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Philanthropy

How A Network Of Nonprofits Enriches Fundraisers

In September 2020, the Federal Trade Commission joined regulators in four states to sue four men behind a notorious telemarketing company called Outreach Calling. The FTC alleged that the company, which it described as a “sprawling fundraising operation,” had raised millions on the promise of helping the needy — cancer patients, veterans, firefighters — but instead used the money to line its pockets. The case was meant to put fundraisers on notice. The FTC would not only go after charities that improperly spent donor dollars, but it would “aggressively pursue their fundraisers who participate in the deception,” a news release said.

Will The Revolution Be Funded?

In April 2022, grassroots organization Mijente unveiled a political framework in which it advocated for a threefold strategy of working within, without, and against the state to achieve its political goals. This framing was inspired by a movement group in Chile, the Movimiento de Pobladores en Lucha. We propose a similar path: building strategic alignment across groups working within, without, and against philanthropy. We aim to share the historical and present-day value of diverse approaches to fundraising that include but are in no way limited to philanthropic investment. Moreover, we seek to show how aligning work within, without, and against philanthropy can catalyze power building on the Left.

Local Control Is The Way To Lasting Change In Communities

Through local control and guidance, a project that has been years in the making came to fruition last February in a small, rural town in Uganda. The Tat Sat Community Academy opened to much fanfare one year ago in Uganda’s Kyotera district. The academy includes a secondary school, a savings and credit cooperative organization, and the Institute of Indigenous Cultures and Performing Arts. The community has also built and is operating a maize mill for local farmers as well as a medical facility to serve students and the community at large, which will begin operations this year.

Can We Move Beyond Philanthrocapitalism?

While the many philanthropies of the world address social injustice, gender discrimination, and countless other issues, there is one topic that is off-limits to most of them: changing the capitalist system itself, the source of many problems that philanthropy aspires to solve. This conundrum is the focus of a new book, Post Capitalist Philanthropy, by Alnoor Ladha and Lynn Murphy, which is a bold inquiry into what they call “philanthrocapitalism." As Ladha puts it, “A few people have amassed so much wealth that they're now determining the agenda for a civil society. Ostensibly, we're told that this is for social benefit, but actually they're getting huge amounts of tax breaks, social and political power, and undermining democracy itself.

New Report: Gilded Giving 2022

We estimate in Gilded Giving 2022 that if foundations had a 10 percent minimum payout and DAFs had a three-year mandated payout between 2018 and 2020, at least $193 billion in additional donations would have flowed to charities. “As wealth concentrates in fewer hands, it causes troubling distortions in the charity sector,” noted Chuck Collins, director of the Charity Reform Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author of the report. “When wealthy donors can claim big tax deductions for charitable giving to private foundations that they control in perpetuity, it allows them to opt out of paying their fair share in taxes to support the systems on which we all depend. This effectively enables already powerful multi-millionaires and billionaires to maintain a taxpayer-subsidized form of private power and influence.”

How Billionaire Foundations Fund NGOs To Advance US Foreign Policy Goals

US foreign policy is increasingly promoted by billionaire funded foundations.  The neoliberal era has created individuals with incredible wealth and through “philanthropy”, they flex their influence and feel good at the same time. While these philanthropists can be liberal on some issues, they universally support U.S. foreign policy and the “free market”.  Because many of these super-rich individuals made their wealth through investments and speculation, most do not like a planned economy, socialized services beyond the private sector or greater government control. These mega wealthy individuals, and the people who run their foundations, are often intricately connected to the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Grants are given to projects, campaigns and organizations which align with their long-term goals.  

Bezos’ Earth Fund Is An Unnatural Disaster

Now is the time for undeniably powerful grassroots leadership. If we’ve learned anything this year from the brilliant, brave, bold, and beautiful Black, Brown, Indigenous and other frontline communities and workers fighting inequitable impacts of pandemics, pollution, poverty, climate disaster and emboldened racism, it’s that real change happens at the grassroots.  Yet, in a year when frontline leadership is clearly critical, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (through his newly launched Earth Fund) has doubled down on philanthropy’s inequitable modus operandi by funneling hundreds of millions into outdated, ineffective, top-down strategies that attempt to erase the frontlines.

The Corporate Dictatorship Of The Very Rich

I heard friends praising Bill Gates' philanthropy a while ago; it still surprises me how people respond to billionaires. The wealthy improve their image financing self-serving projects they present as “serving others” but few question their motives or suspect them of hidden agendas. Most take billionaires at face value and forget how they made their fortunes. Gates is a monopolist who crushed others in the process of building Microsoft.  At least, J.D. Rockefeller (the first) made it a bit easier for us, he was blatant enough to call competition a “sin” and built Standard Oil monopoly trying to protect its privileges...

Liberal Philanthropy Is Dooming The Planet To Climate Disaster, Documents Reveal

One of the world’s biggest philanthropic initiatives to address climate change is set-up to fail catastrophically, according to a strategy document setting out the initiative’s five-year plan. The strategy document, published by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in January, represents the third renewal of the Climate Works initiative originally founded in 2008. The initiative was executed through the Climate Works Foundation in coordination with other big philanthropic foundations, the Packard and McKnight Foundations. The Hewlett Foundation strategy document, titled Climate Initiative Strategy 2018–2023, reflects on the strategic thinking behind the process that led to the announcement last December that the foundation would commit $600 million to address climate change over the next five years — a 20 percent increase from previous funding.

Documents Show Bradley Foundation Effort To Build Right-Wing Infrastructure

By Mary Bottari for Exposed By CMD - Documents examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) expose a national effort funded by the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation to assess and expand right-wing “infrastructure” to influence policies and politicians in statehouses nationwide. The documents were made public in October 2016 on two Twitter accounts that cyber security analysts have linked to one of the Russian hackers alleged to have breached the Democratic National Committee. The Bradley Foundation confirmed in a statement that the hack had taken place and was reported to the FBI. More information about how the Bradley files became public is available here. The documents open a window to the behind-the-scenes workings of one of America’s largest right-wing foundations. With $835 million in assets as of June 2016, the Bradley Foundation is as large as the three Koch family foundations combined, yet receives much less attention as a significant funder of the right. CMD has examined thousands of these documents, including Bradley board documents between 2013-2016.

Mass Outrage Forces Re-Suspension Of Cop Who Killed Philando Castile

By Matt Agorist for The Free Thought Proect - In a blow to the family and friends of Philando Castile, the officer who is responsible for his death, Jeronimo Yanez was allowed to return to work last week. However, his return was met with such a firestorm of complaints, anger, and protests, Yanez was put back on paid administrative leave. After only one week on the job, Yanez is now back at home on paid vacation. On Wednesday afternoon, the city released the following statement explaining the reasoning behind their decision...

Who Is Corporate Philanthropy for? It’s Not Who You Think

By Rick Cohen for NPQ - Although many people admire Arundhati Roy for her Booker Prize-winning novelThe God of Small Things, those of us who have followed her career know that for the past two decades, she hasn’t been writing novels. Her life is devoted to anti-capitalist and anti-corporate political activism; it’s worth reading her latest book,Walking with the Comrades, for an example of her trenchant analysis, whether you agree with her perspective or not. In a recent long-form posting on ZNet, Roy takes on wealth disparities in India and the role of capitalism in creating and perpetuating them.

It’s All Part Of Capitalism: How Philanthropy Perpetuates Inequality

By Eleanor J. Bader in Truthout - Thorup is best on theory, and he begins by offering a definition: Philanthropic capitalism is the idea that capitalism is or can be charitable in and of itself. The claim is that capitalist mechanisms are superior to all others [especially the state] when it comes to not only creating economic but also human progress; that the market and market actors are or should be made the prime creators of the good society; that capitalism is not the problem but the solution to all the major problems in the world; that the best thing to do is to extend the market to hitherto private or state processes; and, finally, that there is no conflict between rich and poor, but that the rich is [sic] rather the poor's best and possibly only friend.

Warning: Find Out Who Is Behind Civil Society Groups

Called "Revenue Watch" it claims to be "a non-profit policy institute and grantmaking organization that promotes the effective, transparent and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources for the public good. Through capacity building, technical assistance, research and advocacy, we help countries realize the development benefits of their natural resource wealth." In reality, it is a Wall Street-London centric front of monolithic proportions that ensures foreign competitors, including nationalized companies, are prevented from exploiting in many cases their own national resources, so that they may be reserved instead for the West's corporate giants to plunder them. In many cases, this includes funding and organizing opposition groups to take to the streets and physically stop ongoing projects under humanitarian and environmental pretenses.

Donors To Elite Institutions Exacerbate Wealth Gap

Most Americans probably think a major goal of philanthropy is to fight poverty. But a closer look reveals that giving by foundations and philanthropists exacerbates wealth inequality in the United States. Look at some of the trends: Thousands of local fundraising groups have been created to raise private money for public schools--and almost all of them channel resources primarily to schools attended by the children of people who live in affluent neighborhoods. Elite colleges and universities are the major beneficiaries of multimillion-dollar gifts, and its those kinds of donations that are a key reason giving to higher education grew 9 percent last year. Yet these institutions are so high-priced, few low-income and working-class students can afford to attend. Arts institutions saw donations soar in the past year, according to "Giving USA," also because of donations by the wealthy. Most of the institutions that benefit from the bulk of private donations are established institutions that cater to the upper and middle classes. Meanwhile, "Giving USA" showed much smaller gains for social-service groups and other kinds of organizations that raise money primarily from people who aren't multibillionaires.
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