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Good Giving | Success Stories

Houston Philanthropist David Weekley to Receive William E. Simon Prize

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Houston-area homebuilder and philanthropist David Weekley has been named the recipient of the 2015 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership, an annual award administered by The Philanthropy Roundtable that highlights the power of philanthropy to promote positive change and to inspire others to support charities that achieve genuine results. The prize is intended to honor living philanthropists who have shown exemplary leadership through their own charitable giving, either directly or through foundations they have created.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1999: Rose Center for Earth and Space

Sometimes the vision and management direction a philanthropist offers to a project can be as valuable as his money. Financier Richard Gilder was a longtime member of the board of directors for the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and served on its planetarium committee.

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(Blog): What’s My Line?



In the opening session of the 2015 ACR Summit for Leaders, we had a bit of fun with messaging around the charitable deduction while conveying the critical importance of communicating to Congress that this part of our tax code must be protected. In this session four speakers delivered four different messages about the charitable deduction and audience members voted for the most persuasive message. The presenters and moderator were all members of the Charitable Giving Coalition, which has provided a unique and unified voice on Capitol Hill on issues affecting the charitable deduction since 2009.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2007: Strengthening Character Through Sports

David Weekley was involved in character-building activities as a youth through Boy Scouts and church groups. After his success as a major home builder he decided to devote 50 percent of his money and his time to philanthropy, and character development was a key concern. It “is every bit as critical as economic aid or health care or education reform,” he told Philanthropy. Weekley was a longtime funder of Scouting, which reaches 20 or 25 percent of young people; sports, however, reaches around 75 percent. “I’m not personally a sports enthusiast but the country has become more focused athletically and more and more kids are involved,” said Weekley, so he set out looking for a charitable partner who could help children and their coaches build wholesome and productive values through athletics.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1903: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Ellen Browning Scripps, whose fortune derived from the Scripps family’s newspaper empire, generously supported a range of charitable causes across Southern California. She donated the land and first building for a Catholic college-prep school for girls, and supported it financially for years. She endowed what would become Scripps College, a part of the Claremont Colleges that she had helped to found. She commissioned a Women’s Club’s headquarters and community center, and the country’s first public playground, in La Jolla. She funded Egyptian explorations that resulted in the San Diego Museum’s Ancient Egyptian collection. She founded the Scripps Memorial Hospital and the Scripps Metabolic Clinic.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2008: Cause-oriented Journalism

Take one scoop of donors looking for new ways to affect public opinion and government policy, mix with three scoops of mainstream journalism bleeding red ink in the face of new Internet-based competition, and you get a layer-cake of donor-funded reporting operations. The granddaddy of these creations is ProPublica, founded by hyperactive liberal donors Herb and Marion Sandler to be a twenty-first-century muckraker, with a special focus on topics like gun control, civil rights, health care, fracking, campaign finance limits, labor laws, the Gulf oil spill, Guantanamo, and other policy hot buttons.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2014: New Orleans School District Goes All-charter

Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans public schools were the worst district in the second-lowest-performing state in the entire U.S. Fully 78 percent of NOLA students attended a school designated as “failing” by state standards. Then the storm wrecked 100 of the city’s 127 schools. Rather than rebuild the dysfunctional and corrupt school district, local leaders decided to instead create the nation’s most complete necklace of charter schools, then let them independently pursue a new set of higher common standards. Decision-making power was decentralized away from the old school-board bureaucracy and transferred to individual principals, teachers, and schoolhouses. Top charter operators from across the country were invited in to set up shop, and more than 40 different entities now operate charters in the city on a competitive basis. At the same time, school performance began to be monitored intensely, with the understanding that new schools given five-year operating charters would be shut down at the end of that period if their students were not succeeding.

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ACR News 02.06.15 - Hot, Warm, and Cold

>> Federal: Washington Roundup
>> Federal: Ways and Means Approves Charitable Bills
>> Federal: Charitable Proposals in Budget a ‘Mixed Bag’
>> Federal: Chairman Hatch Announces Working Groups and Timeline
>> Federal: ACR Summit
>> Consider This: Hot, Warm, and Cold
>> Top Reads: Obama Budget Again Calls for Limit to Charitable Deduction


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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

2007: Healing the Upper Midwest

The business triumphs of Denny Sanford allowed him to retire to Florida at age 45–but he was soon itchy and returned to the upper Midwest where he had spent his entire previous life. After further commercial successes, he started giving away money. He turned his attention to the Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System, beginning with a $16 million gift for a children’s hospital designed like a fairy castle. With his $400 million donation in 2007 (the largest single gift ever made to a U.S. health-care organization), the nonprofit was renamed Sanford Health. Sanford Health now includes nearly three dozen hospitals and more than 140 clinics, centered on South and North Dakota but spread across eight states, making it one of the largest rural, not-for-profit health systems in the nation.

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Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1853: Connecting Orphans to Families

Charles Loring Brace was emphatic that the thousands of miserable homeless children roaming the streets of nineteenth-century New York had the “same capacities” and the same importance “as the little ones in our own homes.” That was an essential part of his Christian creed. But Brace also believed that “habits of life and the inner forces which form character” ultimately drive success and happiness, so it is important for unformed children to be given both love and good examples. He didn’t like traditional orphanages, which he thought fostered passivity and dependence, so in 1853 Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society and began helping boys and girls leave the streets and enter lodging houses that required small payments from the children to remind them of their capacity to support themselves. The society offered workshops and industrial schools that taught trade skills.

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