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traits_of_philanthropic_people

Philanthropic people strive to promote the welfare of others through the donation of money, property or services. They come from all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds, but there are several common character traits of philanthropic people who have seen success in their pursuits:

1. They are altruistic.
Philanthropic people show selfless concern for the welfare of others and venture to alleviate the struggles of others without seeking anything for their own personal benefit. Truly philanthropic acts are done without expectation of compensation or recognition of one’s efforts.

2. They are empathetic.
Philanthropists tend to be empathetic toward the struggles of others. They feel an obligation to do what is in their power to combat these struggles because they view the problems and the hurt that comes with them as their own.

3. They have heightened social awareness.
Philanthropic people tend to have great awareness of their surroundings. Not only are they open to opposing views and new ideas, but they also seek to understand the motivations and obstacles of others in order to better understand their needs and how they can best best be satisfied.

4. They are far-sighted.
People who want to make positive change in the world tend to look far into the future. They want to make a lasting impact on society rather than temporarily fixing a problem, and recognize that they must direct their efforts accordingly. They realize that in order to make significant societal change, it is crucial to address underlying structural issues by investing in long-term solutions.

5. They are politically involved.
In order to make structural changes in society, it is also necessary for philanthropists to advocate for political change. That is why many successful philanthropists are known to be advocates. They tend to recognize that while it is important to invest in programs that are shown to produce tangible results, advocacy is also important because it allows progress on a broader scale.

6. They are issue-oriented.
Successful philanthropists seek specific causes to support rather than organizations. They first identify something they would like to see happen in the world and then they go out to look for organizations that can best make this vision a reality. They recognize that specific organizations may be able to tackle one aspect of the problem best and then look for other groups to work on other aspects of the issue. They maintain a holistic view of the issue and use many tools to catalyze these changes.

7. They are business-minded.
Many philanthropic people look at their contributions as investments in society and the economy. They want their money and resources to be used efficiently and in an organized-manner in order to promote self-sustaining change. Accordingly, successful philanthropists look at issues through a business-lens, treating their philanthropic work with the same work ethic as they would their business. Just as they would to promote a business goal, successful philanthropists also capitalize on their resources, drawn upon their networks and use their position in society to promote a cause. This broad view pushes them not to focus solely on contributing to nonprofit organizations, but also to expand their support to for-profit business and legislative initiatives that will propel the cause forward.

– Arin Kerstein

Sources: Academic Impressions, Forbes, Long Beach Business Journal, PC World
Photo: Smarter Finance Journal

Youtubers
YouTube has become one of the largest, most influential mediums in the world. According to the website, YouTube has more than one billion users in 75 countries, watching hundreds of millions of hours each day.

More than one million channels receive proceeds from their videos due to the YouTube Partner Program, and a small amount of these channel owners make six figures per year.

Elite YouTubers Zoella, Jack and Finn Harries, and Hank and John Green are a part of the select group who achieved super-stardom from their videos.

However, these YouTubers have more than just a high-paying salary in common. They all participate in numerous charities to give back to those who are struggling.

Zoe Sugg

With about eight and a half million viewers subscribed to her fashion and beauty blog, Zoe Sugg, also know as Zoella, donates some of her time to raising awareness for fatal diseases. Sugg starred in “The Comic Relief Bake Off” in February that funded vaccinations for babies in Uganda. Sugg has also worked with Trekstock, which gives support to young adults with cancer.

“Doing what I do, I get to meet a lot of young people that have been through the stresses and the traumas that go with [cancer],” Sugg said.

Along with this, Sugg is the first digital ambassador for Mind, a mental health charity and has participated in fundraising for the Stroke Association and Band Aid 30.

Jack and Finn Harries

Identical twins Jack and Finn Harries run the YouTube channel JacksGap that has more than 180 million views. The channel’s videos feature the brothers traveling the world, occasionally stopping to film a video for charity. In March of 2013, the twins posted a video about their time in South Africa visiting some Comic Relief projects. More than five million people live with HIV in Africa, according to the video.

“We were shocked to hear how serious the issue had become, but excited to see what was being done to help and meet the people behind the project,” Jack Harries said.

Jack and Finn Harries have helped raised awareness for this issue, because their video now has over two million views.

The twins have also helped The Rainbow Centre, Teenage Cancer Trust and Charity: Water.

Hank and John Green

Another set of philanthropic YouTube siblings with the channel name VlogBrothers hold an online presence of about two and a half million subscribers, and they use this power to promote their charity projects. Hank and John Green created Project for Awesome in 2007.

“During Project for Awesome, thousands of people post videos about and advocating for charities that decrease the overall level of world suck. As a community, we promote these videos and raise money for the charities,” Hank and John Green said.

The charity has taken place for seven years, and last year, the project raised over one million dollars.

Aside from this success, the brothers have also taken part in Partners in Health.
For more information about these YouTubers, visit youtube.com/zoella, youtube.com/jacksgap, and youtube.com/vlogbrothers.

– Fallon Lineberger

 

Sources: BBC, Boohoo, Charity Water, Mind, Prizeo 1, Prizeo 2, Project for Awesome, YouTube 1, YouTube 2, YouTube 3, YouTube 4, YouTube 5, YouTube 6, YouTube 7
Photo: Telegraph

 

advocacy_groups
Advocacy takes on a broad range of meanings and connotations in our society. Advocacy and advocacy groups are terms that generally conjure up images of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement or the numerous groups today, which advocate for a whirlwind of causes like environmental protection, expanded access to healthcare or even poverty reduction. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an advocacy group as “a group of people who work together to achieve something, especially by putting pressure on the government…usually on behalf of people who are unable to speak for themselves.”

What the Oxford definition illuminates is the difference between an advocacy group and, say, a non-governmental organization (NGO). While advocacy groups and NGOs share several similarities and may even have the same objective, advocacy groups have a special emphasis on altering public policy, while an NGO or grassroots organization might try to work around or outside of the public sphere. Sometimes, organizations pursue advocacy as well as field work.

Advocacy groups have a variety of ways to affect public policy as well as public opinion. These ways include disseminating relevant information about the issue which they raise, engaging local communities to become involved in an issue and, perhaps most importantly, directly lobbying government leaders to create policies that will help address the issue.

In the case of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, many demonstrations, local campaigns, publications and direct lobbying of U.S. leaders led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Outreach and education of the general public was, and is, highly important to any successful advocacy venture because the primary way that public policy is shaped is through the demands of the constituency and the pressure they put on their representatives to support or create legislation that reflects their interests.

One example of a well-known advocacy group is Oxfam International. Founded in 1995, their name derives from an early predecessor to their organization, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, a group which advocated for the delivery of emergency aid to people caught in the midst of World War II. Today, Oxfam supports a wide variety of poverty reduction and economic development ventures, pursuing issues which constitute a fulfillment of basic human rights.

Oxfam International is a combination advocacy group and grassroots non-governmental organization, working both on the policy level and directly coordinating and delivering services to people internationally. The organization has 17 chapters in different countries, as well as advocacy offices in high-impact government centers such as Brussels and Washington, D.C.

The Sierra Club is another famous, long-standing advocacy group, which was founded in the U.S. by conservationist John Muir in 1892. Originally, the group was formed to lobby for the conservation of vast tracts of U.S. land, which resulted in the establishment of Yosemite National Park and other wilderness areas.

The Sierra Club, because its mission is environmental conservation, is naturally more predisposed to pure advocacy; that is, lobbying U.S. leaders and organizing demonstrations. They have influenced the passage of several pieces of legislation including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

The Borgen Project also operates as a classic advocacy group. This is because the greatest potential for poverty reduction comes through U.S. policies and institutions, rather than private or public donations funding fieldwork outside the policy sphere. The Borgen Project’s aim is to help people become aware of the need to fight poverty internationally, help them become civically engaged and, therefore, directly influence government leaders to adopt policies that strengthen poverty reduction efforts.

– Derek Marion

Sources: Oxfam, Sierra Club Oxford English Dictionary
Photo: Oxfam

Clicktivism
In the digital age, it is easier than ever to voice one’s support for a cause or raise awareness about a particular issue, all it takes is the click of a button.

In the wake of the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal, Facebook gave users the option to donate to the International Medical Corps’ relief efforts. According to a Facebook post by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, over $10 million was raised by the Facebook community — in just two days.

Social media provides a platform to quickly support a cause without exerting much — if any — personal effort. This phenomenon has been labeled as “clicktivism,” or “slacktivism,” and has been widely criticized for creating an impression of support, rather than actually accomplishing anything for the cause.

Many critics point out that clicktivism satisfies the urge to respond to an issue, thus reducing eagerness to take further action.

However, according to a study conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, the truth is quite the contrary. Researchers found that Americans who promote causes using social media by creating posts, joining a group on Facebook or taking other similar actions, actually participate more in offline activist efforts than non-social media promoters.

“The presumption was that these individuals were replacing more ‘meaningful’ actions with simple clicks and shares. But what we found is that they’re actually supplementing—not replacing— actions like donating, volunteering and planning events,” Senior Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Center for Social Impact Communication Denise Keyes was quoted in the research report.

The study showed that so-called clicktivists are over four times as likely than non-social media promoters to encourage others to contact political representatives about an issue, twice as likely to volunteer time to a cause, more than twice as likely to participate in an event or a walk and just as likely to donate money.

It is unlikely that every user who donated to relief efforts in Nepal dedicated himself or herself to volunteering and staying informed about progress in the nation. But whether or not clicktivists take action offline, sharing a post inherently increases visibility and raises awareness, regardless of the amount of effort (or lack thereof) exerted by the “sharer” or “retweeter.” It is possible that a certain user does not accomplish anything further after pressing “share,” but that user’s friend might be scrolling through their newsfeed and be inspired to do more. Although using a hashtag and retweeting a human rights organization does not necessarily equate to action, the importance of such actions in rallying support for global issues cannot be diminished.

It is not a new concept to use whatever tools necessary to mobilize supporters of a cause. Activism is a spectrum comprised of many levels of involvement and dedication. Whether it be signing a petition or putting money in a donation box while purchasing groceries, lower levels of commitment exist and have existed, regardless of their portrayal on the Internet.

Clicktivists should remember that while their online actions are definitely helpful, it should not suffice or constitute full-fledged activism. Therefore, clicktivists should push themselves to stay committed to issues that pique their interest. That is not to say that they should stop sharing, liking and retweeting. The benefits of those actions are immeasurable.

– Arin Kerstein

Sources: Daily O, Facebook, Daily O, Georgetown University, Daily O
Photo: Invisible Children

nonprofit
Funds are critical in advancing the fight for poverty, and for nonprofits addressing these issues sponsorship in the form of charitable donations allows them to engage in various development, humanitarian and policy-related initiatives. Sponsorship of an organization can take place at any level, from individual to corporate, depending on who is donating and how much they are willing to give. While any amount no matter the size may be considered a sponsorship, nonprofits sometimes add in benefits for supporters who give larger donations.

The Borgen Project defines four specific categories in which donors may fall should an individual give large contributions: bronze partner, silver partner, gold partner and benefactor. Starting at $2,000, each offers benefits ranging from acknowledgments with the donor company’s link and logo on the borgenproject.org to an opportunity to join The Borgen Project’s National Council and be the subject of a news feature in BORGEN. Donations go toward the operation of this nonprofit and its efforts to bring about poverty and hunger alleviation through advocacy centered in Washington.

The U.N.’s World Food Programme is another example of an organization for which donations are critical, as it is completely funded by donors. Aid organizations will typically have a webpage for donors where they may select an amount and pay immediately through the site, making contributions quick and easy.

At a time when the WFP is seeing a record number of hunger crises, it is in great need of people willing to make contributions to better the nutrition of malnourished and starving people around the globe. Ninety percent of every donation made goes toward anti-hunger operations.

Organizations usually have a couple of options for the frequency of the donation. Those interested may make a one-time donation or, if they have the capability and willingness to continue their donation throughout the year, a monthly option is available.

It is especially important to note that sponsorship of any amount is meaningful and necessary for the operation of a nonprofit. Individuals, rather than corporations, foundations and other nonprofits, accounted for most of The Borgen Project’s revenue in 2014. Whether it’s $25,000 or $25, every amount counts and is valuable to the initiatives being carried out by an organization.

– Amy Russo

Sources: The Borgen Project, WFP 1, WFP 2
Photo: Don’t Shoot the Costumer

write_to_congress
Contacting representatives in Congress is one of the most important things a citizen can do to be heard. Some people assume that representatives do not pay much attention to the opinions of their constituents, but this belief is wrong. Because representatives are elected to reflect the district’s or state’s opinions, they are attentive to constituent voices when contacted. Reaching out is key and lets representatives know what their constituents think about certain issues.

Without constituent initiative, opinions can go unheard. Thankfully, contacting representatives has never been easier, both by email or by writing a letter. Here is how:

Emailing

The easiest way to contact representatives is through email. Finding the correct email address is the hardest part of this process.

First, search for your representatives’ names. Visit the following website to search for a representative in the U.S. House of Representatives by zip code: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

To find a representative by his or her name, or to search by state, visit this website: http://www.house.gov/representatives/.

Conduct the same search for your representatives in the U.S. Senate by visiting the following website: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.

Upon finding the names of the representatives, visit their individual websites. Once there, find the “Contact” section of the website, where there is usually an automated email option. This is the official way to contact your representatives as this ensures the email is sent to the correct alias.

Another great, efficient way to write to Congress is through The Borgen Project website. In the “Act Now” portion of the website, click on the “Email Congress” link. After choosing the issue to be supported, enter all the necessary information to find your representatives in Congress. Once the representatives are located and selected, the representative(s) will receive an email with the simple click of a button!

Writing a Letter

Using the representatives’ websites, locate the postal addresses listed for their offices under the “Contact” section of each individual website. Many representatives have an office located in their district along with an office in Washington D.C. Both offices are receptive to constituent letters.

– Erik Nelson

Sources: U.S.A.gov, United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, The Borgen Project
Photo: Impowerable

Advocacy
Advocacy is an effective tool for social change. Advocacy is the act of holding elected officials accountable for their action or inaction. Advocacy has many forms, including letter-writing, calling or e-mailing elected officials, call-in days, social media campaigns, direct lobbying and many others.

Who should advocate? The answer is anyone and everyone! When one engages in advocacy, he or she is attempting to convey a message he or she feels strongly about with the purpose of encouraging action from the official. Elected officials are more likely to take action when there is pressure, specifically from their constituents.

From global poverty to education, there are numerous ways to advocate one’s message. Advocating in person, or in groups, is extremely effective. This can be done through lobbying Congress and elected officials, administrators, policymakers or any other positions of power. One is able to advocate individually and remotely by sending emails, making calls to officials or sending letters. Ad-hoc situations of advocacy are very diverse and are often resurrected around a specific issue or cause.

Ad-hoc advocacy has infinite room for creativity and can be enacted through art installations, social media/photo campaigns, call-in days and a multitude of other options.

For best results, focus on one issue at a time. Be able to deliver the message in a succinct fashion, as people like short summaries for big pictures. While being specific, be sure to include personal experiences and why it is important to you. This is a great way to be remembered by the people (or person) you are lobbying. Beware of your audience while you are speaking from your heart, as you want to stay relatable while not appearing cliche.

To be an effective advocate, one ought to take advantage of technology, embrace available resources and personal skills, and most importantly, immerse oneself. Know the cause inside and out, therefore acting as a resource to others while being able to eloquently spread your passion! When delivering the message, be sure to identify yourself, explain why you are the best spokesperson for the issue and be prepared for questions.

The final step of advocacy is follow up, follow up, follow up! Persuade others to support the causes you support.

There are many issues one can advocate for; however, the most important factor is to advocate for something one is extremely passionate about.

At The Borgen Project, we are most passionate about global development and poverty alleviation. According to The Borgen Project, “Congressional staffers keep a tally of every issue that voters call, write and email the leader about. This information goes into a weekly report that is viewed by the Congressional leader. Your one email will get the issue or bill on the leader’s radar.”

To call or email Congressional leaders regarding issues of global poverty, check out https://borgenproject.org/get-involved-in-the-cause/.

“If you believe in great things, you may be able to make other people believe in them, too.”    – Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Neti Gupta

Sources: Bonner Network, TIME, Delaware Division of the Arts
Photo: Flickr

From Asia to Uganda, World Renew, formerly known as The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, is addressing the problems facing the most impoverished of communities all over the world. The name-change came in 2012 after the organization felt that that the work being done was growing larger and more significant. “The name better reflects who we are and what we are about as a trusted, established non-profit that is working to help eradicate the root causes of extreme global poverty through the renewal of relationships with God, neighbor, and the environment,” says World Renew’s Canadian director, Ida Mutoigo.

It is estimated that World Renew works with 1.86 million people who live in poverty in 35 different countries. This organization is known for its advocacy and quick responses to disasters like the 2011 earthquake in Japan or the conflict that currently exists in Syria. World Renew is also known for aiding with the systemic problems that affect the world’s poor. By focusing on things like AIDS, agriculture, literacy, health, the environment, sanitation and gender equality, the organization helps communities develop and thrive.

There are also unique programs where one can sponsor a refugee or “Free A Family,” where the charity works with a specific family with the help of a contributor’s donations and periodically gives the contributor updates on the family throughout the year. This program intends to provide a family with “nutritious food, clean water, improved health, and increased income.” Another interesting way World Renew helps is by providing materials for someone to throw his or her own “National Baby Shower,” an event where attendees can learn about child and maternal health.

World Renew also encourages individuals to create a campaign of their own by coming up with a “Passion Project.” In addition, there are 24 individual blogs on the World Renew website where volunteers focus posts updates on a specific country.

World Renew’s dedication to advocacy, disaster relief and community development has made change throughout the world. “Sometimes that change is as small as a baby chick, and sometimes it’s as big as community-wide peace-building and reconciliation between ethnic or religious groups,” says World Renew. Either way, its efforts have impacted the global poverty cause.

Melissa Binns

Sources: Give.org,  The Rapidian, World Renew

RESULTS_opt
RESULTS is a U.S.-based charity that advocates for the world’s poor. RESULTS uses advocacy to bring the world’s wealthiest governments together to do more to help end extreme poverty.

It relies heavily on volunteers and has partner organizations in four other countries—Canada, Australia, Japan and the U.K.

Thirty years ago, a teacher named Sam Daley-Harris, was inspired by a report from the National Academy of Sciences which stated that ending poverty was possible through strong political will. This led to the creation of RESULTS.

Each national organization has its own campaigns. Canada’s campaigns are nutrition, education, water and sanitation and microfinance. In the U.K., RESULTS is working on campaigns for basic education, child health and tuberculosis.

In the U.S., RESULTS has four main campaigns. The first is appropriation, which works to ensure that Congress continues to fund foreign assistance programs, specifically the ones that are the most effective.

The next campaign works to expand economic opportunities like increasing micro finance and “changing the policies of international financial institutions that hinder development.”

The final two campaigns are ensuring that all children have access to basic education and basic healthcare.

These campaigns are meant to educate communities and individuals as well as congress and the media on global poverty and hunger.

RESULTS U.S. has worked within Congress in support of important legislation like the Education for All Act as well as convincing congressmen to support crucial organizations like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

A clear definitive example of how RESULTS operates and achieves results is their written letter to the president in 2010. The letter was co-written with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and asked the president to pledge $6 billion from 2012-2014 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

An additional 101 members of congress signed the letter and the result was a $4 billion pledge which was a “38 percent increase over the preceding three-year period.”

There are many more examples of successes like this on their website—examples of how advocacy really made a difference.

Charity Navigator has only reviewed the U.S. based RESULTS organization. According to their website RESULTS has complete transparency and accountability with a 4 star rating and a score of 99 out of a 100.

It shows that 90 percent of their budget goes towards the programs they support. This is legitimate charity that anyone could feel confident donating too.

On the U.S. website they use a fitting quote that expresses how advocacy and education about poverty is the best way to end it.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus said during his acceptance speech, “I firmly believe that we can create a poverty-free world if we collectively believe in it. In a poverty-free world, the only place you would be able to see poverty is in the poverty museums.”

Eleni Marino

Sources: RESULTS UK, RESULTS Canada, RESULTS USA, Charity Navigator
Photo: Newsday

History of Advocacy
John Wilkes, a man from England born in the 18th century, is credited as the forefather of modern advocacy. Wilkes was critical of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years War and was imprisoned for libel shortly thereafter, although he was later acquitted. After Wilkes’ act of defiance, a pro-abolition movement arose in England, effectively ending slavery in England.

The beginning of the 19th century was relatively quiet, but in the middle of the century, a philosopher coined the term social movement. The term was only used to describe relatively smaller events at the time.

Around the turn of the century, advocacy began to make progress. The socialist movement and the labor movement were the most popular, and were soon to be the model of contemporary advocacy. Out of these movements, the communist and democratic parties were born.

Following World War I, there was a renewed push for activism. This period led to a new classification of groups—the new social movements. The post-industrial economy gave way to a large number of groups, including women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, the peace movement and the environmentalist movement. These movements stayed fairly static in terms of organization. More groups, such as the anti-nuclear movement, joined toward the middle of the century.

With the advent of the television, advocacy began to see incredible progression, which only foreshadowed the contemporary movement. The 1960s, in particular, were heavily influential, as civil rights took center stage.

The next step occurred around the 1990s. This period marked the era of global social activism, spurred on by the rise of the Internet. E-mail replaced postal mail and e-bulletin boards replaced traditional ones. The transition from analog to digital communication proved to be more effective in gathering support and more effective in increasing awareness. Groups that once couldn’t afford traditional publishing began to use the web as a platform for their activism.

Beyond Internet activism is the rise of social media and the role it plays in the history of advocacy. Popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter have begun to be utilized as platforms for advocacy. Sites like these allow people to connect and interact in ways that were previously impossible.

– Andrew Rywak

Sources: University of Michigan, Mashable, Academia.edu, The Borgen Project
Photo: GuardianLV