What we’re reading and recommending this week. We add to this post throughout the week and look for your suggestions in the comments.
Monday, October 17
The Case for Philanthropic Freedom (Joanne Florino, Philanthropy News Digest) Both custom and law provide a high level of philanthropic freedom, beginning with the relative ease with which civil society organizations can form as tax-exempt organizations, and ending with a tax code and regulatory policies that provide significant incentives for charitable donations and give donors wide discretion in when, where, and how they distribute their gifts.
Tuesday, October 18
University Trust Lets Donors Do the Grant Making (Rebecca Koenig, The Chronicle of Philanthropy) The University of Virginia is famous for its focus on student self-governance, a concept that puts decision making in the hands of undergraduates. Alumni, too, want to be actively involved in shaping the institution.To capitalize on that desire, the university’s alumni association created the Jefferson Trust, inviting donors to give $100,000 and decide collaboratively how contributions are spent on projects that strengthen the student experience.
Wednesday, October 19
“Big Bet” Philanthropy Can Pay Off Remarkably, But Remember It’s A Bet (Phil Buchanan, Center for Effective Philanthropy) The world’s wealthiest philanthropic donors are suffering their own so-far incurable problem: They’re allergic to making big bets, gifts of over $10 million to social change issues.
Thursday, October 20
Foundations and Policy: A Different Conversation (Ben Paynter, Fast Coexist) The National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) documented the influence of conservative foundations in a series of reports, including the 1997 Moving a Public Policy Agenda and the 2004 Axis of Ideology: Conservative Foundations and Public Policy. “The right wing is clearly winning the cultural, social, economic, and political wars in this country,” the latter report concluded, rightly giving conservative foundations significant credit for their effectiveness in advancing their agenda.
Friday, October 21
What Are the Five Most Common Traps I Should Avoid in My Philanthropy? (Joel L. Fleishman & Thomas J. Tierney, The Bridgespan Group) Acknowledging the existence of these traps, and recognizing that they will never really go away, however experienced and wise we become, offers some help in avoiding them. Philanthropy almost always involves a fair degree of trial and error. By prioritizing thought as well as action—thinking through the relevant questions with appropriate rigor and discipline—you will reduce the frequency of your errors and make your trials more valuable.
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