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Costco v. The Rockefeller Foundation

Posted By Kim Snipes, Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy is a series of ongoing blog posts from ABAG's professional staff, each highlighting timely and relevant information useful to our grantmaking members and focused on the world of philanthropy. 

By Kim Snipes, Member Information and Operations Manager

Full disclosure: this blog post was due last Friday. 99% of the lateness is entirely my fault; however, I will say that I was dragging my feet because I didn’t have the inspiration for the right angle with which to write about our business and corporate members. Much to the delight of our very patient communications director, Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, the inspiration arrived this morning. My daily read of the paper led me to this article in today’s New York Times, "To Be Good Citizens, Report Says, Companies Should Just Focus on Bottom Line.” I hope this article will start a healthy conversation and debate (leave your comment at the end of this post), but it is clear to me that our business and corporate members do not limit their corporate citizenship to fulfilling the bottom line.

While a relatively small group, these members work daily to fulfill ABAG’s mission – "to improve community conditions.” Motivated by factors beyond marketing their brand, these businesses and corporations and the individuals charged with carrying out their philanthropic goals, invest in our region with the goal of leaving a different kind of footprint then that of a carbon nature. A vast majority of our members combine traditional corporate giving methods (sponsorship, United Way campaigns and other fund drives) with signature programs (Baltimore Raven’s Plan in Motion, Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative and PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great) and robust matching gift and employee volunteer programs (Verizon, Northrop Grumman and IBM).

Earlier this year, we welcomed our newest business member, Amy Bauer and CFG Family of Companies.I encourage you to read about their community involvement by clicking here.

ABAG’s business and corporate members gather quarterly for informal lunches where they control the agenda. Questions are asked, candid conversations ensue and opportunities for collaboration manifest themselves in a variety of ways. ABAG also authors a monthly blog specifically targeted at these members. Blog posts aim to collect relevant and interesting research, reports, local and national news items of interest and of course, encourage members to register for upcoming programs!

Back to the Morning’s Inspiration

In short, there is a new paper which states that companies should focus solely on the bottom line and that this focus will naturally generate public benefits. The paper goes on to say that corporate social responsibility programs and corporate philanthropy are inefficient strategies as they are not held accountable by a company’s bottom line. Instead, their primary goal is to "improve community conditions” or produce general social benefits for the community. According to the paper’s authors, these are "distractions.”

So, who "does more” for society (or "civilization” as Charles T. Munger said) - Costco or the Rockefeller Foundation? On the one hand, Costco provides jobs and an endless amount of skills, commerce and supply chains, not to mention packages of 500 sponges, 5 gallon containers of laundry detergent and butter sold in 5 lb. bundles. But the monetary and intellectual investment of the Rockefeller Foundation and other philanthropies, corporate and otherwise, are held accountable by a different bottom line. Benefit is not limited to only bringing money into the businesses’ door. Philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, good corporate citizenship, employee volunteerism, matching gift programs hold an intrinsic value that is not simply measured by its profitability but by measures that are sometimes harder to quantify but whose value exceeds earning statements and long-term profit margins.

I am proud that our business and corporate members operate in a manner more closely associated with the more broad definition of benefit and do not limit themselves only to earnings statements to measure their external benefit to society.

I invite your thoughts and encourage you to post a comment below. 

Tags:  Business Giving Roundtable  community investment  corporate  Corporate Philanthropy  CSR  Eye on Philanthropy  June2011MembersMemo 

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June 2011: Family Philanthropy Blog

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2011




ABAG’s monthly digest of news, information, and resources for family funders and the next generation. Contact Adam Donaldson, adonaldson@abagrantmakers.org, for additional resources tailored to our families.

Local News and Resources

TEDxBaltimore

  • Video recording of the May 15 local edition of TED, which invited leading thinkers and doers in the Baltimore area to challenge and inspire us (includes some adult language and themes).

National News and Resources

Upcoming July Programs

Maryland's Foreign-Born Workers and their Families
July 6, learn more with ABAG about Maryland's rising immigrant population.

A Conversation with Vu Dang, Chief Service Officer
July 20, hear from Baltimore City’s leader of volunteer and service activities.

Summer Book Club: The Help
July 26, read a best-selling novel in the context of racial equity and philanthropy.

Tags:  Family Philanthropy Blog  grantmaking resources  June2011MembersMemo  publications  resources 

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Bmore Streets for People: Something We All Need to Experience

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, June 13, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ABAG Board Member Greg Cantori of the Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation is an avid biker and passionate supporter of making biking more accessible and acceptable in Baltimore through Ciclovia – so we invited Greg to blog about it!

Five years ago, my wife Renee and I traveled to an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia to adopt Andrea, our then 12 year old daughter. During the three week adoption process, she introduced us to something very exciting every Sunday….Ciclovia!

Imagine miles of roads filled with tens of thousands of people in a festive mood casually strolling along; dog walkers, skateboarders, skaters, joggers, runners and cyclists of all ages and races, having a great time together in and around our city from 7am to 2pm every single Sunday throughout the year. Imagine hearing music and taking part in free aerobic, tai chi and yoga classes along the way to a farmers market. Imagine the new level of activity, excitement, shrinking waistlines, social interactions and re-discovery of our neighborhoods.

Ciclovia in Bogotá Colombia has turned this dream into reality for the past 30 years with over 80 miles ofcity roads opened for all people to use. In a city of over 7 million, nearly a million people participate every single week. That's right, a million. The camaraderie of riding and walking with thousands of others, the cleaner air, peace and quiet and human energy has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Folks look forward to each Sunday as a time to get out to exercise and spend quality time with family and friends without fear and the aggravation of motorized traffic. Merchants along the routes have found it has become their number one sales day. Bogotá residents can't imagine why every city doesn't have a Ciclovia and are often surprised that their city serves as an international model.

So where are we now? Roland Park, not waiting for the City, quickly launched their own Ciclovia two years ago every May and October. Now, five years later, I want to welcome you to Baltimore's version of Ciclovia: Bmore Streets for People. Chartered by a City Council Resolution including a newly formed Advisory Board, we are ready to launch a pilot sometime this fall IF the City agrees to reduce police costs and if funding and sponsorships are found. Unlike exclusive events such as the marathon and Indy race, opening our streets to our citizens doesn't cost much at all since we are using our existing infrastructure and volunteers. In addition, an economic study will hopefully show eventual benefits similar to ArtScape's $26 million annual impact.

In fact, The Knott Foundation supports the philosophy behind Ciclovia and to date has invested $12,000 toward the effort.

consistent, weekly, get out and walk and roll opportunity will help us address the lack of suitable recreational and exercise activities that our residents need to remain healthier and happier. In the meantime, take a look at Ciclovia's energy and excitement in Bogota and New York City.

Any ABAG members interested in learning more about Ciclovia should contact me at gcantori@knottfoundation.org.

I invite and encourage your thoughts below!

Tags:  Baltimore  biking  ciclovia  green  June2011MembersMemo  streets  Word from Our Members 

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June 2011: Recent Reports from the Field

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Grant Makers Should Rethink Their Agenda to Meet Society's Needs - By Pablo Eisenberg for the Chronicle of Philanthropy (sign-in required)

How a Business Can Change the World A special report on the innovative business models social entrepreneurs are inventing. By Inc. staff, from Inc. magazine

Interview - Jodi Nelson, Director of the Impact Planning and Improvement, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from Alliance Magazine

Investing in Impact: Combining Social and Financial Returns from Philantopic

Measurement as Learning: What Nonprofit CEOs, Board Members, and Philanthropists Need to Know to Keep Improving by Jeri Eckhart-Queenan and Matt Forti for the Bridgepan Group

There's No Penalty for Having Reserves By Rick Moyers for the Chronicle of Philanthropy

An Interview with Tom Tierney, Chairman/Co-Founder, Bridgespan Group: Philanthropy That Gets Results from Philanthropy News Digest

What Foundation CEO's Think About Evaluation By Caroline Preston for the Chronicle of Philanthropy

15 Tips for Effective Communications Planning by Kris Putnam-Walkerly for Philanthropy411, Putnam Community Investment Consulting

A Place at the Table for Nonfamily Trustees? by Joseph Foot. Family Giving News, a publication of the National Center for Family Philanthropy

Board Insurance: Do You Really Need It? By Susan Bradshaw for Blue Avacado

Common Tax Reporting Errors Made by Private Foundations on their 990-PFs from Foundation Source

Endowments Poised to Build on Recovery, Chronicle Study Finds By Ben Gose and Marisa López-Rivera for the Chronicle of Philanthropy

How to Create a Nonprofit Style Guide: 7 Steps to Greater Consistency and Impact by Nancy E. Schwartz from Getting Attention

Leaving the Silos Behind: The Need for True Collaboration Among Funders By Carol Thompson Cole for Re: Philanthropy

MacArthur's President Discusses His First Two Years on the Job By Caroline Preston for the Chronicle of Philanthropy

An MBA Project Teaches Fund Raisers the Rigors of Awarding a Grant By Eric Frazier for the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Nonprofits and the Work Made For Hire Doctrine by Ellis Carter for CharityLawyer

Corporate Roundtable on Shared Value by Mark Kramer and John Kania for the Stanford Social Innovation Review

Three Attributes That Are Vital for Effective Philanthropy by Jim Canales for the Center for Effective Philanthropy

Does Global Corporate Philanthropy Reach the People Who Need Help? By Justin W. van Fleet of the Brookings Institution

Tags:  grantmaking resources  June2011MembersMemo  publications  recent reports from the field  research  resources 

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