Is Corporate Philanthropy in your tool kit? Time and time again we see companies roll out public do-good campaigns following a major gaff, but do these campaigns really work?  It turns out they do!

A decade ago the political beliefs of an executive or the transgressions of a U.S. company’s subsidiary in Africa or Asia might have gone unnoticed.  That is no longer the case.

In today’s world actions and comments fly across the internet, and companies have little choice but to respond.  Consider these recent examples grabbed from the headlines:

Google-backed San Francisco nonprofit offers showers for the homeless

‘Blackfish’-bruised SeaWorld pledges $1.5 million to effort

Finding the “Right” Way to Dispose of Ill-Gotten Gains


Philanthropy & Sons

Did you know? A family-owned business is much more likely to practice philanthropy. Why? It helps to ensure the business’s future success by building family cohesion.

Not all family members are able – or interested – in being directly involved with the business. Shared philanthropy connects those members and brings them into the fold, allowing them an opportunity to make meaningful decisions.

For the younger generation, philanthropy provides a training ground, introducing shared decision-making and boosting business skills. (more…)

The 4 P’s of Great Governance: Making Boards Better

A recent survey by accounting firm Marks Paneth reveals that nonprofit executives believe that Boards of Directors struggle to meet basic responsibilities.

  • Only 45% say the board closely monitors investments.
  • Only 29% say the board connects the organization to external sources.
  • Only 28% say board members are highly strategic in providing guidance.
  • And only 15% say the board “closely monitors dashboard performance

compared to peer organizations”.

All too often Boards get bogged down in administrative discussions and committee work. While committees are formed to supplement the work of the Board, Board meetings should remain laser-focused on the four Ps of great governance: (more…)

The good, the bad, and the morally ambiguous

A well-known cruise line is marketing cruises to well-intentioned and well-heeled Americans as “social impact travel”, coordinating volunteer opportunities in the ports of call they visit. But is it the best use of your charitable time and money?

As an enthusiast of world travel, I support any opportunity for cross-cultural interaction and it is vitally important to be exposed to need in this world, but might not the money for a three-day service experience at a school be better spent hiring a full time teacher or purchasing needed text-books for the students? (more…)

Introducing children to philanthropy

Many parents and grandparents ask us about ways to introduce their children to philanthropy and when these conversations should start.

If your child or grandchild is old enough to use a computer, allow them to research causes that interest them and set aside one night each week to share their findings with the family.

Then, take it a step further with micro-loan organizations like and you’ll begin to incorporate opportunities to learn geography, different cultures, small business models, and the myriad ways people around the world earn their living – from grinding and packaging spices to designing textiles! (more…)

The 5 ABCs of Crowdfunding

Austin is one of the country’s most tech-savvy populations.  Crowdfunding uniquely fits our city’s culture and our desire to create online communities centered on shared passions.

Crowdfunding allow individuals to express who they are – and what they care about – through individually created online profiles, and it is just one more prime example of how technology is changing the philanthropic world.

Technology not only increases the size of our social and professional networks, it enables us to interact with that network in an incredibly fast and efficient method.

Below are the top five tips for using readily available technology to make the biggest impact: (more…)

David vs Goliath – Isn’t it time to shake things up?

Americans tend to reward the familiar rather than the innovative when it comes to charity. Almost 80 percent of all donations made are classified as “loyalty giving” – meaning people tend to give to the same organizations year over year.

Compare that to the for-profit sector, where Americans reward ingenuity and innovation. For example, Motorola thrives – long ago surpassing the walkie-talkie – while Kodak still struggles to move beyond film.

Are we as “customers” (the non-profit’s donors) rewarding charities for trying unconventional approaches to social problems? Or are we too often sticking with the status quo?

4 Things to Know About a Charity – Before Writing a Check

We all intuitively know that some nonprofits are better than others. By better, that means they are able to create a bigger impact per dollar spent.

The elephant in the room is that some people make better donors than others. They, too, are able to create a bigger impact per dollar spent. (more…)

A Gift More Valuable Than Money

When volunteering – as with any form of philanthropy – research, evaluation and action plans are critical first steps.

Begin by assessing what you have to give. Do you love to read? Consider tutoring or recording for the visually impaired. Do you have down time between carpool runs? Drive a senior to the grocery store. Don’t feel you have a specific skill to share? Build networks. Bring others together for an event or rally friends for a cause. (more…)

Foundation Board Compensation Survey

Paying Foundation Board Trustees for their service is a touchy subject.  Compensation deemed excessive or unreasonable may violate federal and state laws, and public sentiment polls heavily against the practice.  The public’s expectation is that Charitable Foundations benefiting from favorable tax status will direct most of their money to charitable purposes.

Compensation Chart