Post-Event Discussion Questions: Global Philanthropy

April 12, 2010

Last Wednesday evening, a very interesting discussion took place at the United Nations headquarters. So interesting, in fact, that panelists and members of the audience thought it would be wise to post the questions here to encourage further dicussion. But first, a little background.

The opening session of the "Investing in the Millennium Development Goals" forum, co-hosted by the U.S. Chamber BCLC and the U.N. Office for Partnerships, focused on the role of the private sector in philanthropy and the future of CSR. A prestigious group of experts participated in the panel discussion:

  • Robert Forrester, President and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation
  • Dr. Claire L. Gaudiani, Author, Professor at NYU and former President of Connecticut College
  • Melissa A. Berman, President and CEO of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
  • Mike Critelli, former Chairman and CEO of Pitney Bowes
  • Michael R. Loeb, Philanthropist, Founder and CEO of Loeb Enterprises
  • Shelly Lazarus, Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide
  • Moderated by Stephen Jordan, SVP and Executive Director of BCLC

When it came time to open the discussion to audience Q&A, moderator Stephen Jordan collected a "speed round" of questions. They are listed below -- and we welcome your comments and answers to them.

Also below, we provide a few areas of thought from each of the panelists to help get the online conversation started. Our Twitter feed from April 7th captures speaker quotes, as well.

Audience Questions for Discussion:

1. What grade would you give the corporate sector when it comes to philanthropy?

2. If so many companies realize the importance of investing in development, why don't they have "social enterprise acquisition teams" to identify promising initiatives and invest in them?

3. Is CSR as philanthropy too narrow a definition?

4. How can we move from "just giving," to supporting long term development of the nonprofit sector? (question came after a comment suggesting that many dollars are given to nonprofit organizations, but how do donors know whether the organizations have the capacity to use the funds properly? 

5. What’s the role of the UN in forging partnerships for development?

Thoughts from the panel:

Ms. Berman: “We need to take more time funding the solution than funding the problem."

Mr. Critelli: "Companies that have the best CSR initiatives are those where CSR is considered to be a high-prestige area."

Mr. Forrester urged corporate philanthropists to be smart investors and to recognize that nonprofits have one of the most challenging jobs in society. “Our non-profit sector drives our society."

Dr. Guadiani, on the issue of focus: “Imagine if corporations would pick out one important local- or global-level problem and work to solve it. Companies could start to “franchise” those programs in their locations around the world."

Ms. Lazarus: "Some charities expect companies to just leave the check at the door and make no other demands. But if a charity wants a lot from corporations, they need to make projects that are in the self-interest of the companies, which will eventually open up real opportunities for collaboration."

Mr. Loeb: “If there is a piece of good news, it is that we are heading in a direction of increased accountability.”

Don't hesitate to share your comments, experiences, and own questions here.