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06/13
2013

Global Lessons Learned

TPI has always been committed to deepening the understanding and practice of philanthropy around the world.  We have been privileged to work with colleagues in countries including Brazil, China, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, the Philippines and Spain, who seek to deepen and grow philanthropy and want to build on lessons learned elsewhere. We’ve conducted seminars and conferences, authored research studies, interviewed and met with countless philanthropists, collaborated with academic institutions and conferred with government leaders.  With a grant from the Bertelsmann Foundation nearly a decade ago, TPI co-authored with Harvard’s Hauser Center and the Aviva Foundation the only overview I’m aware of on approaches to growing philanthropy around the world:  Promoting Philanthropy:  Global Challenges and Approaches.

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03/25
2013

Financial Advisers: Roadblocks to raising the philanthropy question

Financial advisers and philanthropy seem like a perfect match.  As trusted wealth consultants with a strong personal understanding of their clients, financial advisers are uniquely positioned to positively impact their business, the individuals and families they serve, and society at large.  So, if philanthropy is good for advisers, clients, and society, what barriers keep advisers from starting these conversa­tions? How can these hurdles be overcome? The obstacles are diverse, but several surface more often than others.

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03/22
2013

Financial Advisers: Building Trust and Getting Personal

Although most professional advisers report that they do talk about philanthropy with their clients, what we see at TPI as well as in the research con­ducted with high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals is that that only a small percentage of advis­ers consistently raise the topic before their clients do. Even fewer go beyond conversations on the tax impli­cations or private foundation structures to ground the discussion in their clients’ values and interests.

 

A decade ago, those of us promoting philanthropy spent much of our time easing the concerns of advisers who thought that this topic was too personal for them to raise, that they would be overstepping bounds, or that they would appear to be imposing their own values or moral code on their clients. The good news is that

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03/21
2013

Financial Advisers: A unique role with philanthropy

Tomorrow I’m presenting at the CFA Institute Conference: Wealth Management 2013 about how important it is for financial advisers to raise the philanthropy question with their clients.  For those who won’t be in attendance, I thought it might be helpful to share my recent contribution to the CFA Institute Private Wealth Management newsletter through a series of blog posts.

 

The truth is, too few financial advisers take the initiative when it comes to engaging clients on the question of philanthropy. Yet, having a meaningful conversation about charitable giving is an effective way of deepening client relationships and differentiating one’s firm. What is important, however, is that advisers frame the discussion around the client’s values, interests, and goals—not simply around the technical aspects of taxes and philanthropic vehicles.

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03/13
2013

Flying Under the Radar in Iowa: Giving Incentives that Work

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Iowa for the last nine years through some Annie E. Casey Foundation work and some strategy planning with the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation. They are doing some really smart, creative and important work out there and the city looks stunning with lots of great public art, a scenic riverwalk and beautiful cultural and civic buildings – much of this catalyzed by the philanthropic sector and a cadre of highly civically-minded business leaders. But my most recent trip to speak at the Iowa Council on Foundations’ Connect ’13: Community Foundation Networking Summit truly convinced me that folks all over Iowa are doing something really special, something that should be emulated by other states, and something that not enough people know about.

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Filed under: Strategic Philanthropy

02/07
2013

Who’s driving that river of money?

The great news is out – 2012 giving was saved at the finish line.  In recent articles around the country, we heard that Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund saw gifts to charitable accounts jump 24 percent to $3.6 billion in 2012 and The Boston Foundation’s Paul Grogan called it “a river of money” in December when it saw donations nearly triple in the last six months of year to $93 million.

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12/19
2012

Why I Love Minneapolis! (And why charitable giving won’t fall off a cliff)

I am in Minneapolis. I love Minneapolis and have from my first visit in the late 80’s when we were putting together The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI). I came to town with a question, a very big question: “What is in the water in Minneapolis that makes this community so incredibly generous?” I remember those conversations as though they were yesterday.  Talks with Ken Dayton of Dayton-Hudson, now Target; Jim Shannon of General Mills; Marion Ertswiler, then president of the Minneapolis Foundation; Peter Hutchinson, until recently of the Bush Foundation; and my friend, Roger Hale of the Tennant Company. These thoughtful citizen-actors had many answers to my “big question,” but it boiled down to this: the immensely hard-working and entrepreneurial Anglican, Lithuanian, Jewish, German, and Scandinavian immigrants who settled Minnesota brought with them religious and community values that, as they became successful, seeded a terrific culture of creative family and corporate philanthropy with great “donor-leaders” leading the charge.  And this culture still exists today. What I did not hear referenced in those answers was any mention whatsoever of the influence of charitable tax deductions.  It just never came up.

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12/18
2012

The Art of Love in Philanthropy

This blog originally appeared on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.

Dennis Litky, co-founder of Big Picture Learning, and a charismatic and inspired educator, has found that the single most important factor in kids learning is “whether they believe that they can.” That kind of influence from a gifted teacher to a student is profound. We can and do measure the academic progress of the student, but it is harder to quantify the impact of a gifted teacher’s impact on the student. Sometimes though, it is not hard to see:

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Filed under: Strategic Philanthropy

12/11
2012

The First Rule of Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not What You Think

This blog originally appeared on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.

For some, the very notion of corporate social responsibility remains an oxymoron. For example, the push-back that I get in my class in the Global and International Studies program at UCSB is that corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a concept is part of the neo-liberal conspiracy to make everything market-driven, and students view me as the spokesperson. I will say that after giving me a hard time, they ask how they can get a job working for those exact same corporate culprits.

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Filed under: Corporate Philanthropy

11/28
2012

Why the Art of Philanthropy Trumps the Science

This blog originally appeared on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.

There is a natural tension between art and science: Science is associated with certainty and effectiveness, and art with softness and disruption. In philanthropy we aspire to certainty (or as much of it we can get) and yet as counter-intuitive as it may seem, especially in the context of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, I would make the case that the art side of philanthropy, if not more important than the science side, is at least a pre-condition to achieving effectiveness and impact.

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Filed under: Strategic Philanthropy

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