Gimme 5: best of the web for the week of 5th May

Hello once again for another end-of-the-week compendium of what the web has to offer the curious philanthropy and social investment enthusiast. And there’s some good stuff this week…



1) At number one is this intriguing feature from Bloomberg about a US foundation that is the fourth largest charity in the country and yet barely anything is known about it. Funded by three highly-secretive hedge fund moguls, it raises all sorts of questions about the ethics of anonymity in big money philanthropy when large amounts of taxpayers’ money is at stake and there is little or no transparency. The article also contains a brilliant infographic detailing the amazingly tangled web of companies, trusts and charities that these donors have created in order to keep their giving secret.



2) At number two is this comment piece from Chris Blackhurst, former Editor of the Independent and now head of the newspaper group including the Indy and the Evening Standard. He picks up on the recent £5million donation to the Natural History Museum by Australian hedge fund mogul Michael Hintze, and uses it as the basis for a lament about the lack of a philanthropic culture in the UK. There is some basis for his argument, but where I disagree is when he starts reeling off the usual clichés about US philanthropy vs the UK- precisely the sort of clichés that were the target of CAF’s recent Give Me a Break report (and this blog post).



3) Another mixed week for social impact bonds this week. On the one hand they had fulsome backing from UK Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd speaking at ACEVO’s annual conference, and from Big Society Capital Chair Harvey McGrath in a letter to the Daily Telegraph. But on the other hand, Non-profit Quarterly reported the less than effusive reception that SIBs received at a US Senate Budget hearing. There certainly seems to be a political and practical battle going on over the future of SIBs at the moment.



4) At number four is a story from the Latin Post about an initiative by powerful US donor organisation Hispanics in Philanthropy to get more Latino people giving to charity. What interested me about this was what it shows about the importance of the idea of community to a culture of giving – not only in terms of the geographic communities that people live in, but the wider communities of interest or identity that they might feel a part of and which can be harnessed to motivate them to give. This is definitely an approach we could try to use more in the UK.



5) And finally, just about creeping into the last week (and referencing something that happened before that), but in this round-up because I found it interesting and haven’t covered it before, is this article in the Guardian asking whether the various charities that hijacked the #tubestrike hashtag during the recent London Underground strike to make points about their own causes were being canny or disrespectful. I couldn’t make up my own mind about this: one the one hand it is clearly quite a smart use of social media, but on the other hand I’m not sure whether people battling to work during a tube strike are really that receptive to being told that “other people have worse problems”. Obviously that is the case, but is it the best way of communicating the importance of your cause?



Rhodri Davies

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