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Posts tagged ‘Giving trends’

Charitable Deductions – the debate continues

March 15th, 2012

Richard Marker

Ah, the wages of sin.  In this case, the sin of over-dosing on networking sites; perusing my “groups” on Linked-In.  I joined a discussion on one of the philanthropy sites after I happened upon a growing group of complaints about the proposed cap on charitable deductions.  The group, if I read their profiles correctly, all seemed to be fundraisers, and they all were different degrees aggrieved at this terrible pending injustice.  They seemed, histrionically to my mind, to anticipate the inevitable discouragement of millions of dollars in charitable giving from those most able to afford it.

I couldn’t help myself so I weighed in on the other side.  It didn’t take long before i was attacked –  but, let it be said, unlike in some other such discourses i have found myself in,  it never descended into the personal.  And I do want to be fair: at a time when the public benefit/non-profit sector has been profoundly challenged from every direction for several years, it doesn’t take much for skittishness to overcome objectivity.  Nevertheless, since the complaints had a hyperbolic tone to them, I think it is important to return the conversation to what any change might really mean:

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Forbes, 9 March 2012

March 11th, 2012

Richard Marker


Rahim Kanani, Contributor
3/09/2012 @ 4:03PM

Philanthropy Expert Richard Marker on What Every Donor Needs to Know

In a recent interview with Richard Marker of NYU’s Academy for Grantmaking and Funder Education, we discussed lessons that every funder must internalize, challenges and opportunities facing today’s donor community, and much more.

Richard Marker is co-principal of Wise Philanthropy™, a firm that includes: Marker Goldsmith Philanthropy AdvisorsThe Wise Philanthropy Institute, and Green Strides Consulting.

Richard Marker, an internationally known expert on philanthropy is the Founder of NYU’s Academy for Grantmaking and Funder Education. The Academy is the oldest and most comprehensive university program teaching funders and philanthropists in the United States. In February 2007, he was recognized with the NYU Excellence in Teaching Award.

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The for-profit public-benefit dilemma

March 1st, 2012

Richard Marker

For the last few years, whenever I have spoken to graduate students in public policy or business, it is quite evident that there is a pretty clear belief that there is a better way to solve social ills. If it is possible to create a for-profit incentive which would feed, cure, heal, house, or educate, that has to be better than the existing predominate model – the ngo or nfp model.

They aren’t the only ones.  States are falling over themselves passing one or another form of L3C’s or other hybrid models – as if to say, we want to take the lead in endorsing and enabling this better way of thinking.

And there are websites, linked-in groups, and assertive advocates who are true believers.

One can sympathize with this trend. Wouldn’t it be great if one could indeed take advantage of private capital markets to reach scale, indulge self-interested investors, and at the same time do what decades of non profits could not do.  Why not do well by doing good, and do good by doing well at the same time?  In the current environment of widespread cynicism, it is an approach which by-passes government run programs and legitimates self interest.  And, if correct, it allows long-term sustainability which does not depend on non-profit type fundraising.

Some of the models have had some success.  Micro-lending, until it became overwhelmed by those financial institutions who saw this as easy money, had a record of making a real difference. Kiva, while technically an indirect method, appeals to those who want to play in this world but have more limited means.  Some of the early investors in renewable energy were ahead of the curve and did indeed outpace the market for a period of time.  And there are more.

The question remains, though, if these private models are themselves sustainable – as models of solving the resistant problems of humankind.  Efficient  and private food resources have still required SNAP or the UN in order to make food available efficiently and affordably to the embarrassingly large number of hungry.  Genuine renewable energy systems are still niche players when faced with entrenched lobbying interests in the carbon fuel industry.  There is little evidence that private universities are educating folks better or more efficiently than the public-non-profit system that exists – despite its unwieldiness.

More pointedly, many of the newer models have not yet faced the challenges of when private financial interests compete or conflict with public interest.  Advocates on both sides of this are quite vocal, but as one who has no skin in the game, I have yet to be persuaded.

Thus the question for the readers:

Are hybrid models simply the latest fad, only a small portion of which will achieve the desired impact, scale, and sustainable results to make a difference OR are hybrid models the true 21st Century innovation which will correct for the broken, or at least inadequate, system of solving deep seated and pervasive human needs and want?  Before weighing in further on this myself, I welcome your thoughts.


GivingUSA and other marginally useful data

June 17th, 2010

Richard Marker

The latest issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy had numerous articles questioning and criticizing the data collected by GivingUSA. In virtually every case, they felt that the figures presented by GivingUSA were too optimistic a description of what is actually happening in philanthropic giving.

These analyses are not the first to question the reliability of the data compiled by GivingUSA. I am not a statistician, but I am a student of historic trends, and therefore the articles which paint a more bleak picture seem more accurate. In the midst of a recession which saw double digit drops in earnings and investments, and unemployment hovering at all too high levels, it may provide some comfort that giving was down a smaller percentage than the overall economy. But ask any non-profit: down giving is still down giving. And multiple down years take a toll, especially among the vast majority of voluntary sector organizations which are small and have inadequate reserves.
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