The Day After

In this most unsettling presidential election, our real problem begins November 9th, the day someone wins. On the day after, millions will be alienated and angry, no matter the result. That makes governance difficult and national purpose elusive. Read More

The Philanthropic Election

When the 12th century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides detailed his hierarchy of charitable giving he placed anonymity toward the top of the list. Anonymity, thought Maimonides, made it clear the gift was about the recipient, not the giver.

Today’s philanthropy eschews anonymity because it seeks the public leverage of names and relationships. And it wants the gift to be strategic, something that leads to long-term solutions. Charity may be a gift, but philanthropy is a civic enterprise. And in an age when the president of the Ford Foundation is featured in People Magazine, quiet giving is largely a thing of the past. Read More

The Breed To Kill Pet Economy

I recently came across a firm that is in the business of affordable leasing for pet lovers. At first I thought it was a joke. Why lease a pet? But it is on the level. Wagslending is now in 40 states and is one of many consumer finance agencies extending credit to purchase pets. Retail pet stores partner with pet lenders to move inventory in an increasingly competitive business.

Pets are a huge business in America, estimated at $60 billion last year. Think of the scope of the industry: breeding, supplies, food, veterinary care, temporary care kennels, even psychologists, insurers, and funeral homes. And this does not include the cost of nonprofit shelters or publicly-funded animal control systems; let alone America’s burgeoning economy of paid pet walkers and caretakers. Read More

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Stories are the lifeblood of politics. Not just stories about candidates, but stories that sit at the intersection of candidates and the historical moment. To succeed on the national stage, your story has to connect with how voters view their own personal stories at this moment in time and how they view their future. Read More

The Catalyst

On Thursday, an alliance of organizations, investors and entrepreneurs will launch ImpactPHL, an initiative to strengthen and grow the local impact economy. At the event, held at the offices of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the new coalition will unveil a study by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia on the local impact economy. [Full Disclosure: Ajay Raju, a board member at The Philadelphia Citizen, helped fund the study.]

ImpactPHL builds on the significant work of investors, intermediaries, and small businesses throughout the region. This is a welcome effort promoted by capable institutions. Read More

The Impact Investment Revolution

The term impact investing became fashionable ten years ago as a way to describe the intentional focus on the social outcomes of financial investments. While the term is new, the practices it covers are not. There is a history of social investment and grassroots institution building that is an important part of the nation’s DNA. Read More

Making Sense of Fattah

The Chaka Fattah guilty verdict earlier this week was anti-climatic. The Feds do not bring corruption charges against a sitting Congressman without a strong case. Moreover, two associates of the Congressman pled guilty and testified against him.

For all of his cool courtroom behavior, Fattah was not likely to come through this unscathed. He never had the resources to lawyer up and his defense that a few associates went rogue strained credulity.

Three associates were convicted along with the Congressman, including long time progressive activist Bob Brand. They will be sentenced in early October, along with the Congressman. Fattah will go to jail. Read More

The Corruption Chronicles

Public corruption thrives as bureaucracies expand, political rules become arcane, and political competition diminishes through safe, gerrymandered districts and one party towns. No wonder Pennsylvania is among the most corrupt states in the nation.

While we are used to corruption probes and trials, the revelation that John Estey, former chief of staff to Governor Rendell, pleaded guilty this month to wire fraud in an FBI sting caught everyone by surprise. Read More