What I’m Reading — February 2014
February 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
Philanthropy Trends: The more things change, the more they stay the same
In the readings that I have focused on this past month, what I have been seeing is new trends in philanthropy, and yet more of the same.
Following on last month’s analysis of mega-gifts and increased philanthropy, there have already been numerous announcements in 2014 of huge gifts. This includes Harvard’s largest gift from a single donor, Ken Griffin gave the University $150 million, announced on February 19. Since the beginning of the year there have been many gifts of $50 million or more. You can receive weekly news alerts for these gifts by subscribing to NOZA.
Additionally, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in February that in 2013 there was a “surge in giving” from America’s wealthiest, including notable gifts like Mark Zuckerberg’s $1 billion (with a B) to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, $750 million from Texas oil tycoon George Mitchell to his family foundation in support of sustainability, and $500 million from Phil Knight to support cancer research at Oregon Health & Science University.
Is the mega gift actually back? This article from Forbes says that it will not be long for this world, according to a new survey of young beneficiaries.
According to Chronicle of Philanthropy, gifts to colleges and universities are trending upwards, with a ten percent increase over 2012. Alums are giving larger gifts, though the number of individual donors is trending down. Personally, I’d like to see what we in the business call higher participation levels. Everybody: give to your alma mater! It’s important.
This article from Spear’s (a magazine about wealth management), supports transparent philanthropy. That is, it opposes anonymous giving. I found this to be a refreshing piece in the way it shines a light on the complications and administrative burdens to a charitable organization that are required by anonymous gifts. Though the article doesn’t focus on this, I do support non-anonymous giving if only for the fact that standing as an example to others in the community and may encourage others to be more philanthropic.
More from the Chron of Phil on philanthropy trends from the One Percent: Some are criticising the signers of The Giving Pledge for not giving towards the world’s most urgent problems. Donors gave more in 2013, but some say that many are joining more for public relations purposes, and some sign but are not giving to capacity right away, making their philanthropic plans for later in life. Defenders of The Pledge say that it influences more effective giving, and encourages philanthropy in general. Additionally, there is a focus on recruiting international donors.
Talking of which…
USA! We’re Number One!
This is particularly striking given that the U.S. is the source of the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
Spear’s has some interesting analysis on the results of the study, too.
This month in “Duh!”
So, about that up tic in philanthropic gifts? Yes, it does signal economic recovery, I suppose, but also, it requires trained professionals and strong, positive organizational culture. While the focus is on health care, two new studies by the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy conclude that there is a direct correlation between investing in fundraising professionals and increasing fundraising revenue. You can read about it in the Chronicle of Philanthropy (subscription required).
Local News – Philadelphia
News near and dear to my heart, Kim Cassidy was confirmed president of Bryn Mawr College. Anassa Kata!
Villanova class does good through documentaries – Students at Villanova are learning how to make documentary films that tell the story of local charitable organizations. Doing good.
Cool, Random, and Noteworthy:
Pope’s Harley goes for $327,000 at charity auction – That’s right, the Pope had a Harley Davidson, and the proceeds of its sale went to support a soup kitchen in Rome. This Pope is super bad. Like, totally sick. Just saying.
This could fit into the local category too: Local fundraising consultant Pamela Grow wrote a very nice piece on her blog about what motivates people to give: It’s personal. Amen, sister.
I enjoyed this piece from the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) by Fay Twersky, the director of the Effective Philanthropy Group at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She argues against “strategic philanthropy”, and advocates for more risk, and less certainty in philanthropy. She gently and subtly presses for less focus on outcomes and metrics and more creativity, innovation, and learning from beneficiaries. How very Silicon Valley.
In a similar vein, and also from SSIR, Phill Buchanan from the Center for Effective Philanthropy writes about Five Myths that Perpetuate Poor Philanthropic Strategy.
What are you reading?