Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It really isn’t easy giving away money

Despite claims that giving money away is easy, Dennis McIlnay, in his book Foundations and Higher Education offers certain findings indicating that giving away money can be complicated and difficult.

These findings come from a gathering of information from philosophers, philanthropists and foundation officers.

Among the findings:

•Grantmaking is more subjective than objective and is based on the assumption that judicious funding decisions are possible. There is no precise measuring stick to select a successful grant project.
•Foundations rerely publicly articulate the tenets they apply in grantmaking. Their grantmaking criteria are rarely described and too rarely discussed.
•Grantmaking may be inherently difficult because of the danger of doing more harm than good.
•Some foundations overreact to the subjectivity of grantmaking by attempting to quantify all aspects of the process. Others adopt an attitude of detachment that borders on arrogance.
•Foundation staffs are often the targets of animosity from rejected applicants, and the tenuous relationship with grantseekers may cause fear, anxiety, isolation, aggression and narcissism.
•The power of money may corrupt foundation officers no less than other professionals. Foundation officers have been known to succumb to the “God complex.”
•A “genius for charity” is often cited as a necessary quality for foundation officers.

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