Ready for Another “Giving” Pledge?

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March 30, 2011; Source: FastCompany | First there was the "The Giving Pledge," which commits the richest Americans to give away the majority of their wealth to charity. Now comes the "Palindrome Pledge." Like that better-known pledge, it too is a promise by successful people – but not necessarily billionaires – to give. And instead of money Fast Company says the pledge is a commitment by signers – 100 executives from technology, venture capital, hospitality, and other industries – to spend at least a year serving on the boards on nonprofits that need their skills.

"We're challenging the current model of just giving money by creating deeper engagement," says Palindrome Advisors founder and entrepreneur Zaw Thet. The pledge is essentially an extension of work Palindrome Advisors has been doing since its founding last May as a nonprofit. It has been serving other nonprofits by providing free consulting services for social and mobile media, cause marketing, and other critical issues that the group says many of these organizations "were unable to tackle."

Among the signatories to the Palindrome Pledge are a number of high-tech notables from Silicon Valley. They include: former chief privacy officer of Facebook Chris Kelly, Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson, former CMO Donna Wells, Tapjoy CEO Mihir Shah, and Yahoo! founding executive team member Ellen Siminoff.

Other names are: Twitter’s president of global revenue Adam Bain, Social Gaming Network founder Shervin Pishevar, Google vice president of product management Neal Mohan, and Apple director of iPhone apps Dag Kittlaus.

In keeping with Fast Company's description of this new undertaking as a "philanthropic," Palindrome will pair executives with nonprofits. That screening process, says Thet, ensures that organizations get the people best suited to their needs and volunteers will know they're contributing to organizations where they can do the most good.—Bruce Trachtenberg

  • Benjamin Shute

    A one-year board member isn’t doing governance, but is serving as a consultant. Two very different roles.

  • Liz Heath

    I wholeheartedly agree with Benjamin. This seems based in the flawed notion that being a high-profile executive qualifies one to do nonprofit governance. Not true from my experience!

  • Jill Schneider

    I agree with both Benjamin & Liz. One year? In my experience, it takes at least 6 months to a year for a boar member to really invest in an organization.

  • Ann M.

    I agree with Benjamin and Liz. One-year board service does not sound like a “best practice” for the sector, but rather a gimmick.

  • Marshall Howard

    These executives would better serve these nonprofits by not serving on the board. Maybe being part of what I create with my clients called “Partnership Councils.” This keeps them out of some of the petty and governance issues boards deal with and focuses them on bigger projects.

  • Margot Knight

    Get ready for the law of unintended consequences. . . . . Uninformed Type-A people who don’t know what they don’t know are the most disruptive people on the planet. . . How about a commitment to serve on a committee for a year first–and then a three-year commitment!

  • Ruth Provost

    I am in agreement,it takes almost that long for people to understand an organization’s mission and the differences between running a for-profit business and running a nonprofit organization in a business-like fashion. The underlying assumption seems to be that the CEOs will come in and make changes to improve the nonprofits operating and governeance practices, but a year may not be sufficient to do that in a way that engages all the stakeholders in consensus building. I firmly believe that change should be approached from a position of understanding the past and built on the existing foundation unless the organization and/or it’s mission is so broken, or is no longer viable, that it needs total replacement.

  • Sharon Delphenich

    I agree with all prior comments but particularly Margot! Another arrogant move. I am thinking of a comment from a colleague. “Nonprofits are the only corporations that bring in a bunch of people who know nothing about the business at hand and then let them make the decisions”.