The Changing Skyline of U.S. Giving

The Changing Skyline of U.S. Giving [Digital Issue]
The Changing Skyline of U.S. Giving [Digital Issue]
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The Changing Skyline of U.S. Giving

Volume 24, Issue 3 Fall 2017

F e a t u r e s

3 Welcome

4 Changes in Giving Patterns: Understanding the Dialectics This article discusses trends in individual grantmaking as a lens through which to explore the efforts of so-called “experts” to corral giving, and asks, “Can we make donors act differently, and should we even want to?” by Ruth McCambridge

12 Giving Numbers: Reflections on Why, What, and How We Are Counting There are two main, and contradictory, trends in American giving: its steady ascent, and its relative flatness of growth. This historical reflection of U.S. philanthropy delves into what Soskis, of the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, calls “one of the great, enduring mysteries of philanthropy.” by Benjamin Soskis

22 Have Donor-Advised Funds and Other Philanthropic Innovations Changed the Flow of Giving in the United States? While it appears that more dollars are being committed to private philanthropy, it seems they are being applied to their charitable purposes more slowly than in the past. Does the fault lie with donor-advised funds and other intermediaries? by Patrick M. Rooney

32 Philanthropic Disruptions: Everything and the Kitchen Sink The impact of forces of disruption in modernday U.S. society are, as the author writes, “causing shifts across the charitable landscape that are shaping new donor behaviors and trends.” This article describes resulting new engagement opportunities that may—or may not—become part of a new order. by Brandolon Barnett

38 Honing Fundraising Strategy through Collaborative Experimentation What inspires donors to give? This article details the experiments and findings of two organizations that joined in an effort to test hypotheses across multiple types of causes and giving platforms. by Chris Pearsall and Alison Carlman

44 Giving Away $100 Million: A Peek behind the Curtain at the MacArthur Foundation “Tell us what problems $100 million can solve, and how.” Thus began an experimental grantmaking process launched by the MacArthur Foundation in response to, as the author writes, “criticism that the philanthropic sector is too insular, not sufficiently focused on impact, and too risk averse.” This article gives an insider overview of the experiment and its results, and offers lessons learned along the way. by Cecilia Conrad

D e p a r t m e n t s

51 Cash Flow in the Nonprofit Business Model: A Question of Whats and Whens How does cash flow impact—and how is it impacted by—the way a nonprofit does business? Fiscal Management Associates’ Hilda Polanco and John Summers discuss the number one critical component of any business: day-to-day liquidity. by Hilda H. Polanco and John Summers

56 Taking the Evaluation Leap: Lessons from Urban Alliance’s Six- Year Randomized Controlled Trial Stories, especially transformational ones, are a powerful tool for describing an organization’s real-life impact, but another valuable tool is objective proof. In summer 2017, Urban Alliance completed a six-year randomized control trial (RCT)—the gold standard of program evaluation—and in the process were themselves tested. This article describes the ups and downs of this grueling process. by Eshauna Smith

61 The Next Green Revolution: An Overview of the Rapidly Evolving Green Bond Market For investors concerned with sustainable returns and making a difference in the world, green bonds may be just the thing. This article outlines how green bonds work, and offers a projection of the future of the market. by Bhakti Mirchandani