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October 29, 2006


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Dr. Trotsky

I'm not all that familiar with the discourses of philanthropy, but Mr. Monk certainly seems to be making sense. The question then would be how to foster a community where little or none exists.

What's most refreshing is the suggestion that philanthropic organizations, which heretofore have cloistered themselves within executive suites, packaging donors, donations and donees without getting so much as a smutch on the soles of their Italian leather shoes, might actually consider going outside that model by assuming that not all the brains and know-how is on the side of the giver.

The muscle inside Gates is potentially huge. It can fund expert interventions to address very real problems. But that could be beyonded by the sort of thing Mr. Monk is pointing to.

At the moment, some of the most attractive integrated, enlightened and open environments exist within certain progressively-minded corporations whose prime directive is to meet investor expectations. That limits their social reach. On the other hand, the compartmentalization of USian living: worship here, amuse oneself there, shop there; no politics on mall premises; there will be no making of art here, but we'll allow geezers to show their "work" once a year as a show of community goodwill, etc. It's all completely fucking fake, false, stupid, and life denying. It is its own satire.

Our social constipation needs to be changed, broken, opened to the possibility of something like actual community before any effort of philanthropic power will be more than tokenism or showcase expertise.


Dr., yes, and you would find a friend in Tracy Gary, in your views on community. There was and is a strain of philanthropy going back to her work and that of her cousin, George Pillsbury, and others in the 60s, to make philanthropy a partnership with communities served, to put the poor, for example, on the board, or in grant-making capacities. That strain continues at places like Changemakers and Foundation Exchange, FEX.org.

Money for Change: Social Movement Philanthropy at Haymarket People's Fund

by Susan Ostrander recounts the difficulties of running a cross-class funding organization by consensus

The rich gave and the poor decided where the money went. You could write the libretto.

I have returned.

I'll have more to say about think tanks later. Your post has me thinking.

For now, can you recommend more resources like the Ostrander book?


Tracy Gary's Inspired Philanthropy is a great book on giving for social change donors. The Nonprofit Review has a great current issue on cross-class nonprofit efforts. As you know, National Committe on Responsive Philanthropy is a key resource for social justice philanthroy. Drum Major Institute, or DMI, is a good resource. They have a group blog, where Rick Cohen formerly of NCRP has a blog. Momentum and Threshold, associated with Tides are donor networks in this field. Most of these resources I have blogged about here, so you could search in google with gifthub plus one of these names. Albert Ruesga's White Courtesy Telephone blog is a key point of interesection between social justice concerns and foundation work.

Glad you are back - like Rasputin, hard to kill.


Another good read.
Some would write for pleasure but 10 bucks a word sounds good!


A very competitive market, though, not any word is worth the $10. You have to deliver political return on investment.

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