A year-end collection of interesting and insightful thinking about grantmaking and giving.
Elizabeth Mitchell on the negative impact of some philanthropy
We need to “understand the negative impact of philanthropy. You have seemingly innocuous organizations … who when you really dig in, are funding these very far-left progressive agendas that are turning around and creating havoc ….”
— “A conversation with Los Angeles attorney Elizabeth Mitchell,” August 5, 2021
Ken Braun on philanthropy in the one-party state of California
“The big thing to get at here is that California is a one-party state. There’s a problem there, where one party has pretty much been running the state for a while. [It can] get away with more things, and I think the philanthropic sector gets into that as well. … Politicians are far more likely to listen to the philanthropic sector’s concerns, and if it’s a left-wing-leaning philanthropic sector, they’re going to march to those orders. And I think that’s a lot of what’s happening in California.”
— “A conversation with the Capital Research Center’s Ken Braun,” August 6, 2021
John J. Miller on the philanthropic “long game”
In “the philanthropy of public policy and shaping ideas and opinions and so forth, you really need to stick with winning institutions and ideas, where you are playing a long game. This is not about the next election. This is about the next generation and beyond. If you want to invest in transforming the media, if you want to … defeat or overcome or even just mitigate the effects of the liberal media establishment, you need great conservative and libertarian and freedom-loving journalists going into that business. Well, you don’t do that with a single grant that lasts a year.
“You do this with investments across decades, frankly, where you’re building a talent pipeline that can repeatedly produce people who go into this industry and make their armk, maybe after you’re gone. You need to be a strategic philanthropist who understands that … you may not live to see your influence. … [It] could happen a generation after you’re gone. But that’s the kind of consistency it takes, I think, to make a really big difference.”
Elisabeth S. Clemens on the politics of charity and philanthropy
There is “a set of legal constraints and advantages that come with this political construction of charity and philanthropy in the contemporary world. I think we’re seeing that under strain in many ways in the U.S., but also around the world. We won’t effectively address those strains unless we recognize that there is a politics to constructing that distinction, to constructing charity and philanthropy as a field of activity that is legally constrained and legally advantaged. …
“I think that it’s important for philanthropy to recognize that it is by definition, ‘ademocratic,’ not necessarily anti-democratic, but it operates on very different principles and it’s important to recognize the implications of that.”
Teddy Schleifer on journalism about philanthropy
Some journalism about philanthropy “can feel kind of ponderous or almost too ‘inside baseball, but I think there’s a great story that about the ways in which philanthropy is affecting the world and how it affects people outside of the industry. I think that’s fascinating and I think there’s a lot of green field for people to cover this stuff.”
Jason Turner on philanthropy and welfare reform in Wisconsin
Work supported by Milwaukee’s Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation “had been relied upon by [Gov. Tommy] Thompson and the administration on the problem of welfare as an institution, generating intellectual support for variations of the waiver reforms—the negative impacts of welfare on family functioning, for example. The Learnfare waiver in particular had national purchase.
“During the 1990s, Bradley was funding local programs of success and the state staff visited these with Bill Schambra for reform ideas related to family and economic development. Bradley funded important papers, book authors, and visiting intellectuals in which learning went in two directions.
“The usual way conservative reforms are stopped before they get started is having the Left define what kind of thinking is out of bounds. Bradley precluded this through its work ….”
— “Q&A with welfare reformer Jason Turner (Part 2 of 2),” September 23, 2021
Jennifer Bird-Pollan on the taxation of nonprofit higher-ed and foundation endowments
“You could design, actually, quite a parallel tax and apply it to foundations. So if the foundation earns income and reinvests it rather than spending that money on charitable purposes, then it will be subject to the tax. The goal of it might never be a revenue-raiser. It might instead just incentivize certain kinds of behavior that would be more consistent with what we expect charitable entities to be doing.”
Ned Ryun on the approach of conservative giving
“I would argue that we have misplaced priorities and misplaced funding in a variety of ways. I understand there are disagreements obviously inside of the movement about where we should be putting money, [but] until we actually have the power to implement our policy ideas, all we’re doing is having really good conversations about what-ifs, whereas the left … these guys are very good at organizing politically, so they can be in the right place to implement their policy. … So why don’t we on the right actually start to do some of these things that will put us in these positions, to actually implement the right policy? It means we have to completely reject or some of our thinking and how we approach where we’re putting our money, our time, and investment, so that we can be in this position.”
— “A conversation with American Majority’s Ned Ryun (Part 1 of 2),” November 8, 2021
Tony Woodlief on the intention of philanthropy
“Is the intention of the philanthropy to give authority to people in communities or to subvert that authority and impose upon them a way of life? That is what I’m adamantly opposed to. That obviously has a political dimension because we’re going to give more autonomy back to communities. That means you’re restricting what the feds can do and a lot of my friends on the left and the right, depending on the issue, they don’t want to do that because they’ve got the power [and] they want to keep it, but that’s what we're talking about. I’m less concerned with the content of local action than I am with empowering the people in the communities to decide for themselves.”
— “A conversation with I, Citizen author Tony Woodlief (Part 2 of 2),” November 16, 2021