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【海外】从管理巴菲特姐弟的直接捐赠基金会中得到的启示(双语)

2020-09-24 14:42:03  来源:善财志  作者:Amy Kingman    点击数量:1057

来源 | Amy Kingman, NCFP

 

 

作者简介

 

艾米·科曼(Amy Kingman)在慈善和非营利领域有着超过15年的经验。在创办自己的咨询公司之前,她曾在沃伦·巴菲特的姐姐多丽丝·巴菲特(Doris Buffett)创办的两个私人家族基金会——“通过捐赠学习基金会”(the Learning by Giving Foundation)和信笺基金会(the Letters Foundation)——担任了四年的首席执行官。在信笺基金会,她管理着直接发给个人和家庭的超过1000万美元的赠款。

 

 

信笺基金会(Letters Foundation)是沃伦·巴菲特(Warren Buffett)和多丽丝·巴菲特(Doris Buffett)发起的一个直接面向个人的慈善项目,旨在帮助经历金融危机的家庭重新站起来。2018年信笺基金会出版了《写给多丽丝的信》(Letters to Doris),这本书探讨了慈善事业对个人和家庭的直接影响。信笺基金会是一个“日落型”基金会,在2020年底关闭。

 

 

2016年,我被邀请参加一个慈善项目,核心理念来自慈善家沃伦·巴菲特(Warren Buffett)和他深爱的姐姐多丽丝·巴菲特(Doris Buffett)。“信笺计划”(Letters Program)在许多年前就开始了。

 

 

在沃伦的“捐赠誓言”(Giving Pledge)公开后,沃伦(像许多知名慈善家一样)收到了大量的请求,不仅来自非营利组织,也来自陷入经济困境的个人和家庭。

 

 

沃伦和多丽丝既节俭又富有创新精神,他们意识到如果可以在恰当的时间为一些家庭提供财政援助,也许可以帮助美国家庭实现一代的改变——这是在艰难时期和实现财务可持续性之间的桥梁。多年来,这个项目都是相对非正式的(信笺堆满了多丽丝的沙发),直到2016年,我们才正式规范了这个项目和它的运作。

 

 

大多数情况下,信笺基金会(the Letters Foundation)的资助分为两类:

 

第一类资助是经济投资。信笺基金会帮助那些无力偿还按揭贷款的家庭,使他们能够保有稳定的住房,或者帮助那些有可能获取更高收入工作、但没有可靠交通工具的人买一辆二手车。

第二类资助则注重提高人的尊严。最近,我们为一位自杀的青少年支付了葬礼费用,他的家人无法负担一个体面的葬礼服务。

 

COVID-19的爆发凸显了我们许多人已经知道的事实:许多美国人根本赚不到足够的钱来应对紧急情况。由此造成的经济衰退不仅在健康方面对低收入少数族裔造成了不成比例的负面影响,而且在经济方面也是如此。

 

 

鉴于人们越来越关注向美国公民提供个人紧急基金,以避免在这场危机中造成如此多家庭的经济崩溃,我想花点时间分享我多年来领导信笺基金会学到的五个经验教训:

 

 

1.   决定你和你的基金会想要承担多少“跑腿”工作:在信笺基金会,我们有两种接收和审核申请的方式。

 

第一个是我们所谓的“门户开放”(Open Door)项目(这意味着任何人都可以写信给我们,他们的请求都会被考虑和审核)。这种模式的优势在于,没有其他地方可以求助的人(通常没有其他支持系统)可以向您求助,并经常找到急需的救命钱。挑战在于,做好这项工作是一项令人难以置信的工作,你必须核实一个人的身份和故事的真实性。

 

这让我想到下边的一点——

 

2.   继续尊重和钦佩社区组织已经完成的工作,并努力与他们正式合作:我们接收和审核请求的第二个途径是我们的社区合作伙伴项目。

 

在该计划中,我们创建了一个社区中的既定合作伙伴名单,他们会把受资助者推荐给我们。这是一个在许多地方被复制的模式,比如,波士顿牛棚项目(Boston Bullpen Project)和大波士顿联合之路的新家庭支持基金的联合方式(the United Way of Greater Boston’s new Family Support Fund)。

 

这种模式有很多优点。首先,它确保你的家族基金会员工不必做太多尽职调查,因为推荐人来源可靠;其次,你知道受资助者正在与你的社区合作伙伴合作,这使得当前的挑战更有可能得到解决,不仅是经济上的,还有其他支持网络。

 

3.   了解这项工作的紧迫性,并将目光投向“传统”之外的捐赠模式:通常情况下,任何转向私人基金会寻求帮助的个人或家庭都需要立即得到支持。

 

让个人或家庭经历多次的请求和漫长的时间等待不利于你们达成共同的目标。专注于创建一个流程,平衡尽职调查的需要和满足受资助者合理的请求。信笺基金会通过向卖方付钱(例如,给房东寄一张租赁公寓的支票)的方式来资助个人,但这些捐赠仍然可以获得相同的税收优惠。这并不像听起来那么复杂。

 

4.   检查并不断地反思你的偏见:在这个过程中,当你听到成百上千的人(对我们来说,是成千上万的人)的生活,就不可能不去了解你自己。

 

在考虑别人的需要时,自己的偏见常常会妨碍你看清情况,并决定你的资金是否真的能带来改变,这是人的天性(也是不可避免的)。建立一个支持系统来帮助你定义、反映和超越你的偏见。

 

例如,在对一个请求做出决定之前,审核请求的人可以在这个的过程中建立一个简短的自我反思写作练习,帮助他们指出自己在做决定时可能带来的个人偏见,并在必要时重新审视这个请求。

 

5.   倾听、学习、发展、重复:在我们新的社区合作伙伴项目进行了大约六个月后,我们组织了一次对试点项目的正式评估,还从我们的社区合作伙伴和他们的受资助者那里征求关于资助的反馈。

 

作为反馈循环的一部分,我听到对那些经历过创伤的受资助者来说,被要求向陌生人复述他们的经历是多么具有挑战性。我们了解到这一情况,并定期与合作伙伴一起解决我们工作的紧迫领域。然后,我们力所能及地做出调整,在我们需要坚持的地方做了背景分析。毫无疑问,我们成为了一个更强大更好的资助者。

 

就在几周前,多丽丝·巴菲特去世,享年92岁。我很荣幸收到大量慰问的电子邮件、信件和便条,这些都是她通过这种方式支持的家庭寄来的。

 

我最近打开了一封电子邮件,有人分享说,他们在20多年前从多丽丝那里收到了1100美元,是为了摆脱家暴,支付一套新公寓头两个月的租金。作者还附上了她现在的家和幸福、健康的家庭合影。

 

简而言之,听了无数这样的故事后,人们会越来越相信,直接支持家庭也有可能是慈善家所能做的最具影响力的事情之一。

 

 

 

Five Lessons Learned from Running a Foundation That Gives Directly to Families

Amy Kingman, Family Philanthropy

August, 27th,2020

 

 

About the author:

Principal, Amy Kingman Consulting

 

Amy Kingman has over 15 years of experience in the philanthropy and nonprofit sector, specifically in grant-making, fundraising, marketing, nonprofit management, and strategic planning. Prior to launching her own consulting firm, she spent four years as the chief executive for two private family foundations launched by Doris Buffett: The Learning by Giving Foundation and Letters Foundation. In 2018, she was honored as one of Boston’s “40 under 40” for expanding Doris’ philanthropy.

 

While at Learning by Giving, Amy oversaw a coalition of 40 colleges and universities teaching accredited courses on experiential philanthropy and effective volunteerism to 1,000 students and young adults annually. She envisioned and launched a new open-source online philanthropy education platform & app called LearnGive and the corresponding LearnGive Media, a video & podcast series with prominent philanthropists. Under her leadership, Learning by Giving collaborated with the Boston Red Sox Foundation and Northeastern University’s Social Impact Lab for an inaugural take-over of Fenway Park where we trained 200 volunteers on effective giving and volunteerism and directed over $100,000 to local nonprofits in one day.

 

Simultaneously, she led the Letters Foundation, a direct philanthropy program started by Warren and Doris Buffett to help families who have experienced a financial crisis get back on their feet. At the Letters Foundation, she oversaw over $10M in grants given directly to individuals and families. The Letters Foundation team created the first-ever Community Partners Program that engaged community-based organizations in grant-making and collaborated with the City of Boston to the launch of the first-in-the-US private funding resource for homeless residents in need of qualified sober living. Under Amy’s leadership, the Letters Foundation published Letters to Doris, a book exploring the impact of philanthropy that goes directly to individuals and families. In 2020, she successfully led the Letters Foundation through a planned sunset.

 

Prior to Amy’s work in philanthropy, she held a number of fundraising positions in small development shops including Breakthrough Greater Boston, Strong Women, Strong Girls, and Mass Mentoring Partnership. She is an expert in individual, foundation, and corporate fundraising.

 

Amy holds a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in nonprofit management from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated summa cum laude and a Bachelors of Social Work from Skidmore College. She currently serves on the board of trustees at Wellspring House, the Leadership Council for the Essex County Community Foundation, and on the Advisory Council for Media Girls.

 

Content:

In 2016, I was asked to join a philanthropic project that was close to the heart of philanthropist Warren Buffett and his beloved older sister, Doris Buffett. The “letters program” first started many years ago. After going public with his giving pledge, Warren (like many well-known philanthropists) was flooded with requests not just from nonprofits, but also from individuals and families who had fallen on hard economic times. Being both thrifty and innovative, Warren and Doris realized that they could help make generational change in families around the United States if they could provide them with a little bit of financial assistance at the right moment—a bridge between that hard time and a path to financial sustainability. For many years, this program ran relatively informally (with letters piled on Doris’ couch) until we formalized the program and its operations in 2016.

 

Most often, the grants at the Letters Foundation fall in two categories. The first category of grants are economic investments: The Letters Foundation helped families who got behind on their mortgage so that they can stay stably housed or helped a parent who had a higher-paying job offer but no reliable transportation buy a used car.  The second category of grants were simply an investment in the dignity of all human beings. Recently, we paid for funeral services for a young teen who had committed suicide and whose family couldn’t afford the formal funeral service their family so desperately deserved.

 

The outbreak of COVID-19 has underscored what many of us already knew: that many Americans simply don’t make enough money to financially weather an emergency. The resulting economic downturn is not only disproportionately affecting low-income people of color from a health perspective, but also from an economic one.

 

Given the rising interest in getting emergency funds to individuals in the US in order to avoid the financial collapse of so many families during this crisis, I thought I’d take a few moments to share the five lessons I’ve learned from my years leading Doris’ Letters Foundation:

 

  1. Decide how much leg work you and your foundation want to take on: At the Letters Foundation, we had two avenues for receiving and vetting requests. The first was what we called our “Open Door” program (which means that anyone could write to us, and their request would be considered and vetted). The strength of this model is that people with nowhere else to turn (and often no other support systems) can reach out to you and often find a much-needed lifeline. The challenge is that doing this well is an incredible amount of leg work—you have to verify so many parts of an individual’s identity and story. Which leads me to…
  2. Proceed with respect and admiration for the work already being done by community-based organizations and work to formally partner with them: Our second avenue for receiving and vetting requests was our Community Partners Program—where we created a list of established partners in the community who would refer their clients to us. This is a model being replicated at a number of places (the Boston Bullpen Project and the United Way of Greater Boston’s new Family Support Fund here in Boston, to name a few). There are so many strengths to this model. First, it ensures that your family foundation staff has to do much less due diligence because the referral is coming from a trusted source.  Secondly, you know that the client is working with your Community Partner, making it more likely that the presenting challenge will be solved not only financially, but with other support networks as well.
  3. Understand the urgency of this work and look outside the “traditional” models of giving: Typically, any individual or family turning to a private foundation for help needs that support immediately. Putting families through many rounds of asks and long timeframes is detrimental to your shared goals. Focus on creating a process that balances what you need for your due diligence with what’s reasonable for the client.  Also, this will never work if you let the powers that be tell you that you can only give to nonprofits.  The Letters Foundation gave grants to individuals by paying the vendor (e.g., sending a check to the landlord for that new apartment) and still received the same tax benefits for the gifts. It is not as complicated as it sounds.
  4. Check, and continuously reflect on, your bias: There is no way to hear about the lives of hundreds (and for us, thousands) of other people and not learn a lot about yourself in the process. While thinking about the needs of others, your own biases will often get in the way of you being able to see the situation clearly and deciding if your funds might truly make the difference. This is a completely natural (and unavoidable) part of being human. Build in systems of support to help you name, reflect, and move beyond your biases. For example, before making a decision on a request, the person reading it may want to build a short self-reflection writing exercise into their process, helping them to name their personal biases at play in their decision making and re-visiting the request if need be.
  5. Listen, learn, evolve, repeat: About six months into our new Community Partners Program, we organized a formal evaluation of the pilot which (among other things) solicited feedback from our community partners and their clients about our grantmaking. As a part of this feedback loop, I heard how personally challenging it was for those clients who had experienced trauma to be asked to re-count their story to a stranger.  We leaned into this kind of feedback and routinely got together with the partners to work through our areas of tension. Then, we made tweaks where we could and contextualized where we needed to hold firm. We emerged from that a stronger and better funder, no doubt about it.

 

Just a few weeks ago, Doris Buffett passed away at the age of 92. I am honored to be on the receiving end of many emails, letters, and notes flooding in from the families she supported through this kind of giving. I recently opened an email from someone who shared that they had received $1,100 from Doris over 20 years ago in order to leave an abusive relationship and pay for the first two months of rent on a new apartment. The writer included photos of her home (which she now owns) and her happy, healthy family. In short, it is impossible to hear countless stories like that and not become increasingly convinced that supporting families directly may be one of the most impactful things philanthropists can do.

 

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善财志(Business and Philanthropy Review)由国际公益学院主办,是全球领先的财富向善、商业向善、创业向善及可持续商业智库媒体平台。《善财志》旨在倡导共建共享的新商业文明和科学高效的新慈善运动,通过译介和发布原创研究报告、主题榜单、行业动态、人物专访和评论文章,分享国内外新慈善、新商业、新传承的前沿理论和先锋经验,为中国家族善财传承和社会价值投资提供新理念、新方法与新路径。

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