- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2005

An international association of grant-making foundations has hired a new president and chief executive officer as the World War II generation prepares to donate up to $15 trillion to charitable groups.

Studies suggest charities will receive a boon in donations of $10 trillion to $15 trillion from people over 70, making the need for responsible leadership more important, said Steve Gunderson, a former congressman from Wisconsin who was named president of the Council on Foundations last month.

Not only is the generation significantly larger than previous generations, but its members are more financially secure than their parents.

“What we have to do is figure out how philanthropy’s focus and its resources can be more effective and efficient,” Mr. Gunderson said.

The Council on Foundations, a trade group for charitable and grant-making organizations, provides leader-ship and educational tools for its members. The group chose Mr. Gunderson based on his reputation in the private and public sectors.

“We sought an individual with the vision, the intellectual energy and the commitment to diversity that must be distinguishing features of 21st-century philanthropy,” said Emmett Carson, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation and chairman of the Council on Foundations’ board of directors.

Mr. Gunderson, 54, will manage day-to-day operations and serve the organization’s overall leadership.

“When you look at all the challenges facing society today, from job retraining, education … you recognize that philanthropy’s role in making America and, frankly, the world, a better place and the common good is more and more important,” Mr. Gunderson said.

He said he hopes to improve accountability standards for nonprofit organizations and work on federal regulations that give the groups room to grow.

He hopes to use the skills he picked up in the public sector — good communication skills and a recognition of the tension between government and nonprofits — in his new job. The Wisconsin Republican was a U.S. representative from 1980 to 1996.

“I can go to Capitol Hill, and they’re consumed with so many different issues and schedules, effective, strategic communication by me becomes very important to this process,” he said.

He did not seek re-election in 1996. He became the managing director of the Washington office of the Greystone Group, a management and communications consulting firm based in Michigan.

Mr. Gunderson lives in Arlington.

—Jen Haberkorn


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