Do philanthropy bloggers care about donors?

Sean Stannard-Stockton and Nathaniel Whittemore point us to a recently-released UK report that shows that only 40% donors are interested in creating a new national charity rating scheme and 68% said such a rating scheme would not change their giving decisions.

Reflecting on these facts, Sean writes a post titled Do Donors Care Whether Nonprofits are Any Good?

And Nathanial’s title is Do Donors Care About Impact? Not Really

Nathanial’s conclusion from the aforementioned statistics: “Uh oh. That’s some pretty damning evidence that donors don’t care.”

The other way to look at these numbers is to conclude that donors don’t believe that a rating scheme is going to work; that they don’t believe that such an approach is going to effectively inform them about how to make charitable decisions. (I happen to agree that it won’t, though that’s a post for another day.)  If that’s what’s really going on, then the right headline – much less catchy, and much less likely to be retweeted – would be: “Do donors believe that rating agencies are any good at their jobs?  No.”

There’s a lot of good stuff in both Sean’s and Nathanial’s posts, especially Sean’s point that we need to put as much effort into spreading ideas as we put into assessing impact.  But I also think we have to be careful.  I don’t think we advance the field of philanthropy and champion the cause of effective philanthropy by making and tearing down caricatures of philanthropists, and I think the blog post titles do just this.

It’s fun to be provocative to grab attention, but not when it cuts directly against what I know Sean and Nathanial and all of us hope to be part of – an ever-improving, ever-more-dynamic field of philanthropy that brings about large-scale, positive social change.

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A leading voice takes the next step

Congratulations to Sean Stannard-Stockton on the launch of Tactical Philanthropy Advisors.  Sean has been writing on the Tactical Philanthropy blog since 2006, and has become one of the leading voices “Chronicling the Second Great Wave of Philanthropy.”  If you want to know what’s going on in U.S. philanthropy, with a nod to what is newer and is most cutting edge (and an acknowledgment of what’s mainstream), you go to Sean.

This week, Sean has launched Tactical Philanthropy Advisors, to provide philanthropic advisory services to clients with $1 -$50M or more of philanthropic assets.  And yes, Sean will still be writing his blog.

Why does this all matter?  Sean reminds us that “Individual donors give $250 billion a year to charity, making up 82% of all charitable giving.”  It’s a lot of money, and where it goes makes a real difference.

Sean is also launching the Tactical Philanthropy Knowledge Network, “a network of professional grantmakers who are committed to the idea that knowledge sharing leads to greater social impact.”  Jed Emerson will be the Chair of the Network, and IDEO will be involved in designing the Network and facilitating Network gatherings.

Congratulations, Sean.  We’re all cheering you on.

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