Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Semi-random thoughts: The paradoxes and oxymorons of philanthropy

Individual philahnthropic actors can't accomplish much alone, yet individual philanthropic actors must lead.

Outcomes and strategy seem important, but do they narrow the field away from issues where philanthropy should lead?

Philanthropic foundations are endowed in perpetuity (most of them) yet plagued by short attention spans.

Donor education.

Best evaluation done in philanthropy are the NCRP analyses of politically conservative foundations. NCRP funded by politically centrist and left foundations. What's so good about the NCRP reports as evaluation?
- Independent analysis
- Long term time frame (30 years)
- Makes recommendations that others could follow regarding funding strategies (be responsive, support operations, stay the course)
- Center and left focus on operational changes and advances (evaluation, outcomes, grantee perception reports, knowledge management). Right of center funders focus on accomplishing a goal.

So why are the so few adherents to these recommendations?
Why do we act as if they're news each time NCRP releases a new version of these analyses (now date back to mid 1990s)?