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The blog posts below are Bret Bicoy’s ramblings, rantings, and musings on philanthropy as excerpted from his published works. He writes regular columns in the Peninsula Pulse and Door County Living, as well as for other publications from time to time.


The Choice to Call Door County Home

This June marks 10 years that I’ve been writing columns for the Peninsula Pulse. If I collected all of the feedback I’ve received to everything I’ve written in the last decade, it would not equal the response to my most recent column, “We Must Hold Together as One County.” This last column was about the…

Hold Together as One County

In the aftermath of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy and the flooding in the Mid-Atlantic, national foundation leaders noted the inadequacy of the philanthropic response to that devastating crisis. Every responsible foundation across the nation recognized that we need to better prepare for the crisis that one day will arrive at our own front door. While hurricanes…

Our Most Important Resolution

As I began crafting this first column of 2018, someone casually suggested that I write about the progress of my previous New Year’s resolutions and the those I’ll be making for the coming year. That sounded like a promising column idea except for the fact that in my nearly five decades on this Earth, I…

Lessons for Non-Profits from 50,000 Wills

People’s reluctance to talk openly about their charitable giving has always frustrated me. Most folks will excitedly share stories about their beautiful new sailboat or the vacation they took to some exotic, far-away land. Yet when it comes to the charities we support, we tend to be far more hesitant to share. I’ve always found…

Bunching Your Charitable Donations

Charitable giving is going to decline by about five percent as a direct result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Congress enacted last fall. This is the consensus judgment of both liberal and conservative economists. Incentives matter and the loss of the tax deduction for charitable donations made by 21 million families is…

Giving to Charity Makes Us Happy

“If you want to feel good, you have to go out and do some good.” Oprah Winfrey articulated a fundamental value that many of us share, but sentiment isn’t sufficient for scientists. Thus researchers set out to answer a complex question: Can people enrich their own lives through charitable giving? The answer brings us to…

The Competition of Ideas

About every other week or so, I have the bad habit of switching between MSNBC and Fox News to see how each side is covering the issues of the day. I call this a “bad” habit because ironically, it’s the one thing that people of both political persuasions have told me is foolish, albeit for…

Selfless Teachers in Spooky Mansions

Okay, I’ll admit it. I dislike horror movies, despise Halloween, and want absolutely nothing to do with haunted houses. I like to think this is not so much out of cowardice as it is the natural result of a lifetime in philanthropy working to help people overcome society’s most serious issues. I’ve seen enough alarming…

Life Without Me at the Community Foundation

About 10 years ago, Dick Egan – my friend and, at the time, board chair of the Door County Community Foundation – shared a perspective that completely turned my thinking on its head. He fundamentally reshaped how I view the responsibility of a charity’s board of directors relative to its CEO. I am the president…

Fanatical Commitment to Moderation

On Aug. 24, 2016, I achieved my goal of losing exactly 100 pounds. For the first time in my adult life, my body mass index was classified as “normal.” As I write today’s column exactly one year after reaching this objective, I’m pleased to report that I’m still down 100 pounds (well, 102 to be…

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