Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Solutions (not an April's Fools joke)

First the good news. Then the bad news. Then the good, then the bad, and so on and so on and so on. I'm not the only who is feeling this way - on Saturday this was the lead-in to a front page NY Times story:

"More fighting in Iraq. Somalia in chaos. People in this country can’t afford their mortgages and in some places now they can’t even afford rice. ... None of this nor the rest of the grimness on the front page today will matter a bit, though, if two men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii turn out to be right."

This same cycle of good and bad applies to the news in philanthropy.

There's been a flurry of research lately about the good feeling that giving gives you.

Of course, there have also been really depressing stories about fraudulent uses of gifts - according to a recent study the estimated amount of fraud in the US nonprofit sector is just about equal to the value of all foundation and corporate giving to the sector. (Hat tip to S Strom and the NY Times, I'm woefully behind in reading NVSQ where the study was published).

There is also continuing attention to social entrepreneurship and important new public policy efforts at increasing voluntarism and (potentially) social enterprise. Michigan has a state government foundation liaison and California has a new cabinet position focused on volunteer service.

Vice President Al Gore's latest climate change offering fits in with this trend - his newest "no holds barred" website is called WE CAN SOLVE IT. (and, of course, it is no mere website -it is a social networking community). It offers stories and ideas and opportunities to solve the climate crisis. Hey, if giving makes us feel good so should positive promotion of individual efforts. So lets hope that this positive, can-do attitude is not an April's Fools joke.

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