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September 19, 2014

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Philanthropic leaders discuss how to help Nevada charities

The community’s philanthropic leaders met at Las Vegas City Hall today to strategize on how to pool funds to assist Southern Nevada’s charitable organizations and develop a sustainable high return on investment for local causes.

The second annual Philanthropy Leaders Summit brought more than 100 leaders to hear panelists and speakers address philanthropic issues and discuss how they can band together to solve mutual problems.

The summit was developed by Moonridge Group Philanthropy Advisors and its president and CEO, Julie Murray.

“Our goal is to bring together the best and brightest new thinking that exists about successful, outcome-based giving,” Murray said in a release. “We want attendees to gain new tools to work with a renewed feeling of optimism for our community and the desire to inspire others.”

Murray, who has worked in Southern Nevada with the Three Square Food Bank, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Foundation and the Caesars Foundation, said last year’s summit resulted in the formation of the Greater Good Council to strategize prior to the sunsetting of some major foundations.

The Lincy Foundation, which in 2011 gave $200 million to UCLA’s Dream Fund, and the Reynolds Foundation, are sunsetting, while other organizations are giving less as a result of the recession.

The Greater Good Council is working to pool resources and assist organizations more strategically with foundation resources dwindling.

Other issues were aired in today’s four-hour gathering:

• In a panel discussion on the successes and frustrations of philanthropic work, Tom Thomas, managing partner of Thomas & Mack, said a growing problem is the gradual creep of the federal government into greater oversight of foundations for political reasons. Thomas said the trend presents “a whole new list of problems” for the more than 7,600 philanthropic organizations in the country, if their causes are targeted by political opportunists.

• Panelist Caroline Ciocca, director of corporate citizenship for Cash America Inc., which supports more than 50 non-profit organizations, said reality television portrayals of today’s society give a distorted view of philanthropy and the public needs to be educated about how organizations work.

• Some philanthropic groups are frustrated with non-profit organizations that seek one-time donations to solve an immediate problem. Groups are gearing more toward developing community partnerships to invest in long-term goals.

• Panelist Gael Sylvia Pullen said community giving begins at home and that parents should teach their children about the culture of giving at an early age, so that they better understand the benefits of organizations that foster community giving. It was also suggested that schools pay more attention to rewarding community service projects that students undertake. A group of Bishop Gorman High School students attended this morning’s session.

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