Wednesday, June 03, 2009
What kind of philanthropic organization would you build?
(Creative Commons Photo By: Ambuj Saxena)
...Imagine a future in which high quality, informed, diverse, and meaningful data on nonprofits and change organizations, the work they do, and the impact they have is widely available, free or low cost, and comparable.
What kind of community philanthropy organizations, or philanthropic organizations, or donor services, or giving circles, or prize competitions, or public problem solving strategies, tools and activities would you create on top of those data sources?
Data are commodities. Huge investments in cleaning them, making them accurate, gathering 360 degree feedback, and making them comparable are beginning to pay off. As this happens with useful real-time data about nonprofits and social change the above question now faces all existing philanthropic organizations - community foundations, private foundations, national donor advised funds, public grantmaking charities, etc. The data are there. What will you do with them? What do you have to add?
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I really feel that philanthropy has a bright future, but that right now, it's quite alienated from the communities it hopes to serve, and often only reinforces its own existence, and the existence of its anointed grantees.
Foundations are out of touch with the streets and the communities they serve, because they are caught up in the glamour of the executive class.
Their efforts at due diligence create a culture of arrogance and disregard, often drastically limiting their impacts in the communities they serve by virtue of failing to recognize true leadership and innovation in those communities.
Until that changes, a good deal of it is going to remain the realm of entitled foundation workers with six-figure salaries and full benefits packages saying "no" to important programs and projects that they just don't understand.
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