President's Note

All-Time Classics from Philanthropy Magazine

I hope you are enjoying this edition of Philanthropy, the quarterly national magazine of The Philanthropy Roundtable. Every issue of the magazine is filled with practical guidance about the differences between giving that is great and giving that disappoints, as well as inspirational real-life stories about the transformative power of philanthropy. Here are just a few examples of all-time classic stories from back issues of our magazine that you can find on our website:

“The Dinosaur Discoverer” by Ari Schulman. A misfit who flunked out of college seven times. The inspiration for the scientist in Jurassic Park. Jack Horner revolutionized paleontology and became one of the world’s great finders of dinosaur skeletons—thanks to philanthropists willing to support his excavations and eccentric ideas.

“Outsmarting Albert Barnes” by James Panero. In assembling his post-Impressionist and early modern art collection, Barnes outsmarted the world. But in crafting his foundation, Barnes outsmarted himself. One of the great donor-intent tragedies of our time, the Barnes Foundation is a case study of how a philanthropist’s goals for an institution can be irrevocably damaged by the donor’s own overly restrictive operating guidelines.

“Back to Bill.” Within just a few years of Bill Daniels’s death, the foundation he created was violating his most cherished principles. Evan Sparks tells the heroic story of how the Daniels Fund board and CEO recovered, restored, and clarified Bill’s donor intent and instituted a process to protect it in the future.

“Victory!” Nadia Schadlow describes the crucial leadership of philanthropists in winning the battle of ideas in the Cold War, and suggests how donors can help to defeat the ideology of radical Islamism. Schadlow later went on to write the official national-security strategy of the Trump administration.

“How Philanthropy Fuels American Success.” Adapted from Karl Zinsmeister’s introduction to his magisterial Almanac of American Philanthropy, this cover story shows conclusively that charitable giving is central to American greatness. Bridgespan chairman and co-founder Tom Tierney calls this piece “the single best brief overview of American philanthropy that I have ever encountered.”

“Partners Against Misery” by Susan Hertog. A century ago, when gentlemen did not join forces with women, an extraordinary philanthropic partnership between one of America’s most successful financiers and an unknown woman just out of nursing school changed the course of hundreds of thousands of lives. The benefactor was Jacob Schiff. His visionary partner was settlement-house pioneer Lillian Wald. She had been introduced to Schiff by his mother-in-law with portentous words: “Either she is a genius, or a madwoman.” Together, this duo nursed, educated, and Americanized a tide of poor immigrants as they flooded into New York City.

“Asking Tough Questions” by Ashley May. Simon Prize winner David Weekley founded America’s largest privately held homebuilding company. For a quarter century he has given half his income and half his time to charity. His tough questions and strategic guidance have pushed his grantees to high-growth performance.

“Just What the Doctor Ordered” by Justin Torres. Purpose-driven organizations such as Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues, and Team Red, White & Blue help veterans make the most of their military skills and cultural values as they transition to civilian life.

“Privacy as a Philanthropic Pillar.” As Karl Zinsmeister shows, anonymous giving has long been central to American philanthropy. Giving by unnamed donors has made possible the building of MIT into a great scientific institution, the transformation of Texas into a high-tech powerhouse, generous assistance to veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the translation of the Bible into languages around the world. Zinsmeister shows that Americans have multiple reasons to give anonymously. To follow certain religious teachings. To protect one’s children. To help nonprofits build their donor base with matching grants that give all the credit to co-funders. And to support controversial causes without fear of harassment.

“An Episcopalian, an Atheist, and a Jew Walk into a Catholic School.” No, it’s not the setup to a joke. Christopher Levenick’s cover story looks at the donors of many faiths (and none at all) who are generously supporting inner-city Catholic schools. “I’m not Catholic,” says Peter Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg. “But what I care about is the kids. I want to make sure they have an opportunity to get a good education.”

“Beethoven in the Barrio” by Caitrin Keiper. Meet the immigrant entrepreneur and donor from Venezuela whose Orchestra of the Americas is bringing symphonic beauty to new audiences throughout the hemisphere.

“Giving Made Easy” by Joanne Florino. Donor-advised funds are expanding and democratizing philanthropy by bringing to middle-class funders the efficiency, flexibility, and convenience of professional giving.

Thank you for your readership. I encourage you to browse the back issues on our website (PhilMag.org) and to let me know your own favorite stories.