Information and stories about nonprofit organizations and NGOs

Cody Belew of The Voice Fights World Hunger
Cody Belew of The Voice released his single “Say Love” on April 1. Proceeds from the song will benefit the non-profit anti-hunger organization Heifer International.

Cody Belew was raised on his family’s farm in Arkansas, near the Heifer International headquarters in Little Rock. As an adult he realized that Heifer had a tangible solution for ending world hunger, and decided to use his voice to support its goals.

“Say Love” is written as a call to action for everyone to become involved in the fight against hunger. Belew recently traveled to Ecuador to meet project families, and has also visited Heifer beneficiaries in his home state of Arkansas.

Heifer International fights poverty and hunger through sustainable contributions to struggling families and communities. Heifer International empowers families to become self-reliant by providing agricultural training and donations of livestock. In exchange for livestock and training, families who receive assistance from Heifer then pass on the animal’s offspring to another family in need. This strategy, known as Passing on the Gift, is at the heart of Heifer International’s mission to spread peace and security.

For information about how to help end world poverty and hunger through Heifer International, visit the organization’s Get Involved page. Click here to watch the video for “Say Love” by Cody Belew.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: Broadway World
Photo: Heifer International

A campaign called “Stop the Pity,” launched at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, is sending the message to stop stereotyping Africa as being poor, helpless, and ravaged by famine and poverty. The campaign was founded by a nonprofit called Mama Hope with the mission of re-humanizing Africa, celebrating positive change rather than focusing on inequality.

A series of videos have been released by Mama Hope tearing away the stereotype that depicts Africans as “one-dimensional victims” and in its place, highlights the traits that makes us all human. One video shows African women playing netball, a cross between basketball and ultimate Frisbee. Another shows men joking about how Hollywood tends to portray Africans as the typical villain, firing guns, loving violence and making scary faces. In yet another, a child tells the story of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

Mama Hope works in four countries, managing 32 projects and starting up orphanages, improving sanitation, and reducing poverty. Founder and “chief visionary” of Mama Hope Nyla Rodgers emphasizes the need to empower rather than victimize Africans, using inspiration rather than guilt to get people to help. Reframing the way the rest of the world thinks of Africa, Rodgers hopes people will “stop the pity” and “unlock the potential.”

“We have to have partnership instead of pity,” said Rodgers. “Partnership doesn’t include pity. It includes seeing people as equals and being able to work with them on an equal partnership.”

– Rafael Panlilio

Sources: CNNMama HopeStop The Pity

Will Capping Charity Deductions Hurt?
Despite Congress’ efforts in January to increase the tax savings for charitable donations, Obama’s newest proposal will lower it from the current 39.6% to 28%.  A cap on itemized deductions basically means that when someone makes a charitable donation, the amount that they can claim on their itemized tax deduction is now about 10.8% less than before. For example, say a person who earns about $450,000 a year makes a donation of $1000 to UNICEF. Originally, they would be able to write off $396 but with the change in charity deductions, can only write off $280.

This change, however, will only affect those in the top 35% tax bracket (those who make more than $335,000). For Obama, this is a major source of money that he would use to help pay for the $447 billion job plan he introduced a few years ago. It is also a way to make sure that the rich are paying a higher share of taxes and eliminating the loophole of writing-off thousands and thousands of dollars.

But what does this mean for nonprofits? And aside from them, what does the fact that this is even an issue mean about society and giving in general? To tackle the first question, referred to a study by economists John Bakija and Bradley Heim that concludes that for every 1% decrease in savings (in this case, about 10.8%), there is an equal 1% decrease in the amount given. They do, however, mention that there are many other factors that affect how much donors give and that this change will affect each charity in a different way.

The second question seems to be the elephant in the room. It is not naive to assume that people choose to give from the heart. Yes, we live in a country that allows those who donate to receive some sort of benefit for doing so, but at a time where our passions for a cause should be the driving cause of our actions and charity, why would receiving only 11% less on a donation make the wealthy hesitate when giving to a cause?

Perhaps the charted out reductions in total donations is frightening to some charities. They should still remain hopeful that there are those in the 35% tax bracket who will continue to donate at the rates they have previously, regardless of this new change in policy. Obama’s intent to bridge the income gap and require the wealthy to pay more taxes is understandable; but so is the fear of many nonprofit organizations.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Photo: Times Union

Cabs for Women by Women

As the recent rape and death of a young medical student in India have highlighted, the state of the safety and public health of women in the country are tenuous at best.  While there are a minority of women who can afford to have their own cars, usually with chauffeurs to drive them, most Indian women who live in the nation’s capital of New Delhi are subject to the public transportation system of the city, which is comprised of an army of rickshaws, taxis, buses, and trains, none of which can protect them from the harassment from or assaults by disrespectful men.

However, a local non-profit called Sakha Consulting Wing is trying to counter this particular hardship that Indian women face by creating a taxi service that is completely catered to and serviced by women called Cabs for Women by Women. The program has existed since before the December rape but following the event, the service’s business has greatly increased as more women fear for their safety in public.

“Women who used other cab services are also turning to us,” driver Shanti Sharma tells Rhitu Chatterjee of PRI’s The World.

Composed of eight women drivers and seven taxis, the service acts not only as protection for its customers but as empowerment for its drivers.

“Ever since I started doing this job, I feel like I’ve reached my destination. I don’t want to change jobs anymore,” says Shanti.

Well-paid, this is the first time that Shanti, a single parent, has enough regular income to support her three children, and she is proud of that.

Life for female cabbies in New Delhi is still not a walk in the park though. Ridiculously outnumbered by male counterparts and mostly male drivers on the road in general, Shanti has experienced harassment while doing her job in the form of feeling alienated by other cab drivers in the city and having strangers dangerously cut her off and honk at her.

According to Shanti, “The only way to change the attitude of the men…is to have more women driving.”

While this is not untrue, the harassment of Indian women throughout the country is a systemic issue that will take broad strokes against the patriarchy, so firmly entrenched in much of Indian society, to end. This is the situation that women face not only in India but in much of the world today.

As the 2015 deadline to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals looms closer, with less than 1000 days to go, notes United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the African Union Summit, one can only hope that the goal of achieving global gender equality will one day be met.

As they say: the sooner, the better.

– Nina Narang

Sources: The World , UN
Photo: The Huffington Post