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State of Philanthropy 2002 -US Style

Wednesday, 7th August 2002 at 1:08 pm
Staff Reporter
Not For Profit leaders in the US are suggesting greater Foundation responsibility and increased funding for advocacy, equality and core operations in it's first State of Philanthropy 2002 report.

Wednesday, 7th August 2002
at 1:08 pm
Staff Reporter



State of Philanthropy 2002 -US Style
Wednesday, 7th August 2002 at 1:08 pm

Not For Profit leaders in the US are suggesting greater Foundation responsibility and increased funding for advocacy, equality and core operations in it’s first State of Philanthropy 2002 report.

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) has released The State of Philanthropy 2002, as a series of analyses on the current state of affairs in the field of grant-making – where the field is now, where it is going and how it can do better.

The 104-page report presents diverse perspectives from 20 Not for Profit, academic, foundation and advocacy leaders, and offers a wide range of solutions the philanthropic community can act upon in order to live up to its promise of securing social and economic justice for all.

The report addresses a broad array of topics, including philanthropy and: public accountability, poverty, race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, public policy, social justice advocacy, community foundations, venture philanthropy, foundation pay-out rates, progressive policy making, workplace giving programs, the aftermath of Sept. 11 and youth organising.

But before the solutions come some strong words about the current state of US philanthropy.

Report Co-ordinator Neil F. Carlson in his report Preface says that while it may be expected that philanthropic organisations are making a renewed commitment to supporting institutions capable of reasserting the best of America’s values—inclusiveness, opportunity, diversity, elementary fairness, equality—rather there is a new emphasis on getting “outcomes,” on “organisational effectiveness,” and “management capacity building.”

Events of the past year—the collapse of the stock market bubble,
the debacle of the 2000 presidential election with low voter turnout, the attacks of September 11, and the collapse of Enron—illustrated all too vividly
the continuing challenge facing organised philanthropy.

Carlson says while the outpouring of individual and institutional charity in the wake of September 11 is a testament to the nation’s generosity and compassion, there is also something heartbreaking about how desperate people were to do something—anything—to help.

He says three months later, as the country slid into recession, it is evident that such charity, while providing crucial short-term relief, offered little in the way of long-term solutions to those most vulnerable in an economic downturn.

Carlson stresses that philanthropy can, and must, be part of the long-term solutions, but to do so, philanthropy (or at least a significant portion of a rich and diverse field) must become more democratic and accountable itself.

He says Not for Profits also need to be better, more effective advocates of policies and institutions that actually embody democratic values, instead of giving mere lip service to them. They need the adequate, long-term support needed to create.

If philanthropy is serious about meeting these needs, it must come to terms with the structural realities of poverty, race, and inequality here and abroad, and it must seek practical, pragmatic remedies.

He says this means funders must realise that civil society is no substitute for a functioning system of representative government, nor is social capital a surrogate for a reasonably fair distribution of financial wealth. By the same token, grassroots organising and advocacy, while important strategies, are not panaceas for all that ails us.

Unless philanthropy—or at least a significant portion of it—acknowledges and addresses these framing issues, it will continue to fall short of its

NCRP President Rick Cohen says the State of Philanthropy 2002 report aims to help philanthropy live up to its best intentions of investing in common-sense social change to improve the quality of life for all Americans.

Some of the suggested solutions include:
 Foundations should invest a higher percentage of their endowments in grants to Not for Profits.
 Funders should shift their giving significantly toward core operating support for Not for Profits.
 Fund social change advocacy – not just direct social services and cultural programs.
 All Americans merit an equal place at the philanthropic table.

If you would like a copy of excepts from the report in PDF format (about 13 pages) send us an e-mail to probono@probonoaustralia.com.au.

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) website is at www.ncrp.org.

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