Chan_Zuckerberg_InitiativeMark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, isn’t a stranger to making large donations. He and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have already donated $1.6 billion to philanthropic causes.

But on Tuesday, Zuckerberg and Chan announced plans for something far greater.

In a Facebook post, the couple disclosed first the birth of their daughter Maxima, and then, more notably, a new project: the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The new philanthropy is Zuckerberg’s pledge to donate 99 percent of his Facebook shares towards charitable donations over the course of his lifetime. It’s a stake that is currently valued at $45 billion.

According to Reuters, Zuckerberg said he intends to invest up to $1 billion of his shares each year over the next three years into the Initiative.

“Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities,” wrote the couple. To date, however, they have not outlined specific organizations or causes they will fund.

Their drive in creating this Initiative came from the impending arrival of their new daughter. In a video, Zuckerberg stated, “Having this child has made us think about all of the things that should be improved in the world for her whole generation. The only way that we reach our full human potential is if we’re able to unlock the gifts of every person around the world.”

Overshadowing their intentions is the unique structure of the Initiative. Zuckerberg and Chan elected to create the Initiative as a limited liability company. That means, unlike a traditional charitable or philanthropic foundation, the Initiative can make political donations, lobby lawmakers, invest in businesses and recoup any profits from those investments.

According to Leslie Lenkowsky, professor of public affairs and philanthropy at Indiana University, “They are instead trying to achieve philanthropic purposes using a business model.”

Despite all this, Bill Gates, the wealthiest person in the world (with an estimated net worth of $85.2 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index) and his wife congratulated Zuckerberg and Chan.

“The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world,” they said. “We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, ‘Seeds planted now will grow.’ Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come.”

Past donations made by Zuckerberg and Chan include a 2010 donation of $100 million for the improvement of Newark public schools, which met with some controversy. More recent donations include $20 million to EducationSuperHighway, which helps connect classrooms to the Internet, and a new acute care and trauma center at San Francisco General Hospital, where Chan works as a pediatrician.

Kara Buckley

Sources: BBC News, NY Times, Reuters 1, Reuters 2
Photo: Google Images

what-is-a-true-heroBelieve it or not, reducing global poverty can take less than 20 minutes. Any individual can learn how to fight global poverty by contacting his or her congressional leaders to change the way that foreign policy is currently addressed.

Each state contains two senators and a population-based number of representatives. Simply check out websites such as Congress Merge or The Borgen Project to find the names of congressional leaders in each district.

The first and easiest way to reach your congressional leaders is by phone and email. Senators and Representatives act as the congressional voice of the people in their districts, which means their actions reflect the desires of the citizens.

Calling and emailing congressional leaders about specific issues helps them to better serve the public. Offices record each call or email regarding issues, and then pass the data on to the congressional leader.

Weekly calls and emails significantly increase a bill’s chances of gaining congressional support. A call takes about 30 seconds and an email takes just a few minutes.

You may also wish to take your advocacy a step further by meeting with your congressional leaders in person. Meeting face-to-face with a member of Congress can be intimidating. Not surprisingly, congressional leaders have packed schedules and may be busy, but the task is not impossible.

Most congressional leaders specify their preferred method of contact on their websites. Maintain vigilance with calls, emails or faxes until the Congressional leader agrees to a meeting.

Before meeting with a member of Congress, research him or her. Learn his or her interests, which committees he or she belongs to and his or her stance on previous bills. Form an idea of where the member stands with the bill you are lobbying.

Finally, word of mouth is an excellent technique to raise awareness. Teach your friends, classmates, family members or coworkers how to call and email congress to bring poverty reduction bills to the forefront of congressional leaders’ agendas.

The Borgen Project is currently building support for the following bills:

The Electrify Africa Act: Only 5 percent of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity. That means roughly 1.3 billion people still resort to open cook fires for food, warmth and light. The Electrify Africa Act will “encourage African countries to provide first-time access to electricity and power services for at least 50,000,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.”

The Food for Peace Reform Act: This act consists of amending the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and reforming the Food for Peace Program to increase funding and more efficiently transport food to disaster-stricken areas.

The Global Food Security Act: One in nine people goes hungry every day. Children make up the majority of this statistic. The Global Food Security Act will “reduce global poverty and hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, promote inclusive, sustainable, agricultural-led economic growth, improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children, [and] build resilience among vulnerable populations.”

The Reach Every Mother and Child Act: Hundreds of mothers, infants and toddlers die each day from pregnancy complications and other preventable causes. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act is designed to “implement policies to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths globally” by designing more effective programs in high-risk areas and funding innovative tools and research.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Borgen Project 1, Borgen Project 2, Think Progress, Borgen Project 3, Borgen Project 4, Congress, Congress Merge, PreservationNation
Photo: Pinterest

The fact is that some 795 million people in the world do not get enough food to lead healthy, productive lives, and the vast majority of the world’s hungry live in developing countries. The following are three myths about foreign aid:

1. We shouldn’t bother. Our small contributions won’t make a difference in such an enormous problem as global poverty. When it comes to world hunger, the “one person can’t make a difference” myth can be easily dispelled.

Here in the U.S., mosquitoes are aggravating little pests; however, in Africa, mosquitoes are deadly. In 2005, the Against Malaria foundation was founded; it implements practical, cost-efficient, insecticide-treated bed nets to fight this preventable disease.

Over the past 15 years, approximately 663 million cases have been prevented in Africa — roughly 68 percent of that reduction is contributed to the distribution of a billion bed nets. Each bed net costs around $5, lasts for three to four years and protects two people. So, yes, as little as five bucks can make a difference in a global problem, and this, of course, is just one example.

2. We have no idea where our money really goes. Those fundraisers are scams. Unfortunately, the existence of corruption persists all over the world, and that isn’t a myth. Along with the endless benefits the internet provides there are also the ceaseless hoaxes, which are often in the disguise of charitable organizations.

To some extent, it seems as if charities and even the word “donate” tend to act as repellents, triggering apprehension and uneasiness. Fortunately, programs, such as the Millennium Challenge Account, and laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, monitor and help safeguard aid. And when in doubt, research the organization before providing any type of aid. Consumer Affairs is one helpful website.

3. Taking care of others in developing countries implies that we are failing to “take care of ourselves.” On the contrary, the more independent others become, the more consumers we acquire. Actually, our nation’s safety strengthens as we lift others out of poverty.

Three major myths about foreign aid busted and many more to be exposed. The following are three ways we can effectively help eradicate global poverty and hunger:

  1. Research the organization before providing aid.
  2. Get active and lobby for the world’s poor. Call and/or email Congress in support of poverty reduction. The Borgen Project provides an efficient, simple method to contact Congress.
  3. Believe that you can make a difference in a global epidemic. The very act of providing aid to another is itself a gift.

Dana McLemore

Sources: Against Malaria, DTIC, FAO, KFF
Photo: Flickr

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 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

5 Easy Resolutions to Make a Difference in 2014
Once again, the end of the year is fast approaching and entertainment media is filled with encouraging epithets for the coming year. Titles like 2014 is Your Year and Achieve Your New Year Weight Loss Resolution headlines grace magazine racks in grocery stores nationwide.

Each year, millions of Americans make superficial promises to themselves from losing weight to paying off college loans. Often, these goals are made with the utmost level of optimism and determination but after several weeks, motivation wans and soon, the dumbbells lie in the corner, forgotten.

But, what if you could achieve every resolution made for the coming year without the expected time commitment or sweat stains? If you are determined to do everything you set your mind to this year then this list is for you. Here are 5 easy resolutions to achieve while give something back in the process.

1. Shop More

The New Year is the perfect time of year to reinvent yourself. Wanting to try a new look but not sure if you want to make the jump? Do it. Clean out the closet and donate to a nearby clothes drive. Just because the holidays are over, does not mean that winter is. Thousands of individuals worldwide are in need of warm clothes.

And remember to say yes when the cashier asks for a donation at the department store.

2. Make Time for Yourself

The long holiday season can make the most organized party planner stressed. Make sure you take time to decompress before returning to the normal 9 to 5 struggle. Relax. Go to the movies. Take a walk. Don’t have the extra time? Make normal activities exciting, even showering. Philosophy’s line of bath products provide the perfect sensory vacation.

The newest addition, To Believe, is a blend of cranberry and currant  — additionally, each purchase goes to whyhunger, an organization committed to ending world hunger.

3. Have a Playdate

Work days can drag on forever. Remember to take small breaks. Stand up and stretch. Take a second to stop by the coffee machine. If you feel confined, don’t be afraid to take your break outside. Still bored? Play a game.

Between iTunes and Google Play, there are thousands of apps and games to occupy your time. Some apps even allow you to donate to a charity, for free.

And the internet is full of great sites like, which allows players to complete crosswords to earn money for a cause.

4. Pack Extra for a Trip

Have a trip coming up in the new year but don’t know what to pack? No worries.

International nonprofit, Pack for a Purpose, tracks children in need around the world. So whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, they will tell you exactly what to toss in your suitcase. A global partner to hotel chains worldwide, donors only have to drop off a suggested item upon check-in.

5. Put Unlimited Texting to Good Use

Due to the overwhelming use of social media, nonprofit organizations have become as tech savvy as global corporations. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and other sites have become standard in marketing practices across the board. Phone companies have also joined the movement, as potential donors can merely text a company in order to make a donation.

In short, making a difference is only as hard or simple as you want it to be. So, challenge yourself to change the world, it may only take one click.

– Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: PhilosophyCharitiiPack for a Purpose
Photo: Vintage 3D