Information and news about philanthropy

What does it mean to be Philanthropic? Philanthropy is a noun that the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the “love of mankind” and “the disposition or active effort to promote the happiness and well being of others.” In our current society, the word philanthropic tends to be an interchangeable term with entrepreneurial. As those who are seen as philanthropic tend to be those individuals who are financially involved with an organization promoting effort to help those in need.

This current view on philanthropy by society is harmful in the way that it seems to prevent, or even stigmatize, philanthropic efforts on the small scale. These small-scale efforts can be seen as insignificant and unrealistic by a public assuming that only grandiose donations from entrepreneurial individuals can make a difference, which is a major factor for why many people do not get involved with social problems.

Philanthropy at its core is having a love for humanity, and there are many ways for people to become involved. Individual efforts over long periods of time can be as effective, if not more so, as a grand one time financial gesture. While an entrepreneurial spirit can help with the sustainability of a philanthropic organization, they should not rely solely on financial gain. This would defeat the purpose of trying to make positive change.

Other than participating financially, volunteering time and effort to a philanthropic cause can make a difference in helping create positive change.

So as philanthropy exists to benefit others, it should be no surprise that participating in these efforts can help create a personal benefit and fulfillment within the individual. In recent studies regarding volunteer work and its physical benefits, the results showed a 22 percent reduction in mortality of the volunteer work participants. It has been proven that when an individual is involved with the helping of their fellow man, the reward center in the brain that produces the neurotransmitter dopamine creates a feeling of fulfillment and greater happiness, or a “helper’s high.” In addition, there are many other benefits to an individual volunteering within philanthropic organizations, such as better pain management and lower blood pressure.

To be philanthropic is to express love for all of mankind and to help in any way. While the majority of individuals choose to participate financially, it is important to realize that not all philanthropic ventures need this. Choosing to volunteer can help these philanthropic organizations continue to make a positive change within our society.

– Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Oxford English Dictionary, Inc., Huffington Post
Photo: Blake Rubin

When businesses promote the welfare of others by donating some of their profits or resources, they are participating in corporate philanthropy. This philanthropy can be in the form of financial contributions, use of facilities, services, time or advertising support. Corporations often also set up employee volunteer groups and create matching programs. Some companies manage their own philanthropy, while others organize theirs through company foundations.

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) is an international group of business executives focusing on increasing levels of corporate philanthropy. The committee is comprised of over 150 CEOS from large-scale companies across industries that account for almost half of the reported corporate philanthropy in the United States.

Since 2000, CECP has honored two companies annually that stand out most in their Corporate Philanthropy Awards, according to its four Standards of Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy: CEO leadership, innovation, dedication to measurement and partnership. The committee identifies winners for the Chairman’s Award for companies with revenues of $20 billion and more and the President’s Award for companies under that threshold. These Excellence Awards are the widely-recognized form of honor for corporate giving. Every year, the committee collects an independent jury from various disciplines to decide the recipients of the awards. The jurors base their discussions off of companies’ applications.

The Washington Business Journal, Nashville Business Journal and Philadelphia Business Journal also hold annual Corporate Giving Awards Ceremonies on a smaller scale.

At the CECP Board of Boards CEO event in February in New York City, the committee announced that the winners of the 2015 Excellence Awards are PepsiCo and PwC US.

PepsiCo received the Chairman’s Award for its prioritization of providing clean water in alleviating global poverty. CECP presented the award for the company’s support for The Water Cellars for Mothers project, which provides residents of the Guangxi Province of China with access to safe water. PepsiCo has committed to providing over 6 million people with access to clean water this year.

PwC was awarded the President’s Award for its $160 million “Earn Your Future” commitment to promote fiscally responsible behavior to students across the United States in order to better prepare students for the future. In its third year of implementation, this multi-year commitment has reached over 1.2 million students and educators and has provided more than 530,000 hours of service.

CECP announced that after 15 years of presenting Excellence Awards, it is changing the award system. The committee hopes to expand its reach in the coming year to be able to honor more corporations for their dedication and success in promoting philanthropy across the globe.

– Arin Kerstein

Sources: 3BL Media, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, Double the Donation
Photo: SmugMug

Before you think about participating in a charitable organization, you should do your research. Due to the many charitable organizations that exist within our philanthropic community, some organizations have come to be that do not have charity in mind. In order to understand which organization is beneficial or harmful, it is important to pay attention to the impact of the organization. While numbers on their website may be important, they aren’t everything within the giving equation.

Some organizations have claimed to be nonprofit and have thus exploited a system based on charity. While a contribution may make its way to the intended individual, along the way the amount is decreased for a variety of reasons leaving the final amount received significantly less than the original contribution.

While it is important to realize the many pitfalls of philanthropic donation, it is essential to realize that not all organizations are like this. In some cases it can mean life or death to those individuals who are on the receiving end of a donation.

For individual giving, it is important to give to a cause that is important to you. While there are many great organizations that help with global hunger like the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and Action Against Hunger, or global poverty like Innovations for Poverty Action, ultimately where your donation goes is up to you.

Before donating to that major philanthropic organization that says they have used the money to provide x, y and z, look deeper into their numbers and statistics and decide if your donation will really be making a difference.

A good place to get started with general philanthropic organizations can be found here.

In addition, it is important to know which organizations to generally avoid here.

– Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Marketplace, The Life You Can Save 1Tampa Bay Times, The Life You Can Save 2The Life You Can Save 3, Love to Know

Photo: Mod City Magazine

With all that happens in today’s philanthropic world, definitions can get muddled. Humanitarian aid is material and logistic assistance to promote human welfare, often after natural or man-made disasters. The World Health Organization defines it as “aid that seeks to save lives and alleviate suffering of a crisis affected population.”

In essence, humanitarian aid is humans helping other humans.

There are countless examples of humanitarian aid, from large organizations to small-scale philanthropy events that benefit a larger cause. One of the goals of the United Nations is to provide humanitarian aid.

An example of a large humanitarian aid organization is Doctors Without Borders. Every year, Doctors Without Borders provides emergency medical care to millions in crisis after a disaster. It has operated in over 70 countries around the world over crisis such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition and natural disasters. According to their website, every day over 30,000 people are helping others through Doctors Without Borders.

On a smaller scale, humanitarian aid can be found locally. A local fundraiser for a cause, such as a charity walk to raise money, can support a humanitarian aid organization. For example, nearly 1,000 GoFundMe campaigns were made to raise money after the earthquake in Nepal, raising a total of over $5 million.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in humanitarian aid! Keep it simple and think locally. How can your community help others in need? Here are 5 easy ideas for you to try:

1. Organize a dinner with your friends and ask each person to donate a little to the charity of your choice.

2. Attend a charity walk or ride. You’ll get some exercise while raising money and awareness for a greater cause.

3. Clean out your closet and donate your old clothes.

4. Join an organization like Habitat for Humanity and help build a home for those who have lost their own.

5. Help out at a local food pantry. Make a difference right in your own neighborhood.

Before getting involved with the humanitarian aid of your choice, make sure to do your homework. Understand the issue–the problem at hand, the potential solutions, the dilemmas–before launching yourself into the organization. That way you will understand the complexity of the problem and be able to get a lot out of your experience.

– Hannah Resnick

Sources: GoFundMe, World Health Organization
Photo: Flickr

hult prize
What would you do if you were awarded one million dollars? Winners of the Hult Prize use the money to help alleviate global poverty. College students compete for the prize by coming up with innovative ways to solve the world’s biggest problems. A student at Hult International Business School, Ahmad Ashkar, came up with the idea to have teams of students from around the globe attempt to come up with a solution for particular issues. For 2015, the issue is “early childhood education.”

Hult International Business School, having partnered with former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, held the first competition in 2010. The competition starts on a local/regional level with competitions being held in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. Winners then go on to a six-week program packed with seminars on innovation and entrepreneurship called “The Hult Prize Accelerator.” Afterward, six teams go on to the Global Finals, where one team with an impactful idea is decided on as the best. The winning team then gets the opportunity to put their plans into action.

Last year, the issue to focus on was “non-communicable diseases in urban slums” such as diabetes or heart disease. A team of students from the Indian School of Business were declared the winners for their business concept “NanoHealth,” where a group of doctors receive a “Dox-in-Box,” a diagnostic tool that will help identify those at risk of disease. The goal is for NanoHealth to help up to 25 million people currently living in slums. Other finalists came from the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, HEC Paris, ESADE Business School and York University, and many of them are known to continue going forward with implanting their idea despite not winning.

The Hult Prize has been referred to as the “Nobel prize for students” by Muhammad Yunus, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“If you can create a real business, the beginning of a prototype, you can change the world,” he said.

This year’s winner will be decided on at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in the fall.

– Melissa Binns

Sources: Huffington Post, Hult Prize, New York Times
Photo: NPR

mobile banking
With populations in the developing world on the steady rise and technology becoming more user-friendly, there is no doubt that technology will make drastic changes to the developing world in the next decade.

In a recent 2015 Gates Annual Letter published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates declared that innovation will play a vital role in improving the lives of people in poor countries in the next 15 years.

Moreover, Melinda Gates argues that an increase in access to mobile banking through cell phones will provide impoverished people with the opportunity to save what they earn or perhaps borrow what they need at a low rate.

One of the many benefits of mobile banking is its socio-economic impact. The country of Kenya was known to have an underdeveloped banking infrastructure, high poverty rate and a large population of migrant people. Since the introduction of mobile banking in Kenya, financial inclusion is reported to have increased to 80 percent. Along with significant changes and improvements in global health and agricultural production, increased access to mobile technologies in developing nations is the starting point to something greater.

Developing countries are limited by the physical infrastructure of financial institutions, which means that a large part of their population is not included in a banking system. Financial inclusions have an important impact on the lives of people. Reports indicate that when poor people receive access to financial services, their cash management improves and creates better infrastructure for business and development of markets.

This change in the infrastructure in developing nations is a start to change the way people live in these countries. A small technological innovation like the mobile phone has made huge impacts in providing the opportunity to build a more developed economy in these countries.

Other innovations in technology have become popular in benefiting the developing world as well. Telecenters are an example of how technology has  changed in order to suit those living in remote areas. Telecenters range from innovations in the education sector to the medical industry.

For learning, distance education developed by technology has the ability to make every child a scholar. For health, telemedicine has the ability to change dysfunctional rural health-care systems by providing clinical health care at a distance.

Other small inventions, such as the Soccket and Lifestraw, have been developed to help those living in poverty-stricken areas and to improve the lives of those individuals.

This shows how a simple change in technology can change the lives of people living in poverty. These types of actions should be embedded in all development efforts that aim to challenge poverty through innovations of new technology.

Although technology does not end poverty, it allows people to create connections and relationships that together can break down the systems that keep people poor, and then it is up to humanity to end it.

– Sandy Phan

Sources: Bill Gates’ Blog, Consultive Group to Assist the Poor

A premium skin-care company called Alaffia empowers local people in Togo by handcrafting beauty products prepared from Certified Fair Trade shea butter. Better yet, all of the sales from Alaffia’s beauty products contribute to the livelihood of West African communities.

Alaffia offers creams, soaps, lotions and hair-care products made from the indigenous shea tree. Alaffia operates at a local level, employing women in need and enabling youth to stay in school to complete their educations.

This company is essential to West African women because they have difficulty obtaining employment since they are oftentimes not able to access education. Exclusion from the workforce leaves them vulnerable and often unable to support their families. Alaffia directly employs around 500 women in co-ops throughout Togo to cultivate shea by hand. These women are compensated with fair wages for their work and they bring unique knowledge and handcrafting skills to the job.

The company was founded by Togolese native Olowo-n’djo Tchala in 2004 after he realized the need to combat gender inequality and poverty. Alaffia was founded on Tchala’s belief that everyone deserves equality, empowerment and beauty.

Furthermore, Alaffia uses its profits to sponsor philanthropic projects in Togo. One such project is called “Bicycles for Education,” which provides disadvantaged students with bikes to get to and from school. So far, it has helped more than 6,300 students in Togo. Alaffia donates metal roofs, seats, and school supplies to rural schools through its “School Supplies and Repairs” project to create a functional learning environment for youth.

Alaffia has also provided over 3,200 pregnant women with pre- and post-natal care, and has funded the planting of 25,000 trees to combat climate change.

While philanthropy and environmental benefits certainly set Alaffia apart from other major beauty companies, Alaffia products are also made with unrefined ingredients and contain no synthetic fragrances or genetically modified organisms. They are vegan, gluten free and an ideal alternative line for those with sensitive skin.

These products help Africans profit from their natural resources and create sustainable goods that help our planet, empower local communities, and improve education for students.

Alaffia products can be purchased at natural and organic food stores such as Lassen’s and Whole Foods.

– Jenn Hartmann

Sources: Alaffia, Thurston Talk
Photo: Thurston Talk


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with his wife Priscilla, has donated $25 million to help eradicate the Ebola epidemic sweeping the world. According to a Forbes article that quoted Zuckerberg, the disease has already infected 8,400 people and is projected to infect over a million in the coming months if it continues at this rate.

The money donated by Zuckerberg will be put toward the Center for Disease Control’s Global Disaster Response Fund. The money will support safe burials, services for the dead, the training of more medical staff, medical supplies and more. Approximately 150 members of the CDC will be heading to West Africa to address the issue in person.

Zuckerberg posted on Facebook, “We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio.”

Ebola has quickly become a topic of concern, constantly permeating airwaves and worrying the majority of the world. Accordingly, there are other wealthy philanthropists reaching out in the campaign against this deadly disease.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $50 million to U.N. agencies and other groups giving supplies to those suffering from Ebola. Bill Gates’ business partner, Paul Allen, initiated the Tackle Ebola campaign, setting an example by giving $20 million. Allen strongly remarks, “A winnable battle should never be lost.”

Zuckerberg is considered one of the top philanthropists in the United States, he is involved in various charities and willing to donate financially. With contributions like Zukerberg’s, Ebola relief efforts can advance.

Kathleen Lee

Sources: Business Insider, Forbes
Photo: Flickr

comedy as philanthropy
NBC announced recently that the network would partner with Comic Relief UK, a British charity, and Funny or Die, a comedy video website, to bring American viewers standup, music, short films and sketch comedy in May 2015. The network will raise money for charities both in the U.S. and across the globe through the television program.

Comedy as philanthropy? The idea might surprise Americans, but it is quite familiar to many British television viewers. Comic Relief has been around since 1985 and has promoted Red Nose Day, one of its two major fundraising campaigns, since 1988.

Red Nose Day is the brainchild of Richard Curtis, who will be an executive producer on the American special. Curtis’s name might sound familiar to fans of films like “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Love Actually, ” because he wrote all three screenplays.

Curtis’s charity event takes place every two years. On the day of the event, the BBC airs comedy programs. The event has succeeded overwhelmingly in its goal to “inspire the nation to give generously.”

In 2013, Comic Relief featured Simon Cowell’s marriage in addition David Brent, with his own brand of awkwardness, who played the British version of Michael in “The Office.” In the end, the charity raised £100,331,808 (about $172 million.)

By channeling our desire for entertainment toward charitable purposes, Comic Relief has had a considerable impact.

The charity distributes viewer donations by awarding grants to projects that promote some or all of the following five concepts: (1) “better futures,” (2) “healthier finances,” (3) “safer lives,” (4) “stronger communities” and (5) “fairer societies.”

Grants are awarded both in the UK and throughout the rest of the world. Most importantly, the organization has had a great impact in the areas where it is involved. In the realms of education, HIV treatment and malaria prevention, Comic Relief has helped millions, according to their website.

The hope, then, is that Comic Relief’s successful methodology will resonate with an American audience. The charity has some notable friends in the U.S., which bodes well for the endeavor.

In fact, the most prominent American philanthropist strongly supports Comic Relief’s efforts. “I’ve been really impressed by how Red Nose Day in the UK has both raised large amounts of money and also engaged the public on the issues of poverty,” said Bill Gates, adding: “I hope lots of people from throughout the U.S. will participate.”

– Ryan Yanke

Sources: Deadline, Comic Relief 1, Comic Relief 2, Comic Relief 3
Photo: Mirror

cost to end world hunger
Unfortunately, there is no secret code to guaranteeing success in philanthropy. However, the following is a list of five tips for success in philanthropy.

1) Foster honest relationships between the donor and grantee.

Philanthropy is simply the love of humanity. The definition does not include any notion of wealth. However, wealth is often necessary to fund philanthropic efforts, and often times this creates a strange relationship between the donor and grantee. Kevin Starr, the managing director of the Mulago Foundation, describes how an imbalance of this relationship is created as a result of the inevitable focus on money philanthropic work calls for. However, clearly identifying the causes both the donor and grantee advocate for allows opportunity for a true partnership to bloom.

2) Have a business-like approach to your organization.

While philanthropic work is fueled by compassion and will, running a philanthropic foundation requires shifting mindsets and treating the organization like a business. “Business is about getting stuff done,” says Starr. In the end, applying the disciplines and practices of running a business to philanthropic efforts will lead to successfully and efficiently making progress.

3) Treat your grantees like customers.

This advice is strongly advocated by David Peery, the managing direct of the Peery Foundation. The organization(s) that a philanthropic decides to support is essentially the group he is investing in. Much like businesses invest in entrepreneurs to gain wealth, organizations invest in social entrepreneurs to achieve a lasting, positive social impact. Businesses value honest feedback and intentional communication, and nurturing this type of relationship between a donor and grantee will form a strong and honest partnership.

4) Have an adaptive philanthropy, not a rigid strategy.

Setting a vision and establishing targets are both necessary and wise. Adaptive philanthropy has a clear mission, but does not restrict itself to inflexible multi-year plans. All philanthropic efforts are dynamic processes, and none are immune to the tremendous number of factors that can complicate them. Risks and uncertainty should be expected in the process.

5) Measure the impact of your philanthropic efforts.

In the early days of philanthropy, people donated chunks of money toward a cause without considering the impact. Donors did not require their grantees to evaluate the impact of their programs, and grantees did not know how or what to measure. However, it is imperative to quantify the impact of an organization’s efforts, so that one can determine whether their philanthropic endeavors are working and creating a positive influence. This is often done through rigorous program monitoring and evaluation. For example, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has appointed Jodi Nelson as the Director of Strategy, Measurement and Evaluation (SME) to measure its impact and ensure that it is operating with maximum efficiency.

– Christina Cho 

Sources: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford Social Innovation Review 2
Photo: Huffington Post