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Fundraiser Diversity, Social Bonds Boost Giving, Nonprofits Learn Social Media

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We have much more in the new April issue posted online today. Among the highlights:

More and more foundations are issuing debt so they can step up their giving. Grant makers have issued more than $3 billion in social bonds to increase the amount they have available to give away. A group of foundations such as Ford and MacArthur kicked off the idea in the spring and have since been joined by the Bush and Rockefeller Foundations, among others. The California Endowment, for instance, plans to give the proceeds of its $300 million bond over the next few years and then has 30 years to pay the money back at a 2.5 percent rate. Still, not all foundations like the idea. Adam Falk, head of the Sloan Foundation, says he worries that pressure to pay the money back could lead to problems that put endowment funds at risk.

That’s not the only foundation innovation we cover in the new issue: Alex also looks at the approach the Jessie Ball duPont Foundation took after Covid struck. It realized nonprofits needed to get a lot savvier about online fundraising once it was impossible to hold walkathons, galas, and other in-person events. So it offered grantees crash courses in how to use Twitter and Facebook and assisted with other ways to boost digital contributions.

Did Bloomberg Philanthropies do more harm than good with a $160 million campaign to end vaping? Some health experts say they worry that the success in banning e-cigarettes limited an important tool to end smoking, Marc Gunther reports. The issue is an important one not just for health but also for social justice because debates over vaping regulations pit young affluent teenagers against the more vulnerable, who are struggling to kick cigarette addictions. Plus, Marc examines the strategy of another big grant maker, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is aiming its anti-tobacco work squarely at curbing cigarette use by people of color and poor whites.

One year after Covid, what’s should be on the grant-making agenda? Our opinion section enlisted several key players in philanthropy to offer views on what’s important a year after the lockdown began. Ellen Dorsey of the Wallace Global Fund and Aaron Dorfman of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy say foundation assets soared so high in recent months that it’s time to give a lot more over the next three years to bring about an equitable recovery. And Tonya Allen, Kathleen Enright, and Hilary Pennington urge grant makers to go beyond the changes they made in 2020 and do what nonprofits need most, especially as they seek to promote racial justice. Enright is head of the Council on Foundations, which Allen, head of McKnight, chairs. Pennington is a top official at Ford.

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