Foundation Friday: Root causes philanthropy, or mere symptom amelioration?

A group of Chicago foundations just announced the creation of a fund to assure that neighborhoods affected by the city’s 2016 Olympic plans will benefit from those plans and from the Games, if they actually come to Chicago.  In the Nonprofiteer’s judgment that money and attention would be better spent opposing the city’s bid for the Games, though the Mayor wants them and few people or institutions in Chicago are willing to go up against the Mayor.  But if foundations don’t have "F**k you" money, who does?  And if independent voices won’t state the obvious–that Olympics routinely damage the cities they visit and that Chicago will be no exception–who will?

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2 Responses to “Foundation Friday: Root causes philanthropy, or mere symptom amelioration?”

  1. Gene Finley Says:

    I live in Atlanta and I must say my opinion about Olympics is mixed. A lot of charities and schools benefited. At the same time, it was foundation money that should’ve been given to those charities anyway.

    The real lasting gains include a new baseball field, a new city park, new dorms for colleges, a new ninety room transitional building for a drug treatment charity. Oh, there’s an amazing statue donated by Prince Charles.

    The problems include distraction of foundations and city budget from existing charities and problems, railroading the homeless and a total disregard for zoning and other bothersome laws.

    It’s my opinion that Atlanta benefited but that Chicago is a very different city that might not benefit. It is a much more mature, world class city. It doesn’t need the boost and publicity like Atlanta did.

    Good luck one way or the other.

  2. Nonprofiteer Says:

    It’s good to have the perspective of someone who’s been through the whole Olympics hoopla. You’re certainly correct that we can expect improvements to the city’s recreational facilities as a long-term gain from the Games, but as you say those will probably come at the cost of other equally necessary and worthy infrastructural investments.

    The bigger point, though, is that the Olympics bid encourages diversion of municipal resources in return for a chimera: the “boost and publicity” of being recognized as a “world class city.” As long as the dollar is plummeting against the Euro and the yen, people will visit Chicago (and Atlanta) from around the world, with or without the Olympics. When the dollar finally recovers–which we all hope will be soon–that flood of visitors will slow back to a trickle, with or without the Olympics.

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