Community-based children’s choirs are so important. Here is a great example of fundraising from Trenton.
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.
Here in Rhode Island, the issue of hedge fund investing of pension dollars has been a source of much conflict and concern. Hopefully with so many financial experts now leading our state government (Tom Sgouros, Seth Magaziner, Gina Raimondo, I’m talking to you!) we can make sure that public pension dollars in Rhode Island are invested wisely.
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.
The Knight Foundation took another step forward in its work to bolster U.S. cities recently, by identifying 126 finalists in its Cities Challenge. All 26 of Knight’s communities of focus for the challenge are represented in the pool of finalists and the winners will divvy up $5 million in funding.
Over 7,000 ideas were submitted for the challenge, coming from public and government organizations, design experts, urban planning organizations, and individual citizens.
The Fund for Shared Insight is a new collaborative effort of seven foundations coming together to back “feedback loops” to improve the social sector. The idea is that nonprofits need to do a better job of listening to the people they serve and incorporate that feedback in how they operate. Corporations vacuum up feedback from their customers all the time to improve performance—”please stay on the line to take a short survey”—but the nonprofit sector has been slow to do this kind of thing. Shared Insight hopes to get the ball rolling in a big way.