Tag Archives: charity

2010 Buffalo Festivus, A Holiday For The Rest of Us

13 Dec

Last year, we hosted the first annual WNYMedia Festivus Party at Cole’s on Elmwood.  You see, we liberal elitists are on the frontlines of the war on Christmas and we prosecute our bloodless campaign with beer, chicken wings, good times and no references to the baby jeebus or his birth.

Last year, we had a festivus pole (courtesy of Pauldub), an airing of the grievances, and feats of strength conducted on an arm wrestling table.

Matt Bova and Chris Smith, Feats of Strength

Amy Maxwell, Chairwoman, Grievance Airing Committee

This year, we’re doing it all over again, but with a purpose.  But, first…for those who are unaware, here is the story of Festivus.  Watch the video or I will rain blows upon you.


Since this is Buffalo, it’s not a party unless it’s a fundraiser.  In these tough economic times, we thought it best to raise money for two causes near and dear to our hearts, the Buffalo City Mission and Buffalo ReUse.  And since nothing brings former enemies together like a good cause, Buffalo Rising will also be sponsoring Festivus this year along with WNYMedia.net, Hometown 1230 WECK, and BuffaloComedy.com.

So, at 7PM on December 15th at Nietzsche’s on Allen Street, join us for the 2010 Buffalo Festivus, A Holiday For The Rest of Us.

Kristen Becker of the Doin’ Time Comedy Comedy Showcase will be bringing some excellent local standup comedy talent to entertain us, and we’ll also have music from Eric Crittenden and Critt’s Juke Joint.

All of this for only a $7 admission at the door, all of which goes to two very excellent local Buffalo charities.

The Art of Giving

22 Dec

The Buffalo News has undertaken a major piece of enterprise reporting and it’s one that is long overdue.  A look into the alternative economy of Western New York, the non-profit community and the hundreds of foundations which fund them.

As someone who thinks that the two major “businesses” in this town are government and non-profit sector employment, I’ve always wanted to read a comprehensive look into the makeup of the local fundraising market.

The only time we dipped our toe in the water on this issue, it was met with a large community backlash when we had the temerity to ask whether or not the Wendt Foundation could find a better use for their money than funding the anti-casino lawsuit through the Network for Religious Communities.

So, it was with great anticipation that I opened my paper this morning to find a well-researched piece on our local foundations.

It seems the conflict is whether or not the local foundations are using their monies for the true betterment of the community.  By that, I mean are they spreading the wealth around to organizations who are trying to fill cracks in the societal foundations of America’s second poorest city or are they primarily funding organizations which they themselves directly benefit and believe other people would benefit from as well?

“This is a huge systemic problem in philanthropy. Too little money goes to benefit those that need it the most,” said Aaron Dorfman, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, an independent organization based in Washington, D.C.

“Unfortunately, many donors practice patronage giving. They support institutions they themselves benefit from. If they like the symphony, they give to the symphony, and they give to their alma mater. Those may not be bad things to give to, but it’s certainly not my vision for what philanthropy should be about in this country, and I don’t think it’s what most people think philanthropy should be about,” he said.

In other words, should foundations donate more money to an organization like PUSH Buffalo (~$70K in 2006 funding) rather than the Buffalo Philharmonic (~$2.5MM in 2006 funding)?

Could the money given to the Philharmonic have been put to better use if spread out around the city?  Or is it in the interest of this community to continue to sustain the Philharmonic at huge levels when the region as a whole seems to have decided to not support it with ticket purchases?

Is the continued presence of the Philharmonic one of the main anchors of the community that keeps this foundation money invested in Buffalo?  It’s a pretty complex and layered issue, one that I look forward to reading more about.

Michelle Kearns, Patrick Lakamp and Mary Pasciak did a great job in the first installment of defining the boundaries of the story and I look forward to the next two installments.  On a meta-level, this kind of story is exactly why newspapers are so incredibly vital.  The resources needed to research and execute a story like this are not available to community journalists.

Margaret Wendt Foundation

13 Jul

The Wendt Foundation paid $2 million to fund the legal fees for the casino half-sorta-victory last week. Two million dollars. That’s a lot of scratch, and frankly I had thought that the lawyers had donated their time towards this effort. I’m taken aback that there was an expenditure for this.

So, here’s the Wendt foundation’s general giving focus:

Purpose and activities: Emphasis on education, the arts, and social services; support also for churches and religious organizations, health associations, public interest organizations, and youth agencies. Fields of interest: Aging; Aging, centers/services; AIDS; AIDS research; Alcoholism; Arts; Biomedicine; Cancer; Cancer research; Children/youth, services; Community/economic development; Crime/law enforcement; Disabilities, people with; Economically disadvantaged; Education; Education, early childhood education; Environment, natural resources; Federated giving programs; Government/public administration; Health organizations; Higher education; Historic preservation/historical societies; History/archaeology; Hospitals (general); Human services; International human rights; Legal services; Libraries/library science; Medical research; Mental health/crisis services; Minorities; Minorities/immigrants, centers/services; Museums; Performing arts; Performing arts, theater; Political science; Public affairs; Religion; Residential/custodial care, hospices; Substance abuse, services; Visual arts.

Here’s a sampling of recipients in 2006:

$500,000 to Shaw Festival Foundation, Buffalo, NY, For renovation and expansion. $360,000 to Hilbert College, Hamburg, NY, Toward constructing communications lab and performance facility. $250,000 to Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, For Joint Foundation Transition Funding for Arts. $250,000 to Daemen College, Center for Information, Research and Community Programs, Amherst, NY, Toward construction. $250,000 to Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA, To acquire land in Zoar Valley. $225,000 to University at Buffalo Foundation, Buffalo, NY, Toward Olmsted challenge grant supporting Ira G. Ross Eye Institute. $200,000 to Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Jamestown, NY, Toward purchase of conservation easement at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center. $50,000 to Good Schools for All, San Diego, CA, For unrestricted support of Raising Student Achievement. $25,000 to Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Buffalo, NY, For Systemic Autoimmune Disease Research Center of Western New York. $20,000 to Niagara Aerospace Museum, Niagara Falls, NY, For rent, utility, and insurance.

And $2 million for legal fees in 2007 – 08.

Imagine if $2 million had gone towards an actual charitable cause that actually helps the underprivileged. Although I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that a sovereign exclave should not be carved out of Buffalo’s downtown to facilitate gambling that can’t be subject to state or local taxes, I don’t care about the morality of this, and I don’t care whether it’s a “good” or “bad” deal for the city any more than I care whether the heavily subsidized, money-losing Hyatt is a “good” or “bad” deal.

But this interview between Bruce Jackson and Joel Rose pretty much underscores the fact that the whole “sovereignty” issue is a technicality that stands in the place of “we know so much better than you”. And they got $2 mill from a local charity to pay legal fees rather than an actual charitable effort.

Oh, well.