Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Changing of the Guard in Philanthropy

During the last week there have been two major changes in leadership in philanthropy worthy of note. This post is inspired by an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on this subject. Leslie Lenkowsky writes about two New Yorkers - Brooke Astor who died and Luis A. Ubiñas who was elected to be the next CEO of the Ford Foundation.

Brooke Astor gave away over $200 Million of her family fortune to New York based nonprofits. She is a well known patron of the arts and, in fact, the Metropolitan Museum of Art lowered their flags in recognition of her. But she also quietly contributed generously to many small social service nonprofits throughout the city. She was known for personally visiting these agencies even in challenging parts of the city.

This characteristic of personal involvement is still respected as exemplified by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates have also added a new dimension to the culture of philanthropy. They have been supported by large (Warren Buffet) and small ($1) donations to their foundation because of their personal involvement and emphasis on a business like approach of measurements and results.

Mr. Ubiñas grew up a crime-ridden neighborhood in New York City and he graduated from Harvard Business School and went on to a successful career as head of the West Coast media practice at McKinsey & Company, mostly advising corporations about new technologies. He has a strong business background but his personal background should also equip him with understanding the importance of small nonprofits and their impact at the individual human level.

As Ms. Lenkowsky says "it is worth remembering that such institutions can also benefit those who are trying to get ahead by making available opportunities they could not otherwise grasp. And even make it possible for a child from a modest background to become the head of a major foundation."

Read the whole article at

Chronicle of Philanthropy

Marion Conway Consulting

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