Skip to main navigation

Catalogue Blog

7 Questions – Damien Matthews Power (Potomac Riverkeeper)

And … we’re back! I hope you all had a pleasant first day back on the job. To jazz up your Tuesday morning, we’re welcoming Damien Matthews Power, Communications & Outreach Specialist of Potomac Riverkeeper to “7 Questions.” Read on to learn more about him and everything Potomac Riverkeeper is doing to keep our rivers clean and our natural resources safe.

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

Over the summer, we partnered with three Shenandoah Valley outfitters (Downriver Canoe Company, Front Royal Canoe Company, & Shenandoah River Outfitters) to jump start the Shenandoah Riverkeeper Conservation Fund. The fund supports on the ground action in the Shenandoah Valley: improving farms, cleaning up trash, and keeping the Shenandoah River healthy and beautiful.

Continue reading

Near and Far

“What’s driving the global boom in philanthropy?”

“I don’t know if it’s right to say there’s a global boom in philanthropy. We work with dozens of partners who’ve been doing phenomenal work for decades. But I do think that in all walks of life (not just philanthropy), people are more aware of what’s going on in the world around them. There seems to be a boom in how much people are paying attention to global issues, largely because the Internet makes it so much easier to connect with people and information from around the world.

[...] “Once you’re talking to people in Kibera, Kenya or Sao Paulo, Brazil, your natural desire to work together kicks in. When I was growing up in Dallas, Texas, people put a lot of energy into making our community better. It’s just that now, people’s sense of community is much, much larger.”

At the end of October, PhilanTopic posted a list of questions directed at Melinda French Gates — who in fact answered several of her favorites on the Gates Foundation blog just last week.

Continue reading

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving!

Good morning, Washington! We’ll be taking a brief blog hiatus for the holiday — and I’ll be braving the Yellow Line crowd en route to National pretty soon.

From everyone at Catalogue, we are thankful for the amazing work that our non-profits are doing every day in Greater Washington. And we’re beyond thankful that they are part of our community.

Happy Thanksgiving — catch you next Monday!

Keep It Small?

Look, I’m nervous about this column, because I don’t want to discourage giving. But donations could accomplish far more if people thought through their philanthropy, did more research, and made fewer, bigger contributions instead of many small ones that are expensive to handle.

On this Monday, I am actually opening with someone else’s conclusion. Nicholas D. Kristof published this Opinion piece in the New York Times on Saturday — and I was ready and willing to argue with him based on the two sentences: “This holiday season, Americans will dig into their pockets for good causes. But these gifts will sometimes benefit charlatans or extremists, or simply be wasted.” First, why would you ever discourage generosity, particularly in these economic times? Second, even if blanket discouragement was not your goal, why generalize?

However, I did read on to the above-quoted conclusion — and I ultimately appreciate the sharp language at the beginning of his article. In fact, it forces the reader to do exactly what the donor should do: look deep, read carefully, and be sure that you know what you are seeing. Throughout the piece, Kristof highlights (or more accurately, calls out) several non-profit organizations that prey upon the propensity of religious donors to give liberally to organizations that they assume share their values. In truth, several well-known charities with seemingly-strong religious ties are careless with their money or reckless in their dealings — or both. Continue reading

Around Town: November 20-21

It’s almost Thanksgiving, friends! So there is really no better time to express our thanks for our communities and give something back to our local non-profits. And this weekend offers some great (and fun) opportunities to do just that. Check it out:

Saturday, November 20

* 23rd Annual Help the Homeless Walkathon: The National Mall will host the largest walk to benefit the homeless in the nation and no less than seven Catalogue non-profits will take part. Definitely consider signing up and choosing one of these great organizations as your beneficiary: Carpenter’s Shelter, L’Arche Greater Washington, Miriam’s Kitchen, Pathways to Housing DC, Samaritan Inns, The Dwelling Place, and Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. And you can sign up right here! Continue reading

What is the Power of 8?

Glad you asked! In honor of the Catalogue’s 8th year, we launched a contest this fall: we asked our non-profits to choose from our list of “8″ words (celebrate, collaborate, appreciate, or elevate) or to choose an “8″ word of their own. Then they filmed a 30-60 second video about how that word represented their organization and sent it along to us. Many of our non-profits used a simple hand-held camera (or in some cases, even a cell phone), but the results were still beyond powerful. Want to take a look?

We announced the winners of our “Power of 8″ video contest last Monday at the Catalogue launch. First place was awarded to the Literacy Council of Montgomery County and their wonderful video is right here. Honorable mentions went to Falls Church McLean Children’s Center (video here), The Theatre Lab School for the Dramatic Arts (here), and the Washington Legal Council for the Homeless (right here).

But wait, there’s more! The contest is not completely over yet. You have until December 1 to visit the Power of 8 playlist on the Catalogue’s YouTube Channel. Watch all 37 submitted videos and “like” your favorites and … the top vote-getters (or “like”-getters if you prefer) will be featured on our website during the giving season.

So watch and vote away! And, moreover, enjoy these 37 wonderful windows into what our non-profits are doing around Greater Washington every day.

In The News …

Happy Wednesday, Greater Washington! Are you avoiding the rain? Are you stuck indoors? Just spend some extra time on the Catalogue blog. We have our Mid-Week News today, plus more 7 Questions coming your way tomorrow! We’ve also created a 7 Questions archive. So if you’re like me and enjoy poking through blog histories, you now easily can peruse past interviews.

[ UPDATE: Okay. So I woke up this morning and, lo and behold, gorgeous fall weather. So enjoy the sunshine and then catch up on some non-profit news! ]

Celebrities Hire Philanthropy Consultants to Guide Their Giving — We actually had a blog post about this yesterday, so do check out both that (tell us what you think!) and the LA Times article from this past Sunday. The article examines the “attempt by celebrities to display a deep commitment to issues beyond their next movie or album” and the rising demand for multi-skilled philanthropic advisers who can facilitate just that. Continue reading

Put Me In, Coach! (Again)

A few weeks back, I wrote a post on this NY Times interview with the global head of philanthropic services at JP Morgan Private Bank. Lisa Philp acts as a “philanthropy coach” primarily to wealthy individuals and family foundations, who all are looking “to achieve as much as possible through wise giving.”

At the time, I focused on the language with which Philp describes her work, which drew heavily upon both the sports and finance worlds. I really didn’t think much about the backgrounds and details of her client list — both because she did not name names and because, in this context, the interests and subsequent investments seemed more interesting than the clients themselves.

But what about when the client is more “interesting” (or attention-getting) than the cause? Continue reading

All About Innovating

Many of our grantees’ plans evolve and take on different shapes, and rightly so. In fact, a spectacular “failure” might be more informative and useful than a more modest “success” in terms of helping both the organization and the larger field move forward in addressing the challenges of the new century and the future.

A question I find myself asking is: How does an organization go from being one tackling an innovative project to one with an organizational culture dedicated to innovation?

Good question. Last week, the Chronicle posted a four-installment interview with Ben Cameron, program director for the arts at Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. From 2007 to 2013, DDCF is funding an “an experimental pilot initiative designed to enable a group of artistically outstanding organizations to strengthen their business in a shifting environment.” In other words, these grants don’t support particular programs, but catalyze organizational growth. They don’t sponsor a single change, but rather position companies to change and develop constantly. Ever wanted to re-think (somewhat or very radically) how you do business? These are grants specifically for that.

Continue reading

Around Town: November 12-13

Happy Friday, Washington! Don’t forget: we have a newly-announced 2010-2011 Catalogue class, so be sure to hop over to our main page and learn more about them. They are an incredible group. Also don’t forget: we have plenty of events coming up from an array of our non-profits and the best way to learn about them is to get involved:

Saturday, November 13

9:30 AM — Tutor Training: Basic Literacy Training (Literary Council of Northern Virginia): Looking to combine your love for books and service? Become a LCNV tutor! Training starts this weekend and you can download an application here.

10:00 AM — Free Clay Handbuilding Class (Capitol Hill Arts Workshop): Families and students of all ages are invited to experiment with clay and create their own pots. The class is just one part of ARTdays, a series of free classes and concerts for all families.

Continue reading