Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about nonprofit organizations and their impact

With a collective $800 billion in assets under management, America’s big foundations spend vast sums of money to buy investment advice. They’re getting little, if anything, of value in return. Their own investment offices, and the Wall Street banks, hedge funds, private equity firms and consultants they hire, when taken together, deliver investment returns that …

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If, as a chief executive or senior program officer of a big foundation, you have the power to disburse large sums of money, people are likely to let you know, in ways both subtle and direct, that you are wise, witty, good-looking and an all-around swell human being. Modest and self-aware you may be, but …

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“Inequality is the fight of the moment for philanthropy,” writes Philip Henderson, the president of the Surdna Foundation, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. I’m not sure why foundations want to fight inequality. I’d prefer that they fight poverty, or work on behalf of social mobility or social justice or economic opportunity, but that’s a conversation for another day. …

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In the world of philanthropy, the divestment movement is known as Divest-Invest. “Divest” has gotten most of the attention. “Invest” will make more of a difference. Divesting ownership of fossil fuel companies won’t have much direct effect on the fossil fuel industry, as I’ve written, in part because most of the world’s reserves are held by state-owned …

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The F.B. Heron Foundation is not your typical foundation. For starters, there is (or was) evidently no F.B. Heron. An anonymous benefactor, which is something of a rarity in the ego-driven world of philanthropy, started the foundation in 1992 with a $150* million donation.  When I got Clara Miller, the foundation’s president, on the phone, …

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The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the US’s biggest and most influential foundations, has taken a small step to distance itself from financing fossil fuels. The Menlo Park-based foundation, a leading funder of programs to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, has amended its social investment policy to say that it will refrain …

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In an opinion piece for the Chronicle of Philanthropy last spring headlined Foundations Must Move Fast to Fight Climate Change, Larry Kramer, the president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Carol S. Larson, the president of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, wrote: Climate change is the defining issue of our day. It is an …

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