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The for-profit arm ME to WE, an innovative social enterprise, partially funds Free the Children, a well-known international charity re-branded as WE last year. With WE, ME to WE works to end global poverty in a variety of ways.

Brothers Marc and Craig Kielburger started WE more than a decade ago, when Craig was only 12 years old. Their goal was to give people with fewer opportunities and resources the chance to better their lives. That goal is still carried out in the daily workings of the corporation, which donates half of its net profits to WE while reinvesting the other half to grow the enterprise.

WE focuses on five pillars that are important to the advancement of underdeveloped communities: education, water, health, food and opportunity.

In cooperation with the WE Charity, ME to WE works to end global poverty in these three main ways:

1. Volunteering

ME to WE offers volunteer trips to a variety of countries where communities exist in dire need of assistance. They currently serve Kenya, India, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Sierra Leone and rural China.

The WE Charity offers “holistic, sustainable development work” for the volunteers to participate in to help the community.

ME to WE recognizes the importance of volunteer work and how far a single act of kindness can stretch. Its trip website says that after participating in the volunteer trip, “you will take home these lessons, along with an action plan to make a difference.”

Those who volunteer may build houses, install wells or plant community gardens, making a lasting impact on those in need. These projects are designed to help communities develop into sustainable societies.

2. Selling merchandise

Along with offering trips, ME to WE works to end global poverty by selling merchandise that directly benefits poverty-stricken communities.

On the ME to WE Shop web page, there is a description of how a purchase affects a community: “All ME to WE products carry the Track Your Impact promise and create sustainable change around the world in WE villages and here at home through WE school programs.”

Pacsun, a California-based retail clothing brand geared for young people, gives back by selling ME to WE merchandise in stores and online. The brand proudly announced that with any purchase of a ME to WE item, “essential resources are delivered that work to break the cycle of poverty and create real, lasting change.”

3. Educating and giving opportunities

One of the most impactful ways ME to WE works to end global poverty is by empowering communities through problem solving. The WE Charity and ME to WE Foundation “carry the power of WE globally, empowering communities to lift themselves out of poverty.”

In rural Nicaragua, for instance, a group of unemployed and impoverished women struggled to put food on the table. WE stepped in and helped the community build a school and a well. ME and WE, in the meantime, gave the women options for income-earning. The women eventually chose to learn the craft of bracelet-making. ME to WE pays them for the dedication and passion involved in making jewelry, then sells the bracelets in Europe and North America.

For years now, ME to We helps women reward themselves and feed their families. Instead of charity, these passionate females received encouragement and sustainable skills that help them care for themselves and their families. This is just a couple of the many ways ME to WE and its nonprofit arm WE empower communities to support themselves.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr


Several of the 10 richest countries in the world are also leaders in foreign aid and charitable donations to organizations that fight poverty both at home and abroad.

According to Global Finance Magazine, which utilized data provided by the International Monetary Fund, the 10 richest countries in the world by GDP per capita are Qatar, Luxembourg, Macao, Singapore, Brunei, Kuwait, Ireland, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and San Marino.

Kuwait
Number five on the list with a per capita GDP of $71,263, Kuwait has a history of offering humanitarian aid to developing countries, particularly in the Arab world. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has provided a total of $18.5 billion in loans to 104 countries in support for education, health services and agricultural development since the fund’s establishment in 1961. Part of the fund is also put aside to assist Kuwait’s citizens in finding housing.

Kuwait is also known for providing humanitarian relief in the wake of natural disasters and violent conflict. The country recently provided $500 million to Yemen and pledged another $500 million to Syria. In 2015, Kuwait’s contribution to foreign aid was 2.1 percent of its GDP, more than twice the U.N. Official Development Assistance target.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Ranked ninth on the list with a per capita GDP of $67,696, in 2013 the UAE was recognized as the top humanitarian donor of the year, having contributed nearly six billion dollars in aid to over 140 countries to provide food, shelter and education to vulnerable populations, particularly in countries such as Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories. Dubai, the UAE’s largest city, is also the location of the International Humanitarian City, which houses more than 50 commercial companies and nongovernmental organizations instrumental in the delivery of aid to areas of the world in need.

Ireland
Ireland is the seventh richest country in the world and has a GDP of $69,374. In 2013, 49 of the top Irish companies donated over 24 million euro to local groups and organizations that focus on issues such as homelessness, education and disability services. The country increased its foreign aid budget, offering 640 million euro for developmental assistance in 2016, a seven percent increase from the previous year. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan defined the fight against poverty and hunger worldwide as being “at the core of Irish foreign policy.”

Norway
Just behind Ireland with a GDP of $69,296, Norway allocates large amounts of aid money toward global education and health. It spent the third-highest percentage of gross national income on foreign aid in 2016 out of all the countries in the U.N., placing it just behind the UAE. Norway has recently proposed to double its support for renewable energy and is working with Kenya through the Oil for Development program to help Kenya protect its natural resources while gaining a foothold in the petroleum sector.

These nations, four of the 10 richest countries in the world, give back for a variety of reasons. The UAE claims that the humanitarian element is the single deciding factor in its policy on foreign aid, citing an Islamic belief that it is an obligation to help the less fortunate. Others see foreign aid as a means to strengthen its own political, diplomatic and economic positions. According to Dr. Hessah Al-Ojayan, assistant professor of finance at Kuwait University, Kuwait uses foreign aid to achieve “smaller ‘wins’ in the day-to-day global political arena.” Similarly, Norway’s partnership with Kenya, which the government has called “an engine of economic growth in Africa” and “increasingly important for Norwegian interests,” has the potential to be mutually beneficial.

Several of the 10 richest countries in the world have also made it to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index top 20. The rankings are determined by three criteria: the percentage of people surveyed from that country who say that they have helped a stranger, donated money or volunteered time. These statistics show that not only the governments of these countries, but also the citizens themselves, are generous to the less fortunate. Ireland ranks ninth on the list, followed by the UAE at 10th, Norway at 14th and Kuwait at 19th.

Emilia Otte

Photo: Flickr


At the end of May 2017, 14 of the richest people in the world joined a coalition of like-minded individuals in the Giving Pledge, an organization dedicated to providing a large portion of their fortunes to philanthropic endeavors.
The Giving Pledge was created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010. It strives to offer encouragement to the world’s wealthiest to provide aid to causes that address the greatest issues society faces today.

With the addition of these 14 individuals, the Giving Pledge now has 168 signatories spanning 21 different countries who have committed their wealth. They are committed to being a multinational and multigenerational organization (with members ranging in age from 31 to 93) that spans both distance and time in order to promote philanthropic goals.

This new group of initiates joins the Giving Pledge from diverse regions around the globe including Tanzania, Cyprus, Australia, Slovenia, China and the United States. Though these individuals come from all corners of the world, their ultimate drive of providing aid to those in need gives them a common goal.

“Philanthropy is different around the world, but almost every culture has a long-standing tradition of giving back,” Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said.

The 14 new individuals that have dedicated themselves to the Giving Pledge are:

  • Leonard H. Ainsworth – Australia
  • Mohammed Dewji – Tanzania
  • Dagmar Dolby – United States
  • DONG Fangjun – People’s Republic of China
  • Anne Grete Eidsvig and Kjell Inge Rokke – Norway
  • Sir Stelios Haji-Loanno – Monaco, Cyprus
  • Nick and Leslie Hanauer – United States
  • Iza and Samo Login – Slovenia
  • Dean and Marianne Metopoulos – United States
  • Terry and Susan Ragon – United States
  • Nat Simmons and Laura Baxter-Simons – United States
  • Robert Fredrick Smith – United States
  • Harry H. Stine – United States
  • You Zhonghui – People’s Republic of China

“Bill and Warren and I are excited to welcome the new, very international group of philanthropists joining the Giving Pledge, and look forward to learning from their diverse experiences,” Melinda Gates said.

These new members will join other notable individuals, including Michael R. Bloomberg (founder and CEO of Bloomberg LC), Richard Branson (Virgin and its subsidiaries) and George Lucas (director and creator of Star Wars), in their philanthropic endeavors.

Signatories of the Giving Pledge meet throughout the year to discuss philanthropic strategies, successes and failures. The group does not require members to participate in any particular cause.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr

The Global Hunger Relief Run
In the world of fundraising, activities such as running and walking have been a staple and are an easy way to get a crowd of supporters to participate. Great examples include The Walk To End Breast Cancer and The Walk To End Alzheimer’s. On June 14 in Phoenix, AZ, there wasn’t a walk, but rather a run. The Global Hunger Relief Run is an annual 5K run through downtown Phoenix. Participants meet at the Phoenix Convention Center at 6 a.m. and are bussed to Steel Indian School Park where the race begins.

Registration for the race starts at $25 and all proceeds raised from registration fees will go to feed the more than one billion people without adequate food supply around the world. One hundred percent of the registration fees will be donated to The Global Hunger Relief (GHR), and supporters are encouraged to make additional donations as well.

The Global Hunger Relief Run is arranged by a coalition of Southern Baptist organizations that include the Woman’s Missionary Union, Guidestone Financial Resources and LifeWay Christian Resources. According to their official website, projects such as the Global Hunger Relief Run combat hunger around the world by participating in disaster relief, addressing chronic hunger and working to eliminate urban food deserts.

The sponsors also provide business services, working in the fields of national and international development and medical and evangelical activities.

The registration website states that 80 percent of funds are used internationally through the work of the International Mission Board and Baptist Global Response. According to the Baptist Press News, The North American Mission Board (NAMB) distributes the other 20 percent with the supervisory help of the Baptist state conventions.

Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, stated: “Our partners have put together a first-class event for those who run and for those who simply want to have fun and support the lifesaving work of Global Hunger Relief while we’re together in Phoenix.”

In 2015 alone, more than six million meals were provided through projects supported by the GHR. The 2017 Global Hunger Relief Run hopes to raise even more. To support the visibility of this event, use the hashtag #GHR5K.

Vicente Vera

Photo: Flickr


Richie Sambora is not just known as the guitarist of the band Bon Jovi from 1983 to 2013, but he is also known for his humanitarian work, now including being the co-founder of Csnaps, the new humanitarian app that allows celebrities to take pictures with fans and raise money for a charity of the celebrity’s choice.

“Fans are always going to ask their favorite celebrities to take pictures with them,” Sambora said in an interview with People Music. “By using Csnaps, you get a picture with your favorite star and money goes to help good causes and those in need, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Charities must register with Csnaps.org to be eligible for donation. Among the registered charities are The Humane Society, PETA, Smile Train, and the ALS Association.

The app also benefits publicists and celebrities, who can break news about their clients on Csnaps and have the media purchase it. Not only does this raise money for a charity their clients care about, but it allows the publicist to control what is said about their client, and the client gets new followers and good publicity.

So how does it work? A fan approaches a celebrity and asks for a selfie. Using the catchphrase, “Csnaps only please,” the celebrity will take a selfie with the fan through the app, and for a minimum of three dollars, 80 percent of which goes to a charity of the celebrity’s choice, the fan has their picture and a sense of contentment knowing that they have helped save a life, or make someone’s life better.

Csnaps is available on iTunes now, but no plans have been announced for it to be on any other platforms. Hopefully after witnessing Csnaps’ impact, other charities and platforms will join in on the goodwill.

Kelsey Alexis Jackson

Photo: Flickr


Thanks to multilateral partnerships between nonprofit organizations, intergovernmental organizations and governments around the world, extreme poverty has gone down by 50 percent since 1990. Here is a list of influential organizations that are working to better the lives of the world’s poor. This list is not exhaustive, and is merely a sample of some of the exemplary organizations doing work in problem areas such as global health, water, sanitation, food, housing and education.

Oxfam

Oxfam is currently fighting poverty in developing countries by taking on issues of inequality, discrimination and unequal access to resources. It provides assistance during humanitarian crises. Also, it is very involved in educating the world’s poor about human rights and civic engagement to change the root causes of poverty at the political level.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Founded on the belief that all people should have a chance to live with dignity, opportunity and safety. The UNDP helps countries develop policies that lead to sustainable development, democratic governance, peace building, climate and disaster resilience. The UNDP is a giant agency that delegates country-specific activities and programs through its Resident Coordinator System (RCS) that has offices in 130 countries. The organization’s highest goal is to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries of operation.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF fights for children’s rights and welfare by strengthening legislation and social services. Initiatives include early childhood development, nutrition, immunization, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), children with disabilities and education.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)

UNOCHA is responsible for coordinating humanitarian relief efforts during natural disasters and conflict. In addition, UNOCHA raises awareness and encourages involvement among U.N. member states of humanitarian crises.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (U.N. DESA)

The U.N. DESA creates and analyzes data pertaining to the economic and social aspects of sustainable development. U.N. member states draw from these when creating U.N. resolutions as well as drafting local policy plans in their home countries. The U.N. DESA’s in-depth policy analysis has helped to resolve many of the world’s most pressing socioeconomic issues.

The Borgen Project

The Borgen Project is an influential U.S. nonprofit fighting poverty in developing countries through civic engagement and education. The organization believes that developed countries have a moral obligation to help the world’s poor. The organization advocates on Capitol Hill for poverty reduction legislation, increasing the international affairs budget and making poverty reduction a primary focus of U.S. foreign policy.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

USAID facilitates development abroad by allocating the U.S. international aid budget towards projects that increase agricultural productivity, lower child mortality rates and deadly diseases, provide humanitarian assistance during natural disasters and prolonged conflict and promote democracy, economic growth, environmental resilience and women’s empowerment.

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

ODI is an independent think tank that researches a myriad of topics from climate and energy to poverty and inequality. The Institute’s goal is to facilitate international development by providing policy advice, consultancy services and training programs to fight poverty.

Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide is a phenomenal non-government organization that is fighting poverty in developing countries by providing lifesaving humanitarian aid. This aid is primarily focused on elevating world hunger, increasing world health and responding to emergencies and natural disasters.

The Hunger Project

The Hunger Project recognizes that poverty is sexist. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population are female and 60 percent of HIV/AIDS cases today affect women. The Hunger Project believes that empowering women is essential to ending world hunger and poverty. It fights for clean drinking water, nutrition and sanitation as well as economic growth.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)

The BMGF has been instrumental in saving the lives of 122 million children since 1990 largely through its efforts to increase access to health care and vaccinations, which have all but eradicated polio and halved rates of malaria and tuberculosis around the world.

World Bank Group

The World Bank Group funds development projects around the world through traditional loans, interest-free credits and grants. The World Bank Group also produces some of the world’s leading research and publications concerning development policies and programs. It offers policy advice, analysis and technical assistance to developing countries throughout the project application process as well.

The Earth Institute

The Earth Institute, directed by Jeffrey Sachs, is part of New York University. The institute is comprised of two dozen research facilities in the fields of Earth and climate science, public health, economics, law, business and public policy all focused on the future sustainability of our planet. It applies its research to developing policies and solutions to the world’s problems, especially sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty.

Red Cross

The Red Cross in an international NGO that provides urgent assistance to those affected by disaster through vaccination campaigns, disaster preparedness, reconnecting families separated by conflict and natural disasters.

Engineers Without Borders (EWB)

EWB is fighting poverty in developing countries by providing real-world engineering solutions to tough problems all over the world. Whether that be through increasing access to clean drinking water in rural communities or building roads and dams, EWB is committed to community-driven development by working alongside community members throughout the project.

There are thousands of other organizations that are also working to do their part on local to international scales. They are all working to end poverty and increase standards of living in developing countries.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr


Pip’s Original Doughnuts and Chai is a quaint doughnut shop situated in the heart of Portland, Oregon. Last year it received media attention because of its Freedom to Give initiative. This initiative provides employees with an extra $30 in their paycheck. Employees are to use this extra cash to give to those in need as a form of charitable giving. Pip Employees may give their $30 to whoever and whatever they desire.

This story has inspired Pip’s employees and the surrounding community. Pip’s is the quintessential mom and pop shop, but giving back is not limited to small business.

Goldman Sachs, one of the largest investment banks in the world, has been striving to increase its charitable giving, particularly after the 2008 financial crisis. The Goldman Sachs Foundation has initiated the 10,000 Women and the 10,000 Small Businesses campaigns. The 10,000 Women campaign focuses on training women around the world in management and business. The 10,000 Small Businesses campaign serves to provide business assistance to small businesses around the world for up to five years.

The desire for small businesses to help the needy and commitment of big businesses to do so as well is similar to state involvement in fighting poverty. The reality is that small states tend to spend much on foreign aid, whereas big states could afford to spend more on fighting global poverty.

According to the World Economic Forum, a nonprofit foundation based in Geneva, the U.S. spends the most on foreign aid. Germany and the United Kingdom come second and third. However, when considering the percentage of a state’s gross national income, the U.S. does not even rank among the top ten. Sweden ranks first, the United Arab Emirates ranks second, and Norway ranks third.

This phenomenon demonstrates that big states have the capacity to give more than they currently do, just as a big business can afford to expand its charitable giving.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Flickr

Volunteering_health
A study from December 2016 indicated that the secret to humanity’s desire to live longer may not exist in pills, surgical treatments, lotions, fad diets or exhausting workouts. The research, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, indicates that simply helping others increases the probability of living longer. Although the study focuses on grandparents who give occasional care to children or grandchildren, it also discusses the health benefits gained by childless couples who provide support to other people.

The researchers state that the neural and hormonal system that is triggered during caregiving can positively impact health and reduce the mortality of the helper. They indicate that these benefits occur when applied to both relatives and non-relatives.

Good Vibes from Volunteering

This study’s findings are not unique. A 2013 review of 40 similar studies indicated that volunteering can reduce early mortality rates by a surprising 22 percent. Published in BMC Public Health, the review also indicated that when people volunteer, they feel good. This can reduce depression and increase contentment.

In a statement, lead author Dr. Suzanne Richards states, “Our systematic review shows that volunteering is associated with improvements in health.”

We Can Do Better

However, the review indicates that our global community has room for improvement. Only 27 percent of Americans and 22 percent of Europeans volunteer their time. Australia is slightly more altruistic, with 36 percent of Australians performing community service.

Having a busy schedule doesn’t necessarily exclude someone from the benefits of community service, since it doesn’t take a major time commitment to reap the rewards. According to the review, just an hour of volunteer work per month is enough for participants to absorb those positive emotions and potentially live longer.

It’s likely that many people are capable of finding a way to spare an hour a month to support the causes important to them. Health and longevity may just depend on it.

Gisele Dunn

Photo: Flickr


Many people falsely believe that increasing healthcare in the least Developed Countries (LDCs) will exacerbate the global population growth problem. In reality, the exact opposite is true.

Statistics show that as healthcare increases around the world, families have fewer children, driving down infant mortality rates as well as population growth. On average, birth rates in More Developed Countries (MDCs) are 1.7 children per family, while in LDCs birth rates average to 4.3 children per family. In LDCs families are having more children to compensate for high infant mortality rates. Parents plan to have around 5 children as an insurance policy, to offset the children that are lost. The World Health Organization, with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), has been working to reshape this ideology since 1990. By increasing planned parenthood facilities, healthcare infrastructure, and vaccinations, families are able to have fewer, healthier children. In Lesser Developed Countries birthrates dropped to 2.6 children per family. Roughly 122 million children’s lives have been saved since 1990.

BMGF has found that the best management practice for raising global health is vaccination. Vaccination rates have gone from under 10 percent in 1980 to 80 percent in 2015 in LDCs, saving countless lives from preventable diseases. This has been possible through the creation of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Gavi is an international non-government organization that serves as the middleman between pharmaceutical companies and governments willing to fund vaccination programs. According to Bill Gates, “Since 2000, Gavi has helped immunize 580 million children around the world. The US is a major donor to Gavi — with bipartisan support — along with the U.K., Norway, Germany, France and Canada. It’s one of the great things the rich world does for the rest of the world.”

While vaccinations are a great first step towards ending poverty, they have their limits. Malnutrition is another key barrier as it is linked to 45 percent of all child deaths. Children missing key nutrients experience both cognitive and physical growth stunting. This is a much harder problem in terms of economic efficacy. It costs one dollar to administer the pentavalent vaccine, which protects against five deadly infections.

Nutrition, on the other hand, is a much more costly and nuanced problem that will require considerable economic growth within the affected countries to truly fix. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation philanthropic work has been indispensable to halving global extreme poverty since 1990.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

kidsOne of the biggest problems for kids globally is malnourishment, and one of the biggest problems for kids in the United States is physical inactivity. UNICEF has a program to help resolve both of these problems.

UNICEF has partnered with Star Wars: Force for Change and Target to create the Kid Power Band, a device that allows kids to track their steps and donate food to children in developing countries.

Kids do this by going on video missions through an app to learn about different countries and meet walking goals. When kids meet their goals, they earn points toward earning food packets for malnourished children. Missions are led by celebrities such as singer Pink and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan. So far, the program has unlocked more than five million food packets.

The Kid Power Band can be bought at Target or through the UNICEF website. Also, teachers can buy classroom sets on the UNICEF website. The program promotes global awareness and fitness for students.

UNICEF has even created a Kid Power Workplace version for adults. In this program, a company commits to staying physically active for 30 days and can earn Kid Power Points for malnourished children. In addition, participation in the workplace program helps fund the school program for disadvantaged students.

Star Wars: Force for Change is the philanthropy arm of the Star Wars franchise. The organization is supporting the Kid Power Band Program through limited edition Star Wars Kids Power Bands and a special Star Wars: Force for Change Kid Power mission. In addition, Star Wars: Force for Change launched a fundraising campaign through Humble Bundle, a charitable retail website for video games.

By taking stances against sedentary lifestyles and malnutrition, the Kid Power Band program is a win-win for kids in the United States and abroad.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr