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11/29
2010

What Might a Balanced Approach—One That Honors Both Heart and Mind—to Due Diligence Look Like?

The final section of a recent Nonprofit Quarterly article by Cynthia Gibson and Bill Deitel—in which they called for more of a balance between the art and science of philanthropic decision-making—really resonated for me.  It made me want to continue seeking a balance between art and science in my own work…a combination of the heart and mind.  But how does that kind of “due diligence” work?  I think I’ve found an approach that works—or at least it does (and has) for me. 

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11/11
2010

The Giving Pledge Stutters

When my husband read aloud my quote in today’s New York Times article on the Giving Pledge, I groaned, “Oh no, does it look like I’m against the Giving Pledge?  How can a philanthropic advisor to the world’s wealthiest donors be opposed to a challenge made by three of the most powerful people in philanthropy who persuaded their peers to  step up to the plate and

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10/28
2010

Leadership, Legacy and Life

I recently returned from my first L3 retreat and saw the middle of a sandwich.

L3 is a new organization, standing for Leadership, Legacy and Life, whose members share a commitment  to “enjoy a life of greater significance and to enrich the lives of others…to apply their respective experiences, skills and resources to optimize their impact on family, community and their world. “ www.l3.org I love the organization’s mission and

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10/26
2010

Do Young People Lack Empathy?

We’ve all heard the complaints about “those young people”—that they’re “slackers,” “narcissistic,” and “entitled.”  Now, here comes a new one:  They lack empathy.  So says a recent article that appeared in the Boston Globe, which has understandably raised the hackles of many young people, especially those who’ve been heavily engaged in service, volunteering, politics, and nonprofit work.  Having a lot of close, professional, and personal ties to these amazing young people (who keep me grounded and help stave off impending feelings of the world going to hell in a hand basket), it’s hard for me

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10/21
2010

(We Always Knew That) Women Give More – Now We Have the Numbers to Prove it

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy (on whose Board of Visitors I sit) – just released its first WomenGive research report. There is finally some decent research out there – not a bunch of stories and myths – that demonstrates that women are more philanthropic than men in the United States.  Who knew that?

I think a lot of

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10/14
2010

Not your Father’s Foundation

Same old… Same old… That’s what I figured I’d see at ASF’s conference this week.  Sure, there would be those perennial and thorny issues faced by highly engaged family foundations from all the years I’ve been doing this work (and undoubtedly a zillion more):  family dynamics getting in the way of good and fulfilling giving; the tension of balancing individual interests with the imperative of focus; older generations who can’t figure out why they can’t engage the younger generations; the holy grail of quantifiable measurement.  Good stuff, important to all the very earnest and serious donors and staff attending, but oh my how I feel like I’ve heard them all over and over and over again.  Am I getting jaded?

But wait, there was something different

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10/13
2010

Is Zuckerberg Representing Millennials?

By now everyone has heard. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, recently donated $100-million to the public school system in Newark, NJ.  It’s quite a donation and is already making waves.  The gift has received a lot of press, mainly as relates to its quantity and who it’s coming from, but some have also questioned

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10/06
2010

Tapping our Collective Superhero

The spotlight is once again shining on the need for urban school reform, thanks to the $100 million pledge by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to the Newark Public Schools and the release of the movie Waiting for Superman.  As someone who regularly visits inner city classrooms, I applaud the outrage portrayed by the film and articulated by Zuckerberg, who said on The Oprah Winfrey Show:  “Going to a school with boarded up windows and broken glass should not be a part of our education experience.” We should be outraged by the huge dichotomy between the schools that many urban poor children attend every day and the schools in more affluent communities.  Or the fact that families believe that their children’s futures will be determined by whether they win the lottery that allocates one of the coveted seats in their local charter school.

The problem is that the

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09/30
2010

I Found the Globe in my Backyard

Just in case you fell asleep thirty years ago and didn’t notice, we are a truly global society and even the most local philanthropist ignores that reality at her own peril.  Just to be clear – I am not critiquing the donor who says “We have problems at home – why don’t we just give in our own backyards?” I think giving locally to your communities is terrific.  You have an understanding of what is needed; you know the effective leaders; you can bring stakeholders together to craft solutions that are more likely to stick; you can see the results (or absence) of your investments.  Giving locally can be incredibly effective and meaningful. 

What I am talking about

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09/29
2010

Finding a Balance

Last week, I posted some comments about an article that Bill Dietel and I wrote for Nonprofit Quarterly about whether and to what extent the quantitative or “technocratic” elements of philanthropy had taken over the other, more amorphous elements of that practice, namely, the ethics, values, and ideologies of the donors.  We received a lot of response to the piece,

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