M A NAGING
Joining Forces to Fight Community Problems: What Makes a Difference
By Ben Gose
PAUL SCHMITZ has been a nonprof- it executive in Milwaukee for 18 years, and in that time he has
seen dozens of education groups set up
shop and quickly start touting their accomplishments. But their work has not
done much to rally city leaders and others to do what it takes to fix education
problems. In 2010, Wisconsin’s black
fourth graders had the worst reading
scores in the country largely because of
weak performance in Milwaukee.
Yet Milwaukee has made impressive progress in tackling another problem vexing the city, teenage pregnancy
rates, with the birth rate for 15- to 17-
year-olds declining by nearly a third in
the past five years.
The difference, Mr. Schmitz believes,
is that a broad coalition of charities,
government officials, researchers, and
donors all focused on ways to keep
young girls from getting pregnant.
“We’ve become too focused on strong
programs being the solution, rather
than strong communities,” says Mr.
Schmitz, chief executive of Public Al-
lies, a charity that trains nonprofit
leaders. “We have to think differently if
we want results.”
Over the past decade, much of the
emphasis in philanthropy has been on
identifying high-performing organiza-
tions and helping them spread their
programs throughout the country.
But one of the hottest strategies these
days runs counter to the notion that
percentage points since 2002, thanks
in part to the efforts of a coordinating
group called Alignment Nashville.
n In Atlanta, the East Lake Foundation has worked closely with charities like the YMCA to transform the
“We’ve become too focused
on strong programs
being the solution,
rather than strong
couRtesyo FPRoJect u-tuRn
Philadelphia’s Project U-Turn has increased the number of high-school
graduates in the city, in part because of a $1-million foundation grant.
innovation from the outside can cure
a community’s woes. This week the
White House Council for Community
Solutions is releasing a report that de-
scribes broad collaborative efforts in
12 communities that are succeeding in
fighting persistent problems like crime,
high-school dropout rates, and teenage
pregnancy. Among the efforts exam-
n In Memphis, Operation: Safe Com-
munity has helped cut violent crime
by 27 percent in its five years of opera-
East Lake neighborhood, contributing
to a 95 percent decline in violent crime
Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit consulting organization that prepared the
report, found more than 100 collaborations, and another 450 that are in the
planning stages. But only the dozen efforts in the report managed to move key
social indicators by 10 percent or more.
“That says something about how long
it takes to do this,” says Willa Seldon,
a Bridgespan partner and a co-author
of the report, along with Mr. Schmitz
and Michele Jolin, a senior fellow at the
Center for American Progress. “It’s not
Practices, Not Programs
The best-known example of community collaboration may be the Strive
Continued on Page 30
Obama, Romney Outstripped Average Americans in Rate of 2010 Donations
By Lisa Chiu
THE November presidential con- test may allow voters to choose between two men who give a far
bigger share of their incomes to charity
than the average American.
Mitt Romney, who regained momentum after winning the Florida primary last week, donated 13. 8 percent of
his income to charity in 2010, a share
similar to that of President Obama,
who donated 13. 6 percent. That’s a lot
more than the 3-percent average donated by Americans who itemize their
tax returns, as well as citizens of Mr.
Obama’s and Mr. Romney’s wealth.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, the closest contender to Mr. Romney for the
Republican presidential nomination,
donated in line with giving by the average American and someone of his
wealth. He gave 2. 6 percent of his income to charity.
More than half of the Romneys’ $3-
million in charitable gifts went to the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints; the rest consisted of donations
of stock to their family fund, the Tyler
The Tyler Foundation gave more than
$647,000 to 23 charities in 2010, including $145,000 to the Mormon church,
$100,000 to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and $75,000 to Children’s Hospital Boston for research on
pediatric multiple sclerosis.
Politicians and Charitable Giving
his job gave to
charity in 2010
Scholarships at Alma Mater
Newt and Callista Gingrich, who
made $3-million in 2010, donated at a percentage similar to that of
other taxpayers who earn $2-million
to $5-million. Such people contribute
about 3 percent of their earnings, on
average. The biggest gift the couple
reported was more than $9,500 to the
Basilica of the National Shrine of the
Immaculate Conception in Washington, the nation’s largest Roman Catholic church.
The Gingriches also gave through
their family fund. The Gingrich Foundation awarded $120,000 in grants to
14 charities in 2010, including $30,000
for a scholarship at Luther College, in
Decorah, Iowa, Ms. Gingrich’s alma
Reut eRs/Jason Reed/
emmanu el dunan d/a FP/
Get t y Ima Ges
income to charity
Church and Family Fund
Mr. Romney, and his wife, Ann, released tax records last month that show
they gave a greater percentage of their
$21-million in 2010 earnings to charity
than is typical of others who earn $10-
million. Those taxpayers donate about
6 percent of their income, according to
analysis of Internal Revenue data.
mater, and a $20,000 grant to the D.C.
President Obama and his wife, Mi-
chelle, made their largest donation in
2010, $131,075, to the Fisher House
Foundation, a group that provides free
or low-cost housing to military person-
nel and their families during treatment
at military medical centers. They also
gave $15,000 to the Clinton Bush Haiti
Fund and $10,000 to the Boys & Girls
Clubs of America.