Category Archives: Foundations

How to Fail with Style in Philanthropy

I’ve long written about the value of learning to fail as an element of successful philanthropy. I believe that endeavors which are difficult (such as effective philanthropy) must be approached with a mindset that recognizes that failure is an inevitable side effect of taking smart risks. One of the first posts of mine that “went […]

The Upside of Philanthropic Failure

Back in May of 2008 I wrote a piece for the Stanford Social Innovation Review about Jim Canales of the Irvine Foundation and his challenge to philanthropy to fail more frequently. Jim’s point is that failure goes hand in hand with taking risks and if philanthropy never fails it means no risk is being taken […]

Paul Brest on General Operating Support

The newly released William & Flora Hewlett Foundation’s annual report includes an essay about forms of philanthropic support from the foundation’s president Paul Brest. In the essay, Paul pushes back against groups such as Independent Sector, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and the Nonprofit Finance Fund, who have advocated strongly for funders to provide nonprofits with […]

Purpose Prize: Liz & Steve Alderman

The Purpose Prize, provides five $100,000 and five $50,000 awards to social innovators over 60 in encore careers. Encore careers combine personal fulfillment, social impact and continued income, enabling people to put their passion to work for the greater good. It is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of […]

Can Increasing Payout Rates Save the Day?

One of the responses to my post on Friday, in which I argued that staffed foundations should share their knowledge to offset the decline in their investment assets, was from people suggesting that foundations should also increase their payout rate. As a general prescription, this is probably a bad idea. Foundations are required to pay […]

The 2010 Crisis in Philanthropy

Lucy Bernholz, the most prescient analyst of future trends in philanthropy, is working on a book about the future of philanthropy and the social economy. So she has been using Twitter to ask people the following question: “What trend, change, entity, idea will matter most to social sector in 2010?” I thought I’d answer the […]

Why Would You Give Money to Bill Gates?

In June I wrote a post about Olivia, a 7-year-old girl who had given $35 to the Gates Foundation. Last year, the Gates Foundation received $10.4 million in gifts from donors like Olivia. In the post, I pointed to these unusual gifts as evidence that individual donors are focusing more and more on the impact […]

Learning From Foundation Tweets

Beth Kanter (currently a visiting scholar at the Packard Foundation), recently analyzed the list of “foundations that tweet” on the Philanthropy411 blog. Beth gives a really interesting breakdown of the various ways the foundations are using Twitter as well as takes a look at the “profiles” the use. She breaks the profiles into four types: […]

Investors & Researchers in Philanthropy

In his guest post, John MacIntosh of SeaChange Capital Partners made an important point: The tools for evaluating for “impact” and “performance” come from different disciplines. “Impact” is a concept from social science where ideally we define the treatment, develop measures of impact (wages, employment rates, test scores, etc.), identify a comparison or control group, […]

International Grantmaking Repository

Philanthropy In/Sight shows how raw data, when intelligently sorted and engagingly displayed, can enhance understanding, lead to insights and result in better philanthropy. With that sort of project in mind I’d like to point your attention to the Repository Project. The Repository is a project of Council on Foundations, InterAction, Foundation Center and Independent Sector […]