New Online Course on IRS Electioneering Rules for Foundations and Public Charities Unveiled

August 28th, 2014

With the 2014 elections fast approaching, want to learn more about how to navigate the tax laws surrounding elections?

In addition to in-person workshops or training available from foundations’ own legal counsel, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation recently released the Electioneering Rules for Private Foundations and Public Charities course, a new interactive training tool for staff of private foundations and public charities.

This free, online training course features “Maya,” a foundation program officer who leads trainees through the course, which takes less than an hour to complete. Topics include electioneering prohibition, voter education, issue advocacy, interacting with candidates, voter participation, and other issues. The course offers supplemental documents for download and includes real-life scenarios.

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Commentary: When It Comes to Wealthy Donors, Is the Media Being Critical Enough?

August 25th, 2014

News media nationwide are no longer as vigilant or critical of philanthropy and wealthy donors as they used to be, writes Pablo Eisenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership (which is housed at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy) and a Chronicle of Philanthropy columnist.

In his August 6 opinion piece, “America’s Press Needs to Stop Fawning over Big Donors,” published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Eisenberg reminds us that more than a decade ago, newspapers like the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times unveiled “inappropriate activities of foundations” and wealthy donors. But now, with financial cutbacks, most newspapers don’t have a nonprofit beat, much less a critical eye on the actions of philanthropy.

Pointing to the financier David Rubenstein, often covered in the Washington Post, for his generous donations to the National Zoo and the Washington Monument, among others, Eisenberg writes, “Nobody ever asks whether his money should go to worthier causes.”

Is there a conflict of interest? Eisenberg asked the editor of one of the major nonprofit centers for investigative journalism why he hadn’t published anything on nonprofits or foundations. According to Eisenberg, the editor “replied that it would be a conflict of interest.” The editor added that his operation was funded by foundations. Read the rest of this entry »

Consumer-Generated Data in a Big Data World: Report from the California HealthCare Foundation

August 20th, 2014

The July 2014 issue of Health Affairs covers a broad range of opportunities for use of Big Data in health care that will benefit individuals, the public at-large, and health care enterprises.

Big Data are getting bigger every day, as people create data while simply living their lives. They check into online social networks, use the global positioning system (GPS) feature on their smartphones, charge retail purchases on credit cards, don wearable devices that track activity, and record food intake on mobile apps. All of these activities leave a trail of digital “exhaust” in the Internet cloud.

In the era of Big Data in health care, such consumer-generated data can be mashed up with large sets of clinical information to yield rich insights for an N of 1—for a patient, a consumer—to drive cures for rare diseases, gain insights into complex chronic conditions, and anticipate public health epidemics. When consumers consciously and willingly contribute their personal data under fully transparent conditions for clinical research and population health, it can be seen as data used “for good.”

In Here’s Looking at You: How Personal Health Information Is Being Tracked and Used, published by California HealthCare Foundation on July 15, I discuss the opportunities to drive research and knowledge through adding consumers’ individual “small” data into Big Data analytics. The report looks at some developments, such as the consumer adoption of wearable technology in health care—smart watches, digital health trackers, and sensor-laden clothing (like smart running shoes and sports bras)—that enable people to collect, track, and analyze data on themselves. People managing chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes can use digital health technologies, such as using a Bluetooth-enabled inhaler (for asthma) or tracking blood glucose and diet through mobile health apps (for diabetes), to help them prevent a visit to the doctor’s office or, more acutely, the emergency department. Soon, connected homes and cars in an Internet-of-things world will be able to collect information on the health and activities of people that can populate algorithms and feed actionable advice back to a patient—for example, to increase a dose of insulin or to use an inhaler device to avert asthma symptoms. Read the rest of this entry »

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