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Posts Tagged ‘philanthropy’

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Photo: Desiree Rios for the New York Times
A community college employee shops at the campus food pantry. When folks get paid a living wage, they don’t need food pantries.

As much as I admire smart philanthropy, I recognize that helping individuals get by or even helping communities make lasting change can only go so far. Most of us know that when people can be self-sufficient, they feel happier — and the societal benefits last longer.

Opinion columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin writes about this at the New York Times.

“Real charity doesn’t come with a tax deduction. That’s what I told a gathering of generous Wall Street and business luminaries this month about the increasing paradox of even some of the most well-intentioned philanthropy.

“All too often, charitable gifts are used not only to help those who can’t help themselves but to make up for the failure of companies to pay people a living wage and treat their workers with dignity. …

“Countless C.E.O.s donate to worthy causes that, for example, help fund food banks and homeless shelters across the country. They should be applauded for their charity.

“But the real opportunity for generosity is more likely inside the workplace.

“Do you know who goes to the food banks that so many support? It is not just the homeless and unemployed. It is, many times, the people we all work with: The janitors and support staff who help offices run smoothly and keep them clean. The Uber drivers and people who work at the checkout counter and deliver groceries. The nannies and caregivers.

“According to Feeding America, 43 percent of people who visit a food bank have at least one family member who is working full time but still doesn’t earn enough to cover bills. A researcher for the Urban Institute estimated that a quarter of adults in homeless shelters work.

If business leaders genuinely care about eradicating poverty, paying people a living wage matters. …

“So here’s a challenge for chief executives and employees alike: When you go back to work after the holidays, ask your human resources department what the lowest pay is for any employee at the company. And, just as important, what is the lowest pay for any outside contractor that your company uses? What kind of benefits do they get? Do the outside firms your company contracts with provide benefits?

“Once you have answers to those questions, the real charity is to do something about it — whether you’re a decision maker or you can use your voice to influence the decision makers.

‘When I walk to work, I’m looking into the eyes of the homeless people. I can’t forget about them,’ Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, told me. ‘I mean, that’s the whole point — that’s why we’re here.’ …

“ ‘This is why I like being in business, because I can create change — that business must be the greatest platform for change. And if it isn’t, then what is?’ he said. …

“This past year, Brian Moynihan, the chief executive at Bank of America, raised the firm’s minimum wage to $20 an hour. Walmart’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, who lifted his company’s starting wage, has called on Congress to raise the federal minimum. Mark Bertolini, a former chief executive of Aetna, raised the minimum wage at his company to $16 an hour — in 2015. All three companies have benefited — and their stock went up. …

“At the gathering of business leaders that I spoke to — organized by the UJA Federation of New York, which supports the poor and elderly in New York and in Israel — I shared what I had learned about the idea of charity. I grew up thinking that the Hebrew word tzedakah means charity, which is its modern definition. But I later learned its original meaning was much more profound: It meant ‘justice’ and ‘fairness.’

“So when it comes to giving, the goal shouldn’t be to simply donate more money, as laudable as that is. The aim should be to create a society where we don’t need places like food banks in the first place. To put it in Wall Street terms, we should be trying to put the food banks out of business.”

More here.

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Photo: Molly Dilworth
“Molly Dilworth’s rippling mural helped reimagine Times Square as a car-free place,” says
Curbed. The work was part of an initiative by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

As much as I want to tell folks about anyone’s good works, I’m afraid that the wealthy presidential candidate whose name is on the initiative I’m covering today is getting too much free publicity.

I’m annoyed. I’m sure we all clicked “like” when the former mayor did something positive about, say, gun violence. But as a result, his campaign videos are showing up on Facebook saying they were “liked” by us, which is not the case. So you are just going to have to fill in the blank when I refer to [B] Philanthropies today.

Alissa Walker writes at Curbed, “Over the last decade, U.S. cities have carved out dozens of public plazas from existing streets using little more than paint. A new grant program and guide announced today by [B] Philanthropies will fund the creation of 10 street murals in 10 U.S. cities, as well as track the safety, economic, and civic impact of these projects.

“The Asphalt Art Initiative … will award 10 small or mid-sized cities with grants of up to $25,000 to create colorful murals on streets, intersections, and crosswalks, or vertical surfaces of transportation infrastructure like utility boxes, traffic barriers, and highway underpasses. Cities that apply must have populations ranging from 30,000 to 500,000 and must implement the project by the end of 2020.

“ ‘It’s not just about art — it’s about creating safe spaces for people for pennies on the dollar,’ says Janette Sadik-Khan. …

“As former transportation commissioner for New York City, Sadik-Khan championed the conversion of Times Square into a network of car-free pedestrian plazas. But the project, which included several asphalt murals, also ended up achieving other goals, she says, like ensuring nearby residents lived within a 10-minute walk of a public space, and helping pedestrian injuries in the area plummet by 30 percent.

“ ‘We’re not looking for just pretty pictures, we’re looking for projects that encourage safety benefits and community engagement,’ Sadik-Khan tells Curbed, noting that the selected cities will be gathering data to track the overall impact of their projects. …

“In addition to the grants, [B] Philanthropies, in collaboration with Street Plans Collaborative and public art consultant Renee Piechocki, has created a free publication that provides a how-to guide and dozens of case studies for city leaders wanting to implement these types of projects on their own.

“While the street plazas are intended to be temporary or ‘tactical’ — how long they last depends on the paint material used and how often it’s reapplied — the projects often end up leading to permanent, systemic changes, says Tony Garcia, principal at Street Plans Collaborative. …

“But even with paint that’s meant to fade away, the impact is lasting. Garcia points to a project in Asheville, North Carolina, which saw retail sales increased by 25 to 30 percent and a 20 to 30 percent drop in vehicular speeds along the corridor. …

“Asphalt art like plazas and crosswalks can help residents realize they don’t have to accept their transportation system’s status quo, says [Kate D. Levin, cultural assets management principal at (B) Associates], who notes that the current design of U.S. streets lends a sense of permanence to cities that isn’t particularly aspirational.

“ ‘People lose a sense that they have a choice. That can lead people to accept a public realm that doesn’t optimize what they want or need,’ she says. ‘These projects are helpful in reminding people to not to take their environment for granted.’ ”

More at Curbed, here. Hat tip: ArtsJournal.com.

Photo: Justin Mitchell via Street Plans
Coxe Avenue in Asheville, North Carolina, was transformed when Street Plans Collaborative used art to help create a safer, more profitable street.

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Photo: WGRZ
The owner of Sakina Halal Grill, Kazi Mannan, knows what it’s like to be hungry. Thanks to his paying customers in DC, he can give meals to the homeless for free.

Don’t you love successful people who remember how painful poverty and daily anxiety about food can be — and who decide to help others? Tim Ebner reports at the Eater in Washington, DC, about a restaurateur who did just that.

“Come 2 p.m. in many Washington, D.C., restaurants, the lunch rush is all but over. … But for Kazi Mannan, owner of Sakina Halal Grill, the lunch rush is just getting started.

“On a late-Friday afternoon, the door to his Pakistani-Nepalese-Indian restaurant keeps swinging open. A homeless man who is deaf walks through the door. He carries a note. Mannan reads it, then attempts to sign with the man.

“Mannan asks if he wants something to eat while gesturing toward his mouth. The man holds up two fingers and pulls out $2, but Mannan shakes his head no.

“ ‘No money,’ ” he says. ‘You eat for free.’

“That’s Mannan’s policy for every homeless person who walks through the door. At Sakina Halal Grill, the poor, homeless, and hungry eat for free — Mannan calculates he gave away 6,000 meals in 2016 — and the waiters serve them in the dining room, as if they’re full paying customers.

“The buffet-style, halal restaurant, which is undergoing a name change from Mayur Kabab House to Sakina Halal Grill — ‘It’s a tribute to all the mothers around the world,’ Mannan, who lost his mother Sakina, 26 years ago, says of the switch. …

” ‘I’m the little guy on this block,’ Mannan said. ‘And, I love it. …

‘I want to say, “Hey listen, corporate people and people in politics! Listen to me!” I want to show them what love can do, and I want to spread a wave of love that touches the lives of millions.’

“Mannan says he’s living the immigrant dream, in a place where people are likely to take notice. Keeping his door open — which he did Thursday during the #ADayWithoutImmigrants strike — is more than just good business, it’s an expression of his faith. …

” ‘Kazi Mannan: The restaurant has been here for decades. I took it over in 2013 and this really was my dream. I came from a village in Pakistan that didn’t have electricity or plumbing. Our school was completely outdoors. It was always my dream to overcome poverty and own a restaurant. …

” ‘I started working at a gas station off Benning Road in Northeast. At the time, it was a very dangerous neighborhood. I worked there for a few years, and eventually, I saved enough money to start a limousine service; someone told me that I could make my own money as a driver. The funny thing is — that’s where you meet all of the stars of D.C. I still own the company, and I’m very proud that I can provide jobs to people like me, immigrants. Because seriously for me, this is not about the money. …

” ‘My mother taught me to be generous and give with my time. Because remember, we were broke. But, if we had a guest visit, she would make tea and welcome them into our home. She gave everything of herself. …

” ‘I’m a Muslim-American. And I like to believe that when I’m giving to the poor and hungry, God sees that. Just the act of giving a smile to someone can be a blessing. Just think about what food has the power to do. …

‘ ‘The chefs work together … and not only do they make delicious food, but they represent places, which are typically at odds with each other. They come together in this kitchen and use pure love and food. …

” ‘I am proud to be Muslim-American. I am proud to be a citizen of this country. And as a Muslim, I want to show others the true essence of Islam — and that is to love.”

More at the Eater, here. Manna’s initiative seems to be going strong (click here for a 2019 update), which is reassuring as the Eater article is from 2017. I was sorry to see that when Panera tried something similar, a pay-what-you-want model, it didn’t last. (See Bloomberg.) As philanthropic people keep trying to find ways to feed the hungry while running a business, a model that works long-term will emerge. Meanwhile, one kind individual can make a huge difference in many lives.

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Art: Roy Lichtenstein
Masterpiece, 1962, was sold by philanthropist Agnes Gund to launch the Art for Justice Fund. 

There’s a movement in the world of philanthropy to combine the arts with social justice. In some cases, donations to arts organizations specify reaching out to poor communities and new audiences. This particular article focuses on collectors who sell art to fund causes they believe in.

Mike Scutari writes at Inside Philanthropy, “After Agnes Gund launched the $100 million Art for Justice Fund with the proceeds from the sale of Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Masterpiece,’ I wondered if collectors represented the sleeping giants of arts philanthropy. The prognosis thus far seems promising.

“A number of founding donors to Art for Justice have committed gifts of artwork or contributions, and late last year, the fund allocated $22 million to 30 criminal justice reform groups and education and arts initiatives. Around the same time, the anonymous consignor of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Red Skull’ announced they would donate the proceeds to a nonprofit that opens new public charter schools. …

“Glenn Fuhrman and his wife Amanda partnered with Suzanne Deal Booth and The Contemporary Austin to transform the existing $100,000 Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize, which is currently celebrating its inaugural exhibition, into one of the nation’s largest awards presented to an artist.”

Scutari notes that although the prize doesn’t require attention to social causes, sometimes a winner’s work turns out to have been strongly influenced by the issues of the day.

“Collectors have historically deferred to institutional givers to do the heavy lifting when it comes to traditional grantmaking and the red-hot area of activist art in particular. This is why Gund’s Art for Justice Fund is so important. It’s predicated on the idea that by selling their work, collectors can advance social justice. As Ford [Foundation] President Darren Walker noted, ‘art has meaning on a wall, but it also has meaning when it is monetized.’ …

“An open question is the extent to which the Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize will align with the surging fields of boosting access to the arts and promoting socially focused work. Corroborating evidence suggests it will.

“Regarding access, the Fuhrmans’ FLAG Art Foundation exhibition space has been free and open to the public since its 2008 opening. The Fuhrman family has also underwritten free admission at the Institute of Contemporary Art [in Philadelphia] annually for nearly a decade. The couple is clearly committed to eliminating financial barriers to access.

“Exemplifying its social focus, in the charged aftermath of the 2016 election, the FLAG Art Foundation curated an exhibition that focused on artists who ‘negotiate politics, tragedies, social issues, and their own perspectives’ by using the New York Times as an inspiration for their work. …

“I recently spoke with VIA Art Fund President and collector Bridgitt Evans on the state of arts philanthropy and floated the theory that collectors are the sleeping giants of arts philanthropy. [VIA means Visionary initiatives in Art. It’s located in Boston.] She concurred with this assessment. Collectors, she said, are ‘exposed to a wider variety of artists, practices, ideas, and social commentary,’ and moving forward, they will ‘direct the same passion they have to collecting to philanthropy.’ ”

Read more at Inside Philanthropy, here.

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Photo: Catskill Mountain Foundation
Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Doctorow Center for the Arts provides cultural opportunities in a rural area.

The arts are important everywhere, not just in cities. But sometimes it’s a challenge to attract to rural areas the kind of philanthropy that keeps urban cultural institutions alive.

Through the lens of a rural New York foundation, Mike Scutari of Inside Philanthropy considers the issue.

“In 1998, [Peter and Sarah Finn] founded the Hunter, New York-based Catskill Mountain Foundation, an organization committed to transforming rural communities through the arts. …

“The genesis of the CMF dates back to the early 1990s, when the Finns took over a family property in the town of Hunter. ‘The community had gone through a long decline,’ Peter said, and ‘many buildings on Main Street were for sale, and some buildings were in a serious state of disrepair and collapsing.’ …

“Peter and Sarah grew up in families that were very involved with the arts and had read stories about communities that were transformed through arts-based economic revitalization. …

“In 2018, the CMF will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Its program offerings include over 20 performances and 200 films a year, artist residencies, education programs, a piano performance museum, gallery and bookstore, and, for good measure, an operating farm.

“Its success is all the more startling when you realize that Hunter, New York has 2,732 residents.

“The problems facing rural communities are deep and complex. Yet we generally don’t see rural areas receive a proportionate amount of support from large institutional funders. … Funders, quite understandably, want the most bang for their buck, and more people live in urban areas. …

“Finn’s smaller-is-more-impactful approach flips conventional wisdom on its head: Funders can move the dial more effectively by operating in more concentrated communities. …

“[One] important form of engagement is ‘attracting others to invest in the community. Others who have invested significant amounts into the community have stated outright that they were inspired to do so by the work of the Catskill Mountain Foundation.’ …

” ‘Historically,’ Finn said, ‘the Town of Hunter was once known as a bar town. Today, it is known as a family arts community.’ ”

Read more at Inside Philanthropy, here.

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At work we have partnered with an urban high school for 35 years. Tomorrow a group of 15-year-olds from the school will come into the office for Job Shadow Day.

The students fill out a form in advance to let their assigned mentor know something about them — favorite subject, least favorite, hobbies, career ambitions.

My student has an unusual ambition for a 15-year-old. She wants to be a philanthropist.

Perhaps I will tell her what I read recently about how many of today’s top philanthropists are active in their causes. They don’t just give money.

“The global face of philanthropy is changing,” writes the Christian Science Monitor. “Donors no longer just open their wallets. They’re actively involved in causes, use savvy business practices, and leverage what they give to achieve more good.”

One such philanthropist is F.K. Day. Read how his work has benefited people in Zambia and beyond.

“Life in rural Zambia has improved dramatically for dairy farmer Cecil Hankambe. He has doubled his milk sales, purchased a farm, and earned enough money to send his children to school. He still milks the same cow and travels the same rugged roads to the local dairy co-op. The only difference now: Instead of lugging a heavy jug on foot, he pedals a bicycle.

“Mr. Hankambe rides a Buffalo, a bike so sturdy and basic that its steel frame can carry up to 220 pounds and be repaired with a rock. Instead of delivering only seven to 10 liters of milk a day, Hankambe can now transport 15 to 20 liters to a chilling station before it spoils, boosting his profit.

” ‘A reliable bike can create reliability in a dairy farmer’s income,’ says F.K. Day, founder of World Bicycle Relief, a foundation based in Chicago that produces the Buffalo and provides two-wheeled aid to people in developing nations. ‘You forget how important transportation is.’ ”

Day started young, as young as the girl who will visit me at work tomorrow.

“As a teenager, he flew – on his own initiative – from Chicago to Brazil to knock on the door of Irish priests who were building schools in São Paulo‘s poorest neighborhoods. They hadn’t responded to his letters. But when he showed up on their doorstep, they had no choice but to put him to work.

“That experience laid the groundwork for what followed three decades later. On Dec. 26, 2004, horrific images of tsunami-swept Southeast Asia flickered on TV screens in the United States. Day, now a successful cofounder of SRAM, an elite bicycle-parts manufacturer, wanted to do more than just fund relief efforts. …

“So he and his wife, Leah, boarded a plane to Sri Lanka. Within weeks, Day had partnered with World Vision; he eventually oversaw the distribution of 24,000 bicycles that gave thousands of people affected by the tsunami the ability to reach their jobs, schools, and health-care centers.” His bikes are now in many countries were transportation needs are great.

” ‘If you can enter something new, open and honestly with beginner’s eyes, something good is bound to happen,’ says Day.”

How does one come by that core impulse to help? Probably it shows itself at a very young age. Even at 15.

Read about seven additional innovative philanthropists in the Monitor.

Photograph: Leah Missbach Day
F.K. Day, President of World Bicycle Relief & Executive Vice President of SRAM Corporation, pictured in downtown Chicago.

other innovative philanthropists

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Panera Bread has set up a foundation to fund Panera Cares, a pay-what-you-can opportunity for buying baked goods, sandwiches, and meals.

“The concept was born during the tough days of the recession. [Panera co-chief executive Ron] Shaich saw a television story about a cafe in Colorado that fed everyone at whatever price they could afford, which he said inspired him to find ways for Panera to address ‘food insecurity.’ …

“By May 2010, the first Panera Cares had opened in Clayton, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. For the first one and others since then in Dearborn, Mich., Portland, Ore., and Chicago, Panera Cares sought locations that are easily accessible by public transportation and that attract economically diverse customers. …

“Panera’s vendors contributed to the [Boston] effort, giving about $80,000 worth of free furniture and lighting, along with cameras and and coffee. The rest of the money needed to open the store, an estimated $1 million, is being absorbed by Panera Bread’s corporate operations.

“ ‘It is a community cafe of shared responsibility,’ [Kate Antonacci, project manager of Panera Cares] said. ‘One of the goals of this charitable program is to help ensure that everyone who needs a meal gets one and to raise the level of awareness about food insecurity in the country.”

The Boston Globe’s Jenn Abelson has more here, with a follow-up on the successful first week in Boston, here. See the Christian Science Monitor‘s take, here.

Will you go? Will you pay full price or a bit more for others?

Photograph: John Tlumacki / Globe Staff
The Panera Cares Community Cafe opened in Center Plaza on January 24 with a pay-as-you-can approach.

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Maria Di Mento writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy about a new fund to help military families.

“Three affluent families are forming a fund with the purpose of raising $30 million to support programs that serve military veterans, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America announced [in July].

“The families have donated more than $1 million and plan to seek contributions especially from other wealthy people, including those without personal connections to any service members.

“Philip Green, president of PDG Consulting, a health-care consultancy,  and his wife, Elizabeth Cobbs, chief of geriatrics at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C., joined with their friends Glenn and Laurie Garland and with the Jim Stimmel family to create the fund, Mr. Green said in an interview with The Chronicle.

“The money raised for the new Veterans Support Fund will be funneled to five nonprofits that help returning service members and their families.” Read more.

I think it’s interesting that the donors are reaching out to those who have not been personally touched by the wars to solicit funds. On a blog at work we were just discussing the fact that so many men and women were risking their lives, their families’ stability, and their mental health for the last ten years while so many of the rest of us were mostly untouched.

Hats off to these philanthropists! It’s one thing to see the unequal contributions of Americans. It’s another to do something about it.

Photograph: Sarah Conard/Reuters/File
Sgt. Audrey Johnsey (left) greets Sfc. Joshua Herbig (right), who she served with in Afghanistan, during the Welcome Home Heroes Parade in St. Louis in January.

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David Karas writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “When Danielle Gletow adopted her daughter Mia, she began to learn about the American foster care system – and the challenges faced by more than 100,000 children and young adults who are part of it.

“Determined to do something to help them, Ms. Gletow made it her mission not only to educate others about the challenges these children and teens face, but also to give people an easy way to lend a helping hand.

“That’s how One Simple Wish was born.

“Founded in 2008 out of Gletow’s home office, One Simple Wish is a nonprofit organization that connects foster children and vulnerable families with potential donors who grant their wishes online or at the organization’s Ewing, N.J.-based ‘Wish Shop.’

“The wishes, which typically cost from $5 to $100 to grant, encompass everything from a desire for a musical instrument to a movie ticket, new clothes, or horseback riding lessons. …

“To date, Gletow has seen more than 2,800 wishes granted by her organization. And while each is special, Gletow enjoys remembering some of the first wishes that she herself helped to grant. …

“When Sarah, a girl who had grown up in foster care, was graduating from basic training in the US Army, Gletow was able to help arrange for her caseworker to fly to South Carolina. … Sarah was the only student who didn’t have family coming to the graduation, Gletow says. ‘She had no way to pay for [her caseworker] to come.’ ”

Read more.

Suzanne’s friend Liz has been something like a Big Sister and Legal
Guardian for many years to a girl in foster care who is now a young woman. Liz says that the transition out of foster care is an especially vulnerable period, as young people are thrilled to be “free” but still need the kinds of support that young adults with families have.

Photograph: Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
Danielle Gletow, founder of One Simple Wish, stands next to a wall of thank-you notes.

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“Indiana University’s trustees voted [in June] to create a school of philanthropy, the first in the nation and a sign of both the growing amount of scholarship on the nonprofit world and intense demand to offer rigorous training to people who work at charitable institutions.”

So writes Maureen West in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

“Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor of public affairs and philanthropic studies at Indiana University, said the decision to start a school was a profound development for nonprofits.

“ ‘It’s a coming of age for the study and teaching of philanthropy — just as we have schools for government and business, this will be the first school for the nonprofit sector.’ …

“Indiana has long been building a serious academic program in philanthropy. It created the first philanthropy doctoral program, and last month it graduated the first students in the United States to earn bachelor’s degrees in philanthropy.”

Time will tell how much innovation the program inspires. As William Schambra, director of the Bradley Center of Philanthropy and Civic Renewal for the Hudson Institute, says, it needs to be more than a “technical training school for nonprofit managers or fundraisers.”

Read more. I think they are making a great start.

Photograph: Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters/File
S
tudents in Hanoi were glad to perform for philanthropist (and New York City Mayor) Michael Bloomberg during an event marking the donation of motorcycle helmets.

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I liked NY Times columnist Jim Dwyer’s recent article “A Billionaire Philanthropist Struggles to Go Broke.”

“Charles F. Feeney, 81, a man with no romantic attachment to wealth or its trappings, said the world had enough urgent problems that required attention now, before they became even more expensive to solve.

“ ‘When you’ve got the money, you spend it,’ Mr. Feeney said. ‘When you’ve spent it all, let someone else get going and spend theirs.’ …

“Last fall, Mr. Feeney gave his alma mater, Cornell University, $350 million to seal its bid to build a new campus for advanced engineering that New York City has commissioned for Roosevelt Island. …

With “grand philanthropy often comes public glory for wealthy donors, as buildings and institutes are dedicated to benefactors, their names embedded above doorways like graffiti tags chiseled in marble. No building anywhere bears Mr. Feeney’s name. Among tycoons, he has been a countercultural figure of rare force, clinging to his privacy far more fiercely than to his money.

“He set up the philanthropies in Bermuda, in large part because that would allow him to escape United States disclosure requirements. That also meant he could not take tax deductions when he contributed his holdings.”

More recently, he decided to tell his story in order to encourage other people of means to share the wealth.

“Mr. Feeney, who grew up in a working-class family in Elizabeth, N.J., served as a radio operator in the United States Air Force and attended Cornell on the G.I. Bill. He sold liquor to sailors in ports, then formed a company that ran airport duty-free shops around the world. He secretly turned over the duty-free business to the philanthropies in 1984 and continued to invest. …

“He has given away essentially everything he has made, apart from decent, though not extravagant, provisions for his four daughters and one son. They all worked through college as waiters, maids and cashiers.

“ ‘I want the last check I write to bounce,’ Mr. Feeney said.”

Read the article.

“Charles F. Feeney, 81, has already given away $6 billion through his foundations.” Photograph: Brad Vest, NY Times

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Do men and women have different approaches to charitable giving?

In the July 12 Christian Science Monitor, Temma Ehrenfeld writes that the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University has found that “female-headed households are more likely to give to charity than male-headed households, and that in nearly all income groups women give more than men.”

In addition, continues Ehrenfeld, “Insiders say women have their own culture in grant-making. …

“For example, the Global Fund for Women (GFW), unlike most grant-givers, accepts handwritten proposals of any length and in any language, and is unusually open to grants for general purposes rather than specific projects. It also funds meetings to create networks of women activists.

“The approach demonstrated its power during Egypt’s Arab Spring, said Christine Switzer, GFW’s director of development. ‘Our women were able to mobilize together,’ she said, pointing to 77 grants totaling more than $1 million GFW has given to Egyptian women, young and old.”

I often wonder, though, Are women more generous to the underprivileged when they become heads of state? I doubt it. Indira Gandhi? Maggie Thatcher? Golda Meir? Kirchner of Argentina? Let me know if you see studies on this topic.

Meanwhile, there’s more to read at the Monitor.

Photograph: http://www.dw.de

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An article in the Christian Science Monitor talks about Family-to-Family, a nonprofit group started by a kindly New York woman who was moved to help people less fortunate.

Reporter Katherine Arms writes that Pam Koner “started her charity, Family-to-Family, in 2002 when she saw a newspaper article about Pembroke, Ill., which noted that 51 percent of families with children there were living below the poverty line.

“She was shocked to read that the town had little in the way of infrastructure: no supermarket, no pharmacy, no bank. Many families lived in houses with dirt floors.

“She immediately sprang into action and found families [in] Hastings-on-Hudson, a small commuter village just 19 miles north of New York City, who wanted to help families in Pembroke. Soon food – canned vegetables, fruit, spaghetti sauce, tuna – was on its way.”

Here is Koner’s story and the story of how Family-to-Family efforts spread.

Now here is my question. Since there are many organizations doing nearly the same thing, why do so many people start their own organization?

Answer: Because it’s theirs. That’s what I think anyway. Rather than work for the Red Cross, the Salvation Army or any other established group, people like to do their own thing. It’s more motivating. Even though only the big organizations can handle the big disasters, everyone can do a little bit that is important to some person in need.

At the same time, I can’t help wondering about the rest of the Pembroke story. Do the people need to rely on donations forever? Has the state noticed Pembroke? Has it offered home renovation or weatherization? Training? Jobs? If you know anything about Pembroke, please tell me.

Photograph: Ann Hermes/ Christian Science Monitor Staff

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Yvonne Zipp wrote a nice article about a Christian Science Monitor-designated Difference Maker. He is Mario Morino, a philanthropist based in Rocky River, Ohio, outside Cleveland. He wrote the free book Leap of Reason to help large nonprofits demonstrate that they are serving the public in the ways they think they are.

Zipp writes that in 2009, after a day of meetings with three different nonprofit boards, Morino was about to burst from frustration.

“At each, a board was discussing how it would assess its nonprofit group. The problem? ‘There wasn’t a nonprofit executive in the room,’ he says.” How could the people who run nonprofits and the boards that assess them ever get agreement on worthwhile measures?

“Morino, who owned his own software development business in the 1980s before setting up the Morino Institute and later Venture Philanthropy Partners, went home and fired off one e-mail, then another. After a fourth, he had what became the core of his book, Leap of Reason, which has more than 40,000 copies in circulation so far – an impressive number for a book about the rarefied topic of nonprofit management. …

The book isn’t aimed at small nonprofits or “civic-minded individuals, Morino says. ‘They represent the strongest core of philanthropy in the US. You don’t want to touch that.’ He likens these folks to his long-ago neighbors in Cleveland, where, ‘if somebody’s building a garage, everyone helped build the garage.’

However, “of the 1.5 million nonprofit groups in the US, 40,000 have budgets of more than $1 million, according to Bridgespan [an organization that consults to nonprofits]. They are the targets of Leap of Reason.”

More here on how the data-driven approach outlined in the book has helped some large nonprofits become more effective.

By the way, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, where WordPress blogger Judith once worked as a writer, addresses the same issue. And Zipp’s article lists other organizations that advise charities.

Photograph of Mario Morino, Ken Blaze / Special to the Christian Science Monitor

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