Still in the Dark: Why Philanthropy Remains a Black Box — Inside Philanthropy

When I started Inside Philanthropy 18 months ago, I was certainly interested in the age-old questions about transparency and accountability in the sector, but I can’t say I was preoccupied with them. To me, the most exciting stories are about how funders are trying to solve big problems, often in new ways. I still think that, and IP tries to tell those stories every day at a moment when more cool funders are doing more cool things than ever.

Over time, though, I’ve become ever more frustrated by just how hard it is to gauge what philanthropists are doing or who in this sector is having the most impact.

Compared to earlier times, I know the sector is doing a better job of assessing itself. And I know that more answers are now available to certain questions, like how grantees perceive funders, what kinds of collaborations are most successful, how best to evaluate grants, and so on. All that’s a good thing, and the pioneers of that work—like the Center for Effective Philanthropy—have moved the ball forward in impressive ways.

via Still in the Dark: Why Philanthropy Remains a Black Box – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

How a Cutting Edge Effort to Boost Family Financial Stability is Giving Out $3 Million – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

We’ve been keeping an eye on the Center for Financial Services Innovation, which is backing new ways to promote the financial health of Americans—especially the “underbanked and the underserved, traditionally an overlooked segment of the financial services market.”

A key premise of CFSI’s work is that companies can profitably serve the poor with low-cost financial service products—and help put the bottom-feeding predatory lending industry out of business.

via How a Cutting Edge Effort to Boost Family Financial Stability is Giving Out $3 Million – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Here’s One Way That Google is Dealing with the Huge STEM Gender Gap – Inside Philanthropy

In the past year or so, the tech world has come under scrutiny for male overrepresentation. A high-profile sex discrimination suit was filed against VC firm Kleiner Perkins, and there’s been a rash of cases of women experiencing online harassment in tech circles. Meanwhile, in a very different development, corporations of all kinds that rely on skilled workers have awakened to the need to ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce has a strong education in science and math. There’s just not enough geeky white guys to go around anymore.

Google is at the center of the tech universe, and men comprise 70 percent of its workforce, so it would be hard for them not to notice the problem—or feel the heat.

One way Google has been addressing the STEM gender gap is by providing RISE awards—grants of $15,000 to $50,000 that focus on educating girls, minorities, and low-income students up to age 18 in computer science, helping to prepare them for workforce jobs at places like Google.

via Here’s One Way That Google is Dealing with the Huge STEM Gender Gap – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Who Will Watch the Charities? by David Callahan NYTimes.com

LAST week federal authorities disclosed that four cancer charities had bilked tens of millions of dollars from donors. Questions continue to surface about the lack of transparency at the Clinton Foundation. Philanthropy, we’re learning, is a world with too much secrecy and too little oversight. Despite its increasing role in American society, from education to the arts to the media, perhaps no sector is less accountable to outsiders.

The charitable sector is a bit like the Wild West — by design. Foundations have long been granted expansive freedom, on the view that the diversity of America’s civil society is one of the country’s signature strengths, as Alexis de Tocqueville famously said, and that government shouldn’t mess with this magic. Both political parties have been content to impose a minimum of rules on philanthropy.

via Who Will Watch the Charities? – NYTimes.com.

A Big New Attack on America’s Wasteful and Unjust Jail System Gains Steam – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

The MacArthur Foundation may be trimming its sails in some areas, like winding down its housing work, but that hasn’t stopped it from launching a new effort to reform America’s wasteful and unjust system of jails.

As we reported earlier this year, the foundation is putting up $75 million over the next five years to reform how U.S. jails operate, a new initiative that instantly made MacArthur one of the biggest funders of criminal justice reform in the country—and at an opportune moment when the pendulum is swinging fast against yesterday’s Draconian anti-crime policies. (The foundation has long worked on juvenile justice issues.)

Now the foundation has announced its winners for the Safety and Justice Challenge, awarding $150,000 to 20 jurisdictions across the U.S to foster innovation and reduce the use of jails.

via A Big New Attack on America’s Wasteful and Unjust Jail System Gains Steam – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Child Sexual Abuse: How Foundations and the Paternos are Funding Prevention – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

Well, here we are again. Another child sexual abuse scandal rocks the nation. Josh Duggar, star of 19 and Counting, sexually abused multiple girls as a teenager. His behavior was reported to the police (his police records are now conveniently destroyed) and the whole thing was kept under wraps in the proud state of Arkansas as the family went on to film a “reality show” touting their ultra-squeaky-clean Christian living.

Key takeaway for youth funders: Invest more in sexual abuse prevention here, there, and everywhere. There are still way too many people involved in ignoring, minimizing, and/or covering up these crimes.

Before Josh Duggar, another recent case prompted national discussion and awareness about child sexual abuse—the trial and conviction of Jerry Sandusky. And that one seems to have spurred an increase in funding that is worth looking at.

via Child Sexual Abuse: How Foundations and the Paternos are Funding Prevention – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Vicki Cobb: Why Teaching and Learning Cannot Be “Scaled Up”

Kiersten Marek:

This is, in my humble opinion, the crux of the matter. Not everything can be turned into an automated process.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Vicki Cobb, a prolific writer of science books for children, is offended by the simplistic idea that education practices can be “scaled up,” just like manufacturing processes. Standardized testing is the quintessence of “one size fits all.”

She writes:

“Let me explain why. The very nature of “standardized” testing runs counter to the work of educators and to the notion of America as a haven for the individual worth of each human being.

“There are certain professions that are considered “high touch.” Nursing, for example, is about patient care and “care” is the operative word. Nurses deliver human kindness to people who are not at the top of their game. A patient may want a glass of water, but getting it from a robot is not the same as interacting with another human being. Teaching is another “high touch” profession. Children learn because of the relationship established between them…

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