Altruism Today

America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Is Now Churning Out Electricity

December 13th, 2016  |  Source:

As the Block Island Wind Farm ramps up to commercial operations, it's not as simple as pressing a button or flipping a switch.

Instead, after Deepwater Wind managers determine the time is right, an engineer in the company's Providence offices will give the go-ahead to a counterpart with turbine manufacturer General Electric who, from a remote location, will execute software to fully activate the first offshore wind farm in the United States.

Or actually, not quite full activation. Because of an equipment mishap, one of the five 6-megawatt turbines is down for repairs and isn't set to go on-line again until the end of this month at the earliest.

Whether the four remaining turbines that were installed this fall in the waters off Block Island spin at full power is, of course, dependent on the wind and how strong it's blowing.

But, with Deepwater on Monday receiving the all-clear from the operator of the regional power grid, it now has permission to remove any constraints on the generating potential of the 30-megawatt wind farm and begin selling all the electricity pumped out by the towering wind turbines.

BitGive Launches GiveTrack, Real-Time Donation Tracking System

December 8th, 2016  |  Source: BitGive Foundation

The original Bitcoin nonprofit enables a transparent method of tracking charitable funds

 BitGive, the first Bitcoin 501(c)(3) nonprofit, today announced the launch of GiveTrack, a revolutionary blockchain-based donation platform. GiveTrack has been under development for the past year as the BitGive team worked tirelessly to raise funds, build partnerships, and design new technology. The transparent platform is the first of its kind, offering the ability to transfer, track, and provide a permanent record of the route of global financial transactions from inception to endpoint.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of GiveTrack, a game-changing technology for philanthropy. GiveTrack epitomizes BitGive’s mission to make use of innovative technologies that will improve philanthropic work while driving new donations. We are proud to have developed an effective tool that will aid in humanitarian efforts for causes around the world. This will create operational efficiencies and deepen the trust between charities and their donors,” said Connie Gallippi, Founder of BitGive.

GiveTrack offers a unique solution to the challenge of transparency, a major problem for non-profits. GiveTrack leverages blockchain technology that provides an unprecedented level of clarity to donors and nonprofits alike, with the ability to see the flow of value from the initial donation to allocation and deployment phases of funds. The platform also provides project status updates so donors can see their contributions in action. With the platform, anyone will be able to instantly trace the pathway of a charitable transaction, including the confirmation of delivery and the tracking of project results.

The foundation for the platform is blockchain technology, which enables the publication of records to an openly available, permanent ledger that can also preserve confidentiality. GiveTrack is able to capture relevant data along each step of the process and record it to the blockchain, preventing the tampering of data or false accounting. Additionally, GiveTrack allows for increased public access to the provenance and movement of funds, providing potential donors with confidence that comes from clear evidence of a record of success.

Dawn Newton, a Director on BitGive’s Board of Directors and COO of Netki, said: “GiveTrack is an empowerment tool for nonprofits. Donors love to know the impact that their giving has created. It is an absolute motivation for people to give even more. However, donating has been known to be very time consuming and difficult for nonprofits to track. GiveTrack provides a solution by easily allowing nonprofits to onboard and use the system, while their donors can immediately see their giving at work.”

Since its founding in 2013, BitGive has conducted extensive outreach and provided educational resources for the nonprofit sector while integrating social impact with financial technology.

Peter Chasse, President and Founder of The Water Project, who worked closely with BitGive on the project, said “We recognized early on, alongside BitGive, that the blockchain provides a whole new way to allow confidence-inspiring real-time auditing of how organizations like ours spend the public’s donations. GiveTrack will allow charities to prove, in an approachable way, what they’ve been doing all along, namely providing sustainable, cost-effective solutions to people who need them most.”  In addition, BitGive supported Medic Mobile’s Nepal-based team in earthquake rebuild efforts by raising money and supplying 650 mobile phones to health workers in the Dhading District of Nepal. Other prominent nonprofits from around the globe that BitGive has partnered with include Save the Children, TECHO, Fundación Parlas, and Team Rubicon.

Alyse Killeen, a Director on BitGive’s Board of Directors and Partner at StillMark Investment Fund, said; “The GiveTrack Platform will create incredible efficiencies in the nonprofit industry, allowing for the optimization of charitable dollars in service of all stakeholders – nonprofits, populations served, and donors – so that each donor dollar can have maximum impact. By empowering donors to track their charitable dollars, and allowing donors to own and manage their own trust in nonprofit organizations through direct and instant access to dollar flows, BitGive can catalyze an increase in total charitable dollars given each year.”
Major funders of GiveTrack include the Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation, Matthew Roszak (Bloq), Rodolfo Andragnes (Bitcoin Argentina), CoinFabrik, and Rocelo Lopes (CoinBR), among others.  Special thanks also goes to personal champions of the project, including Dawn Newton (Netki), Matthew Roszak (Bloq), Rich Morgan (Morgan IT Consulting), Peter Chasse (The Water Project), and Juan Llanos.

BitGive will unveil their platform on the evening of December 8 at the San Francisco Bitcoin Social, one of the largest blockchain events in the United States. At the event, BitGive will also showcase an inspiring Givetrack video developed by BitFilm. Supporting the event will be an art show from Cryptograffiti, the premiere of a new Blockchain rock song and music video from Aaron Koenig, as well as a charitable auction featuring donations from KeepKey and Andreas Antonopoulos. To cap off the launch of GiveTrack, BitGive will be matching donations during a live charity drive for The Water Project and Medic Mobile, courtesy of donations provided by Bloq, Netki, and Goodwin Law. launches: Generation to Generation

November 17th, 2016  |  Source:

A new campaign powered by is bringing older and younger people together to make life better for all generations.

When we launched some 18 years ago, I remember talking about the day, sometime in the future, when 10,000 or more people would turn 60 every day. That moment is here—and it’s our moment to break through, to seize the opportunity of an aging America to make life better for all.

Today we launch Generation to Generation, a new campaign to mobilize 1 million adults over 50 to help young people thrive and unite all ages to create a better future.

Will you join us?

In this first stage of the campaign, we’re focused on mentoring and featuring three terrific nonprofit partners in search of people with experience to offer— MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, Strive for College, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. We’ll be spotlighting new opportunities at each of these and dozens more partner organizations on the campaign website, and providing you with countless ways to help young people thrive.

I’m proud to announce that Eunice Lin Nichols will be our new campaign director. Generation to Generation is personal for Eunice, who grew up in an intergenerational home and has been a leader of our movement since she joined Experience Corps in her 20s. She ran AARP Experience Corps in San Francisco for 11 years before joining, where she led The Purpose Prize. I’m trying not to gush, but Eunice is among the best human beings I know. We’re in good hands.

I hope you’ll sign up to be part of the Generation to Generation campaign todayand help us spread our campaign's message of intergenerational unity—a message that is needed now more than ever.


Marc Freedman

Campaign Chairman

Founder and CEO,


P.S. Help us spread the word by forwarding this email to friends and family today and/or clicking here to tweet

Jeff Bezos and Amazon Used Exactly 2 Sentences to Teach Us All a Major Lesson

November 17th, 2016  |  Source:

Amazon's recent statement teaches you how to grow as a person.

Over a year ago, The New York Times published a scathing piece portraying Amazon, the world's largest retailer, as a brutal employer that puts innovation and company performance above the well-being of its people. The authors painted a picture of "unreasonably high" standards, colleagues sabotaging one another, and managers who deal callously with workers enduring family tragedies and serious health problems.

Now, the company has revealed significant changes in how it assesses employees. A spokesperson provided the following statement to multiple news outlets:

"We're launching a new annual review process next year that is radically simplified and focuses on our employees' strengths, not the absence of weaknesses. We will continue to iterate and build on the program based on what we learn from our employees."

According to reports, Amazon currently uses employee ratings as a way to identify high- and low-performers. This controversial management technique has been used extensively in Silicon Valley, although many companies have done away with the practice.

Some may see this as a carefully crafted PR device, but you can be sure it was reviewed, revised, and redrafted multiple times before getting approved--no doubt by Bezos himself.

And it contains a major lesson for all of us.

How Bezos Got It Right

So, what makes this statement so great?

One major reason:

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos demonstrated remarkable emotional intelligence in his ability to process feedback.

From the beginning, I appreciated Bezos's quick response to the allegations of the Timesstory.

He may have felt the criticism was unduly biased. ("I don't recognize this Amazon, and I very much hope you don't either," Bezos told employees.) But through an internal memo,Bezos nonetheless encouraged Amazon employees to read the Times story, and to "escalate to HR" any stories they knew of like those reported--even inviting individuals to email him directly.

Only those on the inside really know what it's like working for Amazon, and even then there are bound to be varying perspectives. (Amazon employs more than 300,000 people worldwide.)

But with Bezos's initial response, and now the announcement of changes in the company, Amazon's founding father shows the ability to set emotions aside and learn from criticism--even if it's not delivered in an ideal way.

We can all learn from that attitude.

Whether you're an employer or an employee, criticism is never easy to take. You've invested blood, sweat, and tears in your work; it's natural to be offended when someone says you're wrong.

But the truth is, criticism is often rooted in truth. When you receive negative feedback,there are two choices:

·       You can put your feelings aside and try to learn from the situation.

·       You can get angry and let emotion get the best of you.

Guess which one's going to benefit you?

Even if negative feedback turns out to be mostly unfounded, it can still give you a chance to see from an alternative perspective. (My forthcoming book, which serves as a practical guide to emotional intelligence, outlines more specific strategies for how you can make sure you benefit from criticism.)

To be clear, I'm not excusing criticism that's hurtful or poorly delivered. If your feedback is thoughtful and empathetic, the chance is greater that the recipient will benefit. (You should also be generous with sincere and specific commendation.)

But if you're on the receiving end of negative feedback, don't waste time thinking about how the other person made you feel. Instead, set your emotions aside and ask:

·       How can I use this feedback to help myself or my team improve?

·       Putting my personal feelings aside, what can I learn from this alternative perspective?

Bravo to Bezos and company for using that negative feedback as a catalyst to grow.

If you do the same, you'll only keep getting better.

Clinton Foundation prepares to scale down operations

November 7th, 2016  |  Source: Philanthropy Daily

In a public letter to leaders in the foundation and nonprofit world, Clinton Foundation chief Donna Shalala announced recently that the organization will significantly scale back much of its programming. “Regardless of the [election] results in November,” Shalala wrote, the Foundation will suspend the Clinton Global Initiative and, if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, the Foundation is prepared to “transition [international] projects to partner organizations […] or spin them off into independent entities.” In addition, the Foundation will stop accepting foreign and corporate donations and former president Bill Clinton plans on resigning from the board. 

Speaking with the Chronicle of Philanthropy shortly after the letter went public, Ms. Shalala explained that many foundations do something similar when scaling down operations, alerting colleagues ahead of time so that gaps in the institutional landscape might be more effectively filled in. She added that her counterparts have generally been “very supportive” of the Foundation’s plans. A number of the Foundation’s flagship programs—combating childhood obesity and opioid abuse, for instance, or expanding health access—will live on as autonomous operations. 

This announcement raises the troubling cynicism which has for so long bedeviled the Clintons’ philanthropic efforts. Certainly those critics who allege that Clinton has used the massive foundation as a vehicle for fundraising, favor-dealing, and reputational rehabilitation gearing up to her inevitable presidential run will not be reassured by the news that the former Secretary of State is phasing down operations now that that goal seems within reach. The point of Shalala’s letter seems on some level to be merely to dispel this idea: the Foundation boss repeatedly stresses how painful the transition has been while reaffirming the group’s “dedication to the people who benefit from our work.” 

Of course, we mustn’t nitpick. If Clinton were to win the election, the Foundation would obviously need to undergo some significant restructuring one way or another. But perhaps the lesson of the Clinton Foundation’s scale-down is that ‘personality foundations’ such as these are inherently unstable, tied as they are to the ups and downs of their namesake’s fortunes. In philanthropy, as in theater, the show must go on; but things would be going a bit more smoothly now if the Foundation weren’t so closely associated with Mrs. Clinton, and all the political baggage she brings to the picture. 

Chobani CEO Takes a Powerful Stand on Immigrants and Refugees

November 4th, 2016  |  Source: NPQ

Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of the yogurt giant Chobani, and an immigrant himself, has been under siege of late for his advocacy and employment of refugees.

Ulukaya, who founded Chobani in 2007, has been a strong advocate for refugees from his native Turkey as well as other countries reeling from the impact of recent crises, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been outspoken on immigrant rights in highly public spaces such as the World Economic Forum. He founded The Tent Foundation to mobilize corporate leaders, and has committed most of his wealth to addressing the refugee crisis.

He has also put his advocacy into practice at Chobani. When Chobani opened a new factory in Twin Falls, Idaho, Ulukaya partnered with nonprofit resettlement centers in the area to recruit its new employees—a common hiring practice for the company. Once recruited, refugees were paid above the minimum wage, provided transportation, and equipped with translators to help them realize success in their new roles.

“The minute a refugee has a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee,” Ulukaya has said.

But this move agitates far-right politics. An increasingly nationalistic movement within the country mobilized by the upcoming presidential election is confronting Ulukaya’s empathy and compassion with anti-Muslim hate speech and death threats. The controversial website Breitbart, for example, published a story that attributes the rise of tuberculosis in Twin Falls, Idaho, with Chobani hiring refugees.

The mayor of Twin Falls, Democrat Shawn Barigar, has also come under attack, including death threats, for supporting Chobani in what some are calling the “Islamification of the United States,” a response he calls “crazy.” Barigar points to the anti-immigration rhetoric made popular through Donald Trump’s campaign as the culprit. “Donald Trump really fueled a sentiment about immigration that is shared by a very small part of our community,” he said. “We are an agricultural center. We’ve depended on immigrants for a half-century or more.”

The counter-response in support of Chobani has grown increasingly strong. Chobani’s Twitter feed, for example, surges with gratitude and encouragement.

The New York Times reports that Chobani’s example as a corporate leader is being noticed and admired by his peers.

Chobani’s work with refugees went largely unnoticed until this January, when Mr. Ulukaya spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. His message—that corporations needed to do more to assist refugees—broke through the high-minded rhetoric.

“He was quite a sensation there,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, who attended the event. “Here was someone who went beyond the well-meaning chatter of Davos and was walking the walk.”

Source; New York Times

Trump Shows the Gap Between Pledge and Gift Can Be a Gulf

November 1st, 2016  |  Source: NPQ

Source; Washington Post

The good news is that most pledges eventually become completed gifts from most major donors. However, this fact often seduces charities and the media to breathlessly report pledges as though they are gifts already made. The Washington Post’s James Fahrenthold’s recent article in the series covering the Trump Foundation illustrates the importance of separating the appearance of a gift from an actual gift.

Those familiar with Fahrenthold’s coverage and NPQ’s coverage of the Trump Foundationwon’t be surprised that there are several cases where the current Republican presidential candidate claimed to have made charitable gifts, or “gate-crashed” events assuming a major donor role when it turned out not to be true. The new Post story also describes additional gifts made by the Trump Foundation that appear to have benefitted Trump and his family personally. Two examples are the foundation’s use of $100 to purchase a two-person membership at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and a $7 gift to the Boy Scouts. The $7 gift raises questions because it represents the cost to register a child as a scout at the time Trump’s eldest son was 11 years old. The new allegations of “self-dealing” involving Trump’s private foundation (regardless the amount of money in question), if true, could subject the foundation to IRS penalties and even revocation of its tax exemption.

One example of “gate-crashing” involved Trump turning up uninvited at an event celebrating the opening of a nursery school for children with AIDS, where he claimed a seat designated for a major donor on the stage (between then-current NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Mayor David Dinkins) despite never having given to the organization. The donor whose seat Trump took was awkwardly relegated to sit anonymously among the audience. It was an insult aided and abetted by the charity’s desire to avoid a scene. Instead of standing up for itself and its donor at the time, the nonprofit spent several months working with their major donor to salvage the relationship.

GoFundMe Is Changing The Way People Give To Causes Big And Small

October 31st, 2016  |  Source:

Late in 2012 Eliza O’Neill, a lively, talkative 3-year-old growing up in Columbia, S.C., started stumbling over her words. “Something was just not right,” recalls her father, Glenn, then a procurement manager for a data-storage company. A series of tests brought devastating news. Eliza had Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare and incurable disease that would erase her ability to speak, destroy her motor function and kill her before she reached adulthood.

Desperate, Glenn and his wife, Cara, a pediatrician, discovered that a hospital researcher was working on an experimental gene therapy that had shown promising results in mice. But the trial needed funding. The O’Neills quickly set up a tax-exempt foundation and, at no cost, posted a fundraising appeal on a three-year-old crowdfunding site called GoFundMe. Anyone moved to contribute could click a big rectangular “Donate Now” button and share the good deed on social media.

The O’Neills’ funding goal was $1 million. Three years later, spurred by a three-minute video about Eliza that has been viewed on Facebook and YouTube nearly one million times, 37,000 donors around the world have given the O’Neills’ foundation more than $2 million via GoFundMe. This May Eliza became the first child to receive the experimental therapy, and her parents are hopeful her condition will improve. “It’s a miracle that this happened,” Glenn says.

It has also been very good for GoFundMe, which takes a 5% cut of the money raised on the site. For hosting the O’Neills’ appeal, it has reaped more than $100,000. GoFundMe is not a philanthropy; it is an increasingly valuable for-profit business prominent on FORBES’ 2016 list of next billion-dollar startups. After achieving a reported valuation of $600 million in a July 2015 venture capital deal, it hit a growth spurt. In its first five years before the deal it channeled $1 billion in donations. Then it took just nine months to hit the second billion and only seven months to move a third billion in donations. For 2016 GoFundMe is projecting revenue of $100 million and an operating profit margin of more than 20%. GoFundMe is more than twice the size of the world’s next-largest crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, which focuses on artistic projects and new products. Like GoFundMe, Kickstarter takes 5% of the money it raises, though it doesn’t collect if campaigns don’t reach their goals. GoFundMe collects no matter what. It also imposes a 2.9% credit card processing fee plus 30 cents per donation.

GoFundMe’s brass are unapologetic capitalists who see the profit motive as perfectly aligning with the company’s objective: getting more people to give more money more efficiently to a vast array of “personal causes.” Because GoFundMe’s profits directly correlate with how much money it can persuade others to give away, the business is highly incentivized to increase the total amount people donate to others. The one million fundraisers pumping away on the site run the gamut from the Cure Sanfilippo Foundation to disaster relief for victims of the August Baton Rouge floods (6,400 GoFundMe campaigns have raised $11.2 million) to a couple who want help paying for their Prague honeymoon.

“Nobody’s been able to really harness the power of the people to raise funds,” says CEO Rob Solomon, 49, a UC Berkeley grad who grew up in Manhattan and Miami while his activist mother protested anti-gay-rights proponent Anita Bryant. “A for-profit in this space will perform better than a nonprofit. You need a modern Internet company to do that.” GoFundMe already channels more than twice as much as the Red Cross, which collected contributions of $604 million last year. The 135-year-old charity, where 90% of spending goes to programs, has only praise for GoFundMe’s winning formula. “If GoFundMe can make money and do good deeds at the same time,” says Neal Litvack, the organization’s chief marketing officer, “that’s probably a good thing.”

At GoFundMe’s headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., 60 staffers in jeans and sneakers spend their days the way many other Silicon Valley startup workers do, tapping away at workstations spread out in a 9,000-square-foot, open-plan office inside a gleaming glass-and-steel building set back from a leafy street. Meetings happen in conference rooms named for successful campaigns like Saving Eliza and Ibra’s Chair, which raised $33,000 for a Kenyan-born high school student with cerebral palsy who needed an electric wheelchair. Solomon, who has no office and works instead at a standing desk next to a window, says the developers and designers are devoted to “optimizing for conversion.” That includes refining the website’s user interface to make it more likely to drive donations. Those who start campaigns can share them across multiple social media platforms with a few clicks. A mobile app lets campaign organizers create videos from photos on their phones, and the company is working on a tool that will enable live video streaming.

GoFundMe has big expansion plans. It opened a Dublin office in July to service Ireland and the U.K. It’s up and running in Canada and Australia and hopes to open in several European countries Solomon isn’t ready to name. Annual donations will hit between $5 billion and $7 billion by 2020, he predicts.

How the Trump Campaign Exposed America’s Sleeping Authoritarianism

October 25th, 2016  |  Source: PS Magazine

A new analysis of American values reveals a deepening philosophical divide among voters. And this election’s outcome may offer a breaking point.

Almost exactly four years ago, former Supreme Court Justice David Souter offered a dire warning to the crowd of nearly 1,300 people assembled in Concord, New Hampshire: America’s civil religion, built on an abiding devotion to Republican principles, is on the verge of collapse.

“If we know who is responsible, I have enough faith in the American people to demand performance from those responsible,” Souter said, speaking of voters and the democratic process, less than two months before Barack Obama would defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney at the polls. “If we don’t know, we will stay away from the polls. We will not demand it. And the day will come when somebody will come forward and we and the government will in effect say, ‘Take the ball and run with it. Do what you have to do.’ That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.”

When considered in the context of Donald Trump’s campaign, Souter’s warning is eerily prescient (as, to her credit, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow astutely observed first observed last week). Of course, democratic societies have always struggled to nurture Republicanism; just consider Benjamin Franklin’s famous assertion that the nascent United States would be “a Republic … if you can keep it.” But after 240 years, America’s extraordinary experience is showing signs of wavering: New data on American values suggests the 2016 campaign has forced civil society to an unprecedented breaking point.

On Tuesday, the Public Religion Research Institute released its annual survey of American values since 1950. Culled from a sample of 2,010 voters, the PRRI data paints a picture of a body politic evenly divided on whether the country has changed for the better or worse (48 percent to 51 percent) since the end of World War II, splitting Americans across ethnic, racial, religious, and sociopolitical lines.

Not surprisingly, it’s primarily white, working-class Christians who believe the U.S. has been in decline for years. They are pessimistic about a political system and remain concerned that their values are “under attack,” a finding bolstered by other polls. This can’t all be traced to economic anxiety: The election is about the future of American whiteness.

“This election has become a referendum on competing visions of America’s future,” said PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones in a statement accompanying the report. “Donald Trump supporters are nostalgic for the 1950s, an era when white Christians in particular had more political and cultural power in the country, while Hillary Clinton supporters are leaning into — and even celebrating — the big cultural transformations the country has experienced over the last few decades.”

Conservative malaise has now transformed into a subtle rejection of Republicanism.

Even as faith in American institutions remains at historic lows, white anxiety has been on the rise since the political turmoil and social liberalization of the 1960s and 1970s started chipping away at the idea of the post-war nuclear family. According to the PRRI data, some 72 percent of likely Trump voters say American society has worsened since the 1950s (compared to 70 percent of Clinton voters who say it’s improved), as do 56 percent of white Americans, mostly due to the usual socio-economic anxieties of working-class whites (65 percent hold this view compared to 56 percent of college-educated whites). It’s those relatively religious working-class whites who believe “America’s best days are behind [them],” and are deeply pessimistic about America’s financial future, the threats posed by immigrants, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Perhaps the most alarming revelation of the PRRI survey data is that conservative malaise has now transformed into a subtle rejection of Republicanism. There’s obviously a marked increase in frustration with the U.S. political system: Sixty-one percent of Americans reject both political parties (up from 48 percent in 1990), and both Trump and Hillary Clinton have historically high unfavorability ratings among voters, 65 and 57 percent respectively.

That frustration has extended to the electoral system, the very lifeblood of Republicanism, itself. Consider that, while African Americans are generally more skeptical than whites that their votes will be counted, only a third of white, working-class Americans have confidence in the system. Additionally, 64 percent of white, working class Americans believe elections “ are controlled by those with money so it doesn’t matter if they vote,” a belief that precedes Trump’s claims of vote-rigging by several weeks. And consider that, while only 45 percent of white Americans believe the country needs an authoritarian leader (defined as someone “who will break rules because things have gotten so off track”), it’s a majority of working-class whites in favor of one.

The tendency toward authoritarianism among this subset of American society was documented well before Trump’s rise. In Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler observed that the political philosophy undergirding far-right conservatism that evolved after the relative homogeneity of the 1950s is less about “conservative” principles (small government, free markets, etc.) and more about order.

Although their analysis was published in 2009, it feels as relevant as Souter’s 2012 warning: Authoritarianism “is fundamentally motivated by desire for order, support for authorities seen as best able to secure that order again a variety of threats to social cohesion … to stave off the chaos that often appears to be just around the corner. Emanating from such a conception is a suspicion of ideas that appear to pose a threat to such authorities and of groups that may, by their very nature, unravel the social fabric.” Trump’s ostracization of immigrants and Muslims, his demonization of the “rigged” media and elections, and his law-and-order battle cry of “I alone can fix it” aren’t just brilliant rhetoric—they’re the stuff of democratic nightmares.

This isn’t to say that there’s an apocalyptic, democracy-ending civil war brewing between a faction of conservative Trump supporters and the rest of the country as some worrywarts in D.C. might have you believe. But the sociopolitical malaise that Trump has summoned certainly experience doesn’t bode well for the future of democracy.

The conservative exploitation of Tea Party anxiety after Obama’s election in 2008 and Trump’s utilization of white anxiety in 2016 may have fanned the flames, but the authoritarian sickness has been festering among working-class whites for decades.

The best response to civic ignorance, Souter said in 2012, was to engender a knowledge of (and respect for) Republicanism beyond the cheerleader-like patriotism that accompanies fear and panic. “What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible,” he said in Concord. “And when the problems get bad enough … some one person will come forward and say, ‘Give me total power and I will solve this problem.’”

It’s the right proposition, but it’s likely too late. Consider that a 2012 Xavier University study showed that two out of three Americans who take a citizenship test offered to immigrants fail (some 97.5 percent of the immigrants applying pass). And in an age of fact-free governance and campaigning, where Trump can construct an entire universe of falsehoods and lies and sacrifice long-term civic solidarity in favor of a short-term profit, it may be a bit too late for civics.

An armed revolution will not come to the U.S. anytime soon. But if Franklin’s (and Souter’s) biggest fear was that Americans would voluntarily surrender their liberty, the PRRI’s report shows that a growing bloc of voters are increasingly ready to do just that.

Clinton and Trump: A Tale of Two Foundations

October 17th, 2016  |  Source: NPQ

The 2016 presidential race has focused unprecedented attention on the charity and philanthropy of the candidates. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump started charitable foundations many years ago that continue in operation today. Unfortunately for the nonprofit sector and those who advocate for its beneficiaries, most of the stories printed about both foundations have been negative, not only injuring the reputations of the foundations and their founders, but also harming the credibility of the nonprofit sector as a whole.

Both Clinton and Trump have been accused of using “their” foundations for personal gain in violation of their fiduciary duty and, in some cases, in potential violation of state and/or federal law. Both candidates have placed family members and close confidantes in foundation leadership positions. Both candidates and their foundations have resisted media inquiries and left significant questions about foundation operations and governance unanswered.

Whether one foundation or the other is more culpable, more suspect, or more dangerous to civil society is a question with an answer usually heavily influenced by one’s political leanings. Trump supporters, Republicans, and conspiracy theorists point to the Clinton Foundation’s large size, complex structure of interrelated yet independently organized nonprofits and for-profit corporations, network of wealthy donors which includes multimillionaires, billionaires, transnational corporations, and many foreign governments, and the correlation of Clinton Foundation projects with support of Bill and Hillary Clinton in their private careers. Clinton supporters rail against the Trump Foundation’s haphazard and poorly documented support of charities, its having collected other people’s money while Donald Trump himself hasn’t given anything since 2009, the federal penalty paid for sending a $25,000 check to support the legal defense fund of the Florida Attorney General, purchase of at least one charitable auction item (possibly three or more) by the foundation that Trump used personally, and generally poor foundation administration and record-keeping which might be either lackadaisical or intentional.

One key difference between the two foundations is that while both are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code, the Trump Foundation is a private foundation and the Clinton Foundation is a public charity. The distinction is important because IRS regulations governing private foundations are generally stricter than those applicable to public charities. The reason is that, usually, private foundations receive their support from a small group of people (e.g., an individual or family) and are more susceptible to poor governance and breaches of fiduciary duty than public charities, which receive support from broader sources and are more likely to have broader independent representation in leadership.

In some important ways, it’s easier to follow the dealings of the Trump Foundation because it’s a private foundation. Unlike a public charity, it is required to disclose its donors to the public. Also, the corporate structure of the Trump Foundation is simple. There are no related nonprofit or corporate entities, where the Clinton Foundation has several related charities, initiatives, and structures in the U.S. and several other countries—often, but not always, including the Clinton name in their identity.

With no paid staff and virtually no claimed overhead, all actions of the Trump Foundation are assumed to be taken under the direction and control of Donald Trump. The Trump Foundation’s annual budget over the past eight years has averaged less than $1 million, while the Clinton Foundation and its related organizational structures have both annual revenue and assets of more than $300 million and employ more than 1,000 people.

The two foundations couldn’t be more different when it comes to overhead. As stated, the Trump Foundation has no paid staff. Its only expenses claimed on its Form 990 for 2014 are IRS filing fees and the cost to prepare the Form 990. The Clinton Foundation itself, exclusive of related entities, has $86 million in expenses, only $5 million of which were grants paid. In fact, its professional fundraising expense of $850,000 exceeds the total 2014 Trump Foundation budget.

The Clinton Foundation appears to be awash in overhead, while the Trump Foundation is so starved for managerial support that its board appears to desperately need a lesson in what nonprofit sustainability and capacity building are all about. Both perceptions may be deceptive due to how the foundations are managed. The Trump Foundation appears to receive services through the Trump Organization, Donald Trump’s multibillion-dollar for-profit corporation. The Clinton Foundation, on the other hand, has an unusual approach to service delivery.

The Clinton Foundation’s primary program service expense is for conferences, conventions, and meetings—items that would be considered overhead for most nonprofits but which are central to the Clinton Foundation’s mission to bring world leaders together to address global needs and secure multiorganizational commitments to meet those needs. Regardless of the value of these conferences, it doesn’t help public perception of charity that these charitable programs and services are delivered in the world’s most luxurious locations with the international intellectual, business, and political elite in attendance.

Some have said, based on press reports and tax filings, that the Trump Foundation’s problem is that it doesn’t know what it’s doing. Conversely, the Clinton Foundation suffers from a structure so complex and interwoven that it requires extensive nonprofit tax and legal expertise to operate, resulting in a situation that its managers and advisers know all too well where the boundaries are and how they might be blurred or breached with a minimum of risk. It’s a tale of The Trump Foundation’s iron-fisted approach to fiduciary duty versus a Clinton Foundation velvet-gloved practice of orchestrating a Byzantine bureaucracy where the principals seem to be doing very well for themselves because of, rather than in spite of, their charitable activities.

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