Wednesday, October 11, 2006

PR and blogs

I am not a journalist. I do read a lot of newspapers and a lot of magazines (3 of the former on a daily basis and about 50 of the latter per month). And, sure, I know PR plays a big role in what gets covered as features (and more of the news than I care to think about.)

But I've never before been on the receiving end of PR blitzes. In the last two weeks I have received four solicitations (?), requests(?), promotions (?) to write about other blogs on philanthropy, online resources on philanthropy, or new research on philanthropy.

What amazes me about this? This blog is a teeny tiny fish egg in the massive pond of blogs. For those looking to promote their stuff, it took some effort to find it/me. Maybe I should get some PR firm to help promote this site and our work and make it easier for everybody (tongue firmly in cheek).

New year - New name - New year

No one has ever asked me why this blog was called Philanthropy 2225. I've just changed it to Philanthropy 2173 - lets see if anyone asks why.

Giving just got cheaper

Fidelity Investments, the largest vendor of donor advised funds in the USA, has lowered the minimum gift needed to open a fund. It also lowered the minimum gift amount that can be advised from the fund. Effective this week, a donor can open a fund with as little as $5,000 and can direct gifts as small as $100. The full details are available from Fidelity.

What will other vendors - commercial funds and community foundations - do? Time will tell.

Tainted winners, tainted prizes

We've had the 2006 MacArthur Fellows announcement. Winners of the Nobel prizes in Economics, Medicine, and Science. Coming in the next few weeks (just in the literary arts) we'll have winners of - "the National Book Award, the Man Booker Prize, the Prix Goncourt (France) and the Cervantes Prize (Spain)." And tomorrow, the Nobel Prize in literature.

Philanthropy's history has always been marked by questions of "dirty money." Did John D. Rockefeller endow his Foundation to distract the public from the anti-trust hearings (a century later, the same was being asked of Bill Gates)? Was Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, making up for the lives lost in South African mines by endowing his eponymous prizes?

But now, since Gunter Grass's (who won the Nobel in literature in 1999) has come clean about his activism with the Nazis as a young man we have a new twist on the question of dirty - what about "dirty winners?" George Rafael takes a good look at this phenomenon - and opens the door on dirt on all kinds of literary figures - over at Salon (subscription needed)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cause related marketing/charity gone awry

I learn a lot from cab drivers. I always ask them what they think about the city I'm in, its politics, population, big issues, best aspects, biggest hassles. I also ask them about my clients in that city to see if they have ever heard of the organizations with which I work.

Today, in a cab in Ohio, I learned that that state has two ballot propositions upcoming in November, both of which focus on smoking bans. I live in California - we perfected this approach to public health. But the twist on the story that Phil the cabbie told me was this: Two years ago Toledo banned smoking in public places. Bars in Toledo responded by claiming they were private businesses. Many of them even sold memberships for a dollar for a lifetime pass - making them private membership clubs. In which their members could smoke. Where does cause-related marketing come in? Well, they donated all of the membership fees to the American Cancer Society. (Or so Phil tells me). How's that for dirty money?

Wishful thinking

Over on SocialEdge, site designer Jason Clark is wishing that Google's purchase of YouTube was actually a purchase of socialedge. Not a bad dream, I guess. As far as making a difference in the world (at least the world beyond the 60+ employees of YouTube and the folks at Sequoia Capital) such a purchase would probably do more good than the one that happened. But, seriously, $1.65 billion? That's real money. For example, at $3 each you could buy more than 500 million LifeStraws. Or vaccinate a billion and half people against malaria at $1 each - which is 3x as many people as are actually infected with malaria each year. Or match, 1:1 or even better, the state expenditures on public K12 education in Mississippi or New Hampshire or Montana or Iowa or Hawaii or Idaho.

In other words, that is a lot of money. It could do a lot of good. And not just by making it easier for me to find the skidboots video.