By Lincoln Caplan
Posted Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006, at 7:48 AM ET
Spend some time listening to leading philanthropists and you might think they were business executives. The talk is of investments, rather than grants or donations, and of how to measure their performance. The foundations and nonprofits these philanthropists support are increasingly using tools of the market to help solve the problems of society. Google's decision to do much of its philanthropy through a for-profit company called Google.org, which the mother company has seeded with about $1 billion, is a theatrical step in this direction—and has the potential to solve a major problem for philanthropy."