Community-based children’s choirs are so important. Here is a great example of fundraising from Trenton.
Nonprofits and funders on the side of improving access to housing and financial assets for low-income people are closely watching a showdown in the Supreme Court on “disparate impact.”
When you are one, you have only just learned to speak. You move about clumsily and knock things down a lot. You don’t yet know what is possible, but you are burgeoning with life.
If you hang around the more professionalized precincts of philanthropy—like big name foundations with their armies of Ph.D.s or major consulting firms—the business of giving away large amounts of money can seem awfully complicated. (Hence all those Ph.D.s.)
But if you talk with Herb Sandler, as I did recently, it sounds pretty darn simple.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation sees itself as a catalyst for change and a leader in the community foundation sector, and for good reason. It gives out more grants than any other community foundation in the United States. With more than $6 billion in assets, this philanthropic powerhouse can push hard on new initiatives and set high standards for the rest of the community foundations in the country to aspire to.
One area where SVCF is aiming to do this is in curbing predatory lending, as part of its broader strategy of promoting economic security. SVCF gets that usurious wealth stripping practices can keep low-income households from ever building assets and getting ahead. You can’t build economic security when you’re in the red thanks to outrageous interest charges.
I am thankful for Bill and Melinda Gates and all they have done for so many poor people in the world. But I don’t think philanthropy really has the teeth to address inequality in our country. It’s like in Medeival times when the Queen would give out gold coins to the poor. It’s a nice gesture, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problems. Unless philanthropy can change the tax structure and income distribution problems we have, it will remain a token effort to address inequality.
It’s an exciting time to be in the feedback loop business, and no one knows this better than Feedback Labs, a new nonprofit consortium selected as one of the 14 organizations to receive a grant from the Fund for Shared Insight, the collaborative of funders helping nonprofits to collect and incorporate feedback to improve their performance—and how philanthropic dollars are spent. (Yup, this post is about a collaborative giving money to a consortium, one more sign that lone wolf outfits are decidedly passé.)
Feedback loops are being heralded as a way to ensure that the people served by nonprofits, the so-called “end users” of philanthropy, can give input to how organizations operate. Better listening promises to teach nonprofits what the client wants and does not want, and how, in providing services, it can best communicate with clients and also act to meet their needs. Some of the benefits? Feedback loops can help expand on successes and give quick attention to problems as they emerge.