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06/17
2010

Thoughts on the Gates/Buffett Giving Pledge

A few years ago I was in NYC with a TPI client of very substantial wealth – $800 million – who told me he had decided to leave each of his three children a mere $1 million and give the rest away, not because he was that charitable, but because he was concerned that too much money would ruin his kids. I repeated this story to a good friend, who also has a great deal of wealth, and one Sunday afternoon he said to his two entrepreneurial sons, successful in the real estate business, but always in need of more capital – “Peter told me about this rich guy who has decided to leave just one million to each kid – what do you two think of that?” There was a pregnant pause in the room, and then one of the sons said – “Dad, do you remember the Menendez brothers?” I think the comment was made in jest, but who knows?

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06/17
2010

Philanthropy in Ireland: Promising Opportunities

Despite the current challenges faced by the philanthropy sector in the Republic of Ireland and Norther Ireland, there are many promising and exciting developments which could be built upon.  From my short visit, I was exposed to the following efforts; undoubtedly just a few among many more.

  • Investment in development staff – Both the community foundations and a number of other arts, cultural and educational institutions that I encountered have invested in recent years in development staff whose primary job is to build private philanthropic support.  The success of exemplars such as Queens University in Belfast, which recently raised $40 million of a $50 million campaign for a new library through private fundraising, will inspire others.  Community foundation development staff members are at early stages of creating relationships with professional advisors, who can be a great referral source and promote organized giving among their client base.

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06/16
2010

Gates/Buffett Giving Pledge: Will They Take the Bait this Time?

This isn’t the first time that a rich person who has found enormous fulfillment in giving – who has truly drunk the Kool-Aid of joy that comes from living a life of big and noble purpose –  has challenged his/her peers to rise to the occasion.   

Andrew Carnegie did this a hundred years ago.  Ted Turner did it in ‘97.  I think it’s fair to say that both had some impact.  Not only did they put themselves out there as exemplars – replete with the warts, chutzpah and great aspirations – but their willingness to stand and be counted and make THE point are regularly referenced by today’s promoters of big giving.  

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06/15
2010

Philanthropy in Ireland: Current Challenges

Throughout my travels, I sensed an urgency for developing the private philanthropy culture and the philanthropic marketplace.

 On the supply side, Government agencies which both gave and promised large donations during the economic boom are pulling back and even withholding promised funds.  Financial institutions – typically stalwart supporters of community, especially the arts – are in crisis.  On the demand side, new NGO’s formed and existing ones expanded during the boom are now struggling for funding.

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06/10
2010

Philanthropy in Ireland: State of the Sector

During my trip to Ireland I made several observations about the state of philanthropy in the country. Organized private philanthropy is young in Ireland.  While many claim that the Irish people are very charitable (numbers need to be verified, but I believe they refer to small gifts by the average citizen to charitable drives/requests), the practices of making large private gifts or strategic philanthropic initiatives are unusual.  The number of private foundations is small and any momentum begun during the boom years has slowed or even come to a grinding halt. 

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06/08
2010

A Trip to Ireland

I was honored to be invited to spend four days visiting with leaders from civil society, government and business in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to discuss the role and practice of philanthropy.  The visit was part of a United States Department of State program managed by the Irish Institute at Boston College, and the itinerary of meetings and conferences was crafted by the 14 members of a study group which had visited the US in 2009. The members of this group served as my hosts, guides and taskmasters!

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06/04
2010

Which Arts and Music Model Works Best?

In a recent scan conducted for a TPI client looking at arts and music education in public K-12 schools in California, I looked for the strongest model. I was not surprised when I found that there appears to be no single model for what works, but rather the most effective programs are designed to respond to the particular strengths, opportunities, and needs of their communities. Similarly, both in-school and community-based programs can be extremely successful, as evidenced by the fact that Finland (in-school model) and Venezuela (community-based) are leaders in producing professional musicians,

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06/02
2010

Can Pictures and Stories Create Social Change?

The Lewis Hine Fellows Program is based at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies (CDS).  It is named for Lewis W. Hine who, a century ago, traveled the country with his camera to document children at work in sweatshops, factories, and farms.  Hine’s compelling photographs were instrumental in the passage of child labor reform laws and the Lewis Hine Fellows Program works to bring about similar social change.

 

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06/01
2010

My Day in Washington: First Lady Michelle Obama Talks Innovation

The following post originally appeared on Fuel for the Field, the blog of TPI Board member Carla Javits, President of REDF.  

A White House invitation spurred a quick trip to Washington, D.C. for an inspiring meeting convened by First Lady Michele Obama, with Patrick Corvington, who heads up the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council. It was heartening to witness the commitment of the First Lady, and the high-powered group of attendees to the White House-initiated social innovation effort.

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05/27
2010

Art as a Strategy for Social Change

A very successful music education program, with its roots in Venezuela, has been gaining a lot of attention in the United States.  “El Sistema” (the system) was created by Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, an economist and musician who believes in the transformative power of music.  In Venezuela, El Sistema is funded by the government and provides free services to children, most of whom are from low income families. Venezuelan children begin attending their local El Sistema center, called a “nucleo”, as early as age 2 or 3, up to six days a week, three to four hours a day. Today some 300,000 children and youth across Venezuela are playing instruments and performing in El Sistema orchestras.

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