By Charles H. Hamilton
Senior Fellow, Philanthropy New York
Being away from the day-to-day administration of a foundation has allowed me some time to think about how philanthropy can be improved. That is a huge topic that can’t be given justice in this short piece. It is also a topic that has naturally led me to Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best, recently published by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. The five articles that Paul Brest wrote about Criteria were quite good, but most of the commentary and responses from NCRP have proven to be too partisan to be useful or interesting. The Criteria offers a lot to like and think about, but I was struck that it may be remembered for falling back on two common but misleading approaches that will not improve philanthropy: (1) quantitative measures that actually divert attention from determining effective philanthropy, and (2) seeing the source of foundation dollars as “partially public,” which is a profoundly troubling abrogation of the value and independence of philanthropy and the entire independent sector.