing the phantom traffic of sleepwalkers.

IMF Remains in Good Hands

Wealth Bondage will set you free. Let us pray that the head of the IMF will be remanded to the Freedom of his own addictions, though closely monitored lest he harm himself, his family, maids, journalists, hookers, or the world financial order. We are in good hands. His replacement will be much better. This is a temporary aberration in what is essentially a moral order with three bottomlines, all good. If you felt raped over the last few years by financial markets and bailouts, be aware that all is handled with the greatest professionalism at the highest levels. 

Harvard Biz Review Discovers Wealth Bondage where Freedom was Supposed to Be

Umair Haque, "Is the Life Well Lived Worth Anything?" What is interesting is not so much the ideas, which are a riff on Aristotle, but the venue - Harvard Biz Review Blog. This McGill , London Biz School, and Oxford educated business thinker looks deeply into our economy and behold! Wealth Bondage.  I too in my weaker moments, when off by meds, may rail against Wealth Bondage, but I do try to show some respect for my employer. What we need now apparently is a New Capitalist Manifesto. I buy into that big time, Mistress. The solution to capitalism is more capitalism. We just have to make sure we are in charge. Our brand of happiness is better than your brand. So we build our business. Am I the only one here who is morally insane?  Whatever they did to Umair, to make him so happy and productive, I want that too.

Richard Cornuelle Meet Charles Koch

Excellent and thoughtful article by Bill Schambra on the recently deceased Rchard Cornuelle, a libertarian thinker and activist who coined the phrase, "independent sector."

Mr. Cornuelle maintained that we had all but forgotten this vast array of voluntary civic associations—an “important third force” which he termed “the independent sector”—in our growing reliance on government-financed, centrally administered, professionally delivered social services. 

But he insisted that the human “desire to serve” was just as primal and powerful as the yearning for political power or material gain, and once unleashed, it could re-energize our voluntary associations and address our problems without oppressive bureaucracies.

Compare the subtlety and depth of those observations with this from from the libertarian philanthropist and influencer of all things, Charles Koch.

The biggest problems in society have occurred in those areas thought to be best controlled in common: the atmosphere, bodies of water, air, streets, the body politic and human virtue. They all reflect aspects of the “tragedy of the commons” and function much better when methods are devised to give them characteristics of private property. - From the Science of Success, by Charles Koch

Human virtue and the body politic will function much better when methods are devised to give them the characteristics of private property? In other words when bought and sold? Like Judges, Bishops, and Politicians in the Wealth Bondage Scene Rooms? Bill Schambra, my man! With a PhD in Politics, stand up and teach!  Charles needs a tutorial, an emergency tutorial lest he bring the entire movement of which you are a part into disrepute. Your tutelage in the ABCs of the public interest might win you a big grant to pursue the meaning of the Independent Sector,  construed as private property.


Peter Karoff on The Poetry and Practice of Philanthropy

The highpoint for me of this year's Advisors in Philanthropy Conference was the keynote by H. Peter Karoff, "Reflections on Two Decades of The Practice of Poetry and Philanthropy."  

This talk is about integrity, and accountability, and the translation of what you know, and who you are, into your work in philanthropy.

The context is a wrap around the two plus decades of the TPI experience as a philanthropic advisor.

In the talk, he repeats a phrase he used as a young man writing a letter to the editor on the death of JFK - untouched capacity. Peter challengesus as citizens, donors, and advisors to actualize that untouched capacity in ourselves, our donors and clients, and in our polity. As advisors listen to donors, some with the capacity to change the world - for the better or for the worse - who is accountable to whom for what?

Download AiP Presentation - April 2011 (Provided here with Peter's permission.)

The Science of Success in All Walks of Life

The biggest problems in society have occurred in those areas thought to be best controlled in common: the atmosphere, bodies of water, air, streets, the body politic and human virtue. They all reflect aspects of the “tragedy of the commons” and function much better when methods are devised to give them characteristics of private property. - From the Science of Success, by Charles Koch

Koch Scholars, Koch alleged connection to FreedomWorks, FreedomWorks and Dick Army helping Rick Perry install market logic on TX College Campuses. Breaking unions, breaking tenure, reducing taxes, reducing regulation. Destroying, spoiling or privatizing public goods. For such large scale social change we have Catalytic Philanthropy or Do More than Give. The "more" may or could involve funding a Teaparty, use of business interests to gain concentrated wealth, funding of public policy think tanks, funding media, funding the revocation of restrictions on political lobbying by corporations, and the use of political contributions to elect or influence the judicial branch. I call it Machiavellian War by Other Means with Philanthropy as but one of many ways to bring democracy to heel. The contrast might be with what H. Peter Karoff calls, the moral dimension of philanthropy. Peter, I think, is a bit appalled at how his views, from a decade ago, on "strategic philanthropy" have taken on a life of their own in the hands of MBAs and business types who have a compass but one that may not be particularly moral, if by moral you mean social justice, as opposed to a dog eat dog fee market for us and collusion for those who run it. I do not yet see in organized philanthropy the will to fight this. C.f., The Working Group for Social Justice and Peace - with the emphasis on the little white flag of surrender. The grantmakers work for boards populated with those who are well positioned to do well by doing good in our emerging oligarchy.

Justice, Education, Business, Media, Government, Human Virtue all will work much better when the Science of Philanthropy has succeeded in giving them the attributes of private property. So my boss, and owner, she who rules us all,  tells me. There is no 'outside' of Wealth Bondage. Organized philanthropy, Sweetie, is  the Handmaiden of Wealth Bondage. Don't cry, for the phantoms of lost liberty, it is just how things are now. I know that is hard for you to accept, Honey, but this is Management Science. No one cares what a slave thinks. You are just property, Honey. Kiss my boots, and thank me for your instruction.

Foundation Center's Strategic Plan

Foundation Center requests feedback on its new strategic plan:

The heart of the plan comes in the form of six strategic priorities:

Connect nonprofits to the resources they need to thrive

Empower donors with knowledge tools they need to be more strategic

Build the global data platform for philanthropy

Communicate philanthropy’s contribution to making a better world

Encourage greater foundation transparency

Ensure that our technology provides a strong foundation for the Center’s work

In the God We Trust

Had a good conversation today with Gary Shunk, a psychotherapist, and former divinity student, who now works with wealthy families in what could be called family wealth counselling. To do this work well as the world regards it is the work of the Lord whose name is Mammon. To do it foolishly is the way of the pariah the commemoration of whose sacrifice makes bright our Sunday morning. The healer sets up shop inside the Bank of Wealth Bondage to help client families get unstuck in the Wealth Bondage Legacy Planning Process. The defrocked priest has a chapel inside the Bank with a portable altar, like those used by the Padre in a front line unit. "Dear Lord, we ask thy blessing upon the work of Freedom." We talk of financial capacity and moral compass; we invoke the great books, Buddhism, Christianity, the Torah, and we had better pray that the Holy Spirit has no ear for our language. When the spirit speaks it will sound like this, "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth..." Gary is among those who have pondered such issues, and among those who wonder how this work can be done well - where is there a fit space for conversations that go deeper?

Business Owners in Transition as Ideal Prospects for Strategic Philanthropy

Successful Transition Planning Institute,  a firm that addresses what can only be described as the biggest opportunity in philanthropy in our generation - the boomer business owner's transition from being a business bigshot to becoming a force for the good, c.f., Bill Gates, but also the millionaire next door. Huge market for philanthropic planning, and lucrative also for those in tax, legal, financial, or insurance planning.

I spoke on this topic for Advisors in Philanthropy last week, and will be speaking for the Greater Philadelphia council of Partnership for Philanthropic Planning.

Copy of my slides are attached. Download PPPGP.