Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about nonprofit organizations and their impact

This is likely a product of confirmation bias, but I’m often reminded of how little we know about stuff that matters.  Friends with health issues visit doctors who don’t know what to do. (Maybe they should do nothing. As Atul Gawande, wrote in The New Yorker in 2015: “An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is …

Continue reading

We don’t have comprehensive ratings or rankings of the best nonprofits, and we probably never will. You can’t compare Harvard to Carnegie Hall to the DC Central Kitchen in a meaningful way. But, by using evidence, it is possible to identify nonprofits that have a positive impact at a reasonable cost. That’s what the Center …

Continue reading

It’s easy for most of us to take the simplest things–like flushing a toilet–for granted. Yet almost 2.4 billion people lack access to modern sanitation, and nearly 1 billion practice open defecation, according to the World Health Organization. The problem is worst in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, particularly India. What’s to …

Continue reading

Melinda Gates had no desire to attend the Ursuline Academy of Dallas, the all-girls Catholic high school from which she graduated in 1982. “I railed against my parents for not sending me to the best academic school in town,” she recalled the other day, at a Washington event. But Gates now feels grateful for her …

Continue reading

Let’s start with a story about learning and failure at one foundation–and then move on to a renewed effort to share knowledge by IssueLab. The story: Recently, I had an enjoyable conversation with Reeta Roy, who is president and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. Based in Toronto and dedicated to poverty alleviation in Africa, the Mastercard …

Continue reading

Slow progress is better than no progress. So GuideStar’s Platinum designation, which encourages nonprofits to share their results in an important new way, deserves a round of polite applause, if not three cheers. It’s a step in the right direction, as well as a reminder of the long road that lies ahead–if the destination is, as …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading