harp-weaver is an independent philanthropic advisory firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teresa Araco Rodgers, the principal, works with individuals and families to gift to issues that matter in a meaningful way.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Aimee's Bulletin

Over the course of the past couple of weeks I have come to know two wonderful women - Abigail Sandler and Sue Hoag Badeau. These two women have worked tirelessly on a much needed piece of Pennsylvania legislation called Aimee's Bulletin.

Abby's sister, Aimee, was profoundly developmentally and physically disabled. As a result of horrific, detailed circumstances that surrounded Aimee's Group Home care, Abby with others formed Aimee's Team. For the past four years she has worked towards enhancing the end-of-life decision making process for special needs individuals in Pennsylvania. She refers to the document as Aimee's Bulletin, and it will effect literally thousands of special needs individuals, state-wide. This Bulletin provides a clear policy, with guidance and steps that are morally, medically and legally sound to ensure that end-of-life care can reflect the needs, desires, values and beliefs of the individual and their family members. Harrisburg has promised that the Bulletin will be signed by January 15, 2011.

Wayne Badeau is one of the youngest of Hector and Sue Badeau's 22 children, adopted from all over the world with a variety of life circumstances and challenges. Wayne, one of three terminally ill children adopted by the Badeaus, is delightful and charming with a beautiful smile and engaging spirit. He is also dying. Wayne has a rare terminal illness called San Felipo Syndrome, and while he has already out-lived the medically-expected life-span for this disease, he has definitely declined and it won't be long before he is facing his final days. The Badeaus have already experienced the deaths of their sons Adam (11 years ago this week) and Dylan ( just 3 months ago) and they know how deeply moving, and at the same time painful, it is to experience the death of a child. Wayne is much beloved and adored by his parents, all his siblings and others and we all hope and pray that his final days, when they do begin, will be spent surrounded by family with hugs, love and peace. Yet, because of what they experienced near the end of their son Dylan's life just this past September, they are fearful this may not be the case.

Aimee's Bulletin must be signed. Abby and Sue are working to ensure that it will be signed and Sue and her husband Hector are waiting for the go ahead to take their son Wayne to Harrisburg for the signing.

For more information see: http://badeaufamily.webs.com/

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Need For Philanthropic Advice

New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) and Global Partnership presented the results of a philanthropy survey sent to over 600 single and multi-family offices in the UK between March and May 2010. The results offer insight into the philanthropic nature of some of the UK's wealthiest families. The report titled: Family Philanthropy: rewards and challenges, dives into the philanthropic behavior of high net worth individuals revealing that while the vast majority of such clients like to actively plan their charitable giving there is a clear lack of service providers able to give the full range of advice they require. Wealth management firms largely do not have some provision in place to assist in this planning and are neglecting an important area in clients’ eyes. Fundamental to this planning process is deciding which causes to support and which charities are making an impact. Philanthropists are finding it hard to access the information they need to make informed choices and would welcome input from their advisors.

NPC summarizes the reports key findings as follows:

- Giving back to the community and addressing needs are major motivations for family giving, rather than public recognition.
- Most families have had positive experiences of giving, but highlighted some unfavorable aspects including 'tortuous administration' and fear of being 'actively pursued by charities'.
- 85% of respondents with children under 21 involve them in their giving.
- The main criteria for selecting charities are the charity's vision and strategy and whether it is focused on the greatest need.
- Finding information about charities is a challenge, particularly around the measurement of results.
- Nearly 60% of families would find philanthropy advice useful.

There is a growing need for specialized philanthropic advisors offering services to support wealth managers and family offices. Even though this specific report is UK-based, there have been other similar studies in the US. Howard J. Stock wrote an article titled "Clients Lack Charitable Giving Advice" in October of this year. In it he noted a survey which said that only 52% of advisors are proactively reaching out to clients about their charitable gifting. Of the 48% who are not, 31% said it is because they lack expertise to offer guidance.

This is certainly an untapped opportunity for advisors to strengthen client relationships and grow their practices.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"It is important for women to inform themselves."

Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya to encourage rural women and farmers to plant trees to protect the environment and promote sustainable development. Maathai won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts. She speaks of the conditions which led her native Kenya into environment degradation and the impact on women. When farmers plant cash crops they remove vegetation resulting in soil erosion. The soil is carried away to the river and there is no clean water. Women bear the brunt because they are responsible for getting the water for their families.

On the surface Green Belt Movement is about providing incentives to farmers to plant trees and educating them on managing their resources. At a deeper level it is about encouraging women to inform themselves on the impact of bad or lacking government policies.

More information can be found at www.greenbeltmovement.org.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Night Out With Meaning: Women & Giving

I just hosted the first Night Out With Meaning: Women & Giving on November 11th. Thirty-four women witnessed Peggy Dolan tell her story. Through family pictures, Peggy told the story of her family and their experiences caring for two of their daughters, Kelly Anne and Kim, as they battled aplastic anemia and a rare form of leukemia. Peggy and her husband Joe turned their tragedy into providing help and hope for families with seriously ill children through the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund.

Night Out is about learning, connecting and reflecting. It is my hope that attendees take away knowledge that they did not have before about the experiences of families in crisis. It is my hope that attendees will meet someone new or discover something about a friend that brings them closer. And it is also my hope that there are pieces from Peggy Dolan’s story that make attendees stop and reflect about their own lives and experiences.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to take a step back from what I was doing to figure out where I wanted to go professionally and as a mom. I started a journey that began with talking to people. With each conversation, which really was an exchange of stories, I was inspired. And from those conversations, I gained clarity about what would bring meaning to my professional life. The thing I thought would be really fun was working with women in my community around some aspect of charitable giving. I want to inspire women to take the time to think about their personal giving and I want to encourage women to align their passions with their gifts – both financial and non-financial. Then came the internal question - how exactly am I going to do this? I thought about what has given me great satisfaction and inspiration recently and I kept coming back to my meetings with people and hearing their stories.

And so Night Out With Meaning was created. It is pretty simple really, let’s enjoy elements of a typical Girls Nights Out – food, wine and friends – where women can feel comfortable and welcomed. Let’s pick a topic of interest to focus on like understanding the needs of families in crisis or why empowering women is so important to alleviating poverty. And let’s have one inspiring woman stand before us to simply tell her story. Stories, told well, have the power to transport us. Storytelling encourages exploration. It is a nurturing way to remind us that our spoken words are powerful, that listening is important, and that clear communication between people is an art. I am committed to inviting storytellers with different backgrounds and approaches to their chosen issue. I am also committed to helping make connections.

I witnessed women exchanging information, comforting each other, and creating an environment to allow those at the table to speak openly and personally.

My mission is to inspire others by helping them articulate their values and passions to be purposeful givers. Informed philanthropy can bring great satisfaction to a person’s life and has the power to transform communities, organizations and people.

I look forward to sharing future Nights Out with such creative, sensitive and inquisitive women!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chasing Miracles

Last night I had the opportunity to watch the movie Extraordinary Measures and meet John Crowley, activist and entrepreneur. Extraordinary Measures is the story of the Crowley family and their quest to find a treatment and ultimately a cure for a rare genetic disorder known as Pompe disease. Two of John and Aileen Crowley's children have this disease. Their names are Megan and Patrick. In 1998 there was no treatment for this often fatal neuromuscular disorder. John Crowley started his own biotech firm over an 18 month period and sold it to Genzyme, one of the world's largest biotech companies. After the efforts of hundreds of people they finally discovered and produced a medicine to treat Pompe disease.

Following viewing the movie, Crowley made a few remarks and took questions from the audience. He answered the questions he always gets asked. First, how did the movie come to be? And second, how are Megan and Patrick doing? In 2003, the Wall Street Journal published an article written by Geeta Anandon on its front page about the Crowleys. Harrison Ford read the article, was struck by it and contacted producers to get the wheels in motion to make a movie. Crowley's message: If you are written about in the Wall Street Journal and Harrison Ford calls, do not hang up! Megan and Patrick are both doing well. They are still confined to wheelchairs and ventilator dependent, but they are thriving 8th and 7th graders. They receive the enzyme treatment once every two weeks. Thankfully this can be administered at home otherwise the children would have to spend a full day in the hospital and be exposed to germs that could compromise their respiratory systems. Crowley says that this is the biggest risk the children face. He continues to work on treatments - better enzymes to combat the sugar in their bodies which debilitate muscles and organs.

The Crowleys have written a book called Chasing Miracles. It is divided into 3 parts: Strength, Hope, and Joy. The book intimately chronicles the journey of the Crowley family and profiles all those who have helped along the way. If you are interested in learning more about this family, they have a website - www.crowleyfamily5.com. If you are interested in supporting charities which address the needs of families with rare, orphan diseases, the Crowleys include 4 links to charities on their website: The United Pompe Foundation, The Make A Wish Foundation, The Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Children's r.a.r.e. Disease Network.

John and Aileen Crowley did whatever it took to help their children survive. This is an inspiring story. It is about learning to ask for help, about not losing faith, about coping with challenges, and about the kindness of others. Stories like this one inspire, energize, and encourage self-reflection. I was honored to hear pieces of this story directly from John Crowley. The movie and book have really given him the opportunity to spread his message. It is a powerful one.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fresh from 3-Day

Philanthropic journeys come in different forms. I participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure in Philadelphia this past weekend. It was a journey of 60 miles through the streets of the city and surrounding neighborhoods. Over 2200 walkers and volunteer crew accompanied me on this journey.

FUCK CANCER! Save 2nd Base! Cancer Sucks! Save a Life, Grope your Wife! were the sentiments of the weekend. Never before have I seen so many boob, breast, ta ta references! Women and men of all ages came to walk together with hope, with remembrance and with joy for the people loved impacted by breast cancer.

As much as it is a fundraiser (and fundraise they did with Philadelphia bringing in $5.7 million), the event also raises awareness. Outrageous outfits, a sea of pink and plenty of cheering are what you witness when Komen 3-Day takes to the streets.

The volunteers are wonderful. They were out there everyday clapping, directing traffic, smiling, cracking jokes and motivating the walkers. Such kind hearts extended with the words, "thank you for doing what you're doing."

There was an older gentlemen who came to every cheering station everyday. He stuck his hand out for a high five and looked each walker in the eye saying "thank you so much for doing this." It was so heartfelt. He was there at the end with the same blue sad eyes and the same sentiment as we completed 60 miles.

There was a young woman two months away from her cancer treatment. Her hair was starting to grow back and with a wonderful smile she spoke hopefully about the prospect of getting her life back despite a Stage 3 diagnosis.

While a cure has not been found, the simple fact that a woman can be hopeful is something. We are far from over with this fight. Each 3-Day has a Remembrance Tent. The tent includes pictures of previous participants who have lost their fights. It also includes an empty white tent for people to write on with their deep thoughts on breast cancer and intimate messages to those loved ones lost.

It is not often that you get to take time out from everyday lives to focus on an issue that is important to you. I am thankful for the opportunity to experience this journey. Thank you to my supporters and thank you to my husband for taking such good care of our children.

I'll leave with this: high five! woo! hooray!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Kiva is a nonprofit I have long admired. Started by Michael Flannery, Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva allows donors to make online loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries through their website - Kiva.org.

They are looking to leverage their structure - technology, donors, relationships - to address other social problems. The idea is that their approach can be applied in other ways. The organization has taken its first step to expand its offerings by adding student loans.

Calling this approach education microcredit, Kiva is utilizing its resources and is figuring out ways to capture information on what works in this space. They are not alone. Last year a Seattle-based nonprofit called Vittana set-up a website to enable donors to make small loans to students in emerging countries. They have seen consistent growth in the number of loans month to month.

I think this continues to support the notion that people are interested in different approaches to philanthropy. There is increased interest in learning about social investments and microcredit. I think what will be fascinating to watch is how much these approaches become normal, longstanding commitments in people's individual philanthropic portfolios. If these organizations can continue to innovate and to measure the results, no doubt more donors will be drawn.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Women are Essential to Achieving Millennium Development Goals

In September 2000, world leaders came together at United Nations Headquarters to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets - with a deadline of 2015 - these have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.

Five years away from 2015 members of the United Nations met last week in New York for the Millennium Summit. There was an outcome document produced reviewing the adopted promises of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly.

Among the promises is a stronger commitment to women and more specifically to empowering women. They recognize “…that gender equality, the empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of all human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development, including the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals.”

To this end, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kicked off a major concerted worldwide effort to accelerate progress on women's and children's health. With over $40 billion committed over the next five years, the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health has the potential of saving the lives of more than 16 million women and children. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "The 21st century must and will be different for every woman and every child." Read more about this initiative at the UN News Centre.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Philadelphia School Project

I have been meaning to write about a new project in Philadelphia receiving much attention. It is called The Philadelphia School Project. The aim is to raise $100 million with the goal of supporting high-performance schools no matter whether they are public, charter or parochial.

There are some influential Philadelphians backing this initiative chief among them is real estate investor and developer Michael O'Neill. He is calling on other business leaders, foundations, private investors, high quality education operators, and policy advocates to "close the achievement gap by joining forces to create a strong coalition to change education in our city forever.”

Nicholas Torres, now the president of Congreso de Latinos Unidos, has been appointed Executive Director of the Project which was announced in June at an invitation-only presentation. Much of the conversation at that meeting focused on creating some kind of common yardstick to evaluate schools and programs and figure out what is working so they can be replicated.

They have created a nonprofit and have seeded it with $1 million to get things started. Something to watch. If you are interested in reading more, here is an article from The Philadelphia Inquirer. I will write about the Project in the coming weeks as progress is made.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Philanthropic Journey

I just read a wonderful article by Maryann Fernandez in preparation for a conference call on Planning a Philanthropic Trip. Fernandez is Founder & President of Philanthropy Indaba. She poses 6 questions to ask before planning a philanthropic journey. Her view is that most of the press on the topic of combining philanthropy and travel is coming out of the travel industry which often fails to ask some important questions.

Fernandez gives a nice definition for a philanthropic journey, "as one that starts with the intent to visit a project(s) and explore critical issues on the ground, and devotes part of a longer holiday or the entire trip towards that goal. A philanthropic journey is an intensive, focused learning experience on all dimensions of giving. It stimulates a participants needs for uniting the needs of the heart, the head. and the hands."

Here are the six questions she poses to start a more substantive conversation:

1. How complex is my philanthropy and what level of commitment am I looking to make?

Before planning it is important to look inward. Whether the person is thinking about expanding their philanthropy or a specific area of interest, or wanting to expose family members to the grantmaking process; a philanthropic journey can be worthwhile. A good reminder is that when visiting, be respectful of the nonprofit"s time and resources. A visit should be "an expression of their serious concern of the critical issues on the ground."

2. What do I want out of this trip?

Fernandez offers two main reasons why people chose to go on this type of trip: to better understand the dynamics on the ground and to identify and vet organizations.

3. Who should come along?

There are 3 critical questions: who is involved in decision-making? what are the ages of the people attending and are the activitiesage-appropriate? do you have an advisor who can bring expertise?

4. How do I choose the kind of trip I want to take?

Simply there are three basic types of trips: visit a single nonprofit organization; go on a group trip (a good option if you are just beginning); plan a customized trip.

5. How do I find the right service provider or consultant to develop my trip?

The answers to the previous questions will dictate the decision on this question. No matter the direction chosen, you generally get out of it what you put into it. When evaluating a service provider look at her experience, expertise and cost associated with vetting organizations and properly postioning all parties involved in the trip.

6. What kind of activities will help make my trip more meaningful and help guide philanthropic decision-making?

Fernandez gives three suggestions to get the most out of such a trip: guided discussions on the ground - no time like the present to talk about what you have seen and ask questions; bringing and/or distributing supplies - be careful with this one; service opportunities - rolling up your sleeves allows for a deeper level of experience.

Having gone on philanthropic journeys I can tell you they are life-changing. I am really looking forward to the day when my youngest babe is age-appropriate so we can explore the world and issues important to us together!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pierre and Pam Omidyar's Pledge

As I wrote previously, from time to time I will reference the wonderful Pledge Letters from The Giving Pledge project. These letters are full of insight and stories. I believe that successful families know where they came from and to realize this requires storytelling.

This week I have chosen Peirre and Pam Omidyar's letter. It reflects their values and approach to philanthropy.

"In thinking about how we could be most effective, we began our work by reminding ourselves of our core values, including respect for others and a sense of service. We’ve made a conscious effort to remain true to these guiding principles as our efforts grow and evolve. The eBay community also taught us a valuable lesson: people respond to opportunity in inspiring ways. The organizations we’ve created and the time and energy we spend on various causes is rooted in our belief that people are inherently capable but frequently lack opportunity.

Today we believe our philanthropic impact is amplified because our approach uses a wide variety of tools and resources. We don’t just write checks; we engage deeply with the organizations we support to help them reach and improve the lives of millions, not just thousands. We invest in for profit businesses that serve overlooked populations with much-needed products and services. We reach out to like-minded investors and advocates to form coalitions that support issues that will benefit from a unified voice."

Pierre and Pam have truly put into practice these values through the Omidyar Network, the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund, and the Ulupono Initiative. These philanthropic projects are all about creating lasting change through opportunity.

You do not have to have a huge amount of wealth to support projects and people with good ideas. A common idea amongst the letters is about engagement. Specifically, that with engagement comes greater impact. We need to realize that we all have talents and that by applying these talents in addition to money we can contribute to lasting change. As Pierre and Pam write in their letter, "...(it) requires all of us working together..."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Call For Support

Tonight I received an email from my friend, Peggy Dolan, who is Executive Director of the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund. She wrote:

"We received a very sad request yesterday for these parents who had a preemie a year and a half ago – the baby has never been home having spent most of her life in the NICU and then in a long-term care facility. She is being discharged soon however and the parents have nothing. They had moved from one area (leaving jobs behind) so they could be near their daughter. I figure you and your “baby generating” group of friends might have baby stuff to dispose of if there are no further plans for expansion! Could you please get the word out for us?"

Sadly, Peggy's Fund receives these types of requests for support everyday. More information on the Fund may be found at www.dolanfund.org.

I thought I would use today's entry to get the word out. If you have any baby items to donate, I am more than happy to receive and deliver. Thanks for reading this one!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Invest & Give

Most of the time I write about positive trends and stories in the philanthropy space. This time I am writing about a failure. I am not writing this to doubt or to criticize people trying something new and different, but to applaud them and to learn from them. Perhaps it is my background at SEI (where the culture is very much about trying something new), that has caused this story to spark my interest.

Here is the concept of Invest & Give: 12 of the UK's fund managers joined forces to launch an investment fund to provide an investment opportunity and to grow capital to generate a recurring donation to The Prince's Trust, one of the most respected charities in the UK. Donations to The Prince’s Trust were calculated as a percentage of investment equating to 0.6%per year. To keep charges low and to maximize the donation, the fund managers agreed to discount their normal retail management fees. I think it was an interesting model which launched with great optimism. But, less than a year later, only GBP 1.5 million was raised.

So the question is "why?"

Angus Duncan, who was Head of Distribution for Invest & Give, says, "The short version is that the last 12 months has proved that investors invest with their heads and donors donate to charity with their hearts and though these may be joined by tissue they do not interrelate enough to make the utility of a fund doing both investment and donations be of interest to the public."

As I wrote previously, charity and philanthropy are different. I do believe that there is a component of self actualization in both charity and philanthropy. People want to feel good about their contribution. In this model, the donor was separated from the act of giving. The brochure for Invest & Give talks about the automatic contribution to the charity twice per year. For those who practice charity, I believe there is a certain satisfaction gained in simply writing the check or making the decision of where, when and how much. The donor didn't have the chance for this and the Fund was not around long enough for the investor donors to look back on the year and see in writing how much of their investment assets actually went to charity. This leads me to believe that perhaps the problem is not with the model, but with the message and the implementation. From what I have read the aim was more about making it easy or seamless, than about providing an environment to learn, to experience and to feel good about the charitable component.

Couldn't the same result (money to charity) be achieved by fund managers discounting the management fee of a charity's endowment?

Nonetheless, I do applaud the effort to try something new. I am not convinced that the two (investing and giving) can not be combined in a way that provides all around satisfaction.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Charity and Philanthropy are Different

In case you haven't noticed, I cannot get enough of The Giving Pledge initiative. There are now 40 publicly made pledges to commit substantial wealth to philanthropy. I have poured through these very personal pledge letters. They are genuine, thoughtful and full of wonderful advice. The letters can be accessed on The Giving Pledge website.

From time to time I will reference one of the pledges and share with you some valuable insights. I am going to start with Eli and Edythe Broad. They write,

"We view charity and philanthropy as two very different endeavors. For many years, we practiced charity, simply writing checks to worthy causes and organizations. Since leaving the world of commerce, we have engaged in what we term “venture philanthropy.” We approach our grant-making activity with much the same vigor, energy and expectation as we did in business. We view our grants as investments, and we expect a return – in the form of improved student achievement for our education reform work, treatments or cures for disease in our scientific and medical research, and increased access to the arts.

Before we invest in something, we ask ourselves three questions that guide our decision:

1. Will this happen without us? If so, we don’t invest.
2. Will it make a difference 20 or 30 years from now?
3. Is the leadership in place to make it happen?"

They further go on to say that this is hard work because its not just about giving money away, but about making a measurable impact. No matter the level of wealth, there are valuable lessons to be learned. I continue to applaud this effort. Learning is a lifelong journey and there is a tremendous amount to gain from this endeavor.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Giving While Living

Atlantic Philanthropies recently released a fantastic report called, "Turning Passion Into Action: Giving While Living." The report includes profiles of 11, diverse philanthropists who are actively engaged and giving generously during their lifetimes. The report is informative and inspiring. I am intrigued by this notion that there is a lot of satisfaction that can be gained from overseeing the gifting of your philanthropic assets. Giving while living is at the heart of The Giving Pledge. The Gateses and Buffet believe that today's wealth should solve today's problems. I really like Atlantic Philanthropies report because it makes no judgment, but does provide some practical advice when setting out on the journey to wind down a foundation or gift a large sum of money in a finite period. The report can be accessed at their website.

The publication includes some steps for donors interested in this approach:

Determine what you have a passion to support
What cause(s) resonates with you? Social justice? Access to health care? Conservation? Women’s rights? Poverty? Education?

Decide what problem(s) you want to focus on
What specific issue or problem do you want to tackle?
What resources can you bring to the issue?

Do your research
Who else is working in this field?
What are the successful and unsuccessful models?
Are there existing organisations to partner with to reach your goals?
Where can you most effectively intervene in an issue?

Select your geographic area(s) of concentration
What area do you want to target? Local? National? Global?

Consider your level of resources, interest, risk tolerance and desire for involvement
Will you give both time and money? How much?
What are your goals and expected results? Time frame?
What are your core competencies that you are willing to put to work?

Think about how you want to give
What motivates you to give?
Do you want to give anonymously, or play a visible role in your giving?
Do you like to work in cooperation with other donors?

Consider what results you hope for
How do you define and assess success? In the short term? Long term?
Do you want to invest in formal evaluations to measure progress?
Are you willing to accept setbacks and even failure on some projects you support?

Develop a plan
Will you devise a plan yourself, or do you need to hire someone to do it?
What resources do you need beyond what you plan to give? How will you get them?
Will a foundation work best for you, or would some other entity be better?

Join networks
What questions do you want to ask experienced philanthropists?
What other groups are supporting your area of interest?
What conferences would be most helpful to attend?

If you are serious about this approach its a worthwhile read before answering these questions. I also recommend reading John Hunting and The Beldon Fund's report called "Spending Out." This too can be accessed via their website.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Maximum Impact Philanthropy

I just read a good article in Private Wealth magazine written by Jan Alexander called, "Maximum Impact Philanthropy." The crux of the article is that wealthy families are still giving, but they have gone in one of two directions: 1) reduced their annual giving amount given the economic climate; 2)revamped their approach. This approach, for a lot of people, is more strategic. Many financial institutions provide traditional philanthropic support to individuals and families. But Alexander states, "...there is also more detailed service that helps the client figure out what charitable causes would enhance his own life, then helps him find the best candidates for funding." Philanthropy is a maturing industry. There is a philanthropic learning curve where people give when asked and then they start to experiment. But the move to become a stratgic donor often causes people to turn to their trusted advisors with whom they already have relationships. Many of these advisors are great at putting together prudent financial plans, but not too many are experienced putting together inspired plans which speak of impact and outcomes from their charitale assets.

This is where specialized philanthropic advisors can come into the picture. These trained and experienced individuals can help advisors deepen their conversations with philanthropically minded clients who want to achieve impact however they define it. They can also work directly with the indiduals and accompany them on their journey.

The need for specialized services providing pure philanthropic advice is a growing trend. Backer and Friedland conducted a survey of 75 consultants to wealthy families in 2008. They summed up their learning as follows:
1. Effective advising takes many forms.
2. Philanthropic advising is still very much a cottage industry.
3. Training and professional guidelines are needed.
4. Providing opportunities for donor learning is important.
5. Effective donor collaborations should be promoted.

Backer and Friedland also highlight 8 key areas of interaction between donor and donor advisor:
1. Financial assessment: Assess the capacity to be philanthropic.
2. Values clarification: Guides philanthropic planning.
3. Family involvement: Determine whether the family members will be engaged and how they'll be impacted.
4. Structure: Apply the appropriate tools and techniques.
5. Actions: Make specific grants to nonprofits.
6. Learning and peer networking: Help the donor connect to others.
7. Collaboration: Work with other funders.
8. Evaluation: Help the donor define and measure success.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Social Impact Investing

I have been spending a lot of time reading about and thinking about social impact. Social impact is defined as the effect of an activity on the social fabric of the community and well being of the individuals and families. Given my asset management background, I am particularly intrigued by social impact investing and this growing and evolving investment opportunity.

I came across a report from Hope Consulting called Money For Good. The report identifies the US market opportunity for impact investments and charitable gifts for individuals. The report also looks at what for- and nonprofit organizations can do to tap into the market.

One of the Money For Good Project's main goals was to create a voice for donors. In their words, "The goal of this project was to understand US consumer preferences, behaviors, and demand for impact investment products and charitable giving opportunities (together, these make up the “money for good” market), and then to generate ideas for how for- and nonprofit organizations can use this information to drive more dollars to organizations generating social good."

The 100-page report is a good read, but I have summarized the findings and recommendations for institutions targeting these donors/investors interested in social impact investing.

Key Findings:
- Most individuals are open to impact investing, but need to know more.
- There is $120B of market opportunity, half of which is for smaller (<$25k) investments; even the wealthy want small investments.
- The opportunity is greater when positioned as investments, not alternatives to charity.
- Once people get involved, their willingness to invest increases (ramp in effect)
- People discover & transact through their advisor.
- The key barriers investors see relate to the immaturity of the market, not the social or financial qualities of the investment opportunities.
- Overall, downside risk is more important than upside financial returns.

Recommendations for Institutions:
- Segment on behaviors, not demographics.
- Tag and track your donors by segment.
- Determine what segments are best for your organization, given your strengths.
- Develop consistent outbound marketing that appeals to target segments.
- Prioritize investments based on what will drive donor behavior.
- Capture donors early.
- Understand how to manage different segments when approached.

This is an immature market. Like so many different approaches to investing and gifting, an inexperienced donor can struggle with figuring out where to start and how to go about finding the right opportunity. From my readings and conversations the tough part is getting the right level of information into the hands of these donors/invesors and then cultivating the decision process in such a way that gives comfort and satisfaction.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Managing Relationships with Advisors

I listened in on a conference call hosted by The National Center for Family Philanthropy on Thursday, July 8th. The topic of discussion was Managing Relationships with Your Legal, Financial, and Investment Advisors. The presenters were Patricia Angus, a New York-based philanthropy and family governance consultant and Dawn Dobras, a trustee of the Stocker Foundation.

Three most important take aways:

1. Do your part! The families, foundations and staff are actively engaged in the process of selecting advisors.
2. Use a systematic process through every stage. The process should be independent and non-subjective. You’ll know what you are getting out of the advisors you hire and you’ll know when its time to change your advisor.
3. Learn and grow! Take away something from every experience going through the process of selecting and working with advisors.

Support For Donor Education

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors just announced a new grant received from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop tools and share best practices with emerging donors. The grant is a one-time gift of $3.7 million. The initiative is leveraging the high interest in effective philanthropy.

They are looking to create a new culture of "great giving" by providing knowledge and resources to allow families to create their own roadmaps for their philanthropy.

Over the next three years they aim to develop more than two dozen guides on issues such as giving motivations, approaches, vehicles, family roles, operations and impact assessment. The guides will be available free of charge via the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors website. They will also embark on a program to ensure advisors to the wealthy have access to these guides to share with clients.

I believe that the role of the philanthropic advisor is critical because the idea of putting some thought and infrastructure to your gifting could be seen as daunting. This is really wonderful for everyone involved in the space. The end goal seems to be along the lines of - share stories and knowledge to create an even bigger source of funding. It helps to change the mindset a bit from set aside an amount for charity upon your death versus live it, experience it and manage it the way you want to.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More About The Giving Pledge

Eli and Edythe Broad, John and Ann Doerr, H.F. (Gerry) and Marguerite Lenfest and John and Tashia Morgridge have joined Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet in The Giving Pledge.

Charlie Rose interviewed the Gateses and Buffet. Its an excellent discussion and explanation of The Giving Pledge. If you have 55 minutes to spare I recommend watching it with your partner or spouse. The discussion makes you think about your own ideas about philanthropy - no matter how big or small.

Its interesting to hear some of their guiding thoughts. With $600 billion in potential pledged assets (according to Fortune), there is a lot at stake to do it right. This idea that you "do what your reference set does" is intriguing. It would be fantastic to bring the learnings and ideas of this reference set to those who have also amassed wealth and have committed a portion to their charitable interests. Success of The Giving Pledge, as defined by Melinda Gates, is having people plan for their philanthropy earlier in their lives. It would be interesting to explore how philanthropic advisors could tap into the work of these committed individuals and share the experiences, learnings and outcomes with the individuals and families with whom they work. Using the train the trainer model, a network of philanthropic advisers could be unleashed to share the wealth (of knowledge)!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Giving Pledge

“They may not have reached a decision about that, but they have for sure thought about it. The pledge that we’re asking them to make will put them to thinking about the whole issue again.”

“If they wait until they’re making a final will in their nineties, the chance of their brainpower and willpower being better than they are today is nil.”

These are remarks from Warren Buffet who is on the path to challenge, dare, motivate and embarrass the "Great Givers" to commit to giving it away.

You know the dinner party question: "If you could invite anyone you wanted to a dinner party who would you invite?" There was actually a dinner party hosted in New York by David Rockefeller which included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner and about a dozen more influential people. The topic of discussion was giving it away!

There is a website in support of this venture at: http://givingpledge.org. The Giving Pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.

Warren Buffet is the first to post his pledge. Its typical Buffet (or what I perceive to be typical). I love his last paragraph.

"The reaction of my family and me to our extraordinary good fortune is not guilt, but rather gratitude. Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs. My pledge starts us down that course."

I look forward to tracking the success of this effort. It will certainly be interesting to see the response from those who have amassed incredible wealth!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund in PEOPLE Magazine June 10, 2010

Congratulations to the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund (www.dolanfund.org) which was profiled in People Magazine! The article is in the Heroes Among Us section. The Fund provides advocacy, education, and financial assistance to families caring for ill, disabled and injured children. This issue will be on newsstands June 10th, so pick up a copy! I have been affiliated with this organization since 1998. I currently serve as a Board Member and Secretary. Peggy Dolan, co-founder and Executive Director, is tireless with her efforts to support the needs of families with sick kids. Over the past 34 years, the Fund has helped over 18,000 families! This is wonderful national exposure for this local, grassroots organization!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Network Weaver

I came across a term that I really like - Network Weaver. I read about this term at a blogspot - http://networkweaver.blogspot.com. Network Weavers connect people strategically where there is the potential for mutual benefit, help people identify their passions and serve as a catalyst for groups. I have completely gravitated towards this notion of weaving. It is a great metaphor for the work of philanthropic advisors. We do just this - help people uncover their passions and then connect them to people and organizations to carry out the work.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wealth in Families

Charles w. Collier of Harvard published a second edition of his book, Wealth in Families. The second edition was released in 2006. I just reread the book and I find it to be a wonderful source of information and perspective into the lives of families. He poses "essential questions" for consideration. These are: What is really important to your family? What are your family's true assets? What should you do to guide and support the life journey of each family member over time? How wealthy do you want your children to be? Do you feel you have a responsibility to society? These are tough questions that deserve some hard contemplation. Articulating the answers helps energize and bring together first a couple and then a family. Sometimes having an objective person in the room helps so that you can hear yourself and your partner speak without having to worry about capturing the precious information being gathered. Collier defines a successful family as "one that knows who it is, what it stands for, and where it is going." This sounds simple, but in reality it is more difficult to achieve. The book is full of questions and live examples of families who have been on a journey. I highly recommend this book and I don't think that you need to have significant wealth for it to be meaningful. The issues are truly fundamental.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Definition of Philanthropy

I was reading an article by H. Peter Karoff who is the founder of The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI). Check out www.tpi.org for more information on this organization which has been working with families and corporations working to realize deep social impact for 20 years. This specific article is called "The Long Distance Call". The reason why I am writing about the article is that Mr. Karoff includes a great definition of philanthropy that I would like to share. The author of this definition is Peter Goldmark, former President of The Rockefeller Foundation. His definition is as follows: "Philanthropy is the practice of applying the assets of knowledge, passion, and wealth to bring about constructive change."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Online Grantmaking

There are a number of service and software providers out there that I have been researching which support grantmaking. I believe the ideal way to go is online. For so many years online grantmaking was only available for larger foundations. This is no longer the case. There is no reason why a small foundation can't go completelty paperless. Two technologies stand out - Foundant and Common Grant Application. Both provide online grantmaking services for every step of the process including Letter of Intent, Application, Review, Grant Agreement and Project Evaluation. With online grantmaking, the decision process can be streamlined. These services offer rating and ranking systems for evaluators and board members. Some foundations worry that an online grants management process could be cumbersome for the grantee organizations. Grantseekers know that this is the future of submitting proposals and they have to figure out a way to represent themselves via an online environment. While there is less flexibility when answering questions, there is also a parallel movement to encourage grantmakers to get out there and meet people and visit the organizations which seek support. Check out www.foundant.com and www.commongrantapplication.com for more information.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seeking Support from Women

After working for the same firm for 15 years, I am now experimenting on my own following the birth of our third child. It has been a great journey thus far and one that keeps guiding me towards women. Lately I have been thinking about the female influences on my career. When I was doing philanthropy work at SEI, I worked for a very strong-willed and smart woman. I learned a lot working for her and in thinking about the relationship we complimented each other really well. There have been other women, a generation older than me, who have also influenced me. These women broke down barriers - from wearing pants suits to performing successfully in roles typically held by men. My thoughts lead me to other moms in my community and in my circle. These are professional women who have figured out a way to stay engaged while being the main caregiver to children. My thoughts also lead me to my women friends who do not have children. I love their commitment to their work and to their personal relationships. I am drawn to their passion. In the Catholic faith, May is the month to honor Mary. We honor all mothers and mother figures on Mother's Day in May. May is also National Women's Health Care Month. We have all of these reasons to celebrate women, yet why do so many women feel invisible? The support is out there for the taking and the seeking. We need to remind ourselves of this every day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our Gift for Haiti

My husband and I made the decision to wait to make a more substantial contribution in support of post-earthquake Haiti. After a lot of reading and research, we've made the decision to support Partners In Health (PIH). PIH have been active in Haiti since 1985. Their model of care is working in the local communities to combat disease and poverty. At the time of the earthquake, PIH was operating 12 hospitals and employing over 4,000 people in Haiti. They were and continue to be uniquely qualified to provide much needed healthcare. Their ultimate goal is to work with local partners to rebuild Haiti's health and medical systems. We made the decision to give an unrestricted gift because we believe in the leadership and work of PIH. They are best to decide how funds raised are best deployed. For more information check out http://www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti. PIH is doing some great work in other emerging countries as well.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Council on Foundations Annual Conference

The Council on Foundations is hosting its annual conference this week. Thanks to the Internet, those of us who could not attend are able to read articles and summaries of the sessions. The keynote speaker today was Bill Somerville. He is the author of Grassroots Philanthropy and the President of the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. In his speech, he called for reform in philanthropy. He believes that too much time is spent on small grants and that this is ineffective. There is a huge burden on nonprofits to go through a lengthy and time consuming application process. He told young people in the field, "We need to do better."

He challenges foundations to go paperless, to turn around grant requests in 48 hours and to give discretion to staff. Bill believes it is about trusting people. He had some pretty tough words around metrics and outcomes. I agree with him that funders need to ask the nonprofits how they measure success, but I do believe a lot of good work is being done around performance.

Given my background in investment management, I like this line the best. "We're investing in people who are worthy of that investment. You are all investment managers."

I found his speech inspirational. Check out the work of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation at www.venturesfoundation.org.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back to the Books

Its been some time since I have written. I started classes to obtain the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation. I am taking two classes. One is on Planned Giving and the other is on Impact. There are some interesting readings that are serving to be a nice refresher for me. Reading and attending class makes me think back to my days at the Fels Institute where I earned my Masters Degree. I was working at SEI developing the Philanthropy business and attending school full time. It was an indulgant time for me. I am certainly one of those people who enjoys learning in the classroom. There are opportunities to read and process. So often we read articles and books, but don't give ourselves the chance to process the information let alone apply the learning. I had a really unique opportunity to learn, to process and to apply. I think families are faced with this same challenge. Charitable gifting is time-consuming. You want to understand and learn about the issue. You want to investigate the nonprofit and its programs processing how those programs address the issue. And you want to apply your resources. For smaller foundations or for families with donor advised funds (both without staff) the joy in gifting could turn into a burden. I worked with a second generation family and they struggled with the work associated with gifting money in a thoughtful and consistent way without staff. This is why the support of a philanthropic advisor can be so important and really make the difference for a family.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Haiti Post-Quake Donor Conference

At the Haiti Post-Quake Donor Conference held on March 30, 59 United Nation member states, international institutions and NGO coalitions pledged nearly $10 billion towards rebuilding Haiti over the next 10 years.

There are three major concerns that came out of the conference. First, the $10 billion are just pledges. The money needs to come through and with Bill Clinton admitting he has only raised 30 percent of his orginal goal, it does call the reconstruction pot into question. Second, there is significant concern over the infrastructure in Haiti to support reconstruction. Conference attendees questioned the Haitian government that has historically been wasteful and corrupt. And finally, there is a lot of criticism on the ground in Haiti calling out the fact that local grassroots organizations are not being included in the decision-making about how funds should be deployed.

From what I have read, there still does not exist a plan to rebuild Haiti. Its really surprising to come to this point given all of the media attention and heavyweight support this catastrophy has received.

Friday, March 26, 2010

International Femtor Awards

I just read about the 2010 International Femtor Awards. A Femtor is "a wise and trusted woman providing knowledge, inspiration and practical information to other women." I like the idea of a Femtor. Thinking back on my own career and influencers, I think of mostly men. I have been lucky to have had experiences with men who have had my best interests in mind and from whom I could learn. As I get older though, I find myself seeking other women for advice and inspiration. I have had the opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues and women in my community as I investigate establishing a Giving Circle and building a business. My conversations with women are different than I have experienced before. They flow back and forth between personal life and business life. For women, I think this is natural because there is little separation.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's Going on in Haiti?

Just read an article by Jonathan M, Katz called, "Billions for Haiti, a criticism for every dollar." The article states that the estimated bill for the earthquake in Haiti is $2.2 billion. Americans have gifted over $1 billion with the vast majority ($980 million) coming from private individuals. Aid groups and Haitian officials have admitted to be overwhelmed by the scale. There is a lot of frustration on the part of Haitian officials because they feel they have no control of the money, goods, and services coming in. There is a Post-Quake Donor Conference in New York taking place on March 31. It will be interesting to read about what's been accomplished thus far and what areas are needed. My husband and I purposely chose to wait a bit before giving a donation. We wanted the dust to settle and we wanted to see what organizations are making the best use of funds received. According to the article, "...leaders including Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive are not happy with the way the aid money is being delivered." Further, "Too many people are raising money without any controls, and don't explain what they're doing with it." The U.N. admits that this situation is the most complex humanitarian response they have ever had to deal with. I will track our decision process through this blog. I am waiting on the outcome of the March 30th meeting before taking steps. More to come!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Women's Philanthopy Network

I just joined the Women's Philanthropy Network which was launched by The Philadelphia Foundation. The purpose of the Network is to help area residents exchange ideas on how to give back to the community more creatively and effectively. I welcome the opportunity to connect with other women interested in philanthropy in the Philadelphia area and am excited about my membership. I am more committed than ever to establish a giving circle in Chestnut Hill for women. The aim is to gather women together and drive the activities of the giving circle based upon their collective interests. I am at the early stages of establishing the giving circle and I am focusing on developing the content for an organizational and introductory meeting. More to come!

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. It is a day of global celebration of women. The intention of the day has changed since the first celebration in 1911. But in many regions, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong. I find it interesting that the day is an official holiday in some countries but not in the United States. This year's theme is "Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all." United Nation's Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, posted a message to mark the day. In closing he said, "The Beijing Declaration remains as relevant today as when it was adopted. The third Millennium Development Goal – to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment – is central to all the rest. When women are denied the opportunity to better themselves and their societies, we all lose. On this International Women’s Day, let us look critically at the achievements of the past 15 years so we can build on what has worked, and correct what has not. Let us work with renewed determination for a future of equal rights, equal opportunities and progress for all." Today I filed the corporate documents for Harp-Weaver. This is an exciting day for me and I am happy that its on a day that marks women's empowerment.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Art of Giving

I just started reading The Art of Giving by Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon. The purpose of the book is to "show donors and potential donors how to become street-smart, effective philanthropists." This is right up my alley. I loved the tag line - Where the soul meets the business plan. Partially into it, I am still hopeful, but there have been a couple of points stuck in old philanthropy. They describe a nondonor as "she does contribute her time...does so many tasks that keep alive the organizations that hold communities together." According to my definition, this person is in fact a donor. She donates her time, her skills and her resources. They also suggest that a good way to attract young people to an organization is to put them on junior or advisory boards. I don't think Generations X and Y are looking for this type of introduction to the world of nonprofits. I think nonprofits need to tap into social networking - the virtual and the physical - as a way to attract strong young leaders. I think for my generation (X) its about the issue and the organization's ability and effectiveness to address the issue that draws us in and spurs our desire to do more and to give more to an organization. Bronfman and Solomon have tremendous experience in the field and I continue to read with great interest.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Breaking the Least-You-Can-Do Cycle

I just read HBR article, "Breaking the Least-You-Can-Do Cycle." Dan Pallotta explores the term philanthropist. The popular perception is that of the billionaire donor versus, as Pallotta describes, "the poor bastard who spends 100% of her time serving as the executive director of a homeless charity..." Yes, philanthropy is rooted in its Greek origin - love of humanity. Anyone who cares about some one, some issue, some thing deserves rights to the term. I like this line the best in the article - "But by applying the term "philanthropist" only to the rarified few who make outside donations, we rob the average person of an important aspiration." The article continues to explore how nonprofits treat individual donors by their level of gifting. It is definitely a matter of time and resource management. Mass appeals for the masses, tailored appeals for the major donors. Pallotta calls for a new age of citizen philanthropy and the challenge is on nonprofits to create donor programs that are meaningful even for the smallest donor. I also think the responsibility falls on the donor too. Take a thoughtful approach to spending resources on issues, people and things that you care about.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

International Corporate Philanthropy Day: February 23, 2010

Yesterday was International Corporate Philanthropy Day and the United Nations Economic and Social Council chose it to focus on women's rights and equality amongst women and men. Fundamental to this are two key areas - expanding economic opportunity and ending violence against women. The corporate and philanthropic sectors were urged to promote women at all levels. Sarah Ferguson announced a new initiative called "the Mother's Army" to "harnass the collective power of mothers to enable girls to dare to dream." What a wonderful thought which really resonates with me as a mother to two girls. Its by our example that girls will learn to lead and dream. We need to take care of our own wellbeing in addition to our children's. Supporting programs that support this message, this call to action, is critical.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Giving Circles

I just read an article about the Women's Giving Circle of Howard County. The Circle is an electronic fundraising mechanism which operates via email to 1,000 women and asks them to give what they can when a request comes along. They focus on helping women overcome dire situations. Since 2003 they have helped over 37 women and their children through gifts totaling $25,500. This is a wonderful way for individuals to practice philanthropy and get connected to others. Sometimes charitable gifting can feel detached. You ask yourself, "Who am I helping?" In this way you can choose when, how much and for whom. The requests are personal. While the grants do not solve the fundamental problems causing the situations, one-time emergency needs are met in a way that "democratizes" philanthropy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Social Entrepreneurship Revisited

Stanford Social Innovation Review came out with their 5 most read articles of the year. One of the articles chosen stuck with me when I originally read it. Social Entrepreneurship Revisited Not just anyone, anywhere, in any organization can make breakthrough change explores Paul C. Light's evolving definition and understanding of social entrepreneurialism.


The crux of the article is Light's revelation to "identify potential social entrepreneurs, give them the training and support they need, and increase the odds that their work will succeed." Social entrepreneurs do not stumble upon the work. It is a conscious choice to engage to solve a social issue. They do not act alone. Networks of support are critical to the work of social entrepreneurs. They are in the business of change. Its that concept of change - something else will work better or something else will resolve - that interests me. Cultivating and harnassing new ideas to stimulate change! That change can be big or small.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More Strategic Philanthropy

The Foundation Center expects 2009 will show a 10% drop in foundation giving. The headline associated with this reads, "...philanthropy to become more strategic as a result." Strategic means establishing clear gifting goals on focused areas. It also means establishing a framework to help achieve the goals. This is advice any indidividual or organization engaged in grantmaking should follow. The current and cumulative economic climate has lead people to think more about impact. Bigger grants do not equal a bigger impact. Its about finding the right organization and gifting the right size grant. To achieve this is time-consuming and often difficult for individuals.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Women's Campaign International

The other week I reconnected with a fantastic organization - Women's Campaign International (WCI). Check out www.womenscampaigninternational.org. WCI is located in West Philadelphia. Since 1998 WCI has increased the number of women elected into office around the world by providing them with leadership skills, advocacy training and technical assistance. WCI has worked in more than 20 countries worldwide. They are about to kick-off a new program locally for high school aged girls called GALS. The goal of the program is to increase participants' skills in community leadership and activism, global awareness, advocacy, social media, financial literacy, public speaking and networking. They have partnered with the Freire Charter School. If you are looking for a strong, women-focused, women-lead organization then this is something to check-out.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund

On February 5, 2010, the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund is having a fundraising event called Wine in Winter. The Fund has secured over 35 restaurants, caterers and wine distributors to participate and the guest list as of now is looking like 450! Amazing! Check out www.dolanfund.org for more information. The Fund was started by Peggy and Joe Dolan who lost their daughter to leukemia in 1976. The mission is bold - to help families with severely sick kids through advocacy, education and financial assistance. Since inception the Fund has assisted over 17,000 families in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Peggy Dolan is a tireless advocate and has been able to promote her cause on a national level. I have been associated with the Fund since 1998.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

First Post

Staring at the blank page before me....first entry. I am sitting at my kitchen table. Just put the kids to sleep (3 of them - 4 year old, 2 and a half year old and a 2 month old). For the first time in 15 years I am not thinking about working at the financial services company where I have been employed since I graduated college. Its been a great ride at a great company, but its time to go on an adventure. That adventure is exploring philanthropy. I am currently reading Kathy LeMay's book called The Generosity Plan. In her introduction she tells the story of how she stood in front of an audience and proclaimed herself a philanthropist. For many I think this is daunting. For those who have the resources, the responsibility to deploy and engage in a thoughtful and meaningful way can be difficult. Its my aim to create a positive experience for people just getting started and to take it a step further and focus on the results achieved.