Friday, March 07, 2003

Rating Charities...Is It Possible?: While the Better Business Bureau released a revised set of accountability standards Monday, along with a new "seal of approval" to help donors decide which organizations should get their money, this raises the question of accurately rating charities. The limitations of services such as BBB, GuideStar, and Charity Navigator, are glaringly apparent simply looking at the number of charities they can reasonably "rate." In the afterglow of accounting scandals and Enron, measuring the performance of a charity based on in its financials is unreliable at best. Donors seeking a greater understanding of where to invest their charitable dollars requires due diligince -- moving beyond balance sheets to actually seeing the organization in action. This includes volunteering, site visits, and speaking with board members. These rating services are like SATs, just one of many factors that you should consider when determining which charities receive your support.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Is 5% The Floor or The Ceiling?: With foundation assets falling and cutting back their funding, one relatively small family foundation in the Midwest believes increased giving honors the founders' legacy. Some critics have argued that it is more important than ever for foundations to increase their grantmaking and exceed their 5% payout requirement.

Required Reading: Aside from our scintillating prose, we highly recommend these magazines and trade publications for that regularly cover and provide cogent analysis of the philanthropic and nonprofits sectors: The Chronicle of Philanthropy, NonProfit Times, Foundation News & Commentary.
Wealthy & Wise: Interesting that Forbes releases its list of wealthiest individuals at about the same time The Chronicle of Philanthropy lists the biggest donors. While we are at it, we might as well include the Slate Magazine 60 biggest givers as well.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Sites We Recommend: If you want to quickly find out a charitable organization and its financials look no further. The definitive reference with listings of more than 800,000 charitable organizations and foundations can be found at GuideStar.
Permanent Estate Tax Repeal is Unlikely: Despite a big Republican win in the recent elections, the permanent repeal of the estate tax does not appear likely when the issue is taken up again, possibly this year. This prediction comes from author and estate tax expert E. Michael Kilbourn.
Welcome! It is surprising that with over 1-million blogs this is one of the first about philanthropy. We will take our work very seriously, and hope that you will look to our postings for guidance that will both inspire and illuminate your philanthropic endeavors. We hope that you visit regularly and share your comments and your ideas. Andrew W. Hastings, Vice President, National Philanthropic Trust.