Social Responsibility definition
The concept of social responsibility has received increasing emphasis in business practice over recent years. It is a phrase commonly invoked, but just what is the definition of social responsibility?

At its core, being socially responsible means acknowledging accountability for the impact of one’s choices on the larger world. Businesses, in particular, are expected to make the welfare of society a priority when they make decisions, rather than focus exclusively on profit margins. This pertains not only to how companies spend money, but also to the ways in which they earn it.

Examples of socially responsible actions companies can take include:

  • Espousing fair labor practices
  • Incorporating ethical standards into contracts
  • Implementing environmentally sustainable practices
  • Matching employees’ donations to non-profit organizations

Definition of Social Responsibility

The definition of social responsibility, as the term is most commonly used, almost always pertains to business. Use of the phrase “corporate social responsibility” is so prevalent in recent years that it is frequently abbreviated to “CSR.” Even when social responsibility is mentioned on its own, a corporate element is often implied. According to a 2011 study by the MIT Sloan Management Review, sustainability has become a permanent component of 70 percent of business agendas. However, the concept of social responsibility need not be alienated from the individual.

The basic tenet of the idea is that those with the ability to affect change have an imperative to use it. For instance, in 2010, billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet solicited 40 of the wealthiest Americans for donations to the Giving Pledge campaign, accruing a total of approximately $125 billion. As of September 2013, the list of pledgers has grown to 114. While this is an application of social responsibility on a grand scale, the principle remains the same–individuals recognized their ability to contribute positively to society and seized the opportunity.

The average person may not be considered powerful in the way that Buffet and the Gates are, but every individual does have the power to contribute. Socially responsible actions that ordinary people can take include:

  • Volunteering
  • Supporting socially responsible companies through informed spending
  • Conserving energy by carpooling or turning off unnecessary houselights
  • Contacting their political leaders in favor of legislation they support

While these contributions may seem minor, they are integral. From the standpoint of social responsibility, every individual plays a role in global events and has an obligation to use whatever influence he or she has.

– Emma Burbage

Sources: The British Assessment Bureau, The Christian Science Monitor, The Giving pledge, Harvard
Kennedy School

Photo: Photobucket

For most, hunger is a nagging rumble in one’s stomach that signals lunch or dinnertime. However, for millions of people worldwide, the definition of hunger is a persistent state of physical and psychological harm caused by a lack of nutritional and economic resources.

Characteristics of Hunger

On a global scale, the simplest definition of hunger is a scarcity of food in a country. This occurs when the population of a country quite literally does not have enough to eat. In most developed countries, only a relatively small percentage of citizens suffer from hunger. However, in poorer developing countries this portion of the population can be as high as 73 percent. In fact, almost 98 percent of world hunger happens in underdeveloped countries.

On an individual scale, hunger occurs when a person consumes an insufficient amount of calories to sustain them, called malnourishment. When a person has an insufficient amount of the right kinds of foods to keep them healthy it is malnutrition. In most countries where hunger is a significant social and economic problem, both malnourishment and malnutrition are common. Poverty is the number one cause of hunger since it results in a lack of ability to buy food and pay for the expansion of agricultural programs.

Another definition of hunger involves the mental uncertainty of future access to food; in other words, not knowing where the next meal is coming from. The technical term for this phenomenon is food insecurity. Many organizations working to end hunger, such as, seek to achieve the goal of global food security. The World Food Summit defined this as when “all people at all times have access to sufficient safe and nutritious food for an active and healthy life.”

The costs of hunger are far-reaching and have long-term negative impacts on populations. Those who suffer from hunger are more susceptible to illnesses. Children who face malnutrition during their first two years of life experience lifelong consequences. If nutritional needs are not met during this key window of roughly 1,000 days between conception and age two, stunted growth and learning impairments develop.

Hunger Prevention Efforts

Fortunately, great strides have been made to end world hunger. The Millennium Development Goals program was successful in cutting malnourishment in 72 out of 129 countries by half. The current Global Goals for Sustainable Development campaign, which launched in 2016 and is comprised of 193 different world leaders, seeks to provide food security for the remaining estimated 795 million people still suffering from hunger by 2030.

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr

Global Poverty Definition
How does one define global poverty? The term is often used in news programs detailing hunger and disease in third-world countries, but what exactly does living in poverty mean?

Merriam-Webster defines poverty as, “The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” Based on this definition, the true definition of poverty actually varies from country to country, from city to city, and from town to town based on socially constructed benchmarks for wealth.

Statisticians in the United States and India describe living on less than $1.90 a day (which approximately 702 million people worldwide do) as “extreme poverty.”

Other statisticians prefer to also factor access to health care, education, clean water, and food when assessing global poverty rates. In particular, lack of access to clean water and food are seen as primary symptoms of poverty in developing countries.

Again, this lack of access is seen as a symptom of poverty in relation to the United States and other first-world countries, where access to freshwater and food is a comprehensive widespread system across the nation.


Current State of Global Poverty


Currently, 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to clean drinking water. The population of the United States was 319 million people in 2014, where a family of four has the ability to use up to 400 gallons of water each day.

Furthermore, around 27 percent of all children in developing countries are classified as underweight or stunted as a result of living in poverty. Being underweight and stunted growth is particularly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

Global poverty still proves to be difficult to quantify without comparing living standards between countries. However, it’s important to note that poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa can look vastly different from extreme poverty in the United States. Developed countries typically have more safety nets and welfare structures in place to assist their poor while developing countries continue to struggle to support large quantities of impoverished citizens. Thus, while it’s important to prioritize domestic poverty in the U.S., it’s equally important to prioritize the world’s poor who live in worse living conditions.

Bayley McComb

Photo: Flickr

What is Advocacy
What is advocacy? Merriam-Webster defines an advocate as someone who “argues for or supports a cause or policy.” Other definitions paint advocates as defenders, either of a cause or of a person. Lastly, an advocate can also be defined as a promoter of another’s interests.


What is Advocacy in Terms of Global Poverty?


With almost 10 percent of the world’s population living on less that $2 a day, ignoring the global poor is like ignoring someone who is injured and cannot get to their feet.

In the case of the global poor, an advocate is one who supports, defends and promotes the human rights of those suffering in extreme poverty. A person is an advocate when they support policies that aid struggling populations stricken with hunger, disease and a lack of access to education or sanitation.

Eradicating global poverty can seem like a daunting task. Who is equipped to change the world in such a way? Notice that the definition does not say an advocate is an implicit solution to the problem. On the contrary, an advocate is someone who works to find a solution and appeals to the powers that can make a difference.

Today, being an advocate for the global poor does not require immense effort. In fact, it is as easy as sending a few emails and making a few phone calls. By contacting our representatives in Congress and showing our support for foreign aid, we can act as intermediaries for the millions who do not have the means to do so themselves.

Advocacy is more powerful in groups. By spreading awareness of the global poor and demonstrating how easy it is to support their cause, we can multiply our impact. With enough people promoting the same interests, leaders will take notice. If we do not have the power to eradicate poverty on our own, the governments of the world certainly do.

The actions of advocates have had a profound effect. Since 2011, a projected 200 million people are no longer in extreme poverty. Nevertheless, there are still millions more that are crying for help with the hope that someone will take notice and champion their cause.

Emiliano Perez

Photo: Flickr

rural poverty and urban poverty rural poor definition
Poverty is not made up of a cut-and-dry set of circumstances. Rural poverty and urban poverty differ on many levels, with distinctive, environment-based issues that characterize quality of life.

There are similarities, of course, that span both rural and urban poverty. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) states that poverty usually entails deprivation, vulnerability and powerlessness. However, these issues are sometimes inflicted on certain individuals or groups more than others. For example, women and children are more likely to experience poverty more intensely than men and minorities tend to suffer more greatly than other groups.

The IMF reports that 63 percent of the world’s impoverished live in rural areas. Education, health care and sanitation are all lacking in rural environments. This causes many of the rural poor to move to cities, which often leads to a rise in urban poverty.


Compare and Contrast: Rural Poverty and Urban Poverty


The rural poor are divided into further subsets based on profession: typically, cultivators who own land and noncultivators who do not. Cultivators are slightly better off, as they are able to make some money operating farms and charging tenants for using their land. Noncultivators, however, are extremely poor, working as seasonal laborers on farms. Their pay is both low and erratic, as it is based on the schedules of farm owners and the other few employers available. The rural poor often suffer more than the urban poor because public services and charities are not available to them.

Several factors tend to perpetuate rural poverty. For example, political instability and corruption, customs of discrimination, unregulated landlord/tenant arrangements and outdated economic policies often make it impossible for the rural poor to rise above poverty lines.

While generally considered less severe, urban poverty provides the poor with a host of separate issues. The World Bank found that urban populations in developing countries are growing rapidly, at a rate of 70 million new city-dwellers per year. Former residents of rural areas are typically drawn to the city for the perceived wealth of economic opportunities, but often, those dreams fall short.

Compared to rural villages, there are indeed more job opportunities in urban areas. However, many migrants lack the skillset to take on many jobs, and positions for unskilled laborers fill up quickly. This shortage of jobs leaves new residents without a steady income, which creates a series of new problems in the city.

Without an income, the urban poor often find themselves in inadequate housing with poor safety and sanitation. Additionally, health and education packages are limited. Crime and violence are also much more rampant in urban settings than in rural ones, threatening the authority of law enforcement and the peace of mind of city dwellers.

Health is quite variable throughout rural and urban settings. While the rural poor lack access to urban health care programs, they sometimes benefit from the distance between the country and the city. In the close quarters that characterize city living, it is easy for disease to spread.

Additionally, communal resources in cities can actually lead to health problems. According to The Guardian, families usually have their own personal latrine, so if a health problem starts among the family, the latrine can be closed off and the health risk minimized. However, in cities where many people on a daily basis use public restrooms, disease can spread rapidly and tracking down the source can be nearly impossible.

Though rural poverty is currently higher than urban poverty, research shows that soon, urban areas will become home to the majority of impoverished people. The perception of greater opportunity leads the rural poor away from the countryside and into the cities, where they often end up in even further poverty. An overhaul of urban development programs is necessary to combat the issues with sanitation, safety and hunger that propagate urban poverty.

Bridget Tobin

Sources: World Bank, The Guardian, International Monetary Fund
Photo: Brommel

A nonprofit organization is an organization that, pursuant to Section 501(c) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, does not retain its surplus revenue as profit. Instead, any surplus money is used to sustain the organization in its execution of a specific goal or set of goals, as designated by its bylaws and charter. In contrast to for-profit organizations, NPOs are largely project-driven ventures as opposed to product-driven ventures.

Before applying to be a 501(c) organization, a board of trustees must be assembled. The board will be committed to governing the execution of the organization’s goals. Once assembled, the board is responsible for drafting a clear and precise set of bylaws outlining the organization’s goals and the ways in which those goals will be pursued.

The bylaws must be recorded and, along with some necessary accounting paperwork (which varies according to different concessions granted by Section 501(c)), submitted to the IRS and the department of the secretary of state where the organization plans to operate in.

Once this paperwork is filed with the state, it may take up to a year for an organization to get approved as a 501(c). Most NPOs use this interim to prepare for launch immediately upon receipt of approval. Much of this time is spent identifying and communicating with potential donors, writing grants and taking other measures to secure funds for when the organization is approved.

Following state approval, a 501(c) organization must adhere to the bylaws it established in order to maintain its tax-exempt status. Its operation is limited by the bylaws it imposed on itself, and its tax-exempt status is contingent upon adherence to those bylaws. If an organization is not working effectively to accomplish its outlined mission, its tax-exemption will be revoked.

Under 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, an NPO may receive one of 29 different designations according to its mission. These designations determine what kind of tax exemptions the NPO will receive, as well as the kind of economic activity it is permitted to engage in. These designations are determined by an organization’s goals, the parties it engages with economically, and the recipients of any aid the organization is providing.

Most NPOs involved in the fight against poverty are designated as 501(c)(3)s. By law, a 501(c)(3) falls under one of the following categories: religious, scientific, charitable, educational, literary, public safety, the fostering of international or national amateur sports or the prevention of cruelty to children and animals. Organizations that actively fight against poverty can fall under any number of these categories. As well as tax-exemption, 501(c)(3)s receive reduced postage rates, and are permitted to generate receipts to provide donors with tax write-offs. They are, however, prohibited from participating in any political campaigns.

For an  NPO engaged in the campaign against poverty, transparency is of utmost importance. Strict adherence to bylaws and charter are necessary. If the secretary of state perceives that an organization is straying from its mission, its tax-exempt status will be lost. This renders the organization far less effective in the abolition of poverty. Not only does this cost an organization financially, it costs the world’s poor.

– Matt Berg

Sources: 501c3, Cornell Law, IRS, IRS
Photo: GuideStar,

definition of foundation
Nonprofits, charities, and foundations are often lumped into the general definition of “charity” when it comes to global poverty. That is to say, these three terms are used interchangeably in reference to altruistic organizations across the globe. Yet charities and foundations can be quite different from one another.

Nonprofits, or non-profit organizations, are organizations that operate on a not-for-profit business model. That is to say, nonprofits use whatever profit they may earn to reinvest in pursuit of the organization’s unique charitable interests. Within the category of nonprofits, however, charities and foundation take on very different challenges. We can most easily see the difference by studying these organizations side-by-side.

Whereas charities, such as homeless shelters, often bleed money and are constantly searching for new or continued sources of income to support their projects and programs, foundations are the organizations that supply those funds. In short, charities are nonprofits that either reinvest the profits they make or rely on outside sources of funding. Foundations, on the other hand, are the grantmakers that make such funding happen.

Foundations can be divided into two or three subcategories: private foundations, public charities, and private operating foundations. Private foundations and public charities make up the majority of foundations, while private operating foundations represent the remaining minority.

Private foundations are funded by individuals or families, often operated by the donor or family members of the donor themselves. Public charities, accounting for more than half of all 501(c)(3) organizations, derive their support from diverse sources, including individuals, corporations, other foundations, and even government agencies. Both kinds of foundations, however, as well the lesser-known private operating foundation, work to provide grants for unrelated charitable purposes, which is what very clearly distinguishes a foundation from a charity or the more general definition of non-profit organization.

– Herman Watson

Sources: Grant Space, Minnesota Council on Foundations, How Stuff Works
Photo: Henry Lim

what is global poverty?
What is global poverty? That thing called poverty – how exactly is it defined? What does it mean to lead an impoverished life? Poverty is much more than just statistics about economies, hunger, and homelessness. Poverty is a state of life, affecting all of humanity.

Poverty is most commonly defined by economic standards, based on income levels and access to basic human necessities, such as food, water, and shelter. Poverty is often described with a scale, ranging from extreme to moderate levels. The internationally agreed-upon measurement of extreme poverty currently lies at $1.25 a day, with the next lowest measure of poverty standing at $2 per day. The geographic breakdown of regions with the highest levels of poverty ranging from worst to best include: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Pacific East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, North Africa and the Middle East, and Europe and Central Asia.


Assessing the Impact: What is Global Poverty?


Poverty has many ties to physical health as well, as the world’s poorest countries consistently demonstrate the lowest life expectancies. The majority of these health problems can be traced back to unsafe drinking water and malnutrition, which causes an estimated 8 million people to die every year in addition to 30,000 children’s deaths per day.

Another problem with poverty is the acts of desperation it drives people to. When humans are deprived of basic life necessities, they are forced to take desperate measures in an effort to change their bleak future. Historically, poverty has proven to be the cause of much violence and conflict and continues to be so today. In many situations human trafficking, the use of child soldiers, and prostitution can all be linked to poverty.

In what is perhaps a testament to the subjective definition of poverty, there are mixed results in reducing poverty levels today. According to data from The Economist, nearly one billion people have been lifted out of chronic poverty over the last two decades. While this initially sounds very positive, one must also consider the huge levels of wealth disparity that have shot up in this same time period, as the poorest 20 percent of the world’s population uses a mere 1.3 percent of global resources in contrast to the richest 20% consuming an approximated 86 percent of the world’s resources.

Poverty can be a controversial subject in modern society, as individuals have different understandings of what it means to be poor and what appropriate solutions to poverty should look like. Skeptics criticize the economic definition of poverty because it fails to factor in quality of life. Rather than focusing on pure economic data, most agree that the definition of poverty must also include political and cultural factors and access to opportunities, education, and healthcare. If there’s one thing that can be agreed on, it would be that poverty is a real problem affecting millions of people around the world today, and poverty is a complex issue with multiple layers.

Allison Meade

Sources: United Nations, World Health Organization, Global Issues, World Bank, ASCD

In the vaguest sense of the word, Merriam-Webster will tell you that general poverty is “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” This is just about as much as anyone with a context clue for the word poverty could define it as. But what is it really? What does it mean to live in poverty? There are different types and levels, in a sense, of poverty. Each country tends to have different cut off points that determine whether they are truly impoverished or not. But it is generally accepted that those living in such a way that it is difficult to make ends meet, are impoverished. So what are the different levels?

There are several million people living at or nearby the poverty line just in the United States, but even our poverty line is higher than that of the world’s poorest countries. A person living alone and unmarried is allotted just over $11,000 or less to meet the poverty requirements set by the government. And while survival in our country would be absolutely difficult on this meager income, many people are living on even less. In fact, there are 2.4 billion people living at the poverty line of $2 a day, this comes to less than $3,000 income in an entire year. That is two dollars every day to feed themselves and their families. All that money to have a place to live and water to drink and clothes to wear. Defining poverty means looking at the fact that people are going without the full education or access to good jobs that they so desperately need to pull themselves out of this way of life. People living this way often have to choose one necessity over another in order to make sure that at least some of the needs are met and taking any government assistance when possible, like food stamps and welfare. And it gets even worse than that.

What about extreme poverty? This is recognized as living on less that $1.25 a day as defined by the World bank in 2008 and there are over 1 billion people living in this state. This level is decided by a lack of clean water, housing, food, health care and education. Some of the countries most beset by this issue include Africa, Afghanistan, and Haiti. Most things that other people take for granted, those living in extreme poverty must go without. People living in extreme poverty suffer much higher rates of infant and maternal mortality. 22,000 children around the world die every day in the poorest countries due to unchecked illness and succumbing to malnourishment. In fact 1 billion out of 2.2 billion children in the world are living in poverty conditions such as these. At this point every aspect of survival becomes a struggle. It is not simply a matter of going without health care to ensure that there is enough food in the house. It is instead going without reasonable amounts of anything at all and living a day by day existence.

What about social poverty, or social exclusion? Poverty is not only defined in a monetary fashion. Income poverty is the most commonly looked at, but there is such a thing as social poverty. This is defined as lacking cultural inclusion due to the inability to conform to society’s ideal norms due to a lack of education, skills, money, health care, child care, and a certain type of living condition. This multidimensional measurement of poverty brings all these into consideration to define itself as the inability to participate in the community socially whether on that national, local, or even familial level. While it is much more difficult to measure than what is called absolute poverty, it is still considered to be an important aspect of poverty by many in the world. It is thought that a quality of life should also be applied to standards of living.

All in all, while poverty is defined much in the same way that any word is, it is a constantly adjusting thing as it is an active part of life itself. It fluctuates regularly and changes to meet the times. Hopefully, with the right amount of work and education, it will also become a part of our past as opposed an all too realistic part of our present.

– Chelsea Evans

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Families USA, Global Issues, UNESCO, One Day’s Wages
Photo: Photo Brazil