• Fred's Blog

    Tell Me More than a Story

    Last year, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga released “Cheek to Cheek,” their album of jazz duets. Bennett’s controlled, classy (always a coat and tie) appearance matched with Lady Gaga’s ever-changing and audacious persona would seem to be a formula for failure, but it worked beautifully. Bennett later remarked that the key to a good duet is contrast along with quality material and voices that complement each other. As well, they had developed a friendship two years before that led them to want to work together on the project. It was a stretch, but two soloists found complementary partners to create a best-selling album. For some reason, listening to their music…

  • Fred's Blog

    Not Throwing Away My Shot!

    My father had a life removed from us we knew little about until we were grown. It was only a few years before he died that I understood why. We talked about it on a series of trips we took as father and son when he was losing his health, and we knew it was just a matter of time before he could not travel at all. It was on our first of these trips that he told me about New York City and the Waldorf Astoria. Dad grew up in the poorest parts of Nashville, Tennessee. He was always a misfit there. While others resigned themselves to a life…

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  • Fred's Blog

    Take It to the Limit

    William Barstow was an enterprising partner and friend of Thomas Edison, as well as an inventor and highly successful entrepreneur in his own right. One night in 1931, Barstow and his wife, Francoise, sat around their table as usual, discussing new ideas. They had been wrestling awhile with how to structure a substantial gift that would allow them to make donations without setting up a trust or a private foundation – both of which were primarily reserved for only the wealthiest families in the country at the time. The Barstows worked out an arrangement with the young New York Community Trust to create a vehicle that would give them most…

  • Fred's Blog

    The Mr. Spock Prize

    My friend Randy Samelson at Counsel & Capital is funding a prize for the best annual report designed for Randy and other “left-brain” donors. I am calling it the Mr. Spock Prize, and I thought some friends might be interested in applying for the prize as well as my response to Randy’s generous initiative. Dear Randy, Thank you for sending me your proposal to sponsor a $50,000 prize for the nonprofit or church that produces the best annual report for “left-brain donors.” As you probably know, while printed annual reports represent a significant expense for nonprofits (and there are even prizes for print design and graphics), they remain unread by…