December 2, 2015

Zuckerberg May Have Learned Philanthropy Lessons from Newark

An Interview with Phil Buchanan

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have announced they’ll give most of their $45 billion fortune to groups working to solve the world’s problems — specifically, they say, by focusing on advancing human potential and promoting equality. The couple made the announcement in celebration of the birth of their daughter, Max.But Zuckerberg’s first foray into large-scale philanthropy did not go well. There were mixed results from his $100 million donation to a non-profit supporting the Newark Public Schools, including criticism he didn’t get enough community input.Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, said Zuckerberg learned from that experience.”I think he’s pretty explicit about what he learned,” Buchanan said. “[He] explicitly talks about the need to take a long-term view, that change isn’t going to happen quickly, and the need to engage directly with the people you’re trying to help.”In this interview, WNYC’s Jami Floyd talks with Buchanan about Zuckerberg’s latest move, and what it could mean for future philanthropic efforts…>read more.

October 5, 2015

The Leaner-Is-Always-Better Myth: One Size Doesn’t Fill All Foundations

By: Phil Buchanan

To hear some tell it, big, heavily staffed foundations are on their way out. Like bookstores and taxis, they’ll soon be obsolete, if they’re not already.

Sean Parker, of Napster and Facebook fame, declared in an essay in The Wall Street Journal that “the executive directors of most major private foundations, endowments, and other nonprofit institutions are dedicated, first and foremost, to preserving the resources and reputations of the institutions they run. This is achieved by creating layers of bureaucracy to oversee the resources of the institution and prevent it from taking on too much risk.”

As a result, he writes, “many large private foundations become slow, conservative, and saddled with layers of permanent bureaucracy, essentially taking on the worst characteristics of government…”>read more.

 July 6, 2015

In Search of the Magic Formula for Philanthropy

By: Phil Buchanan

Foundation staff and major donors may not hear much direct criticism of their foundations or giving, surrounded as they are by grantees and grant seekers. But it seems like everyone has a point of view on what philanthropists should be doing: You can’t flip through more than a few pages of The Chronicle of Philanthropy or Stanford Social Innovation Review — and recently The New York Times and Wall Street Journal — without finding an article with the words “foundations should” or “philanthropists should.”

Yes, I admit it. I have sometimes uttered — and written — those words. So have many inside and outside philanthropy — including Silicon Valley tycoons and consultants and foundation leaders seeking to influence the practices of their peers…>read more.

April 23, 2015

Why Philanthropy Should Push Back Against the Business Mindset

An Interview with Phil Buchanan

Giving more money to altruistic initiatives should make those programs stronger, right? Not necessarily. Even some of the most well-known, well-intentioned programs have fallen short of their promises, especially ones funded on hunches instead of data.

Take the anti-drug program D.A.R.E. and the anti-incarceration program Scared Straight.

“(Both) received lots and lots of funding without clarity about whether they work,” says our guest Phil Buchanan, President of the Center for Effective Philanthropy…>read more.

January 20, 2015

Technology Start-Ups Don’t Hold All the Answers for ‘Broken’ Nonprofits

By: Phil Buchanan

For the 13 years I have worked in philanthropy, I have heard again and again the same sweeping generalizations about the supposed ineffectiveness of the nonprofit sector—typically followed by a pronouncement that the answer lies in “business thinking” or acting “like a start-up.”
It has become downright tiresome.
And just when I think that, maybe, just maybe, the sea monster of arrogance and ignorance about nonprofits has been slain, it rises, horror-movie like, to prey again on those who don’t know better…>read more.