Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

I’m just back from a vacation in Tulum, Mexico. I found great places to eat using Trip Advisor (try El Tabano, above), and wrote several reviews once I got home. Trip Advisor’s a great service. So imagine, if you will, a nonprofit sector with its own Trip Advisor, a guide that would help donors, volunteers and …

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Listen to the customer. Businesses do it, albeit imperfectly. So do nonprofits. But the question for nonprofits is, who’s the customer? Most nonprofits listen to their donors. Those that raise money from individuals test their fundraising messages, and act on what they learn. Those that rely on foundations pay heed to what major philanthropies have …

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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 …

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When it comes to sharing what they know, foundations are, alas, uncharitable. That is the most striking finding of a report on foundations and transparency published last week by the Center for Effective Philanthropy. The 52-page report, called Sharing What Matters: Foundation Transparency, is based on surveys with 145 foundation CEOs and more than 15,000 grantees, …

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Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson, despite strong misgivings, quietly signed into law the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), giving citizens the right to access government data. Since then, more than 100 countries — Burkina Faso was the latest — have passed open government laws, often called”sunshine” laws.  Many foundations promote open government. FreedomInfo.org, the leading …

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This blog began as an experiment almost a year ago. Back then, I didn’t know whether I wanted to devote myself to writing about nonprofits and foundations. I’ve learned, fifty-two blogposts later, that I do. Nonprofits and foundations are important. The issues swirling around them are fascinating. And they deserve more sustained journalistic attention. So …

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Few institutions in the US are as undemocratic as endowed foundations. The executives in charge of foundations answer to, er, no one. They give money away, so people tend to laugh at their jokes, tell them they look well, nod in agreement at their banal remarks. What’s not to like? As for nonprofits, they pay …

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