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Posts tagged philanthropy

from "Giving during disasters," by Mark Petersen, Open hands, 17 January 2010

My preference in giving is not to give quickly nor in times of disaster.  There are plenty of people doing that and you don’t have to join the bandwagon.  So stop feeling guilty and don’t give to get that monkey off your back.  Instead, carefully investigate options and choose to make a longer-term, more strategic decision to truly partner with an organization.

Some have asked me who they should consider giving to following the Haiti earthquake.  If you want to provide immediate assistance, send your funding through large corporate charities that had a well-established presence on the ground for years prior to the quake.  I specifically recommend World Vision Canada with whom we’ve had a long term successful partnership.  Their reputation speaks for itself.  They specialize in disaster relief and their logistical ability to respond effectively is unequaled.   CEO Dave Toycen is on the ground there now, and is tweeting his thoughts at @toycenontheroad.  You can know that even though your immediate funding can be used for an urgent disaster, that WV will be present in Haiti for the long term.  Poverty isn’t solved in a week.

For those who prefer a smaller, grassroots response my choice would be Haiti Partners.  They have a significant history as a Florida-based charity focused on building schools and training teachers as a long term investment in the next generation of Haitians.  They aren’t new to Haiti like some other agencies seeking funding for the Haiti quake.  They speak Creole, their staff are Haitians.  They’re now expanding their support base to offer Canadian donors an ability to partner with them.  In fact, for months they’ve been planning that Sunday, January 24 would be the launch of their first Canadian fundraiser in Toronto.

You can follow co-director John Engle at twitter (@haitipartners) as well as their blog or YouTube with frequent, informative video updates.

by Andy Crouch for Culture Making

When you start seriously studying the ways American give money, as Christian Smith and his colleagues did for his recent book Passing the Plate, one of the first things you realize is that they give very little.

One of the next things you realize is that they give money mostly to people like themselves, who lead organizations that benefit people like themselves, for causes that matter to people like themselves. And when they do escape from such self-referential giving, it is largely in response to crisis and sentimentality rather than an intentional approach to lasting investment.

Catherine and I have tried over the years to make sure that our giving doesn’t just end up being a tax-deductible subsidy of organizations that serve people like us. We think of it very much like investing. We want to have a “balanced portfolio” in three important dimensions.

1. We want to balance our giving between organizations based in the United States and those based outside (mostly in the developing world, where a dollar often goes incredibly far).

2. We want to give equally to organizations that have non-white-Westerners in major leadership roles and to organizations that are led by people who look like us.

3. And we want to support some organizations where the gift we can afford to make is greater than 1% of their budget (so that we’re making a noticeable impact on their total need) and others where our gift is a smaller portion (but is likely to be used efficiently).

As this snapshot shows, we missed our target this year on domestic versus international giving, but did well on the other two categories. We’ll try to make up the difference in 2009.

Having disciplines like this in place helps us to make good choices among the many opportunities we have to give. And it’s fun to make the little pie charts, too.


In 1982, the neighborhood surrounding Harambee Center had the highest daytime crime rate in Southern California. The corner of Howard and Navarro, where we are located, was called “blood corner” because it was where the most drive-by shootings and failed drug deals occurred. Residents were held captive in their homes and there was little hope for change.

We believed the only legitimate way to become change-agents in this community was to become a part of it. Led by our founder, Dr. John Perkins, we moved into the community and became neighbors. For 20+ years we have served a 12-block target area, working with African American and Latino children and families.

“Harambee” means “Let’s get together and push” in Swahili. We seek to nurture and equip leadership that will wholistically minister to the community by sharing Biblical truths, in order to achieve the re-building of urban neighborhoods through relocation, reconciliation and redistribution.

excerpt Goat, $75

The early-morning bleating of a dairy goat is a happy sound for children in countries like Haiti and Kenya — they know it’s ready to be milked. A goat nourishes a family with protein-rich milk, cheese, and yogurt, and can offer a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market. It even provides fertilizer that can dramatically increase crop yields!

by Andy Crouch for Culture Making

Every three months—in March, June, September, and December—the Crouches do something absolutely essential to our spiritual health as a family. We give away a substantial amount of money.

I am not reticent about disclosing the exact amounts that we make, save, spend, and give. In fact I believe that no church or Christian community can be healthy without talking about real dollars rather than the absurdly vague hand-waving that often passes for discussion of financial stewardship. Several times over the past few years I have handed out a complete Crouch family income and expense statement to fellow members of our church. Not so much because we are models of stewardship—we are by many standards absurdly wealthy and absurdly stingy—but because I am convinced that our spiritual health requires transparency and vulnerability in this area. And believe me, distributing a complete statement of how you have handled your money (or, more precisely, the money God has entrusted to you) is transparent and vulnerable!

Disclosing these details online is a different matter. Somehow our culture has gotten things exactly upside down. We are vulnerable and transparent online in ways we never would be in person. This is cheap transparency, based on virtual intimacy, and I won’t indulge in it here.

But at this time when the whole world is reeling from the effects of an economic crisis brought on, among other things, by a series of extraordinary conspiracies of silence about the truth of money—including millions of Americans taking on debts they could not reasonably expect to repay, thousands of companies taking risks they could not calculate using financial instruments no one could understand, and most recently hundreds of investors entrusting their wealth to a man who refused to tell them what he did to make it grow—it seems worth saying that by far the best thing Catherine and I have done with our money, in fat years and lean years, was to give some of it away, and to try to order our lives so that we could give away more and more.

So during these last days of the year, I want to celebrate the cultural goods created by the amazing non-profit organizations Catherine and I have the privilege of supporting. I’ll also post a few thoughts about how we give, and why—in the hope that as all of us prepare for whatever 2009 may bring, we will enter it with the joy of people who have entrusted everything to the one who gave everything for us. Merry Christmas.

from "Partying for Charity," by Allison Schrager, More Intelligent Life, 12 November 2008 :: via Ideas blog

Nonetheless, a few months ago I became a ”Young Fellow” at the Frick museum ($500 per year; “all but $340 is tax deductible”). I’ll admit I felt slightly ambivalent about it. As much as I enjoy going to museums and sincerely believe they help to make the world a better place, giving to them is not quite on a par with giving to a cancer hospital. Cultural institutions are a luxury in our society. Surely there are more pressing concerns.

My agenda was to join an organisation that promotes community. In my research, I found that cultural institutions have a monopoly on providing frequent, affordable events that also, frankly, seem fun. My hard-earned, limited income could instead go toward feeding starving children in Africa, which is surely a worthier cause than maintaining the art collection of an old mansion on Fifth Avenue. But starving children do not provide fun parties. Point: museum.

from "The End of Service Trips?," by Tim Ogden, Philanthropy Action, 15 October 2008

[Some doubt] whether it’s even possible to achieve the goals of a real encounter with poverty in a week to 10 days. According to Crouch it is—if the trips are radically different. He suggests three ingredients for trips to have an impact:

1. Make trips a part of a lasting, organization-level partnership: Many youth groups feel they have to go someplace new each year to interest participants. Visiting the same place year after year allows the Americans to begin building more of an understanding of local context and needs, and increases the likelihood that the “help” they offer is actually helpful.

2. Properly set expectations: The more a trip is described as a learning experience rather than an opportunity for an unskilled teenager to “help”, the more likely the trip is to have an impact.

3. Small is beautiful: if personal contact is the sine qua non of such trips, they have to be small enough to allow actual personal contact between Americans and their counterparts.

Still, Crouch doubts that one trip can make a difference:

“The trips only make sense if they are part of a comprehensive program of changing people’s attitudes and behaviors. Evidence is shockingly clear that a single trip has no impact. No matter how well you do a trip, especially when you’re talking about teenagers, they are at such a high-velocity developmental stage that I don’t think any single experience is going to have an ‘impact.’ . . . The organizations that have thought about this the most and are doing the best job are making these trips part of a much longer engagement with the issues. For instance, there’s one organization that requires a year-long commitment and the trip occurs in the middle—they meet just as often after the trip as they do preparing for it. . . . The grooves in our culture are too deep for us to escape without that level of commitment.”


By 5 p.m. Curtis had made his first two purchases: frozen chicken wings and a can of beans ($4.75); a T-shirt and pair of socks from a vendor on the street ($2.00).

Meanwhile, Michael drove his rental car around the neighborhood. When he returned to meet us he was exasperated. “The food here is awful! No fruit, vegetables are moldy. Only meat, canned food, and soda. What do kids eat? The guy at the store told me no one would eat fruit unless it’s in a can. Is that true?”

Curtis shook his head. I told Michael, “When we get back to New York, I will talk with you about diet and quality of food availability in poor neighborhoods.”

But Michael was growing upset. “All I see are liquor stores and dollar stores and fast food. There was one guy who said he’d buy my food stamps — 50 cents for a dollar in stamps? How can people live like this?”

Curtis laughed. He asked Michael if he’d like some chicken and beans. Michael said, “No thank you,” and sat on the cold linoleum floor. He was silent.

“How much does a banana cost,” Curtis asked Michael. Michael looked embarrassed, unable to answer.

“You don’t know, do you!” Curtis laughed. “See fruit is expensive; raw food is too much for low income people. And we don’t always have a fridge, so you got to keep things in cans. That way it can move with you. And one thing you need to know: low income people always are on the move — not just squatters, all low income folks.”