Two Philanthropic Notions Unite

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October 17, 2010; Source: Star Tribune | Getting the rich to give big amounts to philanthropic causes seems like a passé concept these days. After all, look at the many billionaires who took the Giving Pledge to donate a majority of their wealth to charity. But lost in today’s headlines about this billionaire or that one making charitable gifts is the story of the One Percent Club, which got a lot of attention when it began in 1997 with the goal of persuading the richest Minnesotans to pledge to donate 1 percent of their net worth to charities every year.

Over 10 years, the group attracted some 1,000 people, and in the first seven years of its existence, members donated $100 million. But in recent years, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, the One Percent Club lost its momentum, much of that is due to the fact that other than a shared commitment to donate one percent, there was no larger purpose driving the group. Its most recent newsletter on the website is dated March 2009 and only 80 members attended the Club’s last annual meeting.

Still, the One Percent Club had enough diehard members on board who weren’t ready to shut it down and call its effort a semi-successful experiment. Instead, the Club is making plans for a comeback through a newly formed partnership with the local chapter of Social Venture Partners (SVP). The Star Tribune describes SVP as “a group of about 75 ‘investors’ who focus on charities with potential for high growth and effectiveness.”

Many of SVP’s members are young and tech-savvy, and other than just writing checks, many actively get involved with the groups they support. Already the two groups are working on educational programs and public campaigns to encourage more people to engage in philanthropy. So far, SVP’s leadership sees great potential in working with a group that more or less helped set the trend for giving by the wealthy as a civic duty. “The power of this partnership is it joins traditional philanthropy with the new wave,” said Brad Brown, Social Venture’s executive director.—Bruce Trachtenberg