Archive for February, 2011

Through the Eye of a Needle

The Wall Street Journal‘s Deal Journal blog relays news of a UK Christian ecumenical group’s effort to lead the banking industry back to the straight and narrow:

A report out this week from the Ecumenical Council on Corporate Responsibility–a U.K. church investors’ group that advises on about £17.5 billion in assets–has a slew of recommendations for banks to follow if they want to “rebuild trust” with society.

The ECCR wants them to do a number of things–make finance more available to the poorest in society, be more public about their political lobbying and limit commodity trading where “it could cause social harm”, for example by pushing up the prices of food in the developing world.

They also urge the banks to reveal the highest and lowest salaries among their employees, then work toward lowering that gap. How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

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February 26, 2011 at 6:50 PM Leave a comment

A Defense of Political Philanthropy

In the battle in Wisconsin over budgets and public employee unions, opponents of Republican Gov. Scott Walker have started to focus on billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, libertarian philanthropists. In the Washington Examiner, the Center for Competitive Politics‘s Sean Parnell argues against claims that their contributions are used to “Astroturf” over true grassroots efforts:

One of the central complaints about the Koch brothers’ giving is that their funding will “drown out” the voices of “average citizens” and turn government into a plaything of the rich. By contributing generously to advance their views, opponents of the Koch’s support for free market and limited government causes claim, the brothers are unfairly shaping America’s political and public policy debate.

But a quick review of the last 100 years in America shows that rather than “drowning out” the views and voices of non-wealthy Americans, support from the wealthy actually gives a voice to those who would otherwise be silenced.

The author’s examples of this phenomenon include the NAACP (initially dependent on a few wealthy supporters such as John D. Rockefeller), the ACLU (half of whose funding came from a single donor in their early years), and the different left-leaning groups like the Center for American Progress funded by George Soros.

February 26, 2011 at 6:41 PM Leave a comment

Hips Recognized for Truthfulness, Philanthropy

The Boston Herald reports that the Harvard Foundation has awarded pop superstar Shakira its 2011 Artist of the Year award.

Foundation director S. Allen Counter says the Latin music artist, who has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, was honored for her “distinguished history of creativity,” as well as for her charitable contributions.

The singer founded the Barefoot Foundation, which aims to improve education and nutrition for poor children in her native Colombia.

In case any readers are cynical enough to wonder if fame plays a greater part than artistry in Harvard’s recipient selection process, please note that previous winners include Jackie Chan and Will Smith.

February 26, 2011 at 6:12 PM Leave a comment

Voluntary Taxes Unpaid, Sky Blue, Water Wet

The town of Concord, Massachusetts last year sent letters to resident tax exempt organizations asking them to consider donating money to the municipal coffers.

The Boston Globe reports that the nonprofits have not stepped up:

One selectman said he has struck out, while another said he has seen at least a glimmer of hope from some groups…“I haven’t been successful with anybody,’’ said Jeffrey Wieand, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “But I’ve talked to people who are at least thinking about it.’’

Next headline in today’s paper: Dog bites man. (Hat tip: The Nonprofit Quarterly.)

February 25, 2011 at 7:01 PM Leave a comment

Celebrity Apprentices Pick Charities

They’re not all famous enough to be considered true celebrities, and the extreme self-interest with which they approach the competition hardly suggests they want to serve a real apprenticeship. Either way, the entrants on this season of “Celebrity” “Apprentice” have announced the charities for which they are playing. The Nonprofit Quarterly has the full list.

The most sadly appropriate celebrity-charity pairing? Gary Busey will be playing for The Center For Head Injury Services. Any future fruits of their labor will come too late to help their valiant champion.

February 25, 2011 at 6:51 PM Leave a comment

Korean Americans Giving More

Asian Week highlights a new study by Give2Asia.org that finds giving by Korean Americans on the rise:

The report examines the Korean American diaspora’s potential for philanthropy and finds that it is increasing as the diaspora accumulates wealth and comes to include a greater number of upwardly mobile American-born individuals. It also explores various traditions of giving among Korean Americans, including informal giving, remittance sending, gye, and church-based giving, and shows that mainstream giving is on the rise.

The full report is here.

February 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM Leave a comment

Millionaire Wants to Play Billionaire

The new “venture philanthropists” are often lauded for the investment not only of their money but their attention, as they seek to ensure accountability and results in their charitable works as they did in their business life.

This approach has its critics in the nonprofit sector, who often chafe under the direction of “control freak” donors. The Wall Street Journal today highlights a particularly risible example:

Robert G. Burton, a 72-year-old publishing entrepreneur, demanded that the University of Connecticut return more than $3 million in donations and take his name off a campus building because he didn’t get a say in the hiring of a new football coach.

In a six-page letter to the school’s athletic director, copied to the governor, Mr. Burton wrote that he wanted to be involved in hiring the new coach. “For someone who has given $7,000,000 to the football program/university I do not feel as though these requests were asking for too much.”

This isn’t philanthropy; this is a moneyed weasel who wants to play Jerry Jones with his state’s university. Send his money back.

February 25, 2011 at 6:33 PM Leave a comment

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