Global Philanthropy from US funders - why?
So, as austerity hits in the US, as wages are capped off, as innovation and disruption does away with skilled jobs and routine cognitive work, as Social Security and other "entitlements" are cut, as student debt rises, as coporate profits and wealth disparity increases in the US to levels surpassing those in Rome at the height of Empire, we now move our philanthropy abroad - "Every life," as Gates intones, "has equal value." It is pure math. Your kids can die at rates equal to those in India. What is the difference? What makes your kids so special?
Against this onslaught of Enlightenment we have main street millionaires. They give back to their community. Every life has equal value, but their faith tradition says, "start with self and family, then with neighborhood." Philanthropy beings at home. These local, often blue collar entrepreneurs and family business owners are the best clients of local insurance agents, CPAs, CAPs, bankers, and brokers. They are ideal donors to community foundations, faith organizations, health organizations, and umbrella charities. They may demand metrics, but metrics by walking around. They will accept personal experience eye to eye and belly button to belly button quicker than a report from Guidestar or GIIN. They are frankly intransigent. They do have guns, they are often right to life. They are more likely conservative, real conservatives with a commitment to family values, to their town, and to their country. They do give abroad in that their kids die there in our wars. And some do give abroad based on their own ethnicity, family to family.
When the globe warms, the ecosystem crashes, oil peaks, supply chains break, and you are looking at a portfolio of worthless paper, including worthless short positions, and even more worthless derivatives, these folks will grow tomatoes, repair a bicycle, and fix your busted applicances, and make ethanol in a still. You can run your metrics on that, and barter your spreadsheet for a three apples and a slice of homemade bread. Big Data and other higher order ways to measure, manage, market and manipulate is a house of cards. Invest if you will just a little in keeping your home town going, with the little resilient charities, the voluntaristic, often faith-based ones who will hold your own hand, on your death bed, when all you have to barter in return is gratitude. "Every life has equal value." Dust to dust and dirt to dirt.
Download 2012 CAP Syllabus. In my work life, which is also a second career, I am responsible for The Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP) designation at The American College for Financial Services. It is a three course, masters level curriculum, designed to bring advisors and nonprofits together in common purpose to serve the high capacity people that some call donors and some call clients. Specifically, our target market is "the consumer of estate planning services," or increasingly the consumer of retirement planning or business transition planning services. Our philanthropists would disdain the term. They would be equally uncomfortable with high sounding terms like social entrepreneur. They tend to be self made, often blue collar, business owners. They are faith based often and place based. They would more often than not consider themselves patriotic (except maybe when it comes to paying taxes). They do not follow the society pages and do not go to the Crystal Charity Ball. They are unlikely to be major donors to any organization right now. Most of their net worth, often, is tied up in non-cash assets, such as a farm, ranch, land, or closely held business. To them $1 million in liquid assets is big money. Net worth high enough to generate an estate tax is big money. They are looking to do the right thing by family (leave enough but not too much) and they would rather help the community than send money to Washington. They get advice from insurance professionals, their CPA, an attorney, investment advisors, or a financial planner. They were born in town, plan to die there, and hope their kids will live there or return home. When educated money made in global businesses saves babies in another country, this money saves babies net door. When the philanthropist or impact investor looks to raise the standard of living in Bombay, these local givers wonder about the man or woman down the street.
In my opinion, these prospects are, if you are a place-based or faith-based nonprofit, "Acres of Diamonds in your own back yard." If you are a community foundation, these are ideal prospects. And if you are a faith based organization, these prospects are planning their legacy in the light of what they have gathered from what your tradition teaches, as well as in the light of what their advisors tell them about the money.
I grew up preppy, educated, and wrong. I thought that high board scores, high class rank, and an elite education made me some kind of special. Was I ever so young and stupid? Now, I see that those who make it on their own, perhaps after military service, perhaps after education in a junior college, or no college, have as much merit as anyone I met at Williams, Oxford or Yale. At a time, when the meritocracy is in full cry about "the social economy," metrics, big data, and reengineering civil society as if life were big game of pinball and the elite could bang on the flippers(logic models and algorythms), I have cast my lot with the ones who stayed home and built a small business, a living, a family, a neighborhood. CAP works fine for educated money, multi-generational wealth, trust fund money, for prep schools and universities and colleges, including the best, it works for the donor advised fund complexes, the family offices, and the banks. But the heart of the value proposition is pure Tocqueville. We work with the donor/client who has no interest in being called a philanthropist but who is willing and able to give back to his or her community, in the light of values, and in the faith that if we all do a bit more, the future of our towns and cities need not be as bleak as it may seem, in today's difficult times. CAP trained advisors and fundraisers (now about 800 of them) can, by collaborating across the disciplines, liberate the money locked up in noncash assets, and in accordance with donor ideals send them back into the community for the good of others, in a well considered estate plan, financial plan, business transition plan, with giving tools integrated within it. That is the aspirational goal of the program, though of course each CAP has his or her own strengths, weaknesses, markets, and processes. Each client or donor has to put together his or her own planning team.
I mention all this on Gifthub, because it is not enough to stand on the corner, observing with dismay as things fall apart. (Yes, I too have lucid moments, despite thanks to the meds and my recent cranial bypass operation.) Like many others, great and small, from all walks of life, I feel impelled to do a bit more, the best I can. CAP is my effort (four years in the making) to work from the grassroots up in a constructive direction. If you would like to learn more about becoming a CAP, joining or starting a CAP study group, or mobilizing CAPs to help your nonprofit, you can email me via this site. pcubeta at sbcglobal.net. Curriculum is attached.
When not mentoring America's Wealthiest Families in their morals, or otherwise living in his own alternative reality, Phil is the Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy at the American College. In that role, he is responsible for the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation. Prior to joining the American College, Phil was Chief of Staff for The Nautilus Group, a service of New York Life, located in Dallas, Texas, providing estate, business, and philanthropic strategies to affluent clients through 200 of the company’s top agents. Phil’s original training was in English Literature, Williams College, BA; Philosophy and Psychology, Oxford University, MA; and English Language and Literature, Yale, MA, M.Phil.
Phil’s essays on philanthropy have appeared in Tracy Gary’s Inspired Legacies, Your Step by Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan and Leaving a Legacy (Wiley and Sons: 2008); H. Peter Karoff, The World We Want: New Dimensions in Philanthropy and Social Change (Altimira Press: 2007); and Amy Kass, Doing Well Doing Good: Readings for Thoughtful Philanthropists (Indiana University Press: 2008). Phil has been quoted, or been the subject of articles, in The New York Times, Lifestyles Magazine, Town and Country, The Journal of Gift Planning, Financial Planning, and The Financial Times.
Phil is a member of the national Partnership for Philanthropic Planning Leadership Institute. Along with Charles Collier of Harvard, Phil received the Fithian Leadership Award in 2012 from Advisors in Philanthropy. He is the 2012 Power of the Purse Advisor Awardee from Dallas Woman’s Foundation.
Lester Salamon is hardly a polemicist, he is a scholar of the nonprofit sector at Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins. In this article, with a wonderful info-graphic, Salamon suggests that the nonprofit sector exists as a force field with four poles: Voluntarism, Civic Activism, Professionalism, and Commericialism. My guess is that his heart is with Voluntarism and Civic Activism, in the tradition of Tocqueville. In any case, Salamon is alarmed that the Commericial vision of giving, which goes by so many names and has so many busswords (the social economy, markets for good, impact investing, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy that gets results, metrics) is gaining so much mind share and market share that it is beginning to crowd out the public's perception of Voluntarism and Civic Activism - these are where, he feels, I believe, the heart and soul of the sector reside, and here is where its defining differences lie.
If we agree that Professionalism (getting things done by experts) and Commericialism (market based solutions) are about measurable inputs, outputs, and results - then why do we need nonprofits at all? And why should they be give them tax breaks, when for profits can certainly do inputs, outputs, and results - in fact that is what for-profits excell at.
If Commericialism and Professionalism (expertism) prevail in occluding our vision of Voluntarism and Social Activism, the day will come, perhaps soon, that we lose our tax advantages and have to compete not only against other nonprofits for capital, but against double bottom line for-profits as well. For profit hospitals, schools, elder care, and so many others will prevail against their nonprofit equivalents. A for-profit church is a stretch, but a cult would work and could be a good business, in fact Brands seem to aspire to such charisma.
The tone of the insurgents is in some cases worse than (to my ear) brash, crass, vain-glorious and self aggrandizing, it is downright cruel. The vision reminds me of Shock and Awe. These are the best and brighest who will bring Freedom (the neoliberal sort) to whatever more primitive culture they encounter, whether in Iraq or in the nonprofit sector. Their values, what they have become in the process of mastering and being mastered by an economic mentality is to me horrifying. This is what Conrad wrote about in The Heart of Darkness, the darkness at the heart of the Englightenment and its business models. It is the neo-colonial mentality of Kurtz who would saveexterminae all the brutes. Of course, I am exaggerating. But you tell me what is your assessment of the humanity or the overt personna of this man here - what kind of person is he pretending to be? (What he is might be another matter, I imagine that underneath the bravado, he is a poor bare forked creature such as thou art. We are all just getting by as best we can. I would share a beer with him willingly, if he will buy the first round and loan me the money for the second.)
Rebels in Training: A new force of young Revolunatary marketers is hitting the nonprofit street
They’re a generation passionate about causes, committed to changing the world. They’re blurring the lines between business and nonprofits, merging them into a dynamic blend.
They’re way beyond the old-think safe formulae of the nonprofit sector.
They’ve been trained in critical thinking, creative concepts, human-centered design strategy and big idea creation. They know how to Seize the Conversation and help raise millions of dollars. They’re armed with education from USC/Annenberg and experience with L.A’s largest nonprofits. These rebels are ready to Go Jugular.
Peer into their training camp. See photos in action. The Revolution can train your marketing department just like them.
You see what I mean? My own reading of the prose is more along the lines of Thurber's "Walter Mitty." Such writing comes from reading too many self-gratifying Case Studies of Entrepreneurs, CEOs, and other Cut Throat Execs who Go Jugular, and too few works of literature that would chasten gradiosity and the false sublime. This brings me back to Salamon. Here are the virtues he sees (based on his surveys) of old-think, safe nonprofits. Productive, Empowering, Effective, Enriching, Reliable, Responsive and Caring.Reading that list of old-fashioned values against the amazing, serio-comic, bluster above we get to the the question of aspiration, and the formation of a better self in a less than ideal world. As the Jesuists ask their high school students, "What kind of person do you want to be? In what kind of world?"
Nonprofits (particularly the Voluntaristic ones, the schools and the clubs and the religious orgs) support, at their best, a higher form of humanity than that to which the author above seems to aspire. He seems based on his prose sample to see no higher and to aspire no further than values like self assertion, self aggrandizement, and domination of others. That of course and making a buck and getting results, as business and war do. (The museum is a casualty of war.)
As a teacher (without students) myself, and a moralist pro tem, out on bail, convicted of crimes I did not commit, what I see in the writing above, is a failure of education. How we got to a place in America where our best schools not only turn out such "Leaders," but glory in it, passes my understanding. I recently saw a pieceentitled "Disrupt Oxford," about a conference to be held there at the business school, on impact investing. I would like to say that the older forms of empire building still have something to teach the newer. A close reading of Plutarch on Alexander the Great (John Dryden's translation is here) could only help the newer swaggering warriors, as they set out to conquer the world, without first mastering themselves.
I would like to apoligize in advance if I see others as they do not see themsevles - a common objection, it seems, to my writing, or way of seeing. Art holds the mirror up to nature as Horace said, but it is a magic glass in which we seldom recognize our own visage. I know what it is to fail. If I had the power to rip out another's jugular, I would do it willingly, if it paid, and someone in authority told me it was good for society. My own aspirations, my moral biography, my own journey from sucess to significance - Krapps Last Tape about sums them up. I am the last person on earth, given my dissolute life in a Dumpster, to convince you that a liberal arts education is a good investment of time and energy. For me to say that is has made me a better person is a sick joke. (What would I have to have been at 12 for me to be better now?) Go for the money! Join the "Rebels" in their camp. I would myself if I could afford the tuition. I have been disrupted and left for dead. Beware! The same may happen to you.
Plato, trained originally as a dramatist, exiled the poets from his Republic, run by The Guardians, creatures chosen through a series of high stakes exams, starting at birth, until the Golden Ones, with the highest Board Scores, and highest class rank from the Best Schools, were given the highest level management jobs in the social economy encompassing the military, politics, education, and commerce. The Guardians would operate only via reason weighing data, and inputs, outputs and outcomes. The masses could not rise to that so they would be led by shadows cast on the wall of the cave, rather than educated beyond their station as citizens. Today, the shadows are called brands, but it is not only the lumpen proletariat who worship them; our Guardians too aspire no higher. When poetry is exiled, she returns as spectacle and delusion. "Our generation does not accept that profit and virtue are separate. As social entrepreneurs and leaders we reconcile the two every day." Such lines are written to order by an uber-dramatist with an exquisite sense of humor. Such lines come with costumes.
No less so does this line, "I am an estate planning expert. Through my efforts you will be able to defeat uncle Sam who is trying to take your money." (Attorney as Popeye, Uncle Sam as Bluto, client as Olive Oil.)
Life is a stage, a passage from birth to death through a modest interval of light, as short as the time it takes for a sparrow to fly through the great hall in one door and out the other - as Anglo-Saxon poets said. We don't have a choice as to whether we are actors in a play that passes our understanding. We can't even choose our roles - we are knave, dupe, fool, or rogue - no matter whether we wear ermine, rags, business suit, or a t-shirt and jeans. We don't get to declare our role, only our costume. What we are appears later, in the denouement, with or without a moment of recognition.
A businessperson joined a study group of advisors and fundraisers who are studying philanthropy together in a mid-western city. I wanted to write a bulletin about his experiences. He was happy to share, but said, "Please do not call me a philanthropist. Say that I am a consumer of estate planning services." When people think of philanthropy they imagine very large dollars and a certain air - like the rotund top hatted banker in Monopoly. The kind of person a small to mid-sized organization needs to reach is like the local business person here. The potential donor may have net worth sufficient to generate an estate tax, is working with advisors, and cares about family, reducing taxes, transferring a business to heirs or outsiders, doing right by employees, as well as taking care of heirs (giving them enough but not too much), and making a difference in the community, during life, at death, and beyond death.
Don't call this person "your donor," don't call him "a philanthropist." Don't even call him a "social investor" or "impact investor." He is a consumer of estate planning services. Maybe he is also a parishioner in your church, or a former student in your school. What such consumers of estate planning services need is a little meaning with all the talk about money - believe me! The purpose of the class this man is taking is to make money answer meaning. That can only go so far unless the consumer of estate planning services is grounded in a civic, religious, or ethical framework. That is where you come in, as a nonprofit catalyst. (I will not call you a fundraiser because this person is a not your donor, though he may have given loyally.)
I/it or I/thou? The consumer of estate planning services is processed generally via fact finders, cold analysis, and technology to produce a tax efficient plan answering to the common denominator of human motives (fear, greed, control). The parishioner, citizen, parent, former student in your giving community is a human being whose motives were shaped and elevated by your organization. Please, then, do not get down on your hands and knees chasing dimes with your nickle and dime ask. Please, instead, elevate the conversation into I/Thou - who are you Mr. Consumer of Estate Planning Services? What are you called to do? What mark will you leave? And carry that conversation in the rich and resonant language of your organization, the language shaping the inner life of the Consumer of Estate Planning Services no less than do brands, spreadsheets, and accounting statements. Help us make legacy planning more than the consumption of Estate Planning Services.
Anthony Cody, a high school teacher, asks if Bill Gates holds himself accountable for the mismatch between his programs and the evident needs of teachers and students. Cody suggests that Gates should shadow teachers through the halls, and into classes, so that he has a living, first hand understanding of the challenges teachers face and surmount daily. What this post points up is the core issue around metrics and management, as opposed to first hand face to face unconscious competence, of the professional.
Imagine a time before spreadsheets and computers. How might village life be ordered? The Pastor, the Physician, The Professor, the Teacher, were given a certain status. They were required to undergo a certain education, and then as members of a profession, dedicated to a noble end, to hold each other accountable to high standards. Skilled craftsmen too had their apprenticeships and their guild.
Today, the professions are following the skilled trades, yielding autonomy to Big Data, spreadsheets, metrics, and what amounts to the Taylorization, and privatization, and commercialization of all things considered. When the census goes out from Caesar - it is all about naming, and metrics. What problem should there be that you, your spouse and your children get a uniform identifying code number? Here and there a Herod may abuse the privileges of power, but there will be aqueducts, along with taxes, and conscription. There is a balance of benefits and costs when metrics arrive from the Emperor, Home Office, The IRS, or Gates Foundation. There will be pushback as there was against Roman rule, though resistance is futile, as you can see from the crosses lining the highways, or consider the fate of our precariate (those who will inherit the earth but not yet).
Metrics allow those who know only Data to raise our children, feed us, patent our DNA, mine our conversations, build tangible products, sell our attention as their "cognitive surplus," bury our dead, and medicate our inevitable dysfunction. Contra naturam, to quote Pound on usura.
Certain of our nonprofit traditions, in schools and sanctuaries, keep the old ways of wisdom, virtue, and courage alive, having grown from times darker than our own, under forces less benign than Gates. Those who have been touched by, and have been produced by, or healed by such nonprofit organizations and who identify with them, whose identity was formed by them, and who want that identity to pass down the generations have a motive for giving - a motive more intense than the desire for results, a motive that haunts the giver as a barren womb haunts a woman at the end of her child-bearing years. We will not capture what is most precious in giving by refactoring it all in the language of results, investment, and return on investment. That language is in part the ill it seeks to cure, the hands of the healer carry the plague, pride and presumption, for example, blindness for example.
A few reading this will feel some hairs rising along the arm or on the back of the neck. "Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believed." Moral truth, as opposed to the truths of logic and science means a double alignment of the speaker, the words, and the world. Moral truth is witnessed, not asserted or demonstrated with data. The same cross that refutes the order of love confirms it. The gesture that suppresses the cure, makes it go viral. In my job, as teacher of giving, I try to connect the langauges of love and money, with due deference to those who keep the languages of love alive, even in this time of materialism that has hardened into a messianic dogma. (Branded solutions as the idols of a tribe of lost souls.)
If your organization is struggling to survive under the iron rule of metrics, in the era of innovation and disruption and privatization and commercialisation of all that matters most, perhaps there is a way to enlist those of your high capacity constituents who would sooner die in the flesh than in the spirit. To connect what is higher (the languages of love) with what is lower (the languages of wealth, power, metrics, and control) is the art of philanthropy, or caritas. It is what was once known as virtue, or excellence, or leadership by example, or servant leadership. In your "database" are those for whom self-mastery, virtue, and excellence have been seeded and will bear fruit if cultivated. Fundraising, properly done, is the work of the organization insofar as the organization is devoted to excellence. Metrics (treating the donor as I/it), treating fundraising as sales, and Taylorizing the process, prevents us from seeing the way forward, in competition with social ventures which will soon claim to do what we do better (for profit hospital, for profit school, for profit conversation platform, for profit brand cults). Start with mission, faith, and love. Treat the rich as your tradition tells you that you should treat everyone. We all deserve it. The rich repay it. That is as wordly as my wisdom extends. Render unto Gates and Caesar; the meek shall inherit.
To Whom it May Concern
Gifthub is an immortal work of art in theMenippean Tradition,written in a Padded Cell (he calls it a Dumpster for obvious reasons) in a state of shock by Phil Cubeta, Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, under an alias, or alter ego, The Happy Tutor, Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage...... More....
Email Phil Cubeta, Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families.