November 30, 2020
Capability and Responsibility: Philanthropy as Relationship

I’m still thinking about some of the deep conversations that are going on in philanthropy today around “shifting” power. To me the word “shift” assumes a transfer of something from A to B. As I wrote in my last blog on this topic, I don’t see power as fixed, to be had only by one […]

October 26, 2020
Power, Trust and The Measure of Philanthropy

Shift the power! We hear this everywhere now. In politics, in the economy, in communities, in the justice system, in media. And it is being used by many, with sincere conviction, in reference to philanthropy. The exhortation to big donors and foundations is to shift the power they hold because of their wealth, their status, their […]

October 8, 2020
Philanthropy Swimming Upstream in The Syndemic

How can philanthropy confront the harsh syndemic we face today? Yes, I wrote syndemic, not pandemic. The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals, describes a syndemic as “characterised by biological and social interactions between conditions and states, interactions that increase a person's susceptibility to harm or worsen their health outcomes.” In other words, being poor, […]

August 30, 2020
20 Questions for Nonprofit Directors in 2020

I received some valuable comments on my recent piece on the sevens sins of nonprofit governance. They prompted me to add a coda about what makes a “good” nonprofit board. The seven sins of governance that I referred to essentially revolve around a lack of attention to the duty of care. This is a concept familiar […]

August 24, 2020
The Seven Sins of Nonprofit Boards

As a long-time nonprofit director, I have reflected on what we can learn from the governance car crash that appears to be the WE Charity and its affiliated structures. I have wondered: where was the WE Charity board as this evolved? Charity Intelligence and others have pointed out the multiple failures in this situation. But […]

July 31, 2020
Thoughts on Philanthropy and Giving It All Away

The pandemic is a clarifying moment for philanthropy. A spotlight is shining harshly on the familiar endowed foundation model. It is being aimed even more pointedly at the form of endowed philanthropy known as the donor-advised fund or DAF.  The point is sharp: in this time of crisis like no other, when charities and communities […]

June 29, 2020
Canadian Philanthropy 2020 Part Two

Back in January when COVID 19 was a faraway menace to us, I speculated in a blog post on three important challenges in 2020 for Canadian philanthropy. I suggested that foundations could make an important difference in the Canadian nonprofit landscape if they used their funds and influence to help provide a platform for unheard […]

June 13, 2020
Philanthropy after 2020: Reverse Gear or Fast Forward?

Three months, a quarter of a year, since the pandemic lockdown began. Long days, short weeks for many in the nonprofit sector and their funders. The troubling impacts of the lockdown on charities are piling up: lost revenue, staff layoffs, shuttered programs, and negative increases in social indices such as mental illness, domestic violence and food […]

May 22, 2020
Canadian Philanthropy in a Connected World

We don’t exist in a bubble in this world. We exist in a web. This is how we need to think about our situation as a philanthropy sector, as a country, as a region and as human beings on our planet. The inevitable push in this pandemic is towards closure, towards turning inward and locking […]