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?
January 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
One of the most exciting stories about academia this month was the White House Summit on Higher Education. 140 college leaders, including Bryn Mawr College President Kim Cassidy (my employer, featured in this article on NPR about the Summit), gathered at the White House earlier this month to discuss and explore ways they could collaborate to better serve low-income students through their college experience.
On the topic of trends in philanthropy and fundraising, prior to the World Economic Forum, the Huffington Post posted this piece, Philanthropy as an Asset Class. The author posits that philanthropy needs to be a strategic part of the solution to the world’s economic problems, along with government and business solutions.
“Philanthropists have the capacity to articulate a vision and actually implement it over a realistic time frame by exercising the requisite skills, expertise and efficient deployment of private resources. These are luxuries rarely accessible to a President or Chief Executive.”
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that charitable giving in 2013 increased by at least 13%, and the return of mega gifts is being interpreted as an economic rebound.
On the topic of data and metrics, there always seems to be interesting things to read. This month, the NP Quarterly posted a piece on the tyranny of metrics. Being a data and numbers person, I’m a believer in metrics. It’s important for any organization to be able to measure their progress to goals, whatever that may be. But I’m not so sure that it makes sense for those metrics to be uniform, such as with the model of Charity Navigator. How each organization determines success or failure perhaps requires a diversity of measures.
On the subject of data integrity, the New Yorker published this very troubling piece about an organization that sent out a piece of mail to a constituent addressed in part to “Daughter Killed in Car Crash.” How on Earth does something like that happen? It all comes down to internal processes and maintaining data integrity. What a nightmare for all involved. Let it be a lesson to us all in this business.
On prospect research, an article in CASE Currents asks “are prospect research services worth the cost?” (subscription required). The title of this article, “The Massive Potential and Frustrating Pitfalls of Big Data” is misleading. “Big Data” is a real buzz term these days, an attention-grabber in a headline. But analytics and prospect research are really different topics having not much to do with each other. Also, I didn’t appreciate the sensationalism of the title questioning the value of prospect research in fundraising. The content of the article itself was generally good, and indeed ended in a positive place affirming that yes, indeed research is effective and important. The author consulted many well-known research and prospect development professionals, and it speaks to many of the reasons why information tools and professional staff are a good investment in fundraising. However, it raises the typical privacy concerns that we are called on the debunk each time an article like this is published. It seems to me that an article like this that questions the value and ethics of our profession comes out about once a year. At least this lands in a positive place, but it leads and attracts attention with a negative introduction.
On leadership and management, the Harvard Business Review reports that employees who feel appreciated are better performers. Oh, really? Duh.
Finally, the January 26 edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy has many interesting reads, including the Outlook 2014 section with segments about what nonprofits should start doing, and what they should stop doing. Also, here are some nonprofit superstars doing some really cool stuff we should all know about. It also gave a nice shout-out to the humorous Tumblog of some friends of mine, When you Work for a Nonprofit. This blog is a good daily coffee break. I recommend it.
March 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
This week I acquired a new business intelligence tool, and I am geeking out! This tool is going to be a game-changer for how we perform data analysis, and it will also allow us to build dashboards to show activity in our prospect and donor pool in a whole new way. I’m super excited.
As I begin to dip my toes into the world of data visualization, I am seeking and finding some very interesting resources to help guide me through the process and give me ideas. Here is my attempt to collect them.
Visua.ly: Tools and guidelines for creating infographics and data visualizations (which are not the same thing). They even took a stab at drafting a Code of Ethics for Dave Visualization Professionals. Nice.
Storytelling With Data: to help rid the world of ineffective graphs, one exploding, 3D pie chart at a time
Spreadsheet Analytics: Resources and guidelines for spreadsheet analysis
Visual Literacy: e-learning tutorials for data visualization.
Information Is Beautiful: A blog by David McCandless, a journalist and information designer based in London.
The History of Visual Communication: An interesting perspective of human beings teaching and learning through visualization.
I have been collecting resources for data visualization for a while, and you can access them on my Pinboard page. If you know of others, please share them!
September 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
My favorite recent yoga resources
I don’t know where the summer went, but here is September! And September is Yoga Month! To celebrate and motivate (myself and others, if you are so inclined), and to honor work/life balance for information professionals (and everyone!), I am sharing some more of my recent favorite resources.
If you have never done yoga before, I highly recommend that you attend an in-person class in your neighborhood when you get started. Nothing really beats a live class. But to keep up a solid practice, doing it at home is really important, too. I have found over the years that the growing resources online have really helped me establish a solid home yoga practice. Yoga resources on the Interwebz are growing in leaps and bounds, I am happy to report, so here are some really great ones:
- YogaGlo – http://www.yogaglo.com/
Unlimited yoga videos for $18 a month
- Yogis Anonymous – http://yogisanonymous.com/
Free livestream classes, and unlimited yoga videos for $15 a month. They also have four classes available for free any time. These don’t change frequently, but they are great classes and are worth repeating! I recommend Charlie Samos’ classes.
- MyYoga Online – http://www.myyogaonline.com/
A nice variety of levels, styles, and class lengths here. Many videos available for free, unlimited availability for $9.95 a month. There is an online community and some programs for yogis/yoginis to accomplish specific goals.
If you search for “yoga” in the iTunes Store, and look at the available podcasts, you will find numerous choices. And the selection grows every day.
- Yoga Visions with Teri Leigh – http://www.terileigh.com/podcasts2.htm
- Live, Love, Teach wit Philip Urso – http://www.liveloveteach.com/