April 25, 2007

Wanted: A Few Good Foundation Thinkers

Sean Stannard-Stockton believes philanthropy thrives best in an environment in which ideas are shared and opinions aired.

But Mr. Stannard-Stockton, who works for an investment-management company in Burlingame, Calif., writes on Tactical Philanthropy that too few people in the foundation world are willing to encourage that debate on blogs.

“Unlike the for-profit sector, philanthropy is blessed by the fact that sharing information with other players in the field does not lead to a competitive disadvantage,” he writes. “Instead, sharing information helps everyone.”

Albert Ruesga, vice president at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, in Washington, is one of the few foundation leaders who leads provocative discussions online. Mr. Ruesga is the author of White Courtesy Telephone.

Mr. Stannard-Stockton says more people in the foundation world need to follow the lead of thinkers like Mr. Ruesga. And he hopes foundations will encourage their employees to express themselves on blogs.

“If an employee of the Gates Foundation began to blog, in the same way many Microsoft employees do, I wouldn’t view their comments as official policy statements from the Gates Foundation,” Mr. Stannard-Stockton writes. “I would view their voice for what it is, the voice of an individual who has a background and knowledge base I find interesting.”

Why aren’t there more people from big foundations writing blogs? Click on the comments link just below this posting to share your thoughts.