Competition Among Donor Advised Funds Is Constricting Charitable Giving

I am always interested in news about how donor advised funds (DAF) are operating. On the whole, their use hasn’t gone as intended and they have reduced, rather than increased or incentivized charitable giving.   A few weeks ago Vu Le linked to an article that examined how the differences in the way DAFs are promoted is an indicator of whether they are distributing or sequestering funds. (emphasis original)

National sponsors that spend more time talking about donor benefits on their websites have more assets, take in a much higher proportion of noncash contributions, and pay out grants at much lower rates than sponsors that spend more time talking about charitable giving.

[…]

But our analysis predicts that a hypothetical national sponsor with a strong emphasis on charitable grantmaking on their website would pay out at 53 percent, while a hypothetical national sponsor with a strong emphasis on donor benefits would pay out at just 2 percent. And those lower payout rates have ripple effects when it comes to the buildup of assets: Our model predicts that the highly charity-focused sponsor would have assets of just $34 million, whereas the highly donor-focused sponsor would have assets of $2.7 billion.

Something to note is that the analysis focuses on national sponsors of DAFs rather than regional and local sponsors. The author of the piece, Helen Flannery, notes that since national sponsors tend not to have the specific focus, whether it be geographic region or cause, they often need to work harder to make a case for people to arrange their giving through them. Flannery seems to suggest that the those that tout financial benefits to the donor are able to make a more compelling case than a more charitably focused sponsor without a specific focus.

Flannery calls for a more specific evaluation and regulation of DAFs on an individual basis rather than looking at the aggregate giving of sponsors since the really generous ones tend to make the parsimonious ones look better due to averaging.

The analysis we present in our paper quantifies this phenomenon. It measures the degree to which sponsors have financialized what was originally intended to be a nonprofit instrument, and it measures just how intense the competition has become among the very largest DAF sponsors in this country.

Music Preference And Morals – Do Evil Geniuses Really Love Classical Music?

When I saw a link on Artsjournal.com to a research study on PLOS One exploring the link between music and morality, I was half expecting to discover that evil people do prefer classical music, bolstering the stereotype of movie villains who apparently love playing that music to accompany their nefarious scheming.

Alas, the researchers didn’t specifically address that highly relevant question. I did learn that there has been a lot more research into the connections between music preference and personality types than I imagined. The literature/previous research review at the start of the research findings discuss those findings if that sounds interesting.

Rather than plotting on a good/evil axis which would require judgment calls, the researchers categorized different ends of the moral spectrum as:

Individualising (Care and Fairness), indicative of a more liberal perspective, and Binding (Purity, Authority and Loyalty), indicative of a more conservative outlook.”

Looking at everything from lyrics, timbre, and audio elements. In the results section of the study they note the following correlations:

From the perspective of the lyrics’ linguistic cues, we saw that people who value more foundations related to Care and Fairness (Individualising values) prefer artists whose songs’ textual content is about care and joy. Those concerned more about Loyalty, Authority and Purity (Binding or ingroup) foundations tend to choose artists whose songs’ lyrics talk about fairness, sanctity, and love.

Also, individuals with strong ingroup values tend to prefer artists whose lyrics have positive sentiments and talk about dominance. This is intelligible as individuals who value Binding and their social groups tend to engage in group activities such as sports, religious events, and political gatherings, which often make use of music to promote messages of power, unity, and victory (e.g. sports chants, church choirs, etc.). On the other hand, participants with high Binding scores tend to dislike songs with negative valence, violent narratives and songs that resonate with sadness, fear, and disgust.

From an audio perspective, we saw that participants with Binding values preferred more artists whose songs are danceable, loud and with more positive sounds. In contrast, participants with Individualising values chose more artists whose songs are smooth, acoustic and have less dynamic sounds

In terms of timbre, people oriented to Care and Fairness preferred smoother to louder. Binding oriented people preferred the loud, but only conventional rhythmic songs. Binding oriented individuals disliked loud, distorted, rebellious songs that aligned with timbres common in “hard rock, metal indie, pop, and electronic music.”

Like me, you may be wondering where people who enjoy loud, hard music with lyrics about struggle or darker themes. Reading through the study, it wasn’t really clear to me what sort of moral alignment those folks might have. I will confess that I didn’t quite understand some of the technical references to to things like BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) and what fell into those classifications.

One thing that amused me was the lengthy discussion of how preferred lyrics reflected moral value. As we all know, a lot of times people aren’t paying close attention to the lyrics and if they are, they may be getting some of them hilariously wrong. It may be that on the whole, lyrics and morals do track closely, but there have been a number of instances in the last few years where people loudly proclaim that an artist has betrayed the moral values they when they were popular 10-20 years ago and the general public cackles, “Were you paying attention to the lyrics?”

There is specific mention in the article about the choice of music at political rallies in the U.S. and how that often aligns with the general moral outlook of each group.

Wait, NZ Arts & Culture Sector GDP Grew At Nearly Twice The Rate Of The Whole Economy?

A couple weeks ago, New Zealand’s Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH) proudly announced that the GDP growth for the Arts and Creativity Sector was nearly double that of the economy as a whole for a 12 month period ending March 2022.  “The GDP of $14.9b is a 12-month increase of 10% – compared to total economy GDP growth of 5.3%.”

Some of the highlights from the report:

  • There are more than 115,000 people whose primary employment is in the arts and creativity – that’s a 3.8% increase from March 2021 to March 2022.
  • There are almost 36,000 businesses in the sector
  • Over 10,000 Māori hold primary employment in the Arts and Creative Sector
  • The Māori arts and creative sector contributed more than $1.3 billion to GDP in Aotearoa

As I wrote back in 2017, Maori intellectual property rights has been a point of tension, because as has been the case with many indigenous cultures, there have been differences of understanding both in the wording of treaties and with the concepts of property ownerships.

I am not sure how the ministry categorizes what falls under art and what falls under creativity, but the arts alone account for a much smaller slice of that GDP number (.8%) according to the article summarizing the report. However, that part of the sector is still seeing pretty good growth with employment at 2.8% compared with the 3% for the country as a whole. While arts workers are far more likely to be self-employed than people in other parts of the economy, it is apparently a growth area.

I was pleased to read that most New Zealanders working in the arts sector were considered to be performing highly skilled work, especially in comparison with the rest of the occupations in the country.

In news that will come as no surprise to many, the Arts Sector has 11,641 self-employed workers – accounting for 42% of the sector’s workforce and more than double the total NZ self-employment rate (16.2%).

Interestingly, that rate has increased by 8.1% over the past 15 years compared to the overall self-employment rate in New Zealand which has decreased by 0.9%.

80.7% of the Arts sector workforce are employed in what is described as highly-skilled occupations. This is higher than for all occupations in New Zealand (38.4%).

That number doesn’t look set to drop – Infometrics estimates that between 2023-2028, there will be 10,091 total job openings in the Arts sector (30.3% expected to be new job growth) with three-quarters of those positions likely to be highly-skilled jobs.

More Ballet And Body Weight Related Legal Action

Apropos to my post yesterday about Richmond Ballet dancers suing the organization for exerting so much pressure about their weight, there was another story a couple weeks ago that I forgot where the Executive Director and Artistic Director of the Cleveland Ballet were suspended after they chose not to renew the contract of a dancer who was hired to teach outreach classes at the Boys and Girls Club due to her weight.  After advocating to retain the dancer, the Outreach Director was told his contract would not be renewed either.

The events that led up to learning that news from Becker started at a School of Cleveland Ballet staff meeting on Aug.  1, where Guadalupe saw a photo of Harris teaching the tendu movement that was included in Becker’s outreach newsletter.

“[Gladisa] told me that she could not release the newsletter I had been working on, that the mockup was no good. She simply said, ‘the tendu picture,’ and I knew what she was gunning for at that point,” Becker said.  “I even asked the Artistic Director, ‘It seems like you’re insinuating that someone’s size or body weight would somehow be able to disqualify them,’ and before I could even finish my sentence, she’s just nodding. I was told that this fine teacher did not have the physical aesthetic required to teach tendu and pliés to the Boys and Girls Club children.”

[…]

Two days later, Becker wrote down what happened at the meeting and hand-delivered his account in a letter to Lilia Shtarkman in the Cleveland Ballet’s human resources department, but he never received a reply. He also tried but failed to meet with their HR consultant, Lana Krasnyansky Sokolinsky — who is Michael Krasnyansky’s daughter and Guadalupe’s step-daughter — before Becker was told his own contract would not be renewed as manager of the outreach program.

The news article goes on to note that while Cleveland Ballet has a policy of not discriminating against people who are members of protected classes, body size is not a protected class. Still the Ballet board conducted an internal investigation and engaged outside counsel to also investigate. Ultimately, the board decided to suspend the artistic and executive director pending the results of that investigation.