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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 […]

January 10, 2022
Hopes, Fears and A Wild Guess

January, as always, is a time for forecasting by philanthropy observers and “opiners”. But during this never-ending pandemic period, as I read and listen to blogs and podcasts about the year ahead, I notice that no-one is being definitive about their forecasts. Uncertainty is greater than ever. People don’t want to make predictions. They would […]

December 13, 2021
Foxes and Hedgehogs: Governance in Uncertain Times

I had the pleasure recently of participating in a panel discussion with the Toronto Arts Foundation and its Creative Champions Network, which provides guidance on good governance to Toronto’s many arts board directors. The theme of the discussion was Some Damn Good Ideas for Building Back Better. The conversation was led by Jini Stolk, the […]

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