• Fred's Blog

    The Dumb Tax

    “Where’s the elevator?” The donor looked up the empty shaft in the nonprofit’s new building his family’s foundation had helped to fund. Deciding to pay for the elevator had been one of the larger grants of the foundation, and they had struggled with whether or not to fund something that was not a direct service. But the family loved the director of the ministry and had been caught up in his description of the need. “The elevator?” “Yes, the one we sent $50,000 to install in this new building.” “Well, it’s a long story, but we had more pressing needs and knew you would understand. We know that may seem…

  • Fred's Blog

    Rolling Over in the Grave

    Since Henry Ford II’s resignation from the Board of the Foundation his grandfather created, the trustees and staff of the Ford Foundation have been widely held up as the ultimate example of every foundation founder’s legitimate concern – the hijacking of donor intent. By the time Henry Ford II resigned, the direction of the foundation was antithetical to the values and practices of his grandfather. The Ford Foundation was virtually synonymous with the funding and support of liberal causes around the world. In his letter of resignation to the Board in 1976 Ford wrote, “In effect, the foundation is a creature of capitalism, a statement that, I’m sure, would be…

  • Fred's Blog

    When the Wicked Strut

    In his recent address to the United Nations, Pope Francis used the story of Zacchaeus in Luke’s Gospel as his template to support the redistribution of wealth. He called for “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.” “The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that… Jesus… simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others.” The Pope finished his talk with a plea to “put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded.” We are left with…

  • Fred's Blog

    The Gospel Enterprise

    I think it was long-time Chaplain of the Senate Dick Halverson who said, “In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next it moved to Europe where it became a culture, and, finally, it moved to America where it became an enterprise.” My introduction to the enterprise was in the late 60s as a college student employed by Word Records in Waco, Texas. Word had begun in 1951 as the brainchild of Jarrell McCracken with the publishing of a single…

  • Fred's Blog

    The Head and the Heart

    I noticed an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy the other day that may indicate a change in a 10-year trend of measuring nonprofit performance. The “effective philanthropy” movement took a hit when the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced recently it was closing down its eight-year, $12-million funding of projects to “get donors to rely as much on their heads as their hearts.” Their funding for Charity Navigator, GiveWell and Guidestar will be ending after this year. As you probably know, these organizations are three of the most visible and successful tools for public information about financial performance and social impact of nonprofit organizations. Ironically, the decision to drop…