“Top-heavy Philanthropy”

In previous entries, I’ve suggested the philanthropic future does not look very promising. There are many factors which inform this belief, but one important aspect of this uncertainty is the concentration of wealth in America, it’s never been higher.

The wealthiest 1 percent of families in the United States hold about 40 percent of all wealth and the bottom 90 percent of families hold less than one-quarter of all wealth. Compared to 1989, when the wealth held by the top 1 percent was only 3 percent.

Chuck Collins, the Director of Program on Inequality and the Common Good, has said we are entering an era he has called “top-heavy philanthropy.”

Now let me be clear, this isn’t about a “war” on the wealthy, I believe in capitalism.

But it needs to be noted with the concentration of wealth growing among the top 1%, so is the concentration of who is making philanthropic decisions and where and how philanthropic money flows.

Here’s what I mean.

Recently it was reported donations from Fidelity Charitable climbed 11% to a record $4.8 billion for the first half of 2022. Fidelity Charitable is a donor-advised fund, the philanthropic vehicle of choice for many wealthy Americans. Fidelity Charitable is the nation’s largest grant maker.

This seems positive, right? Not so fast. Where is the money going? How is it being deployed?

Many experts believe the increasing popularity of donor-advised funds is “distorting” philanthropy and the kind of “charities” receiving financial support.

Mr. Collins, referenced above, reports wealthy people tend to focus on contributions to foundations they control or legacy gifts. In other words, significant support to universities and museums which typically result in naming rights to buildings, adding to their reputations for generations.

This type of philanthropy, combined with the startling fact that American household giving is down more than 20% over the last 20 years, means less support is available to help the most needy Americans.

Take away?

It’s not about changing the minds of the wealthy or condemning them for where they decide to put their money?

To me, it’s about the charitable sector waking up to the facts and being open to innovation when it comes to the critical revenue needed to accomplish their missions.

www.freadomusa.com is a direct response to these discouraging facts, where there’s a will, there’s a way.


Sad relief

As many of you know, my older brother Bernie, Jr., passed away from ALS, today marks two years.

The sadness of his premature passing will never cease for his family or friends. However, given the suffering he and his family endured for more than 7 years, his passing was also a “relief.”

There’s not a day I don’t think about Bernie in some way.

Recently, this has increased, throughout the day and even in my dreams.

I’ve felt his presence more, get glimpses of him in the form of healthy & joyful snapshots in time. I even hear him speaking to me, in his voice. What I hear from him is always encouraging and motivating, in his own unique way. It’s a voice I’ve heard my whole life. And then I see him, eyes full of intensity and intention, but always with a wry smile.

“You can do it”

“Never back down”

“Dream bigger”

“Never quit”

“Ignore noise”

“Compete, you’re a Floriani”

“Right now means everything”

“Choose happy”

I’m grateful for these encounters.

I hear you big brother.


Oh the place you should go

Bar Harbor, Maine.

Or should I say, “Ba Haba.” (sp?).

Christy and I took a short trip to Maine following our wedding.

We loved it! It’s most definitely our speed. We even noticed we both “looked” differently to each other in this setting.

The topography is stunning, the air crisp, the vibe low key, the food is, well, WOW.

Yes, we pretty much ate lobster or “lobsta” in every meal. And when we weren’t eating lobster, fresh seafood of some kind. DELICIOUS.

If you get the chance to go to Bar Harbor, check out Havana, one of THE BEST meals I’ve ever had. Take a drive to Northeast Harbor and check out The Nor’ Easter Pound & Market. This place was a complete surprise, the lobster tacos were EPIC!

America truly is BEAUTIFUL, get out in it, you won’t be disappointed.


Not whether, but WEATHER

I live in Chicago, not a place which typically raves about its weather.

Yes, the summers are “nice” but how can any summer not be nice once you’ve gone through a Chicago winter?

I’ll admit, I’m typically down on Chicagoland weather, but over the last couple of years I’ve found myself complaining about it obsessively. Maybe I’m just getting old.

In any event, I need to take this opportunity to give credit where credit is due.

Aside from a few strong storms, the weather has been exceptional, lots of sun and amazing temps.

You may be thinking, Brian’s run out of topics to write about, he’s resorted to talking about the weather.

Don’t worry my friend, you’re not so lucky, I’ll NEVER run out of things to talk about or editorialize.

I’m just taking the opportunity to be grateful.

It is amazing to me how much power the weather has over our mindset, attitude and outlook on life.

So, when we have good weather days, or a stretch of days, let’s be grateful and make sure we get the most out of them.

And, when we don’t, the sun will come up again tomorrow, have your shades ready!


Word of the week

Vulnerability is usually NOT a word seen in a positive light; it’s even considered a weakness.

It originates from the Latin word for “wound,” vulnus.

It’s defined as “the quality of being easily hurt or attacked.”

No one wants to be wounded or put themselves in a position to be easily hurt or attacked, right?

However, to quote a great song by Chris Stapleton, Starting Over, “nobody wins afraid of losing.”

I believe, more vulnerability would be a good thing for all of us, especially in America, especially for men.

It would behoove us to put our pride aside every once in a while, let our guard down so we can express ourselves, our fears, our insecurities and our struggles. By doing so, we’re better equipped to face them, work through them, defeat them.

As humans we strive for connection and authentic relationships.

But how can we have those without vulnerability?

Now, obviously you can’t be more vulnerable with everyone, all the time, but I recommend trying to be a little more vulnerable… with your family, your spouse, your children and maybe even your friends.

Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness, and a key component to strong and meaningful relationships.

And who doesn’t want stronger and more meaningful relationships?



Believe it, if we keep our eyes open to what’s good in the world, we’ll find there’s way more GOOD than bad, way more positivity than negativity. Don’t let the media control the narrative. Make good news, be good news and share good news!

  • On Wednesday, a statue of Amelia Earhart was unveiled in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol

  • “Intergenerational roommate arrangements” are on the rise. Intergenerational houses have quadrupled since 1971. Huh? Yep, the old rooming with the young. Mutually beneficial, brilliant.

  • Over the last decade, Houston, the fourth most populated city in America, has reduced its rate of homelessness by 63%

  • Botanists recently discovered a population of small orchids in Vermont believed to have been extinct since 1902

  • A 17-year old San Diego teenager recently hand delivered a purse he found left in a grocery store parking lot, when interviewed, “my mom always told me since I was little to always do the right thing when nobody’s around”

  • Russian journalist, Dmitry Muratov, recently sold his Nobel prize for $103.5 million to help Ukrainian children

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