Tuesday, March 20, 2007

THE FOUNDATION CENTER AND THE POOR

UP FRONT News March 19, 2007
Published by Tom Weiss Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.” www.tomsupfrontnews.blogspot.com
THE FOUNDATION CENTER: HELPING (AND DISCRIMINATING AGAINST) THE POOR.
CHARLOTTE’S WEB-SITE?
People involved in fundraising, such as me, try to avail ourselves of the services of the Foundation Center, a “non-profit” organization with possibly the largest database and library on foundations and charities, and other funding sources in the world. It is ironic that an organization which exists for the purpose of helping the rich help the poor
engages in economic discrimination.
The Foundation Center library has about 17 computers available to the public, which, aside from enabling users to access the large data providing information on funding sources, until several weeks ago provided internet access, essential to fundraisers. Highly paid non-profit corporation-retained fundraisers have relatively little need for the
Foundation Center’s internet access services, since they can simply go to their laptops and other computers. Volunteer fundraisers, such as me, who work for economically marginal groups, have considerable need for both the data base and the internet.
While much of the Foundation Center’s staff, which also conducts fundraising education classes, has been supportive to the lower economic echelons of fundraisers, some admin- istrators at this very tightly run ship have other priorities. Apparently unhappy about the fact that their computers are sometimes used by individuals not directly for standard fundraising, the bosses had technicians some weeks ago summarily terminate internet service to the public. Those needing the internet were directed to go to a branch of the New York Public Library. And so anyone using both the Foundation Center’s database and the internet was expected to use two separate locations (although a few libraries in NYC have Foundation Center database access). Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Maureen Mackey and New York Library Director Charlotte Dion,
apparently not sufficiently sensitive to at least some of the economic realities of life in New York City, did not take into account the fact that many of the New York libraries are already overloaded when it comes to public demand for computer time. They seem more in touch with the wealthy part of the fundraising community which has easy 24-7 computer access.
I am told that I am not the only person who has complained about what is an economic-
ally discriminatory policy. And so, after expressing my concerns to several of the pleas-
sant front desk librarians (who obviously do not make policy), on January 24, 2007, I sent an e-mail to Ms. Dion, explaining the negative effects of the policy and urging that it be rescinded.
After what I was told was a delay that might have been related to Ms. Dion’s absence.
Sometime ago, I visited the Foundation Center, and left a couple of messages. No reply. No respect.
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