Risk, philanthropy go hand-in-hand

Risk is the likelihood of an undesirable outcome. Every action includes an element of risk. Philanthropy is no exception to this rule. In fact, charitable donations — because they seek to solve seemingly intractable problems — are often referred to as society’s ultimate “risk capital.” Risk and return analyses are important considerations when making any…

Tax Form 990: A treasure trove of information for strategic philanthropy

To achieve their goals, philanthropic families and businesses seek to partner with nonprofits that can demonstrate operational sustainability and effectiveness over the long term. For those making this decision, IRS tax form 990 contains a treasure trove of available information. Many otherwise-savvy donors fail to take advantage of this useful tool. Each year, tax-exempt organizations…

So What?

My first boss famously asked his analysts the same question in meetings.  The question was, ‘So, what?’ That one simple question forced us to go a level deeper to understand and articulate our rationale for the action we were proposing. ‘So, what?’ can take many forms such as ‘For what purpose?’ or ‘To what end?’…

Seven trends in philanthropy to expect in 2017

2016 was a great year for philanthropy. It included record levels of giving and impact investing and more strategic approaches to charitable efforts. 2017 will likely launch its own unique trends. I’ll be watching for these highlights: Reduced tax incentives for giving Many knowledgeable observers predict that Congress will reduce income tax rates for the…

Philanthropy supports democracy, democracy supports us all

Results of the recent election season have spotlighted the tremendous divisiveness in our nation – divisiveness that colors our approach to our country, our government and each other. As this year comes to a close, I want to remind readers — of every political point of view — about the critical role that philanthropy can…

The giving pledge for the rest of us

Since its creation in 2010, the Giving Pledge has been signed by 154 billionaires — ages 30 to 100, from 16 different countries, with combined wealth of nearly $800 billion — a sum greater than the GDP of most countries. These individuals have generously promised to donate at least $400 billion of their money to…

Rethinking and revising the “Donor Bill of Rights”

In 1993, four respected organizations worked closely together to publish a list of 10 “rights” intended to establish a stronger relationship between philanthropists and their nonprofit beneficiaries. However, 23 years ago the world was vastly different – as was the world of philanthropy. Because of far-reaching changes that have taken place since then, the Donor…

In disheartening and divisive times, philanthropy can spark hope

Many Americans are disheartened by recent events and trends. Issues like terrorism, mass murders, global warming, police/citizen violence and death, drug addiction, infectious diseases, economic and social inequality — and more – are generating a tremendous sense of hopelessness. In addition, the strident partisanship and dysfunction of the current election cycle result in less civility…

Six years, six important lessons about philanthropy

Six years ago, I began working with individuals, families, foundations and businesses across the United States — helping them design, implement and evaluate a wide variety of ways to make philanthropy more impactful for themselves and their communities. I have been privileged to assist dozens of clients. Plus, I have written 72 columns on strategic…