Posts Tagged ‘hold the line please’

Like a Turkey through the Corn

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! Off this week, returning next week.

Lots to discuss, including the Ken Berger post on SSIR slamming GiveWell, Peter Singer, and the “Effective Altruism” movement, which I commented on here.

Enjoy the blessings of the season.


City of New Orleans

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

I’ve been busy blogging on RE: Philanthropy, the Council on Foundations’ website. Here’s a recap of my posts from the community foundations conference last week:

Non-Superstitious Use of Data: The Missing Link between Your Business Model and Your Revenue Model”

Another Kind of Grantee? Entrepreneurs and Journalists as Change Agents”

How Two Community Foundations Balance Head and Heart while Navigating the Path to Impact”

School’s [Not] Out

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Well! I didn’t expect to take a summer break from blogging, but there you go, I’m back.

I’ll be speaking at the Council on Foundations community foundations conference next Monday the 10th, 4:30-6:00pm, on “Mapping Foundation Operations to Mission” with my TCC Group colleague Peter York. Come check us out if you’re at the conference.

And now, back to regular weekly blogging….

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

I’m back. The past few months have been a blender work-wise, but I’m back to blogging.

And thank you Albert Ruesga for inspiring my return. Your most recent post on White Courtesy Telephone, “Steve Jobs, the Meaning of a Nonprofit, and Moral Imagination,” crystallized a lot of the things that have been troubling me about sector agnosticism. As arbitrary as the tax code is on some level, the designation “not-for-profit” captures something essential about certain forms of collective action.

As much as the lines between sectors are blurring, I predict that non-profits won’t go away entirely. There’ll always be a sphere of action that is fundamentally opposed to commercial motives – as much as contemporary life in These United States is geared to make us think of “democratic capitalism” as the state of nature, unearthed and made real.

I mused last time about a progressive theory of wealth accumulation. I’ve also complained about the paucity of our theories of human behavior. At the Venn-diagram intersection of these two is a progressive theory of human frailty, of fallibility. Novelists get at this, screenwriters too – but in the political sphere, conservatives have staked out this territory as their own. In one prominent right-wing worldview, progressives believe in the perfectibility of man, that the application of reason can lift humanity out of the benightedness of religion and into a land of rational justice – while conservatives, grounded in Judeo-Christian teachings, see man as fallen, as having original sin, and therefore never being perfectible. On this view, social engineering, attempts to order society to perfect man, are not only doomed to fail but fundamentally misguided due to the fallen nature of humankind. Better to preserve traditions that have emerged organically. (Hello, antebellum South.)

But I believe there has to be a progressive theory of human frailty that is not about fallenness but about compassion and empathy. Such a theory doesn’t have to have the particular elective affinity I’m about to describe, but for me it dovetails with atheism: this is all there is, so dammit if we hadn’t better treat each other right. ‘Cause we’re all we’ve got.

Anyway. To me this is the soil from which a democratic philanthropy grows. Visions of wealth accumulation and human frailty, reclaimed from partisan clutches, put in service of human flourishing in the here and now.

So thank you, Albert, for stirring my (slumbering?) moral imagination.

Beyond the Thunderdome?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

(Hint: Remember the original title of Mad Max)

I’ve just gotten back from another road trip for work. By my count, there have been five weeks since the beginning of the year in which I have NOT had a trip of some kind. (Which has something to do with the reduced frequency of posting as of late.) This week makes six, and I’m getting back to posting.

I’m very grateful to get to do the work I do. But stuck in O’Hare last Thursday with swarms of other white-collar road warriors, I was struck by how tiresomely physical so much travel is. Lugging suitcases around, sitting still on planes for so long. Uch, makes me feel sweaty just typing that. The stereotype of the white-collar worker is that their hands are smooth. This is my right hand after six months of lugging my suitcase around the country.

I guess I take the calluses as a mark of pride, I’m not sure. But as I think about LA, Denver, Louisville, Alaska, SF, Vancouver, Chicago, Philly and lots of DC, and the exciting work my clients are doing and the great team members I get to collaborate with…yeah, it feels good. I’ll still get some hand cream, though.

Streets (or Meeting Rooms) of Philadelphia

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

From the Department of Self-Promotion: Don’t usually like to toot my own horn like this, but if you’re in Philadelphia for the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and/or Council on Foundations conference the next few days, come check me out on these two panels. Have to say, having been involved in organizing these, we were able to get some pretty excellent speakers, I’m looking forward to two great sessions!

“The 3 I’s of Foundation Effectiveness: Information, Inclusion, and Influence”

Friday, April 8, 11:30am-1:30pm

EPIP National Conference

“Diesel” Room, Cira City CenterFunders have very different notions of what effectiveness means for foundations. Yet common definitions are possible. This session identifies how foundation effectiveness emerges from the confluence of three factors: information, inclusion, and influence. When foundations leverage the information they already have about their program areas and grantees and share it with a broader audience, they extend their reach.  When they practice inclusion in how decisions are made, how initiatives are designed, and who serves on their staffs and boards, they improve the quality of their work. And when they intentionally harness the influence they are already having in their communities, they strengthen their ability to make a difference. Come learn from funders who have leveraged information, inclusion, and influence to build their effectiveness, and get concrete advice on how to do the same in your own foundation.


Chris Cardona, Associate Director of Philanthropic Services, TCC Group

Bonnie Mazza, Consultant, TCC Group


Leo Canty, Former Board Chair, Connecticut Health Foundation

Vic De Luca, President, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

Peter Goodwin, Chief Operating Officer & Treasurer, Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation

“Philanthropic Strategy: Too Much of a Good Thing?”

Sunday, April 10, 2:00-3:30pm

Council on Foundations Annual Conference

Liberty Salon B, Level 3, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown

Traditionally, philanthropists trusted nonprofit organizations to know the issues and implement programs to address problems. Today, foundations are much more sophisticated in guiding their giving. They have expert staff and often devise the “solutions” they want to see implemented by grantees. But has the pendulum swung too far? Do foundations assume they know how to address problems better than those “on the ground”? Or are they being responsible fiduciaries in addressing complex problems?

Presenter(s): Denise McGregor Armbrister, Executive Director, Wachovia Regional Foundation; Jacob Harold, Program Officer for Philanthropy and Regional Grants, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Gary L. Yates, President and CEO, The California Wellness Foundation
Moderator(s): Chris Cardona, Associate Director of Philanthropy, TCC Group
Session Designer(s): Ashley Blanchard, Associate Director of Philanthropy, TCC Group

Jet lag

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Coming off the redeye is no way to get posts done…let’s say I’m jetlagged from a trip to California, and this week’s posts will come a day late: Weds, Thu, Fri.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Going to hold off on posting the rest of the week, will be back next Tuesday.

Gobble, gobble (and then some)

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

I’m on vacation the week of November 29. I’ll be back to posting on Tuesday, December 7. Happy Thanksgiving!

One-week hiatus

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

I’ll be on hiatus this week of November 2.

I’ll be back on November 9.