Outrageous Generosity Blog
Otar Makharashvili

Meet our new Bold Giver - Amb. William vanden Heuvel

July 14th, 2014 by Otar Makharashvili

I'm really excited that today Ambassador William J. vandan Heuvel joined our community of Bold Givers - you can read his story here. I first met Ambassador vanden Heuvel when I was working at the Roosevelt Institute and was inspired by his drive, determination and philanthropy to make history relevant to contemporary generations and to use it as a "guide and illuminating light for political, social and economical decision-making." 

Throughout his distinguished and busy career as a lawyer, diplomat, businessman, and scholar, Ambassador vanden Heuvel has worked tirelessly to realize Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s ideals of social justice, human rights, and collaboration among nations. 

I hope you'll take a moment and read his story. I'm sure it will leave you inspired as well to think about balancing your career with your commitments to public life and philanthropy. 

Happy reading!

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Jason Franklin PhD

Visualizing a theory of change for your giving - Amazing example from Ford

June 30th, 2014 by Jason Franklin PhD

My friend Jee Kim joined the Ford Foundation two years ago as a program officer with the charge to create a portfolio funding “transformative social change.”

But what is transformative social change? How do you fund it? How do you even define it?

As Jee says, “I started pulling frameworks and theories from sociologists, political scientists, historians and campaign strategists. I ran some of my ideas by colleagues and organizers and other people smarter than me. I found myself in my office surrounded by butcher paper filled with circles and arrows, trying to capture a multi-dimensional process on a two dimensional plane. And then I worked closely with our communications team to produce a shareable version of my theory of change.”

The result is this amazing animation (which Jee is quick to note doesn’t fully capture even his one initiative’s approach, let alone Ford’s overall strategy). His hope is to spark conversation – what resonates, what’s missing, what could be added?

For my part, after just finishing my PhD research looking at the role of philanthropy in policy change, I can’t help but want to see more about the power dynamics of funding as they intersect with social change. How do individual donors, foundations, nonprofit leaders, organizers, public officials and others interact? These three elements combine but not in a linear process, there is an ebb and flow, a struggle backwards and forwards even when all the elements needed for change are present. How can we include this an animation on how change happens? And where do the opponents come in- the competing narratives and organizing efforts that push back against or slow down or block a social movement?

But regardless of the things I’d add, I’m frankly also a bit in awe of this animation – one of the clearest visual articulations of a progressive theory of change I’ve ever seen (doesn’t hurt to have the Ford communications team resources behind creating this either!).

Thanks Jee for creating this…looking forward to the discussions that follow and seeing version 2.0 sometime down the line! :-)

 And to readers of this blog, what else would you add/change/refine for a 2.0 version?

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Cheryl McCourtie

Celebrating African American Philanthropic Contributions

February 20th, 2014 by Cheryl McCourtie

I am still buoyed from today’s spirited conversation with Tracey Webb of the Black Benefactors giving circle and www.blackgivesback.com; Christina Lewis-Halpern of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation and All Star Code; and Cheryl Pemberton-Graves, Bold Giver, founder of the Five Pearls Foundation.

Each woman brought a special perspective to giving; each deeply rooted in family traditions of giving and concern for humankind.  The overwhelming response to this webinar (we were completely subscribed with 100 attendees and a waiting list of more than 40), is clear evidence of a hunger for more conversations about African American giving.  As a Black woman who works in the philanthropic sector and is a donor, I feel that our past philanthropic contributions need to be lifted up, and further, we need to, as our guests said today, be more strategic—and public—about the full range of our giving as a community. 

As part of that strategy I encourage those of us in the foundation world to truly get to know one another and to leverage these relationships, as well as those with African American major donors, toward a collective good.  As I wrote to a colleague right after the conversation yesterday, marching in tandem toward a collective goal is not a problem for groups that advance the prison industrial complex.  They are organized, ready and waiting.  What about us?

Any thoughts on how to keep the conversation and the momentum from today going?



During Black and Bold:  Philanthropy in the African American Community 2/20/14

With Tracey Webb, Christina Lewis-Halpern and Cheryl Pemberton-Graves


·      The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, First Vintage Books, NewYork, NY (2011).
·      Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?: How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire, by Reginald F. Lewis and Blair S. Walker, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY (1995).

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