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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The New Philanthropy

This graphic is attached to a LA Times story reporting on another LA Times story - Dark Cloud Over Good Works of Gates Foundation - questioning the ethical calibre of the Gates Foundation investments. That's a mouthful.

If you're interested in mindful comments on Gates or "Dark Cloud" please look here, here, or here, and try this one for something pithy.

We're not interested in either LA Times story. We are interested in the Gates Foundation response and the opportunities to engage with foundations on their investment protocols.

We suggest to appreciate the scope of the "New Philanthropy", listen - as MP3/Vorbis - to this SALT presentation given by Katherine Fulton.

Here's a summary with full credit to Stewart Brand:
Katherine reported:
  • 10,000 families in the US have assets of $100 million or more. Up from 7,000 just a couple years ago. Most of that money is "on the sidelines." The poor and the middle class are far more generous in their philanthropy, proportionally, than the very wealthy.

  • Philanthropy across the board is in the midst of intense, potentially revolutionary, transition, she said. There's new money, new leaders, new rules, new technology, and new needs. Where great wealth used to come mainly from inheritance and oil, now it comes from success in high technology and finance--- and ideas and expectations from those business experiences inform (and sometimes over-simplify) the new philanthropy. Some of the great older institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation are radically reorganizing around new ideas and opportunities. But still the greatest amount comes from individuals, many of whom are now "giving while living" instead of handing over the task to heirs.

  • One major new instrument for philanthropy are the community
    foundations, "the mutual funds of philanthropy, where donors can outsource their strategy." There are 1,000 such organizations in the world, 700 of them in the US, led by innovators such as Acumen Fund, Social Venture Partners, New Profit Inc., and Women's Funding Network.

  • Online giving is growing rapidly, including the development of
    philanthropic marketplaces for direct, selective, fine-grain giving. Give India, for example, is a national marketspace of charity exchange. "By 2020 we will see a headline, OPEN SOURCE PHILANTHROPIC PORTAL TOPS $1 BILLION IN GIFTS."

  • An important trend is from local and short-term toward global and systemic, exemplified by Bill Gates' move from bringing computers to American schools to bringing health to Africa.

  • The trait most often missing in philanthropy, including the new philanthropy, is stamina, patience. "Instead of rewarding success with continued funding, the givers get bored and look for something new. Really effective giving requires deep contextual understanding and tolerance for ambiguity. My advice to new donors is, 'Pick at least one difficult and complex issue and stick with it, and join with others to work on it.'"

  • The greatest needs require philanthropic stamina but will also reward it. She quoted Danny Hillis: "There are problems that are impossible if you think about them in two-year terms--- which everyone does-- but they're easy if you think if fifty-year terms."

  • donors have to visit up close with whatever they're giving toward. Dr. Rockefeller supported that, describing how different his view was of Doctors Without Borders once he had worked with the physicians in the field in Peru and Nigeria. He said that direct experience helps free you from lots of theories that are just wrong, and from philanthropy that is a projection of your own neuroses.

  • Questions from the audience revealed a continuing problem with the whole social sector, which is the lack of clear mechanisms of self-correction and accountability. Government has checks and balances. Business has the bottom line. But "it's hard to speak truth to philanthropy," Katherine said. Richard said he looked closely at a $20 million effort by the Robert Wood Johnson to evaluate its programs and was unimpressed by the result. Larry Brilliant added, "And the new philanthropy is even less accountable than the old."

  • The generation of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller had a strong religious tradition that inspired public generosity and inventiveness. Those who came of age in the 1960s and early '70s had their experience with political activism as a driver for later philanthropy. "But I notice that many who became adults during and after Ronald Reagan seem to have no framework at all for giving."


  • Ahem: That's right ... Larry Brilliant and Richard Rockefeller join Katherine.
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    del.icio.us Tags for information about: for:vsef, Philanthropy, Nonprofit, Society

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    1 Comments:

    Anonymous Phil said...

    Great post. Thank you for the link to gifthub, but even more for the link to Fulton.

    8:09 p.m.  

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