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robertogreco : foundations   10

Philanthropists Should Put Themselves Out of Business — The Development Set — Medium
"Instead, we must organize to confront and change the cultural and economic systems that perpetuate inequality."



"The fundamental problem, though, is that philanthropy is voluntary. It is not a long-term solution to society’s ills to rely on the benevolence of the wealthy, even those who are focused on social justice philanthropy.

Instead, we must organize to confront and change the cultural and economic systems that perpetuate inequality. By “we,” I mean those of us with wealth and existing foundations. Our long-term goal should be to put ourselves out of business."



"It means advocating for mandates like raising the minimum wage and requiring an annual payout higher than 5 percent for foundations. We could even consider legislation requiring foundations to share the power and decision-making over where and how their philanthropic dollars are spent with the people who are directly affected by economic injustice. Many social justice funders already do this, but legally requiring the presence of non-wealthy people on foundation boards would produce a real sea change.

***

In the end, the real issue is that the wealth in foundations shouldn’t all be theirs to begin with. This country was founded on the genocide of Native Americans and the forced labor of enslaved Africans. The stolen land, labor, and lives served to amass resources for mostly white European men. That is the history of wealth accumulation in the United States, and we need to face it squarely.

And yet our culture reinforces the myth that wealth is accumulated through the hard work of extraordinary individuals (again, disproportionately white men) who deserve every penny, when the reality is anything but.

Wealth is generated from the hard work of ordinary individuals, who labor and produce or grant access to their land — or have it taken from them. It isn’t that those who are accumulating wealth don’t work hard to get it or maintain it. It’s that, if the myth of meritocracy were true, there would not be millions of working poor people who struggle through multiple jobs or work over 40 hours a week just to scrape by.

Calling into question the very myths that uphold wealth accumulation and class privilege allows us to reckon with the ways that wealthy people are given unfair boosts in our society. Without recognizing that philanthropy is one of those boosts, we’ll be hard-pressed to actually address wealth inequality as we know it."

[part of this collection: https://medium.com/the-development-set/a-new-gospel-of-philanthropy-31e514139708 ]
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  2016  change  jessiespector  inequality  socialjustice  work  labor  economics  power  foundations  capitalism  control 
august 2016 by robertogreco
We need to stop treating nonprofits the way society treats poor people | Nonprofit With Balls
[via: https://twitter.com/tiffani/status/755092034243928064

"This is a good list of reasons (except in one instance) I've basically stayed away from foundations in fundraising for The @HumanUtility. Not to mention too many foundations are slow, conservative, + not interested in funding things that stray too far from stquo. And when you're a new organization w/ a very small staff, still trying to streamline operations, small, yet restricted grants are dangerous. I read an essay a few weeks ago about a large foundation that basically ran a startup into the ground w/program requirements. The foundation's program officers didn't seem the least bit contrite. It was weird. One literally said they didn't regret what they did smh. Of course, it was also on the startup's leadership to have planned to not have the foundation's funds become a distraction, but still. They who have the gold make the rules, but you have to be wary of processes that excessively distract you from the work to get the gold. I sat with someone for 30mins once + landed a gift of $25K. Then I got back in the car and went back to work. Now, that was from a (very) warm intro, but they didn't want letters of inquiry or 30-pg proposals. OTOH, a foundation I talked to in Maryland was interested in our work, but wanted a letter of inquiry just for permission to ask for $25K."]

"Many leaders, from both nonprofit as well as foundations, have been speaking up against restricted funding for years now—here’s a compelling piece by Paul Shoemaker [https://philanthropynw.org/news/reconstructing-philanthropy-outside ]—and I’m glad to see that it is starting to make some progress. But it is still slow, and it makes me wonder why this is. Why is general operating so difficult for many to accept? Why is it OK for us to be OK with the fact that millions of hours each year are wasted by nonprofits trying to comply with some funders’ unrealistic, and frankly, destructive [http://nonprofitwithballs.com/2016/02/the-myth-of-double-dipping-and-the-destructiveness-of-restricted-funding/ ] requirements?

I think the answer may be that there is a strong parallel between how we treat nonprofits, and how society treats low-income people. I don’t think it is intentional. Like implicit racial or gender biases, most people are not even aware that it’s affecting their behaviors. But it’s important for us to examine these parallels, so we can better understand and change them:

The teach-a-man-to-fish paternalism. This philosophy, so ingrained in our culture, is patronizing and often ineffective, sometimes harmful. It assumes one person is a fount of knowledge while the other is an ignorant, empty vessel to be filled with wisdom. It ignores systems and environmental variables. We can teach someone to fish, but if they have no transportation to get to the pond, or if the pond is polluted, or if better-equipped corporations have been destroying aquaculture through over-fishing, then they’re still screwed while we feel good about ourselves. We see the same dynamics in funding via this belief that nonprofits can be self-sustaining if we just teach them to earn their revenues instead of constantly asking for free fish in the form of grants and donations.

The Bootstrap Mentality: This belief that people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps has been plaguing our low-income families for decades. It manifests in individuals who have found success to think they actually did it all on their own, blaming poor people for their situations, never mind again the privilege and system issues. In the nonprofit sector, it is seen in people from for-profits having an inflated sense of superiority, thinking “If my for-profit was successful in generating revenues, why can’t these lazy nonprofits also pull themselves up by their bootstraps?” Never mind the fact that over half of for-profits fail and that nonprofits and for-profits are completely different from each other.

The assumption of inability for future planning. There is an assumption that poor people don’t know how to plan for their future. If they do, why are they so poor then? Obviously they suck at planning ahead. The same assumption plays out in our sector. There is a belief among many people that if we give nonprofits too much money, they won’t know what to do with it. A program officer once told me, “I don’t want to give multi-year funding, because I think that will stop nonprofits from being innovative.” Because nothing encourages innovation better than regular bouts of night-terror-inducing, morale-sinking cash-flow emergencies.

The lack of trust in people’s ability to manage money: Society thinks poor people don’t know how to spend the money we give them. That’s why we have to monitor how they do it. Let’s restrict their ability to spend their food stamps on junk food; left to their own devices, they’ll probably just guzzle beer while feeding their kids tons of Hot Cheetos. Same with nonprofits. We need to monitor every penny they spend; otherwise, they’d probably waste money on fancy chairs and blinged-out business cards. And if we can’t protect these irresponsible organizations from themselves, then at least let’s make sure our own money is not being used to fund these things.

The No-Free-Lunch: There have been idiotic proposals by clueless politicians designed to punish the poor for violating whatever ridiculous expectations are set out for them. Like taking away food stamps if their kids don’t get good enough grades or if they’re not volunteering or seeking out employment, despite the fact that there are only so many volunteer and paid positions to go around. In our sector, our funding gets threatened if we don’t comply with various requirements, such as working toward “sustainability.” A colleague mentioned a grant that won’t pay for staff wages and other indirect expenses, and applicants have to demonstrate that they will be completely self-sustaining within a year. That gave us all a good chuckle.

The punishment of success. Ironically, while we expect poor people to work and save up money so they can stop being dependent, we punish them when they succeed at that, removing their benefits if they earn close to an amount where they may actually be able to no longer need the benefits. It’s weirdly paradoxical, demotivating, and insulting. In nonprofits, many funders expect sustainability and yet punish nonprofits for having a strong reserve, which is probably the most important factor for sustainability. You need to be sustainable, but if you are too successful at that, we’re not funding you, or we take away the money we gave you. I remember frantically trying to spend some left-over money because it otherwise would have had to be returned, per the requirement of this funder, even though the reason we had leftover was because we were spending it wisely; that money we saved would have greatly helped our programs if we had been allowed to put it into reserve.

The avoidance of eye contact. Poor people make the general public sad. That’s why most people avoid eye contact with individuals experiencing homelessness. And in our sector, it leads to some donors and foundations to avoid nonprofits, creating barriers in the form of “safe space” that prevent those doing the work from communicating and collaborating with those funding the work.

The expectation of gratitude: Every single time I bring up some sort of feedback regarding ineffective, time-wasting funding practices in our sector—such as requiring board chair signatures on grant applications (Why? Whyyyyy?!)—inevitably some people will counter with things like, “So people are giving you their hard-earned money, and you’re whining? You should just be grateful and comply.” It’s the same as poor people being expected to just be happy and appreciative of whatever scraps they manage to get."



"So many funding and accounting practices are anchored in a severe and pervasive distrust of nonprofits, the same distrust we heap on individuals with low-income. It goes without saying that these myths and philosophies are destructive, toward both our low-income community members and toward nonprofits. We must begin with trust as the default, or our community loses. If we are going to effectively address society’s numerous, complex problems—and recent tragedies and violence nationally and internationally highlight just how complex and serious things are—the way we currently view nonprofits must change. The relationships between funders, donors, nonprofits, for-profits, media, and government must change. We must see each other as equal partners with different but complementary roles to play. We must understand where philosophically our requirements come from and how they are affecting our partners, how it helps or hampers their work. We must be able to provide each other honest feedback and push one another to do better for our community. "
nonprofit  nonprofits  2016  funding  foundations  paulshoemaker  fundraising  restrictedfunding  sustainability  grantwriting  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  money  power  control  gratitude  trust  management  administration  leadership  planning  capitalism 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Former El Bulli Chef Is Now Serving Up Creative Inquiry - NYTimes.com
"So what is his goal? The foundation’s current mission seems to flutter between worldly and chaotic. Consider the activity on a morning in November: One group of employees worked in a corner of the loft on prototypes of a website known as BulliPedia that, when finished, will be a type of Wikipedia for haute cuisine. On the opposite side of the room, a young woman edited pages intended for a multivolume book collection tracing the history of food. At a desk facing the window, three men spent hours researching white asparagus. (It was not immediately clear what this was for.)"



“this is a flow chart of a cucumber’s existence”



"He also seems uninterested in running his foundation as a typical start-up, and his rigid devotion to his own mantras can occasionally give the entire operation a cultish feel. Additionally, it isn’t obvious exactly how his ideas will make the leap from notion to project. Mr. Adrià has nominally divided the foundation into two main strands: knowledge, which is the group focused on creating BulliPedia; and creativity, which is focused on, in his words, “deconstructing the entire process of creativity.” He calls this group El Bulli DNA.

If the names of the various projects aren’t enough to keep straight, Mr. Adrià adds a few more: El Bulli Lab is the Barcelona-based office where people associated with El Bulli DNA do their work. That should not be confused with 6W Food, which may not get going for a few more years but is expected to be a sort of cross between a science museum, an art museum and a house of culinary innovation. Also in the works is a search engine known as SeaUrching (named in part for the delicacy) as well as a language to describe gastronomy known as Huevo, Spanish for egg. Huevo, it was noted by one of Mr. Adrià’s colleagues, could ultimately be a digital language coded for use by refrigerators or other kitchen appliances."



"Sometimes it feels as though it might take a similar amount of time to fully digest what Mr. Adrià is seeking now. A deconstruction of his goals suggests that his previously insatiable thirst for innovation has been replaced by an insatiable thirst for knowledge. That is why there are so many charts, maps and graphs. That is why three men spent hours researching white asparagus. Scattershot as they may be, Mr. Adrià's motives are earnest.

So, too, are his methods, even if it is not always altogether clear to everyone else what he is doing. As one staff member said, understanding the true purpose of the El Bulli Foundation is less important than understanding the process by which it is built. For those who believe that Mr. Adrià truly is a genius, the staff member said, that is enough.

The sunlight was gone, and the office was quiet. Mr. Adrià stopped at one desk. He peered at a notebook. He lingered, finally, over a grid of index cards that traced the history of cuisine from the Neolithic era to the present day. Thousands of years, thousands of changes in cooking style, preparation, ingredients and techniques. Thousands of innovations. Mr. Adria frowned.

“If I don’t understand all of this,” he said, “I don’t understand anything.”"

[via: http://randallszott.org/2015/01/04/art-is-a-prison-ferran-adria-exploring-an-imaginative-elsewhere/ ]
ferranadrià  art  creativity  inquiry  bullipedia  elbulli  food  invention  history  theweightofhistory  arthistory  aesthetics  6food  elbullilab  inquisitiveness  curiosity  freedom  imagination  artleisure  leisurearts  seaurching  elbullidna  knowledge  learning  labs  laboratories  process  gastronomy  culinaryarts  huevo  2015  openstudioproject  lcproject  r&d  researchanddevelopment  research  howwelearn  foundations  innovation  genius  creativeinquiry 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Foundation(s) is Strong! | Puget Sound Community School
"New to PSCS this year is the term “Foundations.” It refers specifically to the first two weeks of school, 9 school days in which the staff help the students build the foundation on which the rest of the school year is built. For instance, as this post is being written, the high school teaching staff is conducting a session with the high schoolers about the importance of self-reflection.

What do we mean by self-reflection?

For PSCS, it’s the ability to candidly and accurately measure one’s involvement in an activity. And it is something we want our students to learn how to do this year, and do even better than PSCS students have ever done before. That requires some structure and some guidance. And a foundation.

Other activities during foundation include a retreat, an explanation of the school’s code of conduct, how to run an effective check-in, how to be a good audience member, the scheduling circus, conflict resolution, and more. Of course, there is a lot of time to just play…"
communitybuilding  community  howweteach  cv  environment  teambuilding  foundations  self-reflection  tcsnmy  teaching  firstdays  2012  pugetsoundcommunityschool  pscs 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The Philanthropic Complex
"The truth is that organizations whose missions foreground the “sociological and spiritual” go mostly without funding. Take for instance the sad tale of the Center for the New American Dream (NAD), created in 1997 by Betsy Taylor (herself a funder with the Merck Family Fund). NAD’s original mission statement gave a priority to “quality of life” issues.

We envision a society that values more of what matters—not just more…a new emphasis on non-material values like financial security, fairness, community, health, time, nature, and fun.

This is exactly the sort of “big picture” that philanthropy has been mostly unwilling to fund because, it argues, it is so difficult to provide “accountability” data for issues like “work and time” and “fun” (!). (To which one might reasonably reply, “Why do you fund only those things that are driven by data?”)…

One of the most maddening experiences for those who seek the support of private philanthropy is the lack of transparency…"
nonprofits  halclifford  orion  markets  publicadvocacy  nad  newamericandream  95-5  corruption  investment  conflictsofinterest  gatesfoundation  transparency  anonymity  self-preservation  wealth  thephilanthropiccomplex  privilege  mediocrity  influence  wallstreet  2012  riskmanagement  ngo  biggreen  environmentalism  change  government  policy  environment  restrictedgifts  control  fear  foundations  jacobinmag  progressivism  power  money  capitalism  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit 
june 2012 by robertogreco
"To Hell with Good Intentions" by Ivan Illich
"Next to money and guns, the third largest North American export is the U.S. idealist, who turns up in every theater of the world: the teacher, the volunteer, the missionary, the community organizer, the economic developer, and the vacationing do-gooders. Ideally, these people define their role as service. Actually, they frequently wind up alleviating the damage done by money and weapons, or "seducing" the "underdeveloped" to the benefits of the world of affluence and achievement. Perhaps this is the moment to instead bring home to the people of the U.S. the knowledge that the way of life they have chosen simply is not alive enough to be shared."

"I am here to entreat you to use your money, your status and your education to travel in Latin America. Come to look, come to climb our mountains, to enjoy our flowers. Come to study. But do not come to help."

[via: http://twitter.com/johnthackara/status/88500793115815936 ]

[Update 6 May 2013: An article came up today that brought me back to Illich's lecture: http://www.pioneerspost.com/news/20130410/letter-young-social-entrepreneur-the-poor-are-not-the-raw-material-your-salvation ]

[Update 27 July 2013: new URL for "Letter to a Young Social Entrepreneur: the poor are not the raw material for your salvation" http://www.pioneerspost.com/comment/20130410/letter-young-social-entrepreneur-the-poor-are-not-the-raw-material-your-salvation

and a pointer to Robert Reich's "What Are Foundations For? Philanthropic institutions are plutocratic by nature. Can they be justified in a democracy?" http://www.bostonreview.net/forum/foundations-philanthropy-democracy? ]

[Also available here: http://schoolingtheworld.org/resources/essays/to-hell-with-good-intentions/ ]

[Update 6 April 2016: referenced again http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/roundtable/missionary-go-home
and an alternate link http://ciasp.ca/CIASPhistory/IllichCIASPspeech.htm ]
education  culture  politics  travel  activism  ivanillich  1968  humanitariandesign  designimperialism  mexico  do-gooders  goodintentions  middleclass  us  latinamerica  poverty  hypocrisy  blindness  self-importance  deschooling  charitableindustrialcomplex  liamblack  robertreich  gatesfoundation  plutocracy  democracy  robberbarons  power  control  warrenbuffet  billgates  georgesoros  foundations  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism 
july 2011 by robertogreco
GAFFTA
"Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to building social consciousness through digital culture. Guided by the principles of openness, collaboration, and resource sharing, our programs promote creativity at the intersection of art, design, sound, and technology. A conduit for multidisciplinary creative exchange, GAFFTA supports the creation and diffusion of works that engage and inspire audiences, and offer meaningful contributions to the global movement that is shaping our collective experience."
sanfrancisco  gaffta  collective  community  gallery  foundations  collaboration  arts  art  artists  activism  culture  design  nonprofit  media  technology  diy  hackerspaces  nonprofits 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: You Don't Have to Wonder
"If you start by defining the product/output of the system as either someone prepared for more education, or ready to be trained as an electrician or nurse, then art and literature are pretty much irrelevant, except for training people to produce the expected written academic analyses, and it isn't clear you should even require that, since not only does the electrician not need to do it, I'd argue that people need it less in college than you think (e.g., I studied English at three of the top universities in the world, and I can't recall needing "...knowledge of 18th and 19th century foundational works of American literature," I still lack that, and I don't seem to need it yet)."
education  standards  benchmarks  english  literature  nextstep  academics  tcsnmy  arts  art  writing  us  policy  arneduncan  treadmilleducation  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  foundations  backwards 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Saffo: journal: Davos and Gates Foundation 2.0
"Now history is about to repeat itself, as the charitable innovations of the Google founders and Bill Gates inspire their peers to meet – and exceed—their visions."
paulsaffo  billgates  microsoft  google  competition  davos  generosity  innovation  history  foundations  change  future 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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