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.

Community Philanthropy

“Participation is the new endowment.” With the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s release of a report titled “The Value of Community Philanthropy,” a panel discussion of experts was convened to discuss the issue. It was there that I came across this quote from Janet Topolsky. As the Director of the Community Strategies Group at the AspenContinue reading “Community Philanthropy”

When Charity Shouldn’t Act Like a Business

“Nonprofits should be more like business.” It’s a headline that is increasingly seen atop newspaper editorials and articles in business journals. The concept is simple. If nonprofit organizations would simply act more like for-profit businesses, they’d do a better job serving the community. There is a certain amount of truth to this belief. Indeed, goodContinue reading “When Charity Shouldn’t Act Like a Business”

A New Tool for Giving

It took nearly 10 years, four renewals of temporary laws, two budget crises, and one government shutdown, but eventually our friends in Washington finally came together to give our communities a powerful tool for charitable giving both today and in estate plans. On Dec. 18, new legislation was signed into law which restored and madeContinue reading “A New Tool for Giving”

Philanthropy’s Tectonic Shift Continues

In last month’s column I wrote there’s a “tectonic shift occurring that has the potential to fundamentally change the world of philanthropy.” I noted that many funders are beginning to see the limitations inherent in Strategic Philanthropy, the dominant concept in awarding grants the last few decades. Strategic Philanthropy involves turning a successful pilot projectContinue reading “Philanthropy’s Tectonic Shift Continues”

A Tectonic Shift in the World of Philanthropy

Although few outside the philanthropic world realize it, we are in the midst of a monumental philosophical debate on how to use charitable dollars so they have the greatest impact on society. The outcome of this discussion will have enormous implications for the manner in which charitable dollars will be granted out to nonprofit organizationsContinue reading “A Tectonic Shift in the World of Philanthropy”

Lessons from Kindergarten

Last year my wife finished the college degree that was disrupted by her marriage to me nearly 20 years ago. She wants to become a teacher so the shelves and desk in our bedroom are filled with books, educational materials and notes from her recently completed student teaching assignment. As I sat down at theContinue reading “Lessons from Kindergarten”

A Hawaii Boy Goes Home

Last week I had the opportunity to tell a story before a sold-out crowd at the Women’s Fund “Tales of Our Lives” Story Slam. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the genre, a story slam is an opportunity for people to step up to the microphone and share a tale from their lives.Continue reading “A Hawaii Boy Goes Home”

The Overhead Myth

At first glance, you’d think the worlds of my late brother Bernie Jr. and mine couldn’t be further apart. I work in the realm of philanthropy while Bernie Jr. was a venture capitalist. Yet we both used to say that we basically have the same job, only in different sectors of the economy. My brother’sContinue reading “The Overhead Myth”


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