Information and news about philanthropy

Jane BirkinA cultural icon, Jane Birkin captured the hearts of many through her exceptional talents and distinct style. Her collaborations with the French singer Serge Gainsbourg not only redefined music but also left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape. Songs like “Je t’aime… moi non plus” became anthems of an era, showcasing her evocative voice and unique artistic expression.

She is also known for her great contributions to the world of film and fashion. She graced the silver screen in both British and French cinema and is famously the inspiration behind the ‘Birkin Bag’ by fashion house Hermes. Her beauty, grace and charisma made her a symbol of artistic liberation and creativity.

Many of the obituaries of Jane Birkin cover all of this information, remembering Birkin for her artistic achievements. While her accomplishments in the artistic world were both incredible and undeniable, her humanitarian work was also significant.  As a singer, she used her talent to bring light and hope to those who needed it most.

“Je Suis Pas d’Accord”

In the new millennium, following her rise to stardom, Jane Birkin shifted her focus to philanthropy. For example, she worked closely with Amnesty International, an organization devoted to global human rights. During the organization’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2001, which coincided with their commitment to eradicating torture, Birkin boldly tackled the uncomfortable subject. Taking to the screen once more, this time in a television interview, she addressed the issue.

Empathizing with her audience, she acknowledged that there are moments when one can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and question the impact one individual can have. However, she asserted that this is a misconception; even the smallest act of publicly condemning practices like torture, simply stating, “Je ne suis pas d’accord” (I disagree), can wield significant influence, demonstrating an unwavering faith in collective strength and the power of advocacy.

Aung San Suu Kyi

One way in which Jane Birkin demonstrated her commitment to human rights and philanthropy was by doing what she did best: music. She released a song with Amnesty International titled “Aung San Suu Kyi,” named after the Burmese political leader. The song was to shed light on Aung San Suu Kyi’s plight for democratic freedom, inspired by this woman who spent 15 years under house arrest. Birkin’s dedication to advocating for justice and freedom didn’t go unnoticed, and it led to her being denied a visa by the Chinese government ahead of an organized concert.

Despite facing obstacles, her relentless efforts in raising awareness about human rights violations and her collaboration with both Amnesty International and the International Human Rights Federation showcased her deep compassion and unwavering commitment to making the world a more just and equitable place.

Her Songs Touched Our Hearts

In addition to her advocacy endeavors, Jane Birkin displayed a strong desire to contribute more directly. Following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, she joined forces with the nonprofit organization International Movement ATD Fourth World. This organization had a dedicated team on the ground in Haiti, providing assistance to families in vulnerable situations. In April of the same year, Jane Birkin embarked on a journey to Haiti, accompanied by members from the ATD Fourth World Volunteer Corps.

During her time in Haiti, Birkin engaged directly with people impacted by the earthquake. She connected with Haitian children and patients in hospitals, lending her voice to songs of hope. Through her musical talent, she managed to inspire optimism in a place where it had been scarce. The climax of her visit came in the form of a concert, where she shared the stage with local Haitian musicians. This performance is etched in the minds and hearts of attendees, many of whom still vividly recall the emotions they felt on that day. A member of the ATD Volunteer Corps, Jacqueline Plaisir, said that “her songs touched our hearts.”

Jane Birkin’s involvement extended beyond the spotlight; she actively participated in the day-to-day activities of the volunteers in Haiti. This included accompanying them on visits to families in need and ensuring that essential resources reached even the most isolated corners of the affected region.

“It May Even Be Selfish”

Upon her return from Haiti, a conference organized by ATD Fourth World was held to discuss the reconstruction of the affected areas. Birkin shared her own experiences in the country with those present, including her motivations: “It was a reward for all these years of being something that resembles a singer.”

When asked about the possibility of retiring, she resolutely declared her commitment to continue. She considered her humanitarian endeavors not as difficult tasks, but rather as experiences that consistently filled her with a sense of amazement. Even amid the direst of circumstances, she found solace in the kindness of those tirelessly striving to help and enact positive change. She even went as far as to say that her work “may even be selfish,” as she felt invigorated after her visits.


Setting aside her artistic accomplishments, Jane Birkin’s life was a tapestry of remarkable experiences. Her dedication to humanitarian causes yielded lasting memories for those who were present. This article merely scratches the surface of Birkin’s humanitarian contributions. She also embarked on journeys to destinations like Israel, Palestine and Rwanda and collaborated with organizations during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Birkin’s legacy will live on in the hearts of those she touched, such as the Haitian musician Jean-Francois Gay, who aptly expressed this sentiment by saying that in his homeland “we like to say that those who do good never die.”

– Danielle Chorley
Photo: Flickr

China Global Philanthropy Institute
One should not overlook China’s presence on the world stage in the 21st century. It is not only its population that is major, but its military and economy are too. With all that power, there are sure to be people who are using it to do good. Thankfully, there are. The China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI) is the nation’s first independent institute to focus on philanthropy education. The organization has global connections — wealthy benefactors like Bill Gates and Ray Dalio and educational partners like Harvard University.

About the China Global Philanthropy Institute

Since its founding in 2015, the China Global Philanthropy Institute has been promoting the country’s interest in philanthropy. The goal of looking to the future is realized by focusing on education. The organization offers certificates, scholarships and short-term courses. The teachers are not only from China but from across the Western world. The Institute works with global organizations like the United Nations and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In 2021, the Institute had more than 6,000 graduates from 31 provinces and 20 countries.

The China Global Philanthropy Institute has four primary educational programs:

  • Executive Management in Philanthropy (EMP) 
  • Global Philanthropy Leaders (GPL) 
  • Global Social Entrepreneurs (GSE)
  • Philanthropy Online Academy (POA) 

About the Programs

Of the four, the EMP program is the one most students begin with. Many come from backgrounds in charitable organizations and nonprofits. It teaches management, theory and social innovation. 

Meanwhile, the GSE program teaches those with experience in business to use their entrepreneurship to help those in poverty. 

One program that has partnered with the CGPI is Harvard University’s Ash Center. The educators are using the global reach to focus on two major projects. The first is a database of China’s philanthropists and recipient organizations. This is followed by researching the current generation of China’s wealthy and looking towards the future. The project will look at other growing economies as well. The school hosts events for interested people to congregate and learn.

About two-thirds of the Institute’s alumni are female, and the philanthropic expenditure exceeds $1 billion. Eighty percent of alumni have focused on poverty alleviation and fighting against the pandemic. One alumna, Liu Xin, was selected as Davos’s Global Outstanding Youth. She wishes to launch her philanthropic efforts at the same time as her financial ones, rather than focusing on gaining wealth first. Another, Hui Ruoqi, was not a businesswoman but a former captain of the Olympic women’s volleyball team, who wishes to go into philanthropy full-time. She is using her training to open athletic schools in underserved communities. 

These are just some of the stories that can give an idea of what the China Global Philanthropy Institute will do in the future.

– Josh Sobchak
Photo: Flickr

Addressing Global Poverty
Poverty is a complex global issue that affects millions of people around the world. Despite ongoing efforts towards addressing global poverty, a large portion of the population could still be living in extreme poverty by 2030. The fact that inequality within countries has either increased or remained unchanged, leading to more global inequality, has compounded this situation.

Global Poverty Crisis

As of 2015, 736 million people still face poverty, with 10% of the world’s population living in extreme poverty and 1.3 billion people experiencing multidimensional poverty. The impact of poverty has been devastating on the health and education of the poorest individuals. It is essential to keep working towards reducing poverty and promoting equality globally to improve the lives of those affected.

The global poverty crisis is a daunting challenge that requires the collective effort of individuals, businesses and governments to solve. American businesses have a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of millions of people around the world by taking practical steps to address global poverty. From providing job opportunities to donating resources and funds, there are many ways businesses can help fight poverty. American businesses can invest in companies and projects that promote sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. This can include investing in startups and small businesses that are working to create jobs and lift people out of poverty.

Responsible Investments

Responsible investment is one-way businesses can contribute to addressing global poverty, such as through the impact investment fund Root Capital. Root Capital has invested more than $1 billion in more than 700 businesses, helping more than 1.5 million people. Its work has enabled agricultural businesses to create jobs, incomes and choices for more than 2.4 million rural families.

Another example of responsible investment is Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative, which aims to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020. The initiative has provided resources, financing and training to more than 6 million women around the world.

Poverty Reduction Efforts Through Philanthropy

Several American businesses have made significant contributions to poverty reduction efforts through philanthropy. One notable example is Microsoft, which has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations such as The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society and the private sector. It aims to accelerate the end of the three diseases by investing in prevention, treatment and care.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life program, which provides access to life-saving vaccines for children in developing countries. The program has helped to vaccinate millions of children against preventable diseases such as measles, pneumonia and polio.

The foundation has also donated billions of dollars toward health, education and development initiatives. Its Global Health Division has helped reduce the burden of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, saving millions of lives in the process.

Takeda Pharmaceutical is another company that partnered with the Shot@Life program to “expand children’s access to life-saving measles vaccines in approximately 40 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.” Through this support, Takeda Pharmaceutical aims to help vaccinate millions of children by 2026, making a major contribution to reducing the prevalence of preventable diseases.

The Walmart Foundation is taking significant steps to address global poverty through philanthropy, committing to strengthening farmer-producer organizations in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, India. This two-year project will provide farmers with training and capacity-building activities with a focus on improving their proficiency in sales, marketing and production techniques. This will help the farmers improve the quality and quantity of their output and ultimately increase their income.

Using Advocacy to Address Global Poverty

Advocacy is another important way that American businesses could contribute to addressing global poverty. By using their influence, businesses can call for systemic changes that address economic injustice and inequality, support initiatives that provide access to education and health care and lobby for government support for poverty-reduction initiatives.

One example of a business using advocacy to address poverty is Microsoft. The company has called on governments to invest in initiatives that provide access to technology to all citizens, regardless of socio-economic status.

Microsoft has also advocated for increased access to financial services for disadvantaged communities, recognizing that access to credit and financial resources are critical to economic growth and development. Through its advocacy efforts, Microsoft is promoting more equitable access to technology and finance, which can help to reduce poverty and promote economic development.

It has also promoted digital inclusion and access to technology through its Airband Initiative, which aims to expand internet access in underserved communities worldwide.

Bluetown, a company specializing in deploying last-mile technologies to expand rural access to high-speed internet and promote economic opportunities, has partnered with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative to accelerate connectivity projects in Ghana. The current internet penetration rate stands at only 32.5% in Ghana. To bridge this digital divide and promote economic development in these underserved communities, Bluetown and Microsoft are aiming to bring internet access to nearly 2 million people. This partnership demonstrates how innovative technology solutions and collaborative partnerships can make a meaningful and substantial difference.

Enhancing Customer Relations

Investing in addressing global poverty, not only promotes corporate social responsibility but also enhances customer relations. Companies that take steps towards reducing poverty can earn the support and loyalty of customers who appreciate their efforts. Furthermore, businesses can benefit from reduced costs and increased profits by investing in poverty reduction initiatives, leading to improved public opinion and financial gains.

Addressing global poverty also improves the quality of life for people in developing countries, including access to education, health care and other essential services, leading to better health and increased opportunities. This creates a more favorable business environment and attracts foreign investment.

In conclusion, addressing global poverty is a win-win situation for American businesses. By actively participating in poverty reduction efforts through responsible investment, philanthropy and advocacy, American businesses can create new markets, increase economic stability and improve the quality of life for people in developing countries. This leads to long-term sustainable economic growth for American businesses and a brighter future for all.

– Nkechi First
Photo: Flickr

Christopher Hohn’s Philanthropy
Sir Christopher Hohn is a well-known hedge fund manager and founder of TCI Management Fund. However, he is also one of the most prominent philanthropists in the world, establishing the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation which is dedicated to alleviating child poverty worldwide. Hohn’s net worth as of 2022 sits at $8.21 billion, the majority of which he has committed to charity. Here are nine facts about Christopher Hohn’s philanthropy.

9 Facts About Christopher Hohn’s Philanthropy

  1. Christopher Hohn’s Beginnings: Christopher Hohn was born in October 1966 in Addlestone, Surrey. He became a hedge fund manager while completing his bachelor’s degree.
  2. The Origins of Hohn’s Philanthropy: Hohn studied Economics and Accounting at the University of Southampton and received his MBA from Harvard University in 1993. In 2003, Hohn left Perry Partners to found his hedge fund, TCI Fund Management, along with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). With its founding, Christopher Hohn’s philanthropy would begin to take shape and make immense contributions to his goals of helping children across the world escape poverty. Hohn’s wife encouraged Christopher to conduct his philanthropic work publicly because “she was against starting a fund just to make money for myself,” he says. “She said if you [did the philanthropic pledge] publicly, it would encourage other people.”
  3. The Knighthood: Christopher Hohn’s philanthropy earned him a knighthood in 2014. As a hedge fund manager of a company that managed billions of dollars, he separated himself from most other hedge fund managers entering the market, due to his active approach to charitable policies through his TCI Fund Management and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.
  4. About the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF): The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation is the world’s largest philanthropy that focuses on improving the lives of children in developing countries. Since its inception, CIFF has established offices in Addis Ababa, Beijing, Nairobi, London and New Delhi and has also worked with other organizations to help children out of poverty.
  5. CIFF’s Offices: CIFF individually established these offices to collaborate with partners within those countries, to facilitate the organization’s goal of alleviating child poverty. For example, CIFF’s office in Nairobi underwent establishment in 2009, and the Addis Ababa office emerged in 2019. CIFF established its offices in Ethiopia for initiatives like WASH and NTDs, along with its regional investments, such as Girl Capital, all with the intention of alleviating child poverty. Similarly, CIFF’s office in Delhi (established in 2007), currently based in Rajasthan, aids India in promoting child health and development. The CIFF office there also supports the India National Deworming Programme, which works for the complete elimination of worms in children there.
  6. Climate Investments: In 2019, CIFF also established an office in Beijing, where it works with multiple partners to address changing weather patterns; it specifically focuses on sustainable development and a low-carbon economy. In London, CIFF’s offices focus on climate investments through involvement with EU policy-making and further involvement with local campaigns. In September 2019, CIFF launched the Clean Air Fund at the U.N. General Assembly, which focuses on the quality of air in India, the U.K. and Eastern Europe.
  7. Partnership with UNICEF: During Global Citizen Live in September 2021, CIFF partnered with UNICEF to pledge $50 million towards improving child nutrition, with a specific focus on tackling “child wasting,” a severe form of malnutrition that affects 47 million children worldwide and multiplies their risk of death in comparison to healthier children. CIFF’s collaboration with UNICEF resulted from the Global Action Plan (GAP) on wasting, a plan that UNICEF pioneered. The initiative employs a “holistic approach” that combines prevention, treatment and early detection methods. It also allows countries to unlock matched funding to treat child wasting.
  8. Other Efforts with UNICEF: In August 2021, CIFF also collaborated with UNICEF to raise $13 million for UNICEF’s Soccer Aid campaign, with proceedings going towards initiatives that fight child-wasting. Funds from the campaign also help UNICEF provide vaccines, safe spaces and proper nutrition for children.
  9. Recent Efforts: Sir Christopher Hohn’s work has contributed $2 billion to charity, and he has also pledged most of his net worth to these causes. In 2021, CIFF, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ELMA and other philanthropies, committed $130 million to help maintain essential health programs.

Success to Date

Christopher Hohn’s philanthropic work, through the TCI Management Fund and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, has made great strides in helping children across the world escape poverty. These organizations, in partnership with other philanthropies, have contributed billions of dollars to ensure that children across the world can escape hunger and poverty.

– Arijit Joshi
Photo: Flickr

Starbucks Foundation Continues Its Philanthropic Mission
Starbucks has consistently provided aid to numerous areas of the world through the Starbucks Foundation. Recently, the Starbucks Foundation announced that it would be expanding its aid to add more programs for women and girls to seek out entrepreneurial opportunities. In addition, the Foundation also announced it would be giving a $30 million grant to global nonprofit organizations. The Starbucks Foundation is continuing its philanthropic mission of ending inequities globally. Additionally, it is setting an example regarding the importance that all companies work to alleviate global poverty.

What is the Starbucks Foundation?

The Starbucks Foundation’s mission is to “strengthen humanity by transforming lives across the world, with a focus on enabling community resiliency and prosperity and uplifting communities affected by disaster.” The Starbucks Foundation offers a number of different programs to benefit communities in need. Here are its four main initiatives.

  1. Neighborhood Grants: The Starbucks Foundation offers neighborhood grants to allow partner organizations to nominate a local nonprofit organization to receive investments in their volunteer activities.
  2. Disaster Response: Starbucks supports initiatives that extend assistance to those in emergency crises.
  3. International Giving: The organization invests in global initiatives that respond to issues within local communities to provide aid and support.
  4. Origin Grants: Starbucks provides aid to tea- and coffee-growing communities, especially those providing assistance to women and girls.

Expanding Origins Program

The Starbucks Foundation recently announced that it is expanding its Origins Grant Program to help 1 million more women and girls. The Origins Program relies on three pillars which include promoting economic opportunity, promoting women’s leadership and increasing access to clean water and sanitation. Specifically, Starbucks is now working to establish childcare facilities that allow mothers to work while their children are getting the attention that they need in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Starbucks is also currently establishing a new project with the Wakami Foundation. The Wakami Foundation comes from the brand Wakami, a bracelet company. The Wakami Foundation seeks to connect rural communities with the global marketplace, which coincides with the Starbucks Foundation’s mission of encouraging rural integration into markets abroad. It specifically focuses on the empowerment of female businesses as well.

The Starbucks Foundation and Wakami Foundation are teaming up to find women entrepreneurs in Guatemala to help them pursue their business goals. The two organizations are creating a women’s group to create products that will sell well in the global market. Also, the Starbucks Foundation is continuing its philanthropic mission by reintroducing agricultural measures including giving more chickens to rural areas to sell eggs in local markets.

Increasing Neighborhood Grants

The Starbucks Foundation also announced that it would be investing $30 million by 2030 in its newly established Global Community Impact Grants portfolio. This new addition to the Starbucks Foundation will impact communities around the world near Starbucks establishments, specifically in the Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Starbucks will extend its philanthropic mission by working with partner organizations in each region to promote a cause. In the Latin American and Caribbean region, Starbucks will work with the Alsea Foundation to support youth development and hunger. The Alsea Foundation is an extension of the restaurant Alsea, which seeks to combat child malnutrition, having served more than 2 million meals.

Rachel Reardon
Photo: Flickr

The WeekndThe Weeknd is famous for his singing, songwriting and producing career. He performed at the halftime show in the 2021 Super Bowl and even won an Oscar for his song “Earned It,” which was featured in the film “Fifty Shades of Grey.” What many don’t know about The Weeknd is that he is a philanthropist who quietly donates to several organizations that help global poverty relief.

The Weeknd’s Background

Much of The Weeknd’s philanthropy ties back to his cultural roots. Born as Abel Tesfaye, The Weeknd’s parents are Ethiopian immigrants. Although Tesfaye grew up in Toronto, Canada, his first language was Amharic. Amharic is one of the two main languages of Ethiopia, further showing his connection to the region.

Ethiopian Philanthropy

A significant portion of The Weeknd’s philanthropy goes toward his parents’ home country of Ethiopia. In April 2021, he donated $1 million to World Food Program USA, which is the U.S. affiliate of the United Nations World Food Programme. This donation will fund two million meals in Ethiopia. Specifically, these meals will benefit people who do not have access to food in the northern Tigray region where there is an ongoing ethnic conflict with Ethiopia’s neighboring country, Eritrea. Civilians suffer the most from the conflict. They are often in danger, living in poor conditions and risk rape, violence and death.

When announcing his donation to World Food Program USA, The Weeknd stated in an Instagram post that, “My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction.”

Prior to The Weeknd’s donation, the World Food Programme provided corn, rice and vegetable oil to 60,000 people in the northern Tigray region. The program also began an initiative to support pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as children in the region, with the goal of reaching 875,000 people. The program also has two refugee camps in Tigray, open to people seeking safety and help.

Donations to Beirut

The Weeknd’s philanthropy extends beyond Ethiopia, as he donated to COVID-19 relief as well as relief for Beirut, Lebanon. Following an explosion at the Port of Beirut, The Weeknd donated $300,000 to Global Aid for Lebanon. The explosion damaged homes, infrastructure and hospitals. It injured 6,000 people and killed 180. The detonation also damaged the city’s main hospital and other clinics, making it difficult to treat victims. The explosion was also at the city’s port, which drastically affected their ability to trade and receive imports. Additionally, the poverty rate in Lebanon jumped from 33% to 45%. It came mainly as a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the explosion. Global Aid for Lebanon raised more than $1.2 million to provide food, treatment and infrastructure aid to those impacted by the explosion.

The Weeknd’s philanthropy has benefitted many lives and helped many get the assistance they needed following unsafe conditions. While he is a quiet philanthropist, he has been instrumental in helping vulnerable people in global poverty.

– Sana Mamtaney
Photo: Flickr

Mackenzie Scott's PhilanthropyMacKenzie Scott, one of the wealthiest women in the world, inherited a 4% stake in Amazon following her divorce from Jeff Bezos in 2019. At the time, the stake held a value of $38 billion, growing to more than $60 billion today. Following her divorce, she signed onto the Giving Pledge, which U.S. investor Warren Buffett, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation established, pledging to give away at least 50% of her wealth to charity or “until the safe was empty.” In contrast to other pledgers, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Buffett, Scott did not wait to live up to her promises. So far, Mackenzie Scott’s philanthropy has resulted in $6 billion to 500 organizations in 2020 with a further $2.7 billion in 2021.

Vast Reach

The goal behind Mackenzie Scott’s philanthropy is to maximize her impact by donating to charities that other philanthropists often overlook. A $1.68 billion donation in 2020 went toward addressing various social issues. The largest portion ($587 million) of the donation went to racial equity, but a significant amount also went toward economic mobility ($399.5 million), global development ($130 million), functional democracy ($72 million), LGBTQ+ equity ($46 million), empathy and bridging divides ($55 billion), among other issues.

As a result, not only is Mackenzie Scott’s philanthropy generous but it also focuses on making the largest impact across a variety of social issues. In particular, in her latest donation of $2.7 billion, she emphasizes giving to more than 700 million people that live in extreme poverty across the globe. The objective was to find solutions with “on-the-ground engagement and diverse engagement.” Therefore, local teams with female leaders and people of color held priority positions.

To name a few, these organizations include Dream a Dream, GiveDirectly and Muso. Specifically, Dream a Dream focuses on empowering children from destitute backgrounds to receive an education and garner skills that will help them thrive in today’s world. GiveDirectly is a platform that provides direct cash transfers to people in need, primarily in African countries, with most people spending the aid on medicine, food, education and entrepreneurial projects. Last but not least, Muso focuses on preventing global deaths that arise from extreme poverty with frequent home visits to patients and access to care clinics. All of these organizations have different strategies on how to battle poverty and alleviate the issues that stem from it, employing diverse teams to enable more creative and effective solutions.

COVID-19 Funds

In addition to donating to poverty-related causes, the focus of Scott’s giving in 2020 was the COVID-19 pandemic. Estimates indicate that $4 billion out of the $6 billion that Scott gave away last year went directly to COVID-related causes. Scott’s donation accounts for about three-quarters of billionaire and high-net-worth individual pandemic-related philanthropy. Scott expresses that the pandemic fostered fresh inequalities in the world’s systems and that she feels compelled to do her part in improving an unjust and often unstable world. Therefore, Scott is not only staying true to her promise but has also become one of the most generous givers in recent years.

A Worthy Cause

MacKenzie Scott’s pledge to give away “until the safe was empty” represents a fresh and positive force to solve social problems that other philanthropists frequently overlook. Mackenzie Scott’s philanthropy is not only generous but also strategic with a focus on on-the-ground strategies and organizations with diverse teams to maximize the impact of her donations. Scott’s donations address racial inequality as well as global poverty and the consequent problems arising from it.

– Max Sidorovitch
Photo: Flickr

women in Asia In Asia, women are affected daily by heightened gender inequality, high instances of gender-based violence and low access to education. To combat these issues, four organizations are working diligently to improve the quality of life for Asian women. The International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP), Women’s Fund Asia, U.N. Women and The Asia Foundation are all respectively working toward helping women in Asia and providing them with the resources necessary to thrive.

IWRAW Asia Pacific

Operating from Malaysia, IWRAW-AP focuses on improving feminism. The organization’s mission is to demobilize establishments that violate women’s rights. To fulfill this goal, IWRAW-AP utilizes policy advocacy, online communications, networking and feminist analysis. These methods advance women’s development across the world, including Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. IWRAW has also recently been conducting work in Africa and Europe, further widening its influence. Thus, the organization’s efforts have been impactful so far.

IWRAW-AP has administered discussions and legal training sessions with lawyers and judges in Asia for more than 300 legal actors. Additionally, IWRAW-AP held technical training sessions on gender equality. These meetings taught the standards for women’s rights organizations based on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other human rights treaties. Through this initiative, IWRAW-AP emphasized three main strategies to enforce equality for women in Asia. By increasing recognition, knowledge of rights and teaching how to apply strategy to advocacy, the CEDAW convention holds immense power. Overall, it has trained 800 women’s rights leaders, helping to improve the lives of women in Asia.

Women’s Fund Asia

Women’s Fund Asia focuses on improving philanthropy grants. Aimed at supporting girls, women, intersex and trans people, the Women’s Fund Asia provides financial aid to fight for those in need. Moreover, the organization offers application-based grants under three programs to support women in Asia. The first is the Strengthening Feminist Movements initiative. This program provides financial assistance to minority groups in Asian countries.

The second program is called Leading from the South, which utilizes resources administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. This program assists women’s rights organizations through financial aid, primarily in South Asia. Lastly, Linking and Learning is a program that operates differently than the first two resources. The organization supplies travel grants and collaborative events grants for advocacy improvement and workshops related to women’s rights in Asia. Women’s Fund Asia has already had immense success. From 2019 to 2020, grants under Strengthening Feminist Movements amounted to $150,054.

UN Women Asia and the Pacific

Thirdly, U.N. Women is a global organization that centers around creating and maintaining gender equality in Asia. Women in Asia benefit through various focus areas, including, but not limited to, increasing leadership and political participation, furthering economic empowerment and ending gender-based violence. Prioritizing national security and promoting humanitarian action are other major goals for U.N. Women.

To tackle all of these initiatives, U.N. Women backs international political negotiations encompassing gender equality. It also supplies financial aid and knowledge to support women in Asia. Examples of these efforts include the intergovernmental forums at the U.N. In the last two years, collecting funds from the public to directly combat the effects of COVID-19 has been a major focus of the organization. This has included providing sanitary products, food and healthcare for impoverished women in South Asia.

The Asia Foundation

Lastly, The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on the development of Asian countries, including the empowerment of women. Through various programs, the foundation makes education, entrepreneurship and employment more accessible to women in Asia. The foundation also works to supply sufficient leadership training and mentorship.

The Asia Foundation garners funds from a network of developmental agencies, corporations and individuals committed to women’s advancement. Some of the major outcomes in 2020 include implementing legal clinics in Afghanistan and a new employment program to improve women’s technological skills in Malaysia. Another success was the registration of 600 new clients to the Asia Foundation’s Women’s Business Center in Mongolia.

The Importance of Women’s Empowerment

In order to alleviate global poverty and promote gender equality in Asian countries, the efforts of these organizations are necessary for creating change. With the empowerment of feminism, more opportunities are available for women in Asia. As more women gain access to education, enter the workforce and learn essential life skills, women can earn higher incomes that will break cycles of poverty. Furthermore, improved healthcare leads to lower rates of maternal and child mortality.

According to the World Bank, these combined elements can help break the cycle of poverty. As nations become educated and empowered, countries become wealthier. As COVID-19 has impacted millions of Asian girls, initiatives and organizations such as IWRAW-AP, Women’s Fund Asia, U.N. Women and The Asia Foundation have the power to end instances of gender-based inequality. Overall, with more recognition and funding, the cycle of poverty comes closer to breaking.

– Riya Sharma
Photo: Flickr

Resilience During COVID-19 in IranJust south of the Iranian capital Tehran lies the metropolitan city of Qom. In late February, citizens in Qom became ill with COVID-19. Within weeks of the global spread, Iran became one of the first global hotspots outside East Asia, alongside Italy. The socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic created a dual crisis that threatened to exacerbate COVID-19’s impact on Iran. In 2018, the Trump Administration announced its intent to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal, following the successful negotiation of the agreement by the prior Obama White House. The unilateral U.S. withdrawal led to the reimposition of sanctions on Iran, crushing the economy and sending unemployment skyrocketing. In 2018 and 2019, the Iranian economy experienced annual contractions of more than 6%.

Against this backdrop, ordinary citizens took to the streets demanding sweeping change to the government in the biggest protests since the founding of modern Iran. The government responded with force. Hundreds of protestors were killed and the entire nation underwent a total internet blackout that lasted days.

With the country already wobbling from economic and political pressure, the pandemic hit at the worst possible time. As a result, many expected COVID-19’s impact on Iran to be outsized. Instead, the nation showed a shocking level of resilience that befuddled experts.

Economic Rebound

At first, COVID-19’s impact on Iran appeared to be nothing more than an accelerant to the generally negative undercurrents impacting the economy. A widely cited report by the Iranian Parliament Research Center foresaw a dramatic increase in poverty in 2020. By the end of the year, 57 million Iranians were expected to be below the poverty line. Moreover, as major economies across the world experienced sharp contractions, IMF analysts saw a similar fate in store for Iran. According to predictions, the Iranian economy would shed 5% of its size in 2020.

However, the opposite occurred. The Iranian economy actually expanded for the first time in years. Despite the crippling blow of U.S. sanctions and a global economic calamity, Iran posted a GDP growth of 1.5%. In many ways, this turnaround resembled a unique occurrence in China. In 2020, China also registered positive GDP growth, the only large economy to do so. But China had controlled COVID-19, whereas Iran was still struggling with its outbreak. The ability of the capital Tehran to manage its economy relatively well amid greater uncertainty was impressive.

But all was not well in Iran. Deaths from COVID-19 spiked across the country and satellite images confirmed the construction of massive buriel pits. By mid-July, almost 90,000 deaths were recorded in Iran. However, this is believed to be an underestimation. Data from the University of Washington confirms more than 200,000 excess deaths for the same period.

Vaccines Requested and Delivered

To get out of its current situation, Iran needs vaccines. In this arena too, recovery promises to be much faster than initially predicted. The refinement of COVID-19 vaccines, which was expected to take years, was released in months. The current challenge is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. As of mid-July, only 5% of the Iranian population have received one dose of the COVID-19 jab and just 3% are fully vaccinated. But philanthropy is coming to the rescue. In the United States, a group of philanthropists is planning to send 150,000 Pfizer doses to Iran. Abroad, countries like Russia and China have promised to donate vaccines as well.

The road to normalcy will be difficult for Iran. But a strong global recovery has the potential to bring Iran to success.

– Zachary Lee
Photo: Flickr

Musicians Helping Those in Need
One can consider musicians the creators of the soundtrack of life. Through the art that musicians create, millions of people can find joy and excitement. However, their influence does not end there. Musicians have consistently played a prominent role in helping people in need around the world. From Jimi Hendrix to Nina Simone, recording artists have been pivotal in bringing awareness to numerous important issues and causes whether it be through their music or the work outside of their music. The philanthropic endeavors of musicians have provided support for countless individuals. The immeasurably popular creations of musicians provide them with opportunities to reach areas others may not be able to and extend much-needed support to the vulnerable and impoverished. Below are a few dedicated musicians helping those in need.


People possibly know Madonna the best for her legendary pop hits and iconic fashion style. For decades, people around the world have emulated the pop star’s unforgettable looks. Her dedication to her artistry is undeniable, but another passion for the singer/performer is giving. Raising Malawi, established in 2006, focuses on orphaned and vulnerable Malawian children. Since its foundation, the nonprofit organization has built 10 schools throughout Malawi. Another notable achievement from the Raising Malawi organization is the scholarship and psychosocial program that has provided for the 20 young Malawians featured in the “I Am Because We Are” documentary film.

Madonna’s charitable efforts extend beyond her Raising Malawi organization. The year 1998 saw the beginning of The Ray of Light Foundation, named after the singer’s seventh studio album. The Ray of Light Foundation centers on supporting organizations that are dedicated to promoting peace, equal rights and education for all. The Foundation has been incredibly successful in its many efforts. In Afghanistan, the Ray of Light Foundation has assisted 133,824 patients through health clinics that the Foundation established. In addition, mobile literacy classes that the organization funded educated 335 women, and the nonprofit provided 95,542 patients with health education. With these charitable organizations, Madonna consistently proves her dedication to helping those in need.


Rihanna has attained astronomical success in her nearly two-decade-long career. The Barbadian pop star has attained numerous accolades and awards that have placed her in the same league with musicians far beyond her years. While these achievements are significant, they almost pale in comparison to the incredible impact of the singer/business woman’s philanthropic endeavors. Rihanna’s charitable efforts date back to 2006 with the Believe Foundation which provides financial, medical, educational and emotional support to terminally ill children. Another cause that Rihanna has lent her hand to is the fight against HIV/AIDS in multiple collaborations and campaigns with brands like MAC Cosmetics and H&M.

In 2012, Rihanna launched the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) in honor of her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite. The CLF supports and provides funding for groundbreaking global education, health and emergency response programs. CLF has made considerable contributions to various causes throughout its history. Since its foundation, CLF has raised more than $24 million and assisted in more than 100 projects. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CLF has allocated more than $36 million to help those the crisis most impacted. The Foundation has also provided immediate COVID-19 assistance to over 14 countries along with providing funds to 45 organizations. Therefore, Rihanna is an exceptional example of the tremendous influence musicians dedicated to helping those in need can have on the world.


Musicians have contributed to the lives of many with their musical talents. However, another area musicians have made a remarkable impact in is assisting those poverty effects. With its resources and talents, musicians can reach places others cannot. This is why the musician’s role in helping those in need is a pivotal one. Not only does it provide crucial support but it also brings awareness to important causes. The artists above are just a few of many musicians dedicated to helping those in need.

– Imani Smikle
Photo: Flickr