Monday, March 6, 2017

Revised: What Is Philanthropy? A Documentary on Giving

What is Philanthropy?, an educational documentary that that portrays and discusses the concept of giving within the American context through a critical lens and a variety of perspectives, is now available through Indiana University Press. Use code FMG3XX to get a special introductory 30% discount.

The film covers the concept of giving from a variety perspectives including actor Mike Farrell, NFL quarterback Alex Smith, Evelyn Lauder from the Estee' Lauder Companies, Civil Rights Leader Dr. William G. Anderson, Nell Newman, co-founder of Newman's Own Organics, US Senator Charles Grassley, as well as leading scholars and average citizens.

The feature length film comes with the following:  20 scene selections by topic  4 special features  Subtitles in Spanish, French, Mandarin and English (SDH) Music by:  Ziggy Marley  Patti Smith  Peter Kaukonen  Mike Killeen

This documentary was an official selection of four film festivals and has been nominated for an Eclipse Award and Michigan Emmy Award. Here is what people are saying: "Your film will provide needed content for discussion at the higher education level about the valuable role that philanthropy plays in our American culture. College students can benefit from these stories as they consider career choices and how to best use their time and talent as well as financial resources to make a difference in a cause they care about." — Robert S. Collier, President of Council of Michigan Foundations

"As a faculty member to teaches nonprofit management I can tell you that this film will go a long way to fulfilling a need in today’s discourse relating to the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. Dr. Alaimo and his colleagues explore the many faces of philanthropy, highlighting its enormous contributions as well as its dark side. I am certain that this film will go a long way to changing the way that we, as a society, engage in charitable giving and public service." — Joanne Carman, Associate Professor, University of North CarolinaCharlotte

"I see many uses for this documentary: in formal high school, college and graduate level studies; tools for organizations such as the United Way, community foundations and giving circles to use with prospective donors and constituents; and through nonprofit, and foundation sector professional development programs." — Jill Kramer, Associate Vice President for Strategic Planning and Grants, Ivy Tech Community College

"Philanthropy is not well understood by policy makers or the general public. This film will help address that problem. A thorough and honest portrayal of the strengths and shortcomings of philanthropy will be just what the doctor ordered." — Aaron Dorfman, Executive Director, National Committee of Responsive Philanthropy

Friday, March 3, 2017

Because of Lack of Transparency at American Red Cross, The Federal Government Wants To Step In

Grassley, Thompson Introduce American Red Cross Transparency Act of 2017

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) today introduced legislation to give the congressional watchdog arm complete access to American Red Cross records for oversight purposes. The bipartisan, bicameral American Red Cross Transparency Act of 2017 responds to concerns that the Red Cross tried to quash a review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of its practices, successfully limiting the scope of the review, and has failed to be as transparent as it should be.

“The American people rely on the Red Cross to respond when tragedy strikes,” Grassley said. “The Red Cross is congressionally chartered and is a federal instrumentality.  It receives federal tax dollars for some of its disaster responses, and it receives the financial benefits of tax exemption and tax-deductible donations.  For those reasons, Congress has a responsibility to make sure the Red Cross answers questions asked on the public’s behalf and is operating up to the standards required of it during national disasters.   The Red Cross has shown an unwillingness at times to answer questions.  This legislation strengthens transparency to help make the Red Cross more accountable to the public.”  

“Response to and recovery from large-scale emergencies and natural disasters the scale of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy are complicated and difficult and we must always look for ways to improve,” Thompson said.  “If the Red Cross continues to thwart oversight and stall goodwill attempts to be investigated, their operational challenges are sure to persist and improvement will never happen. To ensure that Red Cross will respect the GAO’s audit authority, I am partnering with Senator Grassley to introduce bipartisan legislation that clarifies Congress’ intent regarding GAO’s oversight authority and give GAO new tools to enforce it.  We owe it to our constituents to ensure that the Red Cross is subjected to the oversight necessary to ensure that funds that Americans so generously donate are not misused and that the Red Cross is a reliable response and recovery partner to the Federal government.”

The American Red Cross Transparency Act gives the GAO complete access to the Red Cross’ records when needed to conduct oversight.  If the Red Cross refuses to comply, the legislation provides the GAO with the authority to bring an action in court to force compliance.  

Ten years ago, Congress gave the GAO the broad authority to “review [Red Cross’] involvement in any Federal program or activity the Government carries out under law.”  Despite clear legislative intent, the Red Cross essentially stonewalled GAO when it tried to carry out an investigation requested by Thompson in September 2013.  After two years of stall tactics, delays, and a request from the Red Cross’ president that Thompson  cancel his GAO request and conduct future oversight via cell phone, the GAO analyzed information the Red Cross begrudgingly made available to complete its investigation.  Grassley explored the GAO access problem as part of his inquiry of problems with the Red Cross’ Haiti earthquake response.  He sent the results as a memo to his fellow committee members on both the Judiciary and Finance committees in 2016.

The Red Cross is congressionally chartered and considered a federal instrumentality, unique among tax-exempt organizations.  The federal taxpayers pay for some of the Red Cross’ work directly through federal tax dollars for disaster responses and indirectly through the tax dollars foregone to the Red Cross through its tax exemption and through tax deductions donors take for charitable donations to the organization. 

The legislation is available here