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Nonprofit Radio for December 18, 2023: Lessons From The UPenn President’s Resignation


Doug White: Lessons From The UPenn President’s Resignation

Doug White

Two weeks ago, the president of the University of Pennsylvania resigned, in large part because major donors to the University harshly criticized her publicly, withdrew their donations, and encouraged others to do the same. Can you prevent an uprising at your nonprofit? How do you manage one if your nonprofit’s core values are at stake? Doug White has been studying ethics for decades and he returns to share what can be learned.


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And welcome to Tony Martignetti Nonprofit radio. Big nonprofit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host and the pod father of your favorite abdominal podcast. Oh, I’m glad you’re with us. I’d come down with. So Mathenia, if you weakened me with the idea that you missed this week’s show. Here’s our associate producer, Kate with what’s coming? Hey, Tony, this week, it’s lessons from the U Penn president’s resignation. Two weeks ago, the president of the University of Pennsylvania resigned in large part because major donors to the university harshly criticized her, publicly withdrew their donations and encouraged others to do the same. Can you prevent an uprising at your nonprofit? How do you manage? One of your nonprofits core values are at stake. Doug White has been studying ethics for decades and he returns to share what can be learned on Tony’s take two. I’m thinking about you were sponsored by donor box, outdated donation forms, blocking your supporters, generosity. This giving season donor box, the fast flexible and friendly fundraising platform for nonprofits donor box.org here is lessons from the U Penn President’s resignation. It’s a pleasure to welcome Doug White back to nonprofit radio. He returns as a longtime leader and scholar in our nation’s philanthropic community. He’s an author and advisor to nonprofits and philanthropists. One of his books, abusing donor intent, chronicling the historic lawsuit brought against Princeton University by the Children of Charles and Marie Robertson. We talked about that here and it’s Doug’s recent book that is the one that’s most relevant to today’s conversation to frame things. The president of the University of Pennsylvania was forced to resign by donors, faculty and politicians. Last weekend, she resigned four days after testifying before Congress about what constitutes anti-semitism at Penn. There had been calls for her resignation before her testimony, enormously, wealthy donors who had made 78 and nine figure gifts to Penn, withdrew their gifts and their support of President Elizabeth mcgill. The board chair resigned the same day. We want to examine the role of the donors in the forced resignation of the nonprofit’s president. What should you expect? How can you prepare, how do you manage a similar crisis? What lessons are there for you and your nonprofit where a major gift may be? 45 or six figures, Doug White. Thank you for coming back to nonprofit radio to talk about this and it’s good to be with you again. Tony really is, what’s uh what’s your take? Well, did I leave out anything uh essential to the, to the framing that, that, that uh that you think needs to be filled in or what’s your take on the, what we’ve seen over the past week? Well, I think everybody knows the major headlines of the past week, the three presidents of Penn, the University of Pennsylvania. I should say MIT and Harvard went to a committee in Congress to answer questions about their policies on free speech on campus. And as you, as we all know, many Congress people are upset with not only that testimony but also in general, what they think is going on in the campus world. And so the question became, what kind of policies do you have and what are you doing to, to change them if anything? And in a nutshell, the outcome was fairly negative for the presidents because they basically equivocated, they did not answer the questions directly. And that I think as you’re implying, created a groundswell of criticism and many people asked for the resignations of those three people as we’re speaking right now. And as you mentioned, uh the president of 10, uh her name is Elizabeth. Um mcgill resigned along with the, the president of the, the, the president of the board this past weekend. And just today, Harvard University affirmed their support or the board did uh their support of Claudine Gay. And I don’t believe that the mit president’s position is, is in any danger at this point. And as you’re also saying, a lot of that criticism is coming from politicians. Uh and um some of the constituencies at the universities and one of those constituencies and an important one is the donor base. And so the question I think that you’re asking is what, uh, what role the donors have played in all of this. So I think you’ve, you’ve set it up here, I don’t think there’s anything you missed, but it’s a, it’s a unique time in, I think the world of, of higher education and, and I think nonprofits generally, you know, any uh any uh it goes beyond the, the free speech conversation because a major donor at any nonprofit could be upset about any direction that they see or even maybe, you know, so granular to be a, a particular program or the, the administration of a particular program. So that, you know, it’s, it’s uh I, I it’s a conversation about how we manage our, our donors influence uh expectations uh so that we don’t end up in this kind of a crisis where, you know, maybe it doesn’t rise to calling for the, the CEO or executive director’s resignation, although it certainly could. But, you know, the influence generally that is uh you know, beyond what they’re, what they’re giving relates to. So, you know, the, these donors at uh the University of Pennsylvania, one of the, one of the uh so in one of the instigators uh is a uh is a, is an advisory board member to the uh to the Wharton School, which is the the Penn, you know, the Penn Business School now, you know, his giving and I’m, I’m, I’m gonna assume this, I think it’s safe, but at least for our conversation, I’d like to assume that, you know, his, his uh and he was the uh one of the nine figure donors. So we’re talking about $100 million or more gift, um probably doesn’t relate to free speech. It relates to programs at, at Penn. Um And he’s cons he expressed concern about the direction that he saw in the Business School. So it’s, yeah. So, so again, assuming beyond, it’s assuming that it’s beyond what they’re giving relates to what do we do when donors uh exercise influence? Well, uh you’re bringing up, I think this is the meat of the question. You’re bringing it, bringing it up. And for me, it, it’s almost i it’s really a fundamental question, the person you’re sp speaking about, I believe his name is Mark Rowan. He’s the uh either the head of or he was on the Wharton advisory board. Now, University of Pennsylvania, there’s a university and the business School is Wharton and Wharton has its own advisory board. They’re not a governing board, they’re an advisory board, but they’re very influential as many advisory boards are. Uh but at universities, it’s the governing board that is going to make a decision about whether the president is fired or hired. So he, he was not in a position to say, ok, I want her, I want her uh Elizabeth mcgill to be fired, but at least statutorily, but he did start a campaign that lasted for several, like several weeks actually saying that she’s got to go, she’s gotta go. And you’re right. He was one of the, I think it was 100 was it 100 million? That was 100 million dollar donor. Yeah. And he started to with withdraw that gift and encourage other major donors to do the same. The one of those major donors was John Huntsman who has a foundation out in, in Utah. He had, he’s a former governor and a former diplomat. Uh He was very upset. Uh Dick Wolf, the uh creator of the Show Law and Order. A graduate of U. Penn also said that he was upset. So Mark Roan, he uh the way I understand it, the people I’ve spoken with have said that he wrote to all of the trustees kind of like bombarding them on a daily basis saying she’s gotta go, she’s gotta go and she’s gotta go. Uh And this was well before the um the testimony on the fifth of December, it started the day after Haas attacked Israel. So he was very, very upset and to say that you’re gonna not give $100 million even to a place like Penn, that’s a big, that’s a big threat. And so Penn’s going to listen to it and I think where you were just heading a moment ago if I’m reading this correctly, is that, what kind of, what kind of influence should that kind of a donor have over this kind of a question at a place like Penn or any other university or any other charity? And my answer is complicated. One is we have to understand one of the highest levels of philanthropy is that a donor in the United States? Anyway, a donor has the right to give or not give to any organization he or she wishes. Uh That’s just a personal decision. Uh You can’t be, the person can’t be made to think that the gift has to be made or can’t or can’t be made. So it’s a personal decision. And in that context, uh Mr Rowan had every right to say you do not have access to my checkbook a if you do this. So I think that’s, that, that’s a guiding principle for me, Tony when it comes to philanthropy uh that said uh universities and many other charities. But right now we’re talking about universities here. They are in the, the spotlight when it comes to current affair, uh Current affairs. And it’s been a decades old um controversy where universities have been thought to be much more liberal than many conservatives would like to see them. And so the, the accusations have been that there have been conservatives who have not been able to make their speeches or people who have been invited, who are conservatives have been, uh, kept from speaking and, and that’s been, that’s been a, a mantra of the conservative voice in the United States. And quite frankly, uh, I, I see where that’s coming from. I do see where that’s coming from. So, what you’ve got here is the, the, these three presidents are saying, look, uh, we think what happened, what Hamas did was terrible. They all said that by the way, and then when asked more directly, uh whether you would uh condone that kind of speech on campus that says that, that says that Israel is basically uh en engaged in genocide. Uh should that be Condoned? Should that speech be Condoned? And they, they were, they were saying basically no. And the answer was supposed to be yes. Yeah. Well, they, they, they equivocated uh uh certainly uh Elizabeth mcgill did at Penn, but they were giving sort of legally le le legal scholarly answers uh to uh to a political panel that doesn’t, doesn’t engage in academics and, you know, uh and pedagogy uh nuance for that but, or new, right? Um But, you know, sort of, I was gonna, I was gonna say one other thing though, in terms of that, the legalese question, uh I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember this, but I am when Mike Dukakis ran for president back in 1988 he was asked a question at one of the debates about uh rape. And the question was framed about his wife being raped, which would really, in anybody’s reality, would the person would say? Of course, you know, Mike Dukakis relied on a very legalistic answer and there was no emotion in it. And I think the any lost points. I mean, the there was a moment in his campaign where it was not a highlight where he just didn’t say dolly, we gotta get the guy. This is what was missing last week with these presidents. They didn’t just say we got, we can’t have that. We have to con we have to condemn that kind of language. II, I wanna, I wanna focus on something that you said about the, the donors, you know, they, they have a right to give or not give where they would like to or, or, or not? So, does that bring things down to, you know, for our, for our listeners where major gifts are, like I had said, 456 figures. Um Do, does that bring it all down to the money talks? And you either accede to the wishes of the, the, the donor’s influence uh uh uh or, or you uh or you suffer the consequence? Well, this is what I was going to say earlier when I, what I said is kind of a complicated answer and I think you’re going into that second level of my, my answer there. What would have been my answer? Then, and that is that I would answer your question in a direct way to say no, they shouldn’t be exceeding all the time to a donor’s uh whims. Uh But I’d like to make a distinction between a donor that is given money uh with certain expectations and a person who is not given money and also the donor who is given without expectations, but who might be upset with the organization. So let me begin with the donor who’s, who’s made a gift with expectations. And that is an example of that. It would be the the Princeton gift where the donor was giving $35 million in 1961 to establish the graduate to endow the graduate program of what was then the Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and the lawsuit that came about in the late early two thousands and went to the late two thousands that said that the school prison wasn’t doing what the donor wished. Um We won’t rehash that whole that whole scenario, but I will say this, that the case was one of saying I made you, I made this gift and you’re not following what we agreed upon. And in that case, I believe the, the university or the, the charity has an obligation to follow what it said it would do. I, I believe wholeheartedly that the, the university or the uh the charity needs to do what it said it was going to do. It’s in many states, it’s becoming uh there’s beginning to be some, some history, legal history on this. Uh and so many states are taking a closer look at it than they were back 25 years ago. But uh from a moral perspective, if nothing else, charities need to do that, it’s time for a break. Are you looking to maximize your fundraising efforts and impact this giving season? Donor Box’s online donation platform is designed to help you reach your fundraising goals from customizable donation forms to far-reaching easy share, crowd funding and peer to peer options. Plus seamless in-person giving with donor box live kiosk. Donor box makes giving simple and fast for your donors and moves the needle on your mission. Visit donor box.org and let donor box help you help others. Now back to lessons from the U Penn president’s resignation. That’s the one that we talked about on, on the show. When, when you uh abusing donor intent was published, the, just to distinguish that from uh what’s happening. Uh I think at the these universities, but we’re we’re broadening the conversation beyond them. Uh Donors are exerting influence beyond the likely beyond the terms of their, their gift, their gift and their gift agreements, and all the documentation. I I don’t, I, I’m, as I said earlier, I’m, I’m assuming that these donors uh Mark Rowan, uh Huntsman Ron Lauder was another one of the SD Lauder of Fortune um that, that they’re giving doesn’t relate to freedom of speech on the campus or, or conversations about anti-semitism. So I know, I know, I know you have three different um examples that you wanna talk through. Just, I just want to distinguish that the, the Robertson case was around the terms of their specific gift. That’s correct. And that’s why that’s in that one category, but you’re bringing into the other, in the current situation, this other category where the donors aren’t really supporting that as an issue, they’re not giving in response to this issue. In fact, I believe, and I don’t have it in front of me, but Ross, excuse me, uh Mark Roans gift was to establish a uh a financial uh kind of institute was Wharton. And so, yes, it had nothing to do with the, the free speech question. But when you get to the question that is at hand at this university uh at Penn and Harvard and mit, you’re talking about a fundamental purpose behind the organization’s existence. Uh And so any donor who is giving for whatever other reason has the likelihood to have an opinion about the university’s uh position on this rather fundamental question. Um The, the free speech question. And so you’re right, they, they, they, they’re giving their, their philanthropy over the years hasn’t had anything to do with, with uh I’m sorry about this, my dog in the background. I have a dog in the back of that. We’re family friendly nonprofit. We’ve had babies, dog, dogs. Your, your dog is relatively quiet compared to some. Yeah. Well, it says when somebody walks in the yard or something. Uh, but no, you’re right. It has nothing to do with the, the issue at hand. So, does this donor, should this donor have any sway in the university’s, uh, examination of this fairly large and fundamental question? I believe that these donors have gone further than what they should. I don’t believe that quite frankly, I, I, I believe in the sanctity of a university and what it does in terms of fulfilling its, its core obligations and one of its core obligations is to provide a what a uh an environment on campus that allows people to feel like they can express themselves and at the same time feeling comfortable doing it, not only expressing themselves but hearing other people express themselves and that tension as we have seen develop over these last decades. But I think it’s really coming to a head right now that tension is not going to be resolved one way or the other. The best that can happen is that it gets managed in my view and the managing of that isn’t up to a donor, it’s up to the administration of the university. So I do feel even though I said earlier, this is why it’s kind of complicated, even though the donor should not feel an obligation to make a gift or not make a gift. It’s up to him or her. It’s a personal decision. But at the same time, I feel that donors need to have a higher regard than what I’m seeing right now for how the university would deal with these questions on its own, rather than having a donor take, take a shot at this. And I feel the same way about politicians, by the way, uh uh free speech being a, as you said, a fundamental value of a university and, and in other nonprofits, uh they all have fundamental values, whether it’s uh valuing might be free speech, valuing people. Um uh a commitment to uh diversity and equity and inclusion, um Commitment, maybe to their environmental impact, reducing that, you know, whatever, whatever their core values are, we all all nonprofits have them. So, so you know how to manage the instance where donors start to exert influence over the, over the, the management of your, your core reasons for being and, and is there a way to prevent a donor from overreaching? I’m, I’m uh I, I, I’m not, I can’t envision one, but I’m interested in your opinion. And so is there a way to, to safeguard ourselves from the kind of crisis that these three nonprofits are finding themselves in? Many organizations have gift acceptance policies. And my thinking is this, that this issue needs to be part of that process. I sometimes ask organizations if they have a separate in addition to the gift acceptance policy, a separate policy for ethics. And I would put this question into that ethics category, whether it’s part of the gift acceptance policy or whether it’s in its own policy that they address this, because there are a lot of other issues where donors can be a problem uh in the, in the development of uh of, of the fundraising process. And uh last week I spoke in Indianapolis about donors who became problems. I would use Harvey Weinstein and, and Bill Cosby as examples of that. Um But here, we’re not talking about that kind of a problem. We’re talking about a problem where a donor is going to exert some influence. So I think it’s up to the uh charity to anticipate that there could be issues that donors have problems with at that charity. We’ll just use pen as an example or the three that spoke last week as an example and say, look, uh we have our core fundamental values. We don’t, we don’t claim to have all of the answers, but it is part of who we are as an organization to address this question as best we can. And there’s going to be tension over time and we expect you to permit us to deal with that tension without interference. And, and, and what, and I’m talking about the donor who’s made the gift so far, the, the guy who says, look, I gave you $10 million and now you’re doing something that I don’t like and I, I’m gonna kind of raise my voice in opposition and that voice has, has, has purchased because of that $10 million. And what the chair is saying before that all happens is saying you don’t have, you don’t have the authority and you’re making that gift knowing that fact that charities so far are, would be very reluctant to do that. They, they’d say, well, why would we want to create an enemy before we get started? I get that. But my, my concern is you don’t have any, you don’t have any real argument once this is all played out and you haven’t established that as a part of the ground rules, then you don’t have any real ability to say, look, we have this, we have this uh quest in uh within our own world here and you’re not part of that argument. Uh At least in terms of what you’ve given us. So my, my suggestion is for charities to look at this, this, this is a tremendously important learning moment for the charities to say, what can we do to prevent? Not so much the different, the, the, the, the problem that comes on campus here or whatever problem that comes with any charity because you can’t, you can’t know. Uh but you can put donors on notice saying we are who we are and your money is going to change our, our fundamental values. All Right. Let, let’s, uh, hypothesize the, the, um, forward looking charity that, that has, uh, an ethics statement that accompanies the, their gift acceptance policy and the donor has signed the, the ethics statement that they, they agree and it says that they will abide by it and something gets under their skin and they just ignore the agreement and do exactly what, um, Mr Rowan did at, at, at Penn and they pull their own, they pull their own donation and they start to encourage other major donors to do the same. Where, where are we just, we’re, we’re, we have an ethics policy that the donors signed on to. That doesn’t, doesn’t feel very uh reassuring in the face of losing a, a, a major donor who’s encouraging others, other major donors to go with him or her. Well, that, that was another part of this, by the way, I’ll get to the substance of the response and I don’t mean to delay it, but, but I do have to interrupt you, I’ll hold your feet to the fire, the academician. I, I do believe that, that, that campaign really to a daily campaign uh to dus the trustees at Penn was low handed. I, I don’t think that was a very, very highhanded uh maneuver on his part and that’s a little bit connected to some frustrations I have with some of high net worth individuals who think that because of that net worth, they have kind of an ability or an, an intelligence or an experience that they really don’t have. Uh, and they’re just shoving it, uh, into somebody else’s, uh, some charity world, I guess that comes with having the ego that it takes to make $100 million. So, you know, that’s not me. But, uh, make, make even more because you have 100 million that you can give away. Well, exactly. He’s got billions, I’m sure. Uh, but getting back to your question, uh, you’re right. The, the, uh, it’s only a piece of paper and it’s not a legal commitment or anything of that nature but what it does, uh, and it, it doesn’t solve all the problems. I will, uh, I will grant you that, Tony. And I think the listeners have to know that there is, I don’t have the, the magic bullet, but what it would do is tell the donor that you thought about this. In fact, I think it’s actually a cultivation tool because if you tell donors that you thought about this, you’re also telling them that you’re an intelligent caring, uh, thoughtful, charitable, charitable organization. And that, uh, as a result, your money is going to be well stewarded once it gets to us. But that’s just the way I look at it at the end of the day. You’re right. It is just a piece of paper and at the end of the day, the donor doesn’t have to abide by it at all. And he, and he makes the fuss just like, as has happened at Penn and Harvard too, by the way, we’re focusing on Penn, probably because MS mcgill did resign. But, you know, the, the Harvard problem was as severe. There were many, many, many donors who, uh said she should resign. So it’s not just that, but that paper, you’re right, that it’s not going to say it’s not gonna stop anything if the donor is really bent on making sure that uh a a resignation takes place. But it would allow, I believe the charity to say, look, uh we, we have thought this through, we, we think this through with our, in our world of philanthropy and we, we not only care about it but we respect our donors so much. We wanna, we wanna share this thinking with them. So there’s a, there is a high ground there in doing that even if the donor doesn’t really respect it. In the end, you have a book on nonprofit ethics. One of one of your earlier ones before I, before I knew you, you uh you were publishing. Uh and so we haven’t, we didn’t talk about that one on the nonprofit radio, but you, you published a book on nonprofit ethics. Yes, it was called The Nonprofit Challenge back in 20 gosh, 2010, 2011, something like that. And I looked at what was going on at uh the Red Cross after 911 and they had this, they had accepted a lot of gifts after 911 a a on 911 and shortly after, um, and, you know, the Red Cross its job is to take care of people who are victims of, of tragedy like hurricanes and, and fires and things like that. And I don’t wanna sound too brutal here, but there weren’t a lot of living victims after 911. And so the world of the Red Cross is, uh, it, it wasn’t the right fit if you will. They, you know, they got a lot of money but they couldn’t put it to what they would traditionally use it for that kind of a situation. Everybody gave money that I know of anyway, everybody tried to give blood. It was a, as a moment of, of national importance. And so of course, you’d want to go to the Red Cross and give, but they didn’t have enough places to put the money. So they, they put it elsewhere and a huge case came up afterwards, uh, because they had established a trust and, and, and the money didn’t go to the victims and the people who gave the money wanted them to go to the victims. So the question was, uh, not that anybody was stealing the money but, uh, ethically, what should the, what should the Red Cross have done? They have since changed their, their policy there. I, I think what the Red Cross is a great organization. Uh And that they, this handled that at the time is part of growing. I think uh we’ve never had a 911 before. The outpouring was huge. But that was just one example in, in the book on ethics. But the question there was how, how could we look at our ourselves? I think of, I think of charities, I think of the charitable sector, Tony as the ethical sector of our society. We oftentimes talk about ourselves as being the third sector of the business and government being the other two. So we’re the third sector. But I also think we’re the the ethical sector. We don’t have political pressures, don’t stop laughing. I understand there’s lots of politics that uh places like Penn and other charities. And we also don’t have the same uh need to make money for shareholders as as is true in the for profit world. And so we have a cleaner runway to look at ethical questions. And I’ve taken a lot of time these last several decades now examining the role far play in society and their, their ethical uh motive behind what they, what they need to be doing. And so uh yes, I feel like this what you had just asked about a moment ago in terms of a uh or what I mentioned a moment ago about the uh the, the ethics document or the, the agreement that the charity would have with the donor uh And if the donor doesn’t really abide by that, what happens? I think at least the charity would have the, the moral high ground to say we have thought this through. We have talked about it with the donor and we can’t, we can’t make the donor do one thing or the other at this point. But we can say that we’ve talked about it. And by the way, even at that point, if you take that down the road as you just did a moment ago, and the daughter is making a fuss, uh, the, the charity would still say, we, we respect the donor. We, we understand where he’s coming from or she’s coming from. This is not a us against him kind of a thing. But it’s a matter of saying, ok, here’s a, here’s a, a problem that has developed and we’re dealing with it the best way we can. And we can only hope that our donor sees that fact and tries to not use his or her uh financial ability to, to sway us in making decisions about our core, our core purposes. It’s time for Tony’s take two. Thank you, Kate. It’s December giving. I know how critical it is for you. I’m thinking about you. I’m on your side. I know I said a couple of weeks ago, but I wanna tell you again, if you do your best, then you can stand proud on January 1st knowing that there’s nothing more you could have done. I’m thinking about you this, these last few weeks of December. I’m with you. I’m with you. Do the best you can. That’s Tony’s take two Kate. Happy holidays and Happy New Year. Everyone. We’ve got VU but loads more time. So let’s go back to lessons from the U Penn president’s resignation with Doug White. The other dimension is that the, that, that donor is hurting the very beneficiaries that the nonprofit exists to help. In the, in the case of the universities, it’s, it’s students and, and faculty. Uh in the case of an animal shelter, it’s the uh it’s the animals that are housed in a, you know, in a no kill shelter. Uh in the case of a food bank, it’s the, it’s the folks who come in twice a week to fill grocery baskets and, you know, maybe come for lunches. Uh It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s not only a question of surrendering the core values, but it’s a, it becomes an issue of being uh detrimental to the people we exist or, or the people or entities. What? However, I mean, some charities exist to help the environment, what whatever we’re about to help donor, major donors pulling their gifts hurts the, the, the cause that we’re, we, we exist for what you’re pointing out right now is something I was listening for or looking for among the people at Harvard and Penn and MIT. And that is to say you may disagree with this, but by withholding your support, you’re really, you’re really hurting the entirety of our organization. You’re, you’re hurting what you want to see us do and you’ve already given us support to do what we’re doing. And so clearly, you think that we’re doing that correctly. And so if you’re going to take a position on this other issue and we all agree, it’s important, nobody’s trying to say it’s not important. But if you do hold your money back because of that, then what you are interested in is less likely to be successful. And so you’re really, really taking away a lot of what we can do that you want to have happen. So the argument can be brought back to the donors saying you’re hurting yourself by doing this, you’re hurting your own interests by doing this. And, and I think there’s an argument there and III, I haven’t heard that from any of these. I don’t know if they have been talking about this internally in among the board members or among their staffs or whatever. I haven’t heard that, but you’re right. They are hurting themselves. The donors are hurting their own interests when they, when they take that position, see, it would be one thing if the donor, if, if we’ll just use Mark, since we Mark Rowan, since we, we’ve talked about him, he could write an editorial in the New York Times or the Philadelphia paper or the student paper saying how much he opposes this, which is his right and quite frankly his obligation if he feels that way. Uh, but that would be a separate activity from withholding his money. Now that, that was not, that was not sufficient for him. The, the coverage I read said that he did have an op ed in the, the pen newspaper. Ok. Well, I’m not surprised and I thank you for telling me that I didn’t know, uh, that doesn’t surprise me and, and clearly, you’re right, it wasn’t sufficient for him. Uh, but this, this tug of war, you know, we, we a lot of time we talk about conflict. This is what another thing I wrote about in the, the book that you just referenced the ethics. You know, it’s not a question of avoiding conflict or, or, or making sure gets resolved to everyone’s satisfaction that doesn’t happen in real life. What does happen in real life among people who are, who are care about a resolution is that we, we understand this tension. And I think the free speech question is probably the per the perfect example of this and that is we’re not going to solve this. This is one thing that both sides don’t, I don’t feel, I don’t see it anyway, understand. And that is that there should be this one solution where everybody’s gonna understand the rules and with free speech, if I say, uh Hamas is a terrible group because look at what they did and they are, and I will say that they are terrible. But then uh if someone who supports the Palestinian cause and has, has taken a look at what’s been going on there for the last several decades, lifetimes. Uh uh They, they can say, look, you know, Israel is a bad actor in this whole thing. Both of those things can be true. Both of those sentiments could be within one person. And what I think the the university’s goal is to tell people that that’s what it is an ethical decision. When we talk about an ethical dilemma. The reason we use the word dilemma is because there’s no black and white answer. There’s no clarity to, there’s no clean way to get from where we are at a dilemma to where everybody’s happy. And oftentimes there is no way at all. So you see him manage it. You say, look, this is going to come up and it’s gonna come up and it’s gonna come up and we’re not going to come up with a rule that says, uh this is the way it’s going to be all the time when a conservative person comes, comes to, to, to campus, we’re not gonna say he, he, he can always say what he wants to and the same is true for a liberal person or what whatever the, the argument might be, what we’ve got to do is say, look, we understand there, there are conflicting viewpoints here and where, where the, where I do believe the president’s got it right. They said it’s context, uh, this is just the worst place to say this, but it was context dependent and at least defen the person who was doing the grilling at that point in Congress was saying, are you kidding me? And quite frankly, she had the, she had the hearts of, of America when she said that and I me to it, I, I think, you know, I have differences with this fact but they couldn’t say uh no, this was wrong. They, we would condemn this on, on campus. So, but the policy itself is true that you have to take a look at, at the context of what’s going on in this. And if you’re really saying, look, we’re going to make you feel unsafe you Israelites because you guys have been beaten down the Palestinians for the last 5075 years. Um Then, then that’s wrong because you can’t make anybody else. You can’t threaten anybody else. Uh In my view, you can say, I, I support the Palestinians. You can’t say, I believe you can’t say that. And I believe that’s what the presidents of these universities were saying. And, but they were also saying that the, the, the Israelis have a position too. And what, what, what fuels this conversation right now is the atrocities that Hamas committed against the Israelis that that, that is, you, you, you know, one of the steps that I’ve created when it comes to ethical decision making because everybody thinks it’s, you know, kind of squishy. And, you know, I, I know ethics because my mama told me what’s ethical or, I know it’s in my gut. That’s what a lot of people think. But when you’re trying to deal with someone else who has a different mama or has a different gut, uh, you’ve got to have some common, some common language or, or you don’t go anywhere. And so, you know, you’ve got to say, look, uh, you’re gonna be uncomfortable. We’re not gonna try to take away the discomfort of being on campus. We’re not gonna try to take away the discomfort of hearing something. You really, really, really don’t like. That’s where I think colleges have gotten it wrong. This question of saying we’re gonna make everybody comfortable. So everybody’s happy all the time. That’s a recipe for disaster. And, and my, and my feeling is that, uh, you know, as long as you, uh don’t threaten anyone or imply that there’s a threat to anybody individually and physically that you’re taking a position on policy, then then anybody should be able to speak and people who are, and you, you’ve seen this a lot more where a conservative comes and the liberals kind of shout them down. I think on campus, the shouting down thing, you shout me down, you’re out of here. I mean, you don’t have a right to be in the room if you’re gonna shout something. Well, that goes right. And that, of course, and then that goes to the, the core values again, you know, what, each nonprofit supporting its own core values, what, what it stands for, uh, even in the face of, you know, uh potentially losing major, major support. Uh I wanna look at another dimension of this, that the uh these three university presidents are, are all women and at least at Penn, that’s the one we know the most detail about all the major donors are men. Uh So I don’t, I don’t know that that’s true at, at the other two universities. But, but again, I want, you know, I want to take it out of the university context. Do you think there’s a, there, there’s, there’s a gender bias here that it’s, it’s a bunch of, uh uh I is, it is a bunch of rich men picking on a bunch of uh uh female CEO S I, I can’t believe you’re bringing this up because this is the conversation I had with my wife a few days ago. Uh and she brought that to my attention and I’m thinking first of all that, the Ivy League has seven out of its eight pres uh eight presidents as women, which is, I think an astonishing thing given the history of the uh schools and astonishing and a good thing uh Dartmouth just got its new president, a woman for the first time this past fall. And so I’m thinking this is, this is great. I’m not looking for a woman necessarily. That’s not how I look at. No, but, but let’s deal with. This is a good thing to deal with the, this, the, the what, what seems to me to be AAA gender, a gender overreaching? Yes. And iii I think the answer. OK, so I will answer your question. I think yes, I think that’s a factor. Uh And uh but I don’t think it’s i it’s, it’s meant I don’t think that the donors at Penn have said we want to get this woman out of there. Now, there have been some donors at both Penn and Harvard. I think I was reading the other day about Harvard and Claudine. Gay people were against her even before she was, she was there. And one of the, I think was Bill Ackman, a lot of the financiers who supports Harvard who said that uh when you limit your choices to a woman of color, then you’re taking a lot of people off the table and that was wrong as a process and, and he, he can believe that and people would think he’s right. Uh It’s not a fact, it’s an opinion. So I don’t think you’re taking a lot off the table. You might be taking a lot off the table, but you’re leaving a lot on too. So I don’t think that was a really accurate. I don’t believe that was an accurate criticism but was there a gender bias in here? Um All of these women, all of these presidents are women? All the then all of the critic, criticizers were uh men uh at least the the most vocal but there were some women I know at Harvard who were on staff who, who felt uncomfortable with Claudia Gaines gays leadership. Uh But you can’t, you can’t ignore it, can you? I mean, you bring it up. My wife brought it up. I don’t think it’s something you could ignore. Uh And I think it should be part of the conversation. If I were a reporter, I would go to some of these really, really wealthy people and ask that question. Now, they might deny it, but I would like to hear them, deny it because I do, I, I, I’d like to hear their, their answers to that also final dimension that uh I’d like to bring up because we just have a couple of minutes left. Board support seems to be key here. Uh I at Penn, the board support eroded for uh Doctor Elizabeth mcgill uh at uh Harvard, as you said, just yesterday or today, today, the, the Harvard board has said we are behind president gay board support. Uh So I know knowing your board members that you, you’re not gonna be able to anticipate how they’re gonna react in, in the event of uh of a crisis. But knowing them having their support overall, it seems to be a, a distinguishing factor here. One of the points that was made in the news articles that I read about Elizabeth mcgill, who being fairly new was that she didn’t have time to create uh relationships uh really deep relationships with individual board members uh to your comment a moment ago. Yes, board support is crucial. Uh In fact, I mean, just, I’m sure your listeners know this, but just to get this on the, on the table, the board is the president’s boss. And so the board hires and it fires the president. Uh she, she kept the board from having to fire her by resigning. But, um, it could have been different at Harvard because she wasn’t going to resign and they could have fired her. Uh, but the board is crucial and, but what not the waters a bit here is that many of your major donors are also on the board. So you have, you have that going on that was going on at Penn too. But the board, the board really, the job of the board is to set, not only a strategic direction but also a philosophical direction for the organization and the president is meant to be the executor of the, of that philosophy. And so when, when you see a, uh uh uh a, a president who went out these three did or to Congress, they are saying what they are carrying forth the values of the university. That’s another, I’m so glad you brought this up because that’s another, quite, quite frankly, another big issue for me. The board did not have Elizabeth mcgill’s back. In fact, it was the opposite. Um and it was the opposite for a long time. It had been building up. Hamas was uh the, the, the, the, the testimony was just the last straw. But that said they, they, each of these women, each of these presidents were doing what they both, they all agreed to with their boards. And so the board walking away at that moment, uh I felt was, was unfortunate for those people. They, they need the support of the board. If I, if I were on the board and I really disagreed with what they said before Congress, I would say, let’s take this behind closed doors. I would not have done what they did know your board, know your board members. I think, I think that’s another takeaway. All right. Doug, you wanna, you wanna, you wanna uh give us a uh closing closing statement? I feel so strongly about charitable organizations. Sometimes people don’t realize that places like Harvard are charities and they’re so, so wealthy, but they are legally speaking, they’re in the same place in the IRS code as the local uh food shelter. Uh And, and so, uh I think we, we look at charities and say uh there are organizations that will do the work that neither government nor business does or no for profits do. And so we are so fortunate to have them and we need, and they need our support. They do not live uh solely on their earned income. And what I mean by that is uh in the case of the university uh tuitions, they need uh they need philanthropic support and it just so happens that the United States has many, many uh good philanthropists, I mean, by philanthropists, people who just give any amount of money that, that support to charity is crucial. And what I would hate to see is that this issue as big as it is take away the philanthropic support these organizations get and, and I do want to make a point here, Harvard Penn and mit all those organizations represented in Congress are all what we would call very wealthy organizations that is to say they have, they have big endowments, but that said they still need their annual support. We I can’t go into now as to why that is. But I can, I can say for a fact that each of those people legitimately, each of those organizations legitimately need uh philanthropic support in addition to their, their endowment, they do great work for society. And I would, I would really not want to see this situation as important as it is as fundamental as it is to these organizations that would not like to see this situation overtake our spirit of philanthropy to these three or any other party in the United States or any others. Those are, you know, the, all our listeners know the value of small gifts, annual gifts, major gifts, foundation support. We didn’t even talk about the institutional support. It didn’t, didn’t really doesn’t seem to have applied here, planned gifts, recurring the monthly. They, they’re all important and I hope this has helped folks to put some thought around how you might uh manage a AAA crisis like this, how you might help prevent a crisis like this. Doug Thank you very much for sharing your, your wisdom. Well, Tony, I appreciate your taking the time to have this uh conversation on this particular topic. It’s very emotional for many people. It’s emotional for me. I think of it as being fundamental to what we do. You and I and so many thousands of others across the country all to promote uh what I think is our ethical sector, Doug White author and advisor to nonprofits and philanthropists. You’ll find him at Doug white.net. Thank you again, Doug, my pleasure. Next week. No show. It’s Christmas the week after. No show. It’s New Year’s. We’ll be back the second week in January for our 2024 outlook with our smart contributors, Amy Sample Ward and Gene Takagi. If you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at Tony martignetti.com. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a great one. I hope you have a fun time, wonderful time with family and friends. Happy New Year. Of course, wishing you the best in the early weeks of 2024. And we will be back in the uh in the second week. I hope you enjoy your time off time. Well deserved. And Kate Merry Christmas, I’ll be seeing you in person for Christmas Week. So see you soon. See you soon were sponsored by donor box, outdated donation forms blocking your supporters, generosity. This giving season donor box, the fast flexible and friendly fundraising platform for nonprofits donor box.org. Our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff. I’m your associate producer, Kate Martinetti. The show social media is by Susan Chavez. Mark Silverman is our web guide and this music is by Scott Stein. Thank you for that affirmation. Scotty be with us in a couple of weeks for nonprofit radio. Big nonprofit ideas for those other 95% go out and be great. Happy New Year.