Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Year Ahead

I am always delighted when friend and colleague MARILYN HOYT sends along her take on what's ahead. This is the third or fourth such report I've shared. Comment here or write Marilyn directly at

Resilience is more important than brilliance
Luke Johnson, The Entrepreneur
Financial Times, 11/6/13

Informal Personnel Study looking at Job Volatility:  Thanks to the 85 of us who reported on their current position and the past 2.  High points were:

1)      Most of us did not change jobs during the recession…and yet, we often saw ourselves as outliers if we stayed put.  Not so! 

2)      We often saw our job descriptions expanded as others were laid off or left. Now, new hires are getting new jobs and we still have these expanded jobs. (True of business too)

3)      When left jobs, we often began grantwriting/consulting. Now, many of us are going back to jobs.  Those at/near retirement are most consistent in staying freelance. 

4)      Those who stay a long time in one institution (10 years +), often have a bad experience after a move. We need to pace ourselves nimbly if we want to career-build with moves.

5)      For-profit colleagues often cross into fundraising from marketing and communications or their own small businesses.  We fundraisers transfer among non-profits serving similar constituencies or into government.


Foundations generally very much on the uptrend.  No sign that they’ll go back to pre-recession priorities.

Corporations not particularly.  They are distracted by the larger story of global CSR where there is no pressure for philanthropy, are still giving nearly ½ of their recorded philanthropy in-kind, continue interest in having their employees volunteering as part of their internal motivational and leadership development programs, and are under a lot of pressure to make sure their giving brings value back to their brand, leadership and/or bottom line.

Individuals.  Annual Funds are holding if not growing. Major gifts are tracking the return of stock profits and our ability to invest in building relationships. Social media delivers much more measurably as a brand raiser than a fundraiser.  Cause Related Marketing may make more sense as it doesn’t tend to require so much time on our side: impact. Don’t get lost in fads!  Keep watching the studies.

Government:  Still so volatile.  Network, network, network in your region and field.

Fads:  The fad of the moment is “technology.”  Since we’ve so traditionally worked without much technology or data, investigating these tools is a good idea. But technology does not replace relationships in our business or anyone else’s…and it’s hard to find efficiencies too.

Watch business…they got us into this, and are beginning to illuminate what data does and does not do.  A full year ago, the New York Times put a shot over the technology bow by placing two articles top-of-fold on page 1 of the Business Section:  ( and

To get my grey cells perking on how to harvest and use data, I was impressed with an article in the December 2013 Harvard Business Review: You Might Not Need Big Data After All – Learn how lots of little data can inform every day decision making.

On the other side of “hard” is where special things happen.
Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta
 National Public Housing Museum conference hosted by the Ford Foundation

Friday, January 17, 2014


FAMILY FOUNDATION MANAGEMENT/COUNSEL LLC is new entity I established, separate from The Oram Group. Please visit FFM/C at

I set it up because over the years I've been informally advising high net worth people, families, trustees of Oram clients, etc. on their  philanthropy. I gradually came to see that though these folks had  investment advisors, wealth managers, lawyers and accountants what they didn't always have was any real guidance on how to pick grantees that would optimize their giving. Some of these people already had donor advised funds at community foundations but in a few cases their wealth had increased so much they effectively outgrew that model.Others felt distant from their philanthropy or were not deriving a whole lot of pleasure (or recognition) out of their giving. As reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy last October:
Affluent Americans say their financial advisors too often talk about charitable giving in ways that are technical, focusing on tax breaks rather than their clients' philanthropic goals or missions, according to a study by US Trust and the Philanthropic Initiative.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 24, 2013
FFM/C's focus is new and emerging family foundations. We're not trying to compete with community foundations or fully established foundations (unless they seek us out) but  most important we are  not money managers, wealth gurus or investment managers.We are intensely and solely focused on a client's needs and philanthropic aspirations. FFM/C ...

  • Helps new and emerging family foundations develop a strategic focus for their philanthropy.

  • Provides a sensitive understanding of the intergenerational issues that may affect family philanthropy and arm's length counsel in resolving those conflicts

  • Brings guidance in inviting and evaluating grant proposals submitted on paper or through a foundation's website; selection of grantees; grants management; qualitative and quantitative assessments of grantees' performance; schedules accompanied or unaccompanied site visits

  • Closely cooperates with the family's legal and financial team.