The Most Interesting Foundations, 2014 – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

We’ll be the first to say that “interesting” is a pretty vague metric on which to hang an end-of-year list. But it’s actually a yardstick that matters a lot here at Inside Philanthropy.

When you write all day about funders, one way to keep yourself going is to gravitate toward the most fascinating ones. That doesn’t mean you want ignore, say, the legacy foundation that specializes in renewal grants to the Brookings Institution, but it does mean you keep closer tabs on funders aiming to blow up whole sectors of society or revolutionize scientific research or save some forgotten swath of humanity or find answers to the hardest philosophical questions or leverage their money with jiu jitsu-like creativity.

The Most Interesting Foundations, 2014 – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Can Innovation Help the Poor Escape from Payday Lenders? Ford Thinks So – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

The Ford Foundation has been working to close the racial wealth gap for over two decades, a gap much in the news these days, and one part of that effort has been to help “unbanked” low-income people escape from the shady world of payday lending and worse, and access the financial services that middle-class people take for granted. To that end, Ford recently gave $1 million dollars to the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) to continue its work on building financial tools for the underserved.

Can Innovation Help the Poor Escape from Payday Lenders? Ford Thinks So – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

How the Gates Foundation Tackles Housing Issues – Housing – Inside Philanthropy

Think of the Gates Foundation and housing is probably not an issue that comes to mind. But the foundation has actually spent millions to reduce homelessness and boost affordable housing options for low-income people, with nearly all this money going to support work in Washington State. 

How the Gates Foundation Tackles Housing Issues – Housing – Inside Philanthropy.

Can Bitcoin Change the Face of Philanthropy? The Bitcoin Foundation Thinks So – Inside Philanthropy

Today is Giving Tuesday, and while you may not know what Bitcoin is or how to use it for philanthropy, that may well change by the time that next year’s Giving Tuesday rolls around. 

Can Bitcoin Change the Face of Philanthropy? The Bitcoin Foundation Thinks So – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Funders Love Grameen America, But Questions Persist About Its Approach – Inside Philanthropy

If, ten years ago, someone told you that a Bangladeshi bank would be coming to the U.S. to specialize in giving loans to women below the poverty line, would you have believed them? Probably not. But that’s what is happening as Grameen America, the U.S. version of Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank, expands its operatons. Most notably, it’s rolling out 13 new branches in LA County.

via Funders Love Grameen America, But Questions Persist About Its Approach – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

The Billionaires’ Park, Op-Ed by David Callahan – NYTimes.com

Inside Philanthropy’s David Callahan speaking truth to money in The New York Times:

This power shift is part of a larger story about rising inequality and shrinking democracy. One reason the wealthy are flush with cash is that they’ve paid historically low taxes in recent decades, which helps explain why government can’t afford to do big things. A small step toward rebalancing things would be to tax capital gains — the source of much of the wealth of the superrich — at the same rate as regular income, and then dedicate most of that money to rebuilding our eroding infrastructure.

As for ensuring that all New Yorkers have equal access to good public parks, we should require private parks conservancies to chip in to rehabilitate parks in low-income parts of the city, just as developers are expected to help finance affordable housing. If we want even the semblance of equity in civic spaces, new ways must be found to pay for it.

via The Billionaires’ Park – NYTimes.com.

Filling a Gap: This Billionaire Couple Steps Up for Early Childhood As Federal Cuts Loom – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

Sam Zell is a Chicago businessman with a fortune of nearly $5 billion. His wife Helen is a philanthropist with wide interests and liberal views. The couple has been stepping up their giving, and we watch them closely, although we’re often struck by the inscrutability of the Zell Family Foundation’s giving, and always on the lookout for clues as to where the Zells’ philanthropy is going.

via Filling a Gap: This Billionaire Couple Steps Up for Early Childhood As Federal Cuts Loom – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.