Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

Eighteen months ago, the people who manage the endowment at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation got some bad news: Investments they had made in funds managed by EnerVest, a Houston-based private equity firm that operates more than 33,000 oil and gas wells across the US, had plummeted in value to almost nothing. …

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Reading is one of my life’s great pleasures. Here are the books that I read this year. Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace. A mind-bending collection of journalism and essays about conservative talk radio, September 11, John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign, Tracy Austin’s tennis career and the ethics of boiling large numbers of lobsters …

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Who could object to efforts to bring clean, renewable energy to people without electricity? Donors and investors love social enterprises (D.Light, Greenlight Planet, BrightLife) and nonprofits (SolarAid, GivePower) that bring solar panels, lights or phone chargers to poor households in Africa and south Asia. Why, even President Obama, on a visit to Tanzania, played with …

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This is an image from the Facebook feed of a man named Macintosh Johnson. Pictured is Katie Meyler, the founder of a charity called More Than Me that operates schools for poor, vulnerable girls in Liberia, like the girls in the photo. Macintosh Johnson and Katie Meyler were lovers. They ran More Than Me together …

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Can journalism supported by a traditional foundation ask tough questions about what foundations are doing right–and doing wrong? Future Perfect intends to try. It’s off to a promising start. Launched this week by Vox, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, Future Perfect plans to “carve out a space, away the regular news cycle, to …

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Ah, scale. Foundations, nonprofits, anti-poverty programs all pursue scale. Advice on how to scale abounds, in reports and articles like Getting to Scale, Strategies to Scale Up Social Programs and Three Things Every Growing Nonprofit Needs to Scale. But scale is not impact. Indeed, there’s often tension between the two. “If you have $1 million to spend, …

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Five years ago, a young foreign service officer named Daniel Handel arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, to begin a new assignment with USAID. Listening to NPR online, Handel heard a Planet Money story about the nonprofit GiveDirectly, called “The Charity That Just Gives People Money.” In the story, Paul Niehaus, a founder of GiveDirectly, which delivers …

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