Playing the Percentages

Ah: the end of the year! Donors are racing to register their charitable contributions before January first. Nonprofits are counting on a December bounty. But what, besides tax advantages, is driving the giving?

For donors, the process boils down to two basic decisions: Which charities are deserving of their contributions, and how much should they give each one. And that leads to some larger questions: How much should each of us give in total? And how does our level of philanthropy compare to others? Continue reading

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Leading From Behind

The death of Nelson Mandela has triggered international recognition that he was a singularly remarkable man. In leading the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, Mandela attracted accolades not only for what he accomplished, but how he did it. He successfully transformed a notoriously racist whites-only government into a multi-racial democracy – with virtually no violence. This was a revolution without bloodshed, characterized by its tone of reconciliation, rather than revenge.

What was behind Mandela’s success? Obviously, he was a man of tremendous intelligence and high character. Clearly, he had an unwavering understanding that South Africa’s future depended on transcending strict racial, ethnic, tribal, and religious identities. But I’m convinced that much of his success derived from his understanding of leadership, something he arrived at as a boy. Continue reading

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