November 14, 2022
From Charity To Change: A Reflection

This is a more personal post than usual. It’s about Canadian foundation philanthropy, as may of my posts are. But it is also sharing some of my personal reflections as I look forward to the publication at the end of November of my book From Charity To Change:  Inside The World of Canadian Foundations. Why did I […]

October 7, 2022
Changing Foundation Philanthropy in Canada and Europe

Why do foundations matter? I have spent decades thinking about this question in a Canadian context. To try to answer it, I wrote a book about the work of Canadian foundations and their impact today, called From Charity To Change (MQUP, 2022). I interviewed over 30 foundation leaders for their insights about the work they […]

September 28, 2022
Long-Life Philanthropy in a World on Fire

We are living in urgent times. Needs and uncertainties multiply in the context of energy and food insecurity, inflation, war, and attacks on democracy. The expectations and pressures on funders understandably continue to grow in the face of this urgency. The question of the value of the endowed foundation model must be posed again. When […]

September 2, 2022
Learning about Learning in Philanthropy

In a recent blog on philanthropic accountability I noted that accountability can take many forms; in philanthropy it often takes the form of accountability for achieving results (mostly successful results). In this blog I want to focus more on the question of accountability for philanthropic learning. What happens when you don’t get the results you […]

July 27, 2022
The Hard Question of Accountability

Who sets the standard for philanthropic “success”? And who is accountable to whom for that success (or lack of success)? Hard questions to answer for everyone involved in philanthropy, as givers, receivers, partners or critics. But more people are asking them now. I notice thoughtful public conversations happening about “being accountable” in the philanthropic sector.  Two […]

June 6, 2022
The Seven Sins of Nonprofit Boards… Revisited

In August 2020, a very large number of readers had their attention caught by my blog on the seven sins of nonprofit governance. It seemed that many people were interested in how governance can go wrong. Almost two years later, as Annual Meeting time approaches again, and new boards are elected, I want to revisit […]

May 5, 2022
Thinking Hard About Trust

One of the big debates swirling around in philanthropy today is the debate about trust. Can trust really exist between funders and the organizations they fund, given the power imbalances, the different communities that funders and grantees come from, the different operating models of grantmakers and operating charities? This matters a good deal to funders […]

March 25, 2022
Lending Ear and Raising Voice

I have been thinking again in the last few weeks about the uses of language in philanthropy today. And reflecting not only about speaking language but also about listening to it. What is said and what is heard in a philanthropic conversation can be very different than what is intended, based on the interpretations by […]

January 31, 2022
Philanthropy and the Pandemic Portal

Lucy Bernholz of Stanford is one of the thinkers I admire most in the world of philanthropy. Hers is an articulate and original voice. It helps me put into context the changes and arguments going on in the world of philanthropy, civil society and digital technology. Every year for the last thirteen, she has written what […]

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