Tag Archives: featured

The Philanthropy Compass: Mapping Donor Beliefs

A few weeks ago, I laid out a framework for thinking about the various roles that donors can play; philanthropic investors, charitable buyers and strategic philanthropists. The framework was meant to focus on the functional roles available to donors and to help link these roles to donor behaviors. But what about the role of philanthropy […]

Becoming the Best Possible Philanthropist

I’ve long advocated for foundations to embrace impact focused transparency. While many people want foundations to be more transparent for the sake of accountability, I just think that foundations should share more as a way to achieve impact. In the wake of the Japanese disaster, charity rating organization GiveWell is demonstrating how impact focused transparency […]

Diagnosing Problems in Philanthropy

Last year, I debated Paul Brest at the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference on whether philanthropists need to have a theory of change. You could have heard a pin drop when I said that I didn’t think donors who were seeking to invest growth capital into nonprofits needed to have a theory of change. Even […]

The Four Core Philanthropy Approaches

In the past, I’ve written critiques of strategic philanthropy and advanced the idea that an investment approach is more likely to achieve success. But my post yesterday was meant to clear a much lower bar. I’m simply trying to establish a consensus that there exists a legitimate alternative to strategic philanthropy that is distinct in […]

An Investment Approach to Philanthropy

Many people who hope to see the social sector perform at a higher level talk about the need for a more “business-like” approach to nonprofit work and philanthropy. The phrase is odd because nonprofits are businesses and so there’s no other way for them to act but to be business-like. So what the phrase really […]

Philanthropic Equity Performance Report

Last year, Nonprofit Finance Fund released a report looking at the performance of the philanthropic equity deals they have done over the past four years. I was remiss in not writing about it at the time and I thought doing so today would be a good follow up to my last post about “crowding out” […]

Valuing the Future: Discount Rates in Philanthropy

One of the most basic financial tools is the concept of present value. The present value concept simply assumes that value received in the future is worth less than the same value received today. You can see this dynamic working if you think about whether you would rather be given $100 today or be given […]

Speed-Freak Philanthropy

Philanthropy tends to value deep thoughts, strategic plans, fidelity to process and careful monitoring. But there’s an underappreciated attribute that too few funders deploy even though only self-imposed constraints limit its usage. Speed. The world changes fast. Sometimes making the right decisions is all about thinking long and hard about your options. Other times the […]

The Era of Abstract Philanthropy

I visited the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco recently. I’m not very knowledgeable about art, but I always enjoy it when I take the time to pause and pay attention. In the abstract art wing, there were a ton of fantastic paintings, none of which made me want to say “my five-year-old could […]

Groupon: A Billion Dollar Social Enterprise?

Groupon is the fastest growing company in history. Just two years after launching the company reportedly turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google. But what many people don’t know is that Groupon was launched by a social entrepreneur. Back in 2007, 26-year-old Andrew Mason was working away on a website called The Point. […]