Matt Levine makes a very interesting point in his newsletter this morning:
Most charitable donations are made by middle-class individuals, not by billionaires or charitable foundations. And as we all know, the middle class is stretched, with families living from paycheck to paycheck. If you ask people to make a donation today, you’re asking them to pull money from the same account they use…
The US government is going to give $51.8 billion to charity this year. Not directly: it doesn’t have an army of technocrats deciding which charities get $1,000 and which get $100 million. Instead, it just has the charitable tax deduction.
The Berkshire Museum has now hired extra crisis-PR help. So here are a few ideas about what it should do next, on the messaging front. The tl;dr: try engaging your critics a little bit, and being much more honest about the realities you’re facing and the trade-offs you are making.
Back in May, Kriston Capps ripped into the Little Free Libraries movement, with some decent arguments on his side.
Wanna read a new scientific paper about deforestation? Two brand new ones came out on Thursday.
My Twitter followers are a very smart bunch, in general, and so I expected the wisdom of crowds to win out when I put this question to them on Monday.
When museums sell off their treasures, one jargon word is unavoidable: “deaccession”. The thing to look out for is how many other jargon words there are. As ever, more = worse.
Never let it be said that nothing substantive ever comes out of expense-account boondoggles like the Black Corporate Directors Conference. Every so often, a well-placed question can result in positive changes worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Rich people often target their philanthropic donations in the direction of other rich people. Warren Buffett gives billions to Bill Gates; Reid Hoffman gives millions to Mark Zuckerberg. When it’s done well (and Buffett has done it well), this can be an extremely effective exercise in allocative efficiency.
Back in 2013, when Leonard Lauder announced the gift of his world-class cubism collection to the Met, the New York Times was clear that this was about as clean and pure as such things ever get. For one thing, Lauder was quoted saying that “this wasn’t a bidding war. I went knocking, and the door opened easily.” And we…
Paul Niehaus is the cofounder and president of GiveDirectly, a direct cash transfer program rated as one of the most effective anti-poverty charities in the world. He is currently putting together the largest basic income experiment ever designed. We spoke to him about the politics and perils of changing how the world…
Malaria is both preventable and treatable, at astonishingly low cost. That’s why it’s a global tragedy to see hundreds of thousands of people dying from this disease every year.
Well, that didn’t take long. A quick timeline:
In philanthropy, there’s often a tension between the glamorous causes which rich people support on the urging of their rich friends, on the one hand, and the really important if unglamorous causes which desperately need funding, on the other. For example: the social stratosphere that is the MoMA board, versus the grim…
I love the formula which Jeff Bezos uses to define where he’d like to focus his philanthropic efforts: “at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact”. His note arrives as Robert Frank, in the NYT, asks some pointed questions about Bezos’s philanthropy, and the fact that Bezos is by far the richest American…
Charles Duhigg has a piece today which asks why you don’t donate to Syrian refugees, while you do donate to Charity: Water. The headline: “Why Don’t You Donate for Syrian Refugees? Blame Bad Marketing”.
This pair of sentences from the Chronicle of Philanthropy neatly encapsulates everything that’s wrong in the world of foundations and endowments: