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Deep Social Impact
The Philanthropic Initiative Inc.’s strategic philanthropy blog
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families, foundations and corporations
dream big and act wisely

09/22
2010

What Do Donors Want Anyway?

That seemed to be the question behind grants recently made by the Gates Foundation to two consulting firms for developing tools and sharing best practices that will help donors make better investment decisions and, ultimately, encourage more philanthropy.

While many were pleased over the powerful show of support for increasing philanthropy, the grants also raised questions about

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09/17
2010

Case Foundation Looks at Make It Your Own

Hot off the press: the Case Foundation just released their evaluation report on the foundation’s experiments to inspire a citizen-centered approach to civic engagement and philanthropy.  The evaluation was designed and conducted by Peter Levine, Ph.D., Peter Deitz, and TPI’s own Cynthia Gibson Ph.D.

Since meeting and working with Jean and Steve Case in the 90’s we’ve

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09/17
2010

The Giving Pledge – What about the Women?

Where are the women on the Giving Pledge?  The initial list of 40 includes 20 couples, 19 men and 1 woman.  Ok, I get the basic demographics and understand that today’s self-made billionaires are more likely to be men – indeed Forbes estimates that only 14 of the world’s 1000 billionaires are self-made women.  But what bothers me is that here we have a huge statement about the powerful and moral act of giving; indeed a call to action, a challenge, and women look like the back-up act, extras in the drama. 

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09/15
2010

World Giving Index Underscores Need for Better Data

Co-authored by Mark Sidel, Senior Fellow, TPI and Professor of Law, University of Iowa

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) recently released a World Giving Index 2010. The raw data included in the report is informative and valuable, and we are grateful to CAF and to Gallup – who gathered the data through their WorldView Poll – for bringing the data to the public’s attention.  We are additionally grateful to CAF for continuing to shine a spotlight on the role and value of philanthropy in society; something they have done effectively for many years.

To create a World Giving Index from the raw data contained in the report is perplexing, and potentially harmful to our understanding of the rich, diverse, and complex ways that philanthropic giving is practiced around the world. 

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09/08
2010

Pakistan? Send It To My Voicemail

$25 million.  That’s how much private donors, foundations and companies have pledged since the floods in Pakistan began six weeks ago. According to the Center on Philanthropy, in the same amount of time after the Haiti earthquake in January an estimated $900 million was committed.  It’s been nearly two months since torrential monsoon rains gave way to devastating floods throughout the region and yet little aid has managed to reach the 20 million people – more than the combined total affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake – affected by the disaster.  Pakistan is calling but we’re not picking up the phone. The question is, why and where should donors go to help?

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08/25
2010

Inc. Magazine’s How-To Guide on Corporate Philanthropy

Start with a solid enterprise, develop a strategy, find projects that are the right fit. All good advice – which should be no surprise given Inc. turned to TPI’s Leslie Pine, Bolder Giving’s Christopher Ellinger and Give Something Back’s Mike Hannigan to write this new “how-to” guide. But, perhaps inherent in it being a practical guide, it misses a critical element.

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08/18
2010

Highlighting the “Why?” of Donor Intent

My father was an entrepreneur who in the 1980s created a small family foundation to which he named my three siblings and me the successor trustees. Although we knew about the foundation and he had occasionally spoken to us about our possible involvement, we had not worked together in philanthropy.  Twenty-five years ago, I was scheduled to visit him and intended to have a conversation about why he had named us as successors and what his thoughts were about the future of the foundation. One week before that visit, he died unexpectedly and the conversation never took place.

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08/11
2010

Can a Drop in Corporate Cash Giving Signal a Good Thing?

On Monday the Chronicle released results from a corporate giving survey indicating that 2010 corporate giving is holding steady from 2009 levels. Not surprised it didn’t go up. Glad it didn’t go down. What caught my eye though was that it was overall giving of cash and products that remained stable – while cash giving actually dropped.

Can corporations continue to achieve social impact if they continue to reduce cash donations?  Probably not, but there may be a silver lining here. A drop in cash donations – in the context of stable overall cash and product giving – shows more companies are finding new ways to bring the full spectrum of their resources to the table.  

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08/04
2010

Personal Dreams Go Public

The letters are up!

Forty billionaires agreed to post their “pledges” to donate at least half their wealth to philanthropy on the Giving Pledge website today.  The letters are really quite lovely, mostly very personal, some stunningly inspiring and all amazingly public.  The themes that are interwoven throughout the letters are ones that TPI has come to know well over our 21 years of working with wealthy donors on philanthropy.

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07/27
2010

Finance Executives reap ROI of 36:1 (but it’s not what you think)

We love to say it: go beyond grants. But it feels even better see how it pays off – as illustrated in this recent Newsweek article.

In 2004, The Family Van, which provides free preventative care in a number of low income communities around Boston, was struggling. It was a time when TPI was working with the Putnam Senior Executive Foundation, ­a giving circle we helped create with personal investments from a few dozen of the top-ranking officers at Putnam Investments. The Putnam senior executives were interested in supporting The Family Van but they couldn’t get a good enough sense of the underlying impact of the services and thus their grant.

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