Fall 2010

Responsive Philanthropy Fall 2010


Written by: Aaron Dorfman

Date: December 02, 2010

A message from the Executive Director

Midterm elections are fast approaching. My mentor Paul Wellstone often said that politics is about improving people’s lives. Philanthropy, too, has an important role to play in improving the lives of marginalized people. This issue of Responsive Philanthropy features four articles that showcase how effective philanthropy benefits those in need.

For the cover feature, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mitch and Freada Kapor of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation. The Kapors describe their strong commitment to equality and helping low income communities of color. Mitch says, “The fundamental premise of a democracy has to be that there is equal opportunity for all.  Otherwise government of, by and for the people actually can’t live up to its promise.”

Phillip Henderson, president of the Surdna Foundation, explains the foundation’s new Strong Local Economies program and why it was created. “The work of the future was to foster the growth of communities that would be resilient in the face of recession, that would be inclusive and fair to all community members, and that would balance economic, environmental and cultural needs.  This, for us, was the answer to the recession,” he writes.

In “Wanted: Better Evaluation Practices for a Better Philanthropy,” Steven Mayer of the Effective Communities Project explores the need for better evaluation in philanthropy to increase effectiveness. He calls for a “reframing” of both evaluation and philanthropy to improve the quality of both.

Lisa Ranghelli, director of NCRP’s Grantmaking for Community Impact Project, looks at the policy accomplishments of several community groups in the Northwest region and what helped them win despite having less money and less political clout.

Finally, our member spotlight profiles The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University. The Kirwan Institute encourages the engagement of issues of race in ways that create and expand opportunities.

We appreciate hearing from our readers; I invite you to send your comments and suggestions for future stories to


Aaron Dorfman

Executive Director