Posts Tagged ‘class’

Asymmetrical power relations in the social sector: Lucy Bernholz’s “Disrupting Philanthropy”

11 December 2009

Lucy Bernholz’s “Disrupting Philanthropy: Technology and the Future of the Social Sector” has gotten a lot of attention on the Intertubes and among the twitterati (hashtag: #disruptphil) the past few days – and rightfully so. Her plain-English portrait of how digital technology is already changing the face of philanthropy and NGO life is, I think, a foundational document for what comes next. It’s that good.  (BTW, it’s one of those weird Futurama disconnects that Lucy works at BluePrint R+D 2 blocks away from the Mother Ship, with Jack Chin, who was one of the first people I met in the SF NGO scene way way back – and we’ve never met in person. We’re promising coffee in the new year, right Lucy!?)

It sounds like philanthropy is approaching one of those “whoa, what comes next” moments that us folks in the media/journalism world have been living through for, well, years. It makes for a fun ride (if your livelihood doesn’t depend on old models that are shakier by the day) and is definitely food for thought and the young at heart. So with one foot in (30+ years of) nonprofit life and the other in journalism world with more than passing interest…
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Rick Cohen takes on the charity biz – again

4 May 2009

Without exception, the best writing on the intertubes these days about the “independent sector” – or whatever you want to call the gaggle of trade associations that claim to speak for the millions of non profits active in the US  – is coming from Rick Cohen at his blog, The Cohen Report. Cohen is the ex-ED of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, so he knows what he’s talking about.

Well, Cohen just posted an absolutely devastating piece detailing how  the big  charity associations – Independent Sector, Council on Foundations, the Association of Small Foundations, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, and the rest – have lined up against the Obama administration’s proposal to help fund health care reform by reducing the tax benefits that the top 1 percent of Americans currently receive when they itemize their deductions – including their charitable deductions. Cohen shows how these trade groups have completely failed to look beyond their narrow self-interest to the larger public interest – not to mention to the huge gain that thousands of small NGOs and millions of non profit workers. Here’s his conclusion:

Is the potential loss of a small portion of charitable donations, even if a “small portion” is measured in billions, perhaps $4 billion, maybe even $6  billion, depending on economists’ estimates and models, a price worth paying in order to help finance comprehensive health care reform?  For nonprofits as a whole, the short term savings are clear, the long term benefits undeniable, [and] the nonprofit sector itself is “net winner” from universal health coverage…

You want to know what’s really going on in the non profit biz? Read Cohen.