Pro-Donor and Pro-Business

I think it is safe to say that the majority of entries on PhilanthroMedia reflect a decidedly pro-business, pro-donor orientation. It may be sexier to sell nonprofit scandal, CEO greed and donor arrogance (shout out to Gift Hub) but that is not where we are heading with this blog.

Many of us have long hungered for the days when philanthropic strategy would move beyond its “ghettoized” position of what donors and corporations do after they make their money. Clearly that day has come.

Yesterday’s New York Times insert entitled “The Business of Green” is just one more signpost pointing to this end of philanthropy as usual. Another is Jeff Skoll’s Participant Productions whose films have garnered 13 Oscar nominations since 2005, capped by big wins this year with “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Cynics could argue “making movies that matter” and advancing them with correlated citizen action campaigns was an obvious money-making strategy from the get-go (I guess?), but we all know violence and bathroom humor are what sell movie tickets. Exceedingly more likely is the idea that Participant is just a natural extension of Skoll’s strategies for making the world better.

Having spent my entire career in the nonprofit and public sector, I’ve met many nonprofit leaders who believe that high-net worth donors can’t possibly have anything of value, besides their money, to contribute to social change. And that corporations are only out to make a buck, not to serve as meaningful partners in the work of change. Fact is, having spent years raising money a nickel and dime at a time, I have shared these sentiments.

But I also deeply believe that the way people feel when they are of service to other human beings is universal. Once you get a taste, you want more. The appeal of ‘giving back’ not because you should but because it may be the most energizing thing you ever do, is being streamed into the air we breath by powerful media engines. Myriad messages now confirm that you don’t have to give up your life of comfort to make the world better. You don’t have to go to the convent or to work at your local nonprofit. Neither donors, nor corporate employees, are immune to this emerging gestalt.

This massive PR campaign is something we could never have afforded but the result is that our troops are growing. Highly-resourced and skilled reinforcements are being sent to the front lines in this convergence of profit and social good.

That’s what I mean by pro-donor and pro-business. And that’s what I call sexy.

Susan Herr

Posted at 7:55 AM on March 08, 2007


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)



Arts and Culture

Cross-Sectoral Strategies

Economic Development



Global Philanthropy


High Net Worth Donors



Peace and Justice

Philanthropic Strategy

Scaling Philanthropy

Social Entrepreneurs

Tax Issues


Recent Entries

Pro-Donor and Pro-Business (SH)

Congressional Action Threatening Donor Options? (SH)

Don't Toss Out the Faith-Based Options (TD)

Fiduciary Responsibility: Does the investment side know (or care) what the grantmaking side is doing? (CH)

Will Companies Lead the Charge on the Double Bottom Line? (CED)

Venture Philanthropy 2.0 in Philanthropy News Digest (SH)

Is The Market Mechanism Finally Kicking In For Social Change? (CED)

Spending Our Way to Cleaner Air (ND)

Recent Comments

No Excuse for Mediocre Secondary Education? (1) Andrea Batista Schlesinger, 10:13 AM Wed

NY Times Ad Claims "PETA Kills Animals?" (1) Nancy DeFauw, 3:59 PM Fri

Why are some youth more engaged? (1) Gayle Roberts, 12:45 PM Fri

Tigers and Adventure Philanthropy (1) Ryan Kipp, 1:44 PM Tue

Let No Good Deed Go Unpunished -- Oprah and the Girls (1) Kathleen Fleck, 1:27 PM Sat

Momentum Growing For Juvenile Justice Reform (1) Gayle Roberts, 7:17 PM Tue

Make Your Final Gifts of 06 Today (1) Gayle Roberts, 5:46 PM Fri

Examples of Open Source Philanthropy (1) Phil, 11:07 PM Wed


Carla E. Dearing

Caroline Heine

Susan Herr

Guest Contributors

Nancy DeFauw

Tim Walter

Tiziana Dearing

Tom Watson



View by Subject, Author and Date




PhilanthroMedia was established for discerning donors who want to increase the impact of their giving. It is a joint project of Community Foundations of America (CFA) and PhilanthroMedia, Inc. Contact: Susan Herr (

Philanthromedia is powered by Movable Type.

Philanthromedia: Dialogue for the discerning donor