October 20, 2013

Foundations Should Use ‘Giving Tuesday’ to Show How to Choose Charities

By: Phil Buchanan

Giving Tuesday, a new effort to promote end-of-year giving by Americans, offers an opportunity for foundations to make a statement about how to support effective nonprofits and help the public learn more about what foundations do. It’s an opportunity I hope they seize…> read more

October 17, 2013

Foundations Should Work to Fix a Broken Washington

By: Phil Buchanan

The stunning display of our government’s dysfunction hardly ended when lawmakers last night approved a deal to open the government and allow the nation to pay its debts. And that leaves the question: What can be done to persuade lawmakers that it’s their duty to govern responsibly? Robert Gallucci, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, suggests in an eloquent op-ed for this newspaper that foundations must step up to help make the case….> read more

September 23, 2013

Getting the Facts Straight About the Nonprofit Sector

By: Phil Buchanan

Dan Pallotta’s TEDTalk has received a lot of attention. Too bad, then, that it is built on so much ignorance about both the history and present-day realities of the nonprofit sector.

There are at least four crucial fallacies in Pallotta’s argument…> read more

August 5, 2013

Peter Buffett Is Right to Call for Philanthropic Change

By: Phil Buchanan

When Peter Buffett took to the pages of The New York Times to lament what he calls a “crisis of imagination” in philanthropy—a failure to envisage a way for our society to function that puts an end to what he calls a “perpetual poverty machine,” he ignited a quite a debate. Mr. Buffett, chairman of the NoVo Foundation and son of Warren Buffett, critiqued our capitalist system, while being careful to emphasize that he is not calling for an end to it…> read more

July 30, 2013

Active Listening

By: Mark McLean

On the heels of the second Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) Perception Survey, CEP’s Mark McLean, shares the value of and challenges in collecting candid feedback from grantees and applicants…>read more

June 16, 2013

‘Strategy’ Is Not a Bad Word: It Is Essential Even to Grass-Roots Movements

By: Phil Buchanan and Aaron Dorfman

In philanthropy, the word “strategy” gets tossed around a lot.

To some, it’s become a bad word, conjuring up images of consultants dressed in business casual who don’t understand nonprofits or the issues they face, brewing up strategies depicted in PowerPoint that get approved by a foundation board and then forced down the throats of grantees…> read more

April 7, 2013

The Hard Work of Achieving Results

By: Phil Buchanan

The hype related to “social entrepreneurship” and “social entrepreneurs” is as overheated as it is ubiquitous.

Entire journal articles have been devoted simply to trying to define the terms, and skeptics—sometimes including me—have wondered what all the fuss was about.

My doubts have been several.

I have wondered whether we’re just putting a snappy new label on something that’s been around for centuries—individuals building organizations that act as catalysts for significant social change.

I have wondered whether…> read more

March 10, 2013

As Nonprofit ‘Research’ Proliferates, It Must Be Viewed With Healthy Skepticism

By: Phil Buchanan

In the last decade or so, the number of organizations and academic institutions doing what is billed as “research” on philanthropy has proliferated.

That is, by and large, a good thing, and I have been heartened at the Center for Effective Philanthropy by how hungry foundation leaders are for pragmatic information about what it takes to do a better job. But the rise of so many research groups increases the importance of understanding what—in the slew of reports and articles being e-mailed, tweeted, and otherwise distributed—is based on…> read more

February 21, 2013

Listening to Those Who Matter Most, the Beneficiaries

To become more effective, nonprofits and foundations are turning to various sources for advice. Some look to experts who can share knowledge, research, and experience about what works—and what does not. Others turn to crowdsourcing to generate ideas and even guide decisions about future directions or funding.

Experts and crowds can produce valuable insights. But too often nonprofits and funders ignore the constituents who matter most, the intended beneficiaries of our work: students in low-performing schools, trainees in workforce development programs, or small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. In bypassing the beneficiary as a source of information and experience, we deprive ourselves of insights into how we might do better…> read more

January 23, 2013

What Capitalism Can’t Fix

By: Phil Buchanan

Increasingly, I see people looking starry-eyed to business and markets to solve social problems. In so doing, they run the risk of dismissing the impact of nonprofits — and diminishing the value of organizations that seek to make a difference without creating the potential conflicts that come with the profit motive. My view is that pretending companies and markets hold all the answers actually puts at risk our ability to deal with our most pressing societal problems — and to help our most vulnerable citizens…> read more