Philanthropists these days often talk about being “evidence-based” or “effective.” They view philanthropy of old as misguided, as too often based on the donor’s whims rather than on evidence as to what works. Just as success in business or finance depends on a relentless focus on results, philanthropy should bring that same evidence-based approach to solving social problems.
Grief is one of the most difficult emotions for adults to work through. For children, the process can be even more confusing and overwhelming, with lifetime consequences if feelings are not acknowledged and resolved. The New York Life Foundation is one of the few donors thinking about this issue, and recently made a $1.4 million investment in work in this area. While this is definitely a niche funding area, it’s also a wise way to prevent later difficulties for children who’ve lost somebody important.
The American public is finally starting to recognize the connection between sugary drinks and obesity, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is helping schools and community organizations get water into schools, and soda and sugary drinks out.
This year, Washington State considered legislation to fund water stations in schools throughout the state, but the legislation was not passed. Advocates are not going away, though, and will be back and ready for round two next year.
Lockheed Martin is a very big defense contractor with a very small customer base, primarily the U.S. government. The company famously cares about what happens in Washington, D.C., judging by the vast fortune they’ve spent on lobbying in recent decades.
The Canadian lender TD Bank was one of the good guys during the housing boom. It didn’t gorge itself on subprime loans and end up in the crosshairs of government investigators. The bank prides itself on being a responsible company, and puts out an impressive corporate responsibility report discussing its work. Among other things, its philanthropic arm, the TD Charitable Foundation, funds in the housing sector, giving away $2.5 million a year in a competitive grant award program called “Housing for Everyone.”
Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service in Salem, Oregon, is changing things up in big ways. Along with new digs, it’s also getting a new name: The Center for Hope & Safety. The newly rebranded nonprofit is getting help from the Meyer Memorial Trust, among other community partners, to build a new and larger center. With $150,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust to buy and renovate a new space, this nonprofit will be able to better service survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
This $4 million gift isn’t the biggest we’ve seen lately, but it’s a reminder of two important points: Energy companies are loaded right now, and the motives for healthcare giving are very personal.