Buzz Schmidt, Chairman of the F.B. Heron Foundation, leads Retreat Farm, Ltd., a nonprofit that is conserving an historic institutional farm in Vermont and repurposing it to support sustainable lands-based enterprise. He founded and led GuideStar USA and subsequently GuideStar International over a twenty-year period. These organizations report the work of the world’s nonprofit organizations at online repositories in several countries. Today, he also serves on the boards of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and the Vermont Council on Rural Development.
In this article from 2011, Buzz Schmidt, founder of GuideStar, chair of the board of the F.B. Heron Foundation, and former chair of the NPQ board, argues that all enterprises need to be held to account for their contribution to—or depletion of—those things that are necessary to sustain a healthy society. He calls these “elements of community capital.” This article contains ideas that are core to NPQ’s views.
Despite the challenges of over-scaling, there is no need to despair so long as the Gates Foundation is willing to accede a modicum of control and share some responsibility for the ultimate distribution of its largesse. Buzz Schmidt shares grantmaking strategies Gates might attempt that would be at once highly effective and transformative for philanthropy.
In this article, Buzz Schmidt suggests to Stanford that divesting from negative investments, as they have with fossil fuels, while good, is insufficient. Institutions also need to take up the net positive contribution to society made by their investment strategies.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Billionaire philanthropists have many options for doling out their mega-funds, and many will opt for traditional private foundations. But how do we raise questions about the timing of long-term grantmaking? And does the “spend down” model need rebranding?
Warren Buffett’s collaboration with Bill Gates to promote a “Giving Pledge” by billionaires of half of their fortunes to charity is the second public leg of an extraordinary philanthropic journey by the world’s most admired and resourceful investor. Buzz Schmidt, the founder and president of GuideStar International, lays down his predictions of where the the third leg of Buffet's journey will take us.
European foundation leaders danced into the night in an elegant, turn of the past century, dancing tent that had been erected in the shadow of the royal Belgian palace. They danced with evident joie de vivre in the face of the troubles—fiscal, demographic and political—facing their continent. This was the final social event of the EFC’s 2010 annual general assembly. The membership had convened in the capital of united Europe to focus member and European Commission attention on the benefits and need for a European foundation statute.
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