Dumping Your Junk at your Local Nonprofit

Earlier this month, a nonprofit in Albuquerque got a donation it didn’t want:  a trailer full of junk, literally.  Sadly, this is not newsworthy to those of us who work in the sector.  We have too much experience receiving donations of goods we cannot use, from totally battered and broken items to those that are irrelevant to our work.   To any individual who has dropped off goods at a nonprofit thrift store and actually bothered to looked at the donated items that have been Read more

Let’s Talk Philanthropy

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Recently, I got a question from a young executive director of an organization clearly in the start-up phase of its lifecycle.  The board, too, is young.  And, as so many young people are,  they are very earnest and concerned with doing the right thing in the right way.  But the subject of the question she asked is not a young person’s or young organization’s question;  it is a question that I get so regularly in some form, I am almost tired of answering Read more

I Teach Philanthropy

Dan Pallotta’s been getting a lot of attention lately.   While I find his message a bit of “heard that before,” I still enjoy hearing his message because of the different ways I receive it.  My response varies depending upon what I’ve been working on or thinking or talking about;  like rereading a good book, wondering how you missed something in an earlier read.

Because I’ve been thinking a lot about philanthropy, his question, whether explicit or not, on who is the true philanthropist really resonated. Who?  Read more

November 1st, 2013 1 Comment

Conscience Laundering

Peter Buffet, meet Andrew Carnegie.

Peter, one of Warren Buffet’s sons, has been “trending” of late due to the op-ed piece he had in The New York Times recently.  He makes two very prescient observations that are likely to cause many well-intentioned philanthropists to shudder.  I hope, however, that once the shudder stopped coursing up and down their spines, they, and all of the other philanthropists who read his piece, paused to really think about his point.

Point one, he talks about “philanthropic colonialism”—the philanthropists “urge to save Read more

No Way to Treat a Partner

There are some great funders out there.  I hope you know who you are and can discern the sycophantic “You are wonderful.  Thank you so much,” from the true valuation as a great partner.  And then there are the rest.  And it is about time that you, too, know who you are and see about changing things.

The truth is, philanthropy doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  It exists in partnership. Is a person a philanthropist if there is no organization to which to give?  And yet, Read more

February 15th, 2013 2 Comments

Why We Give

Of late, and no surprise, I’ve gotten several inquiries from reporters about what happens to giving when icons related to an organization are knocked from their pedestals.  An easy answer and truthful answer is, it depends.  And it does—on so many things.  But the more truthful answer really is, we just don’t know.

Why don’t we know?  Because despite the great strides that have been made in the last two decades in trying to understand what motivates people to give to charities, we still know very Read more

August 24th, 2012 0 Comment

As Seen from the 52nd Floor

I’ve no idea whether funders read this blog or not, but I think I might be about to find out!

It is time for nonprofits—and I’m speaking of those nonprofits that seek funding, not the nonprofits that give out the money—to “take back the night,” so to speak.  These direct service nonprofits that seek funds and in return provide a service or an opportunity– need to drive what the sector and their organizations need instead of funders deciding what needs to be done.

I’d been thinking about Read more

Time to Brew the Tea

When it comes to reading, I often come intentionally late to the party.  I figure if everyone else is talking about it, I don’t need to be reading it right then as the word is getting out.  Which is why I find myself now, five years after its publication, reading Three Cups of Tea.  It is, as everyone said, a nice read—at least as far as I’ve gotten.

There are many things that one can take away from this book and Greg Mortenson’s story; Read more

Living Philanthropic

Living philanthropic—something to which we should all aspire, and something which is within everyone’s means.  There are those who inspire and those that leave us with a big thud.  As we launch into 2011, I challenge us all to be inspirational.

In October of this year, Forbes magazine published an interview with Warren Buffet and Jay-Z, an unlikely pair that apparently hit it off—once each got past his nervousness!  They talked about business and philanthropy.  Buffet, true to his beliefs, recognized that his area of expertise Read more

Charity Begins at Home

I am happy to report that I have data to support what I had always assumed (or was it hoped?):  most parents want their children to become philanthropic.  According to a recent poll conducted by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau, commissioned by Pearson Foundation and the Penguin Group, 90% of the 500 parents surveyed say “it is important to raise children to become charitable adults.”

Wanting and succeeding, though, are two very different things.  And apparently, most of the 90% of those parents aren’t being very Read more