Getting Philanthropic Results Feed

Schambra on Advocacy Evaluation

William Schambra takes a good poke at advocacy evaluators, casting them as busybodies, carpet baggers, experts from out of town, whose efforts most often backfire. With George Wallace, Bill seems inclined to throw the Evaluators and their briefcases into the Potomac.

I love reading Bill's stuff because he manages to exasperate his victims into thought, followed by spluttering, and often inept, self defense. He finds that humorous, I guess, and so do I. It is a form of sly teaching, but without the teacher's assistance in unscrambling the provocation. Had he been teaching political science, Bill would have debriefed his students and walked them through the polemic, debater's technique by debater's technique, to show them how black magic is made. As it is we as his students just have to get through it as best we can.

Bill's brand of cantankerous conservatism, devoted to enjoying our differences in full-throated debate, works for me. Wish we had more of that, and less of black budgets, Homeland Security, Ordered Liberty, Orwellian propaganda, and winning by stealth and intimidation. I have lots of progressive friends, but the people who seem to be advancing the cause of self-determination, and self-sufficiency, and community autonomy on the ground in my little world, are more often business-minded, and more conservative than not, but also outraged at the Neocon turn. The rule of law, and no one above the law, transparency, checks and balances, accountability - Where did those fundamental principles of democracy go? And what were we debating at the time that seemed to important to us? Charity evaluators?

Endow A Fool (Insert My Picture Here)

As hundreds of billions of sub-prime loans were packaged and sold, ending up in pension plans, mutual funds, hedge funds, insurance company reserves, or assets backing savings accounts, who will be holding the empty bag once all this is marked to market? Not just the intermediaries who were holding these flawed investments in inventory or for their own account, but all the schmucks and investment advisors who went by the ratings these mispriced investments carried.  Still, if you are the CEO of a huge investment firm who gets fired, the news is not all bad. From such ranks we might recruit a new President, a State Attorney General, or a big time philanthropist. Catherine Austin Fitts lays it out in a list of links. My favorite such moral story is that of the man who headed up a sub prime lending company, made a big donation to Bush and is now Ambassador to the Netherlands.  Either Clinton would have done the same, probably. As the Emperor Vespasian said of the toilet tax, Pecunia non olet, "Money has no smell."

Could someone please endow a team of Satirists in white Emergency Vehicles, making house calls on Wall Street and in DC? We stage interventions for the mental health of unimportant people. Who will intervene among those who rule us? What investment for political return, what philanthropic initiative to heal the body politic, could have a bigger bang for the buck than a team of Clowns taking America's ruling elite away in straightjackets? Once safely in the asylum we could begin the long slow process of healing.  At times the cure may seem to the patient worse than the disease, but the main thing is that the disease itself not be allowed spread. Speaking of corruption, the Italians say, "the fish rots from the head down." We must extirpate the corruption among our elite lest it infect the whole. Philanthropy won't do it, politics is too sick to cure itself. Big business is in cahoots. That leaves the Satirists. I am happy to do what I can but I am fed up with doing it all pro bono publico in a Dumpster. I at least want a bounty for every politician or CEO I bag and cure.

Experts at Hudson - What is Their Role?

Schambra, at Hudson Institute, on philanthropy as civic virtue:   

Scientific philanthropy considers itself to be a detached problem solver, funding experts to track down root causes. Civic renewal philanthropy considers itself to be a catalyst of civic engagement, helping to complete the Founding by cultivating democratic self-governance and the moral and civic virtues it requires. Our times demand a philanthropy that prefers citizen over expert.

Click here to "Find an Expert" at Hudson.  Bill, civic renewal philanthropy does not fund experts. Who, then, funds these experts and why?

The Logic Model: MBOR for Philanthropy

From Newdea a good white paper on managing nonprofit inputs, outputs, and outcomes in pdf.  The paper is based on work originally done by United Way.  Several additional elements might complement the study:

  1. A theory of social change that connects the minute "outputs" a nonprofit can reasonably achieve and the wholesale social change to which the organization may be dedicated.
  2. Inspirational or aspirational rhetoric that takes the dreary Benthamite chill off the Management by Objectives and Results and uplifts donors, staff, and volunteers and energizes them to make sacrifices in a good cause.
  3. The language of moral heroism or leadership or personal significance that might motivate a donor to see a major gift as a major milestone on her personal journey. 
  4. Identification, community, solidarity, fun, socializing, bonding - all the humane elements that might bind donor, staff, volunteers and those served into a vital community in which each finds meaning, love, care, concern, and significance.
  5. An evocative language of value or moral or spiritual or religious or literary tradition that tacitly unites and affirms constituents within a shared story, or myth, uniting origins and ends.

If you take Management by Objectives and Results (MBOR) as your oracle, and if you take the rhetoric of the MBA as your preferred style, you will attract some and repel others.  MBA logic is poetry of a certain attenuated sort. It has its decorum, its tacit language of value that  unites and affirms a certain view of the world - one in which logic and management prevail over religion, poetry, and Dionysus, he of the streaming hair, the grape, and orgies of love, poetic inspiration, and violence.  Apollo went to B-School, while Dionysus was conquering Asia with Alexander the Great.  Apollo is the master-mind behind the United Way Logic Model. Let's get him on the team, but not have him try to run everything.   As a flunky level manager in a corporate cubicle, I turned to philanthropic consulting in the hope it might offer some respite from MBOR, not that any of us can escape having to show how our efforts made a piddly difference for a piddly investment. They say that at Delphi, the Temple was dedicated to both Apollo and Dionysus.  MBOR is totally unambiguous about ambiguous truths. Yet the altar of the Priestess of MBOR too is decked with arms, chariots, golden chalices, the offerings of the faithful who come to bear witness, and seek her help, as if the world and the human heart could be managed, if only we enforced certain bureaucratic rituals, rules, procedures and feedback forms.  What we have sacrificed on the altar of Managerial Logic is life. As Rabelais often said, "Come, Let us drink!"