March 07, 2004


Q: What is your purpose?

A: To create an open space where advisors, givers, and activists for grassroots organizations can meet to discuss ways and means, as well as ends in view.

Q: Is this space open to all grassroots organizations, whatever their politics?

A: Yes, but think of it this way. We are all fans, say, of baseball, but to be a fan is to have a passionate rooting interest in a particular team. Same with civil society. We support an open society and favor particular causes, and encourage you to do the same.

Q: Is it true, Sir, that you are a secular humanist, granola-eating, tree-hugging Liberal?

A: I believe in an open society in which we all have a right to be wrong. You may disagree.

Q: What services will you provide provide?

A: This is an open space. I hope our goals and strategies will emerge from those who mix and mingle here, in this open/closed space.

Q: Do you have to be rich to play here? Or serve the rich?

A: We all have, as Milton put it, in his sonnet "On His Blindness," a "talent that is death to hide." For some it is money, for others talent, for some a gift of prophecy or poetry. For some the gift is blood, paid in kind as a soldier, or fireman. For the some the gift is courage. Some bear, in defiance of economic logic, a social cost that others may prosper. To change the world takes resources. But the biggest changes come from a change of heart. Still, my professional training and contacts are in working with the wealthy on values-based estate strategies, and donor-centered philanthropy. So that will be my focus.

Q: How can I participate?

A: Give to get. Whatever draws you here, please think about what you can contribute, whether ideas, encouragement, links, or referrals. If you have expertise in related areas, let me know. We could certainly use help from those with skills in fundraising as a form of collective action, as opposed to philanthropy which is generally from the top down. A related area is government policy work and lobbying. Again, if you are a player in that arena, and want to volunteer your insights, let me know. Likewise, if any JD is willing to do pro bono work for participants, that would be a big plus. Whatever your special skills, maybe we can link, collaborate, or refer. Or perhaps you could contribute essays.

Q: How are you supported? What are the financials?

A: This is nonprofit volunteer project. The costs are minimal and I fund them myself. There is no way to contribute cash to this effort. We want you to think about your ideals, your life, and what you can do. As Nietzsche's Zarathrustra said, "Here is my way, where is yours?" I will be gratified if a few people hook up here and go on to do great things.

Q: You work on Company Time for a financial services outfit. Is this a "Shilling Point"?

A: I have permisison from my employer to do this on my own time. I do not want to exclude qualified people from companies other than my employer. There are just too few advisors who are "called" to this kind of work. I am proud of my association with others in my position with other firms. I encourage donors and activists to always look at three providers of any product or service and to form their own local alliances. That said, I do know some good people with my firm and can talk to you about them if you are interested.

Q: In what capacity or role are you speaking here?

A: The views presented here are my own as a citizen and do not necessarily represent those of my employer (The Nautilus Group and New York Life). I do not give tax, legal or financial advice. For such advice people should always consult their own professional advisors. My work here is limited to the unlicensed practice of the liberal arts.

Please leave more questions under comments, I will try to answer and add to the FAQ.

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