Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about nonprofit organizations and their impact

True to its name, Unorthodox Philanthropy got started with an out-of-the-ordinary proposition. In 2010, on a crowdsourcing website called Innocentive, the funder announced that it was seeking “novel, unorthodox opportunities for philanthropic investment with the potential to generate extraordinary returns to society.” It promised a prize of at least $10,000 to the best idea. Nearly …

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America’s foundations spend many millions of dollars every year on investment advice. What do they get in return? Bubkes.* You read that right: Money that could be spent on charitable programs — to alleviate global poverty, help cure disease, improve education, support research or promote the arts —instead flows into the pockets of well-to-do investment advisors and asset …

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The global south is littered, literally, with the remains of failed international aid projects. So-called clean cookstoves had more appeal to western donors than to women in India, Africa or Latin America. Wells and taps that were intended to provide clean water have fallen into disrepair. One 2009 study estimated there are 50,000 broken rural water points …

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The Internet has made it easier than ever to identify the best books, movies,  songs, hotels, restaurants, mutual funds, even foreign-language tutors. To identify the best charities? That’s harder. The Raikes Foundation, which is the family foundation of Jeff Raikes and his wife, Tricia, wants to help, by enabling donors to do more good with their money. Last …

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People like to say that “good ideas can come from anywhere.” (The phrase generates 11.4m Google results.) They rarely act that way. Philanthropy is an “insider’s game,” the late Rick Cohen once wrote, and surveys have found that most foundations do not accept unsolicited proposals. This is understandable: Foundation executives don’t want to be swamped …

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We may be the only lawyers on earth whose clients are all innocent. — a poster for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Steven Wise is an attorney for animals, notably two chimpanzees, Tommy and Kiko, who live in captivity in upstate New York and are asking the courts for relief. A rumpled 60-something legal scholar who …

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    Foundations say they want to challenge inequality. The truth is, they often perpetuate it. For better or worse, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, the Buffett family and a growing number of hedge fund and technology billionaires use their large-scale giving to extend their influence at a time when rich people already have inordinate clout. This undermines democracy …

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