Archive for July, 2012
At its summer 2012 board meeting (which was held on July 17th, 2012), the board made its end-of-year grants (for their fiscal year ending July 31st). Here’s a listing of these grants:
1) New Mexico Guardianship Project – $25,000
DESCRIPTION – The NM Guardianship Project helps caregivers get guardianship or adoption for children, ensuring a safe and stable home with the person who is providing care, nurturing and protection. Parents are deceased or suffer from substance abuse, incarceration and health issues. Project families are provided a social worker that visits the home—safety is evaluated and services for the family reviewed providing the tools for the child’s healthy development. The Project serves families statewide. Overhead is kept low maximizing externs from UNM Law School, NMSU Social of Work and CNM; electronic file storage; telephone, mail and internet communication with remote clients; and, telephonic appearances in distant judicial districts. Funding will be used for guardianship and adoption and to reach rural New Mexico. The Project strives to ensure that children living without parents have the emotional and financial stability that is necessary for them to become healthy members of the community.
In part I, I tried to convince you there’s no such thing as “doing good.” In part II I’ll continue looking at my argument that all doing good is framed by a particular cultural cognitive model or theory of social change. And there are more cultural cognitive models out there than just the conservative Strict Model versus the liberal Nurturant Model (models which I mentioned in part I). There are variations on a theme. We are increasingly moving away from modernism and toward postmodernism (more on this trend below). We now have postmodern liberalism—the Occupy Movement—and postmodern conservatism—the Tea Party Movement. Writing in his 2012 book The Moral Molecule (a book about the connection between oxytocin—the bonding hormone—and empathy within cultures), neuroeconomist (that’s what he calls himself) Paul Zak reminds us that “each contending theory competes for influence in our laws, our cultural norms, and our social policies.” In essence, what Dr. Zak is alluding to is the “Midgley Continuum” (named for the British systems thinker Gerald Midgley). Here’s the Midgley Continuum (which I have blogged about previously):
worldview <==> ideology <==> methodology <==> intervention
In my capacity as president of my family’s Foundation I am charged with reviewing dozens of LOIs (letter of intent) and Full proposals each fiscal year (which, for us, ends on July 31st). Probably the most used phrase I encounter in these LOIs and Full Proposals is “to do good” or one of its variants, such as “provide aid,” “increase capacity,” “reduce suffering,” etc. Up to about the late 1990s, our Foundation had no problem with these “do good” phrases when we encountered them in LOIs and Full Proposals. We would argue, “Do good … everyone knows what that means. That’s what philanthropists and non-profits do.” Well, all of that changed as a result of two events.
The first event was an in-service presentation and workshop by Curtis Meadows of the Meadows Foundation (based in Dallas). During his presentation, Curtis simply said something like, “For a foundation to be effective, it needs a philosophy or theory of giving, of social change.” Curtis told us that the days of writing checks for charities willy nilly are quickly coming to a close. He went on to tell our board and staff that all foundations make a covenant with the federal government (in the form of their IRS Ruling Letter) whereby foundations agree to administer the tax revenue they keep (because of the non-tax status they receive) in ways that go beyond where the government could possibly go. Curtis gave us a bottom line that went something like, “During an audit, the IRS will ask one simple question: ‘by what plan or model or philosophy were you able to do good that goes beyond where the government could have gone?’ ” Curtis recommended that all philanthropists should keep this question in the back of their minds as they review and administer grants. Curtis’ presentation really left an impression on me, and, I would say, our whole Foundation. We spent the better part of the workshop looking at ways of coming up with a philosophy or theory of giving. It wasn’t long after Curtis’ in-service that we began looking at theories of social change, Bowlbian attachment theory chief among them.