Open Society FoundationsBillionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) is committed to building “vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people,” according to the organization’s website. “We seek to strengthen the rule of law, respect for human rights, minorities and a diversity of opinions, democratically elected governments and a civil society that helps keep government power in check.”

Authoritarian governments, in which absolute power is held by a single dictator or ruling party, have been linked to an increase in poverty. To unveil the full impact of authoritarian government on poverty, the Human Development Report of the United Nations analyzed the condition of sub-Saharan Africa over the last 30 years. The study revealed authoritarian governments are more likely to become corrupted, have greater levels of violence than democracies and often favor the poverty of their citizens.

Conversely, open societies allow for freedom of belief, flexible social structure and availability of information. Citizens have a greater say in the running of their own countries and lives.

George Soros founded OSF in 1979 when he realized he had the funds and connections to make a real difference. By 1984, he had established his first foundation in Hungary, which involved the distribution of photocopiers in a bid to lessen the communist control on freedom of print. Within two decades, OSF had become active in all regions of the world.

Despite its positive aims, some countries have not welcomed OSF’s mission. In May 2015, Russia banned ‘undesirable’ foreign organizations that could compromise its constitutional order or national security. “The ‘undesirables’ law and its implementation have been a terrible blow for civic freedoms in Russia,” said Hugh Williamson, the Europe and Central Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

Despite resistance, OSF continues to grow by way of a two-part strategy. First, it operates the Central European University, where future political leaders can research and analyze new solutions to ensure that open societies remain stable. Students from more than 100 countries attend the university.

Second, current OSF president Christopher Stone created the New Executives Fund, a $2 million fund to start off nonprofit organizations that support education, social change and public health. Every year, two or three selected nonprofits receive two-year grants ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. This fund, as well as supporting worthy causes, has directed global attention toward OSF.

Making inroads to transforming authoritarian governments into open societies helps to reduce poverty and improve standards of living. OSF is committed to forming governments across the globe “where all people are free to participate fully in civic, economic and cultural life.”

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Philanthropy, HRW, Open Society Foundations 1, Open Society Foundations 2, Tide Global Learning
Photo: Google Images

The Four C's Behind Cool GivingIn the United States’ current sociopolitical climate, charitable donations and the appeal of philanthropic investments continue to increase, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Although down from the 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) allocated to giving in the pre-recession 2000s, sources find that philanthropy is on an upswing, inching back to 2.1 percent in 2015 from 1.8-1.9 percent between 2008 and 2012. This trend may be due in part to a social movement of “cool giving.”

Although donations from corporations have had a sharper increase, individual giving, too, has gained traction, both in dollar amount and in frequency, according to Forbes’ list of “50 Top Givers in 2014.”

This uptick demonstrates more than a numerical increase in donations; it delineates a social movement of philanthropy, and a widespread attitude of cool giving.

The four Cs below articulate why now, perhaps more than ever, helping the world’s poor is considered cool.

1. It is often in the form of a challenge.

Be it the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 (linked to ALS by Chris Kennedy, because of a relative suffering from the disease) or The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge program, a competition for grantees in specific fields to solve key global health and development problems, competition sparks change. And, in an age of social media, competitive opportunities are expanding and becoming more easily accessible.

There is nothing like throwing a bucket of icy water on your head to help those in need.

2. It demonstrates strong character.

A desire for generous rebranding, fueled by the 2016 presidential election, is taking place in the U.S. Republicans and Democrats alike — Michael R. Bloomberg, Paul Singer, Charles Koch, to name a few — have made momentous contributions to charitable organizations. Partisanship aside, when philanthropic organizations reap the benefits of the one-upmanship of doing good, the world’s poor benefit too.

3. Collaboration is key.

In 2015, The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit resource for mission-driven organization and philanthropies, published research about the U.S.’s top donors and the “big bets” hedged in such contributions. The results illustrated that 80 percent of multi-million dollar donations are given with a specific goal in mind. (Bridgespan gives the example of Don and Foris Fisher’s participation with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) for the improvement of public education).

Increased Internet access and online materials make donation allocation easy. And, with these specifications posted online for a larger readership, corporations and individual donors feel team-like camaraderie in taking steps toward remedying a problem. As with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, key steps are clearly outlined and updated in the website’s mission statement and strategic planning pages. Collaborating on a goal and seeing first-hand results, Bridgespan concluded, further incentivizes charitable acts.

4. The sky’s the limit on creativity.

Founded in 2012, Global Citizen focuses on making policy changes toward global poverty eradication as an organization that couples artistry with charity. The Global Citizen Festival, promoted by Coldplay’s Chris Martin at the Super Bowl, epitomizes the longstanding relationship between the arts and philanthropy. At the September 2015 festival, artists like Beyoncé and Pearl Jam blended the beats of Bob Marley to the inspiring words of Nelson Mandela. The result? Wide coverage of the program’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end global poverty by 2030.

Celebrity influence certainly brings attention to an issue but the multimedia tools of exposure — concerts, festivals, videos — also make the issues relatable and memorable.

Whether they come from competition, creative incentive, collaboration or character building, good deeds in 2016 are all the rage. Isn’t it cool to give?

Nora Harless

Sources: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Bridgespan Group, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Forbes Magazine, Global Citizen, TIME Magazine
Photo: Flickr

anti-poverty_campaignDropping oil prices and tightening budgets across nations in the Gulf are making it difficult to raise money for charity causes. But Bill Gates, with a growing culture of philanthropy in the region, is hoping to attract wealthy regional donors with the Anti-Poverty Campaign.

By visiting the region, Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and a well-known philanthropist, is actively seeking donations toward his foundation’s $2.5 billion ‘Lives and Livelihood Fund.’ The fund is philanthropy which aims to reduce poverty and disease across 30 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The Lives and Livelihood Fund is a joint project with the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Launched in June, the IDB and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation formally announced the $500 million grant facility.

Through the innovative facility, IDB, the Gates Foundation and potential future donors will support over five years of poverty-focused programs worth $2.5 billion in primary healthcare, disease control, smallholder agriculture and basic rural infrastructure in IDB member countries, with a special focus on low-income countries.

At the launch, Gates appealed to donors saying, “we now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the quality of life for each of the nearly 2 billion people living in the bank’s member countries. It is an honor to join you in this historic effort.”

IDB has committed $2 billion in loans financing the Gates Foundation if they are able to raise $500 million in donations (of which the Gates Foundation has pledged $100 million). Donations, for the remaining difference, are expected to be drawn from wealthy Gulf nations.

Speaking in the United Arab Emirates during an interview with Reuters, Gates said, “Certainly the price of oil means that these countries are having to prioritize both domestic and international things they do. It would be easier if oil was $100 a barrel.”

Oil prices have fallen 60 percent since mid-2014, and the benchmark Brent crude was trading around $42.80 in December 2015.

Despite this, “Philanthropy is growing here and every time I come to the region I get a chance to sit and talk with people who are considering giving and I hear a lot of enthusiasm,” Gates said.

According to Gates, the anti-poverty campaign has several key partners in the region. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is one such partner.

Back in July, the prince said he would gradually donate his entire $32 billion fortune to charities that promote health, disease eradication, disaster relief and women’s rights.

Days later, United Arab Emirates businessman Abdullah Ahmad al-Ghurair gave more than $1 billion, a third of his business empire, to a foundation supporting education in the Arab world.

Large-scale donations like these could mark a new trend among the Gulf’s wealthiest. The changes that could come as a result of their generosity are promising, to say the least.

Kara Buckley

Sources: Business Insider, ISDB
Photo: Quotes Gram

What is the Definition of Philanthropy?-TBP
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, philanthropy is defined as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially active effort to promote human welfare.” Additionally, philanthropy is “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes,” or “an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.”

This is interesting to consider. The majority of the time, most of us tend to think of philanthropy as the large donation of money to humanitarian or environmental causes. We tend to think of famous philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller. More recently, we might think of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

What is a Philanthropist

However, a philanthropist does not only have to be someone who donates large sums of money to worthy causes. The definition of philanthropy says that one has to have a goodwill to humankind and an interest in promoting human welfare. One can accomplish this in a multitude of different ways.

A philanthropist could be someone who is educating herself on humanitarian issues. She could figure out what issues are salient to her, what issues are most dire or what issues people do not acknowledge as much. She could also learn the most effective solutions to this issue. The philanthropist could use this education in order to build her dedication to an issue and make the most change.

A philanthropist could be someone who consistently does community service for a humanitarian organization or a cause that he supports. He could dedicate his time to this organization and help using the skills that he possesses.

A philanthropist could be someone who works for a nonprofit or humanitarian organization. This person could dedicate his or her career to a valuable cause. She could work on the ground or in policy reform.

Finally, someone could donate a percentage of their income to a cause or humanitarian organization. The amount of money does not necessarily have to be large.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that a philanthropist has to make an “active effort to promote human welfare.” This means that a philanthropist is not exclusively someone who donates a lot of money to humanitarian causes. A philanthropist makes a significant effort to change a societal problem, in the best way that he or she can. A philanthropist finds an issue resonates with her, and she does what she can to help. Philanthropy is about dedication to humanitarian issues. It is not always about money.

– Ella Cady

Sources: Huffington Post, Merriam Webster,, Biography Online
Photo: LTD

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Education has always been heralded as a champion of peace and understanding. Worldwide, people from all walks of life understand that education is one of the best ways to provide better opportunities for their children, socially and economically.

A new nonprofit organization named Philanthropy University has attempted to combine both like no other has before. The organization offers leaders opportunities to strengthen their skills and grow their network of peers and mentors, ultimately gaining skills that will help them make a more meaningful and lasting impact in the world today.

Amr Al-Dabbagh, the founder of Philanthropy U shared his excitement for the project.

“Imagine a workforce of social change professionals who are primed, positioned and skilled to impact the lives of millions of people and effectively change the world with their work. This is the vision of Philanthropy University.”

The program offers free, dynamic courses online in leadership and management. Currently, courses on essential nonprofit strategies and global social entrepreneurship are starting late September.

Courses last 5-8 weeks and require a commitment of 2-3 hours watching videos, reading articles, participating in class discussion, and completing individual and/or team assignments.

The courses are taught by renowned instructors and reviewed by Philanthropy U’s curriculum and advisory committees—which contains educators from prominent schools such as Stanford and UC Berkeley.

The university is the first institution of its kind, providing free non-credit online education. Although the courses are not considered college or academic credit, learners can receive a Statement of Accomplishment upon the completion of any course.

Complete all seven courses to earn a certificate in social sector leadership from Berkeley Haas—the second-oldest business school in the United States nestled on the campus of the University of California Berkeley.

Such programs demonstrate the beauty of humanity, as free education drives social work and the selfless qualities needed to effect positive change in today’s volatile world. More than 10,000 learners have already registered to be in Philanthropy University’s inaugural session: will you be one of them?

Adnan Khalid

Sources: Jakarta Post, Philanthropy University 1, Philanthropy University 2, Philanthropy University 3
Photo: Google Images

How Warren Buffett Generosity Can Save Generations
According to Forbes Magazine, Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest men in the world, with a net worth of over $72 billion. Buffett amassed a great portion of his wealth through investment and involvement in his family’s business, Berkshire Hathaway. Since coming into his fortune, Buffett has created a non-profit called The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which is a large family foundation third only to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Ford Foundation.

After Buffett’s first wife, Susan Thompson, passed away at the age of 72, he decided to focus the foundation’s efforts on charitable causes. One of the most funded causes was creating an IUD, an intrauterine contraceptive device. All of the foundation’s donations to research, funding and supplying were made in confidence, but it is evident that without funding for research the world would be in a much different place.

When IUDs were first created, they had more negative side effects than positive outcomes. Since few women saw their use, research on this form of contraceptive slowed to a halt, but after ten years of minimal research, the Buffett Foundation decided to invest in better contraceptives for women who did not have access to medical facilities. According to Buffett, not allowing women to decide when they want to get pregnant is essentially failing to utilize half of the brainpower in the world, as these people are constantly worried or concerned about pregnancy and their children.

Since Buffett’s investment, three major IUDs have emerged: ParaGard, which is a copper IUD that can last 3 years; Mirena, which is a plastic IUD that secretes hormones and can last up to five years; and most recently, Liletta, which is very similar to Mirena and was developed by a non-profit funded by Buffett in order to offer a cheaper option to women who could not afford a standard IUD.

The longevity of IUDs, some lasting up to 10 years, has made them an ideal form of contraception for busy women who do not have a steady schedule and cannot take pills at the same time every day. IUDs are 99 percent effective and have proven to be safe and beneficial for women in underdeveloped countries. In some developing countries, women are still dying in childbirth due to far too many pregnancies and a lack of control over their fertility. However, as female reproductive rights become a more pressing issue, IUDs and their cheap — or maybe even free — existence could make a huge difference.

Many women who live in poverty feel as though they do not have control over their bodies, an issue that has been brought up with several women’s rights’ activist groups. In order to grant women more control, we must grant them access first to contraceptives and next to education. When women are given the option to decide whether or not to have a child, they are able to make better decisions for their families and for their futures. Childhood mortality rates will decrease, female life expectancy will increase and overall national GDP will also increase. This is one simple change funded by one outstanding man that could provide women in developing nations a chance to take control of their lives and make a difference.

Sumita Tellakat

Sources: Bloomberg, Forbes
Photo: Forbes

The members of Forbes’ Top 25 richest Americans includes some of the most influential people in American society. However, these people are not just affecting the lives of Americans – many are using their wealth and influence to better the lives of the world’s poorest people. Here are two of the wealthiest that are making a difference.

Famous as the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates is ranked number one on this list, with a net worth of approximately $81 billion. Focused on the idea “that all lives have equal value,” the Gates family founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Since its launch, the foundation has donated over $30 billion to worthy causes around the world, including organizations aimed at expanding access to immunizations and groups aimed at supporting economic development. The Foundation has four main grant-making areas: global development, global health, global policy and advocacy, and the United States. GAVI Alliance, the organization with the largest grant commitment at $1.5 billion, was also created in 2000 with the goal of expanding access to vaccination in the poorest areas of the world.

An avid supporter of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as a trustee of the organization, Warren Buffett is the second wealthiest person in the Forbes’ list. Having earned his fortune from Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate company with stakes in many subsidiary companies, Buffett too makes philanthropy a top priority. Since 2006, Buffet has donated stocks from his company to different philanthropies based on his pledge made in that year to donate the majority of his fortune in annual installments. On July 6, 2015, he announced the latest donation of over $2.8 billion, with the largest amount going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the rest donated to four family foundations: Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the Susan A. Buffett Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the NoVo Foundation.

These are just two of the richest Americans pledging billions of dollars to the fight against problems stemming from global poverty. Through advocacy, fundraising and donation, these men hope to improve life expectancy, economic mobility and more for those living in poverty in the United States and abroad. While the average American may not be able to donate such significant amounts of money, he or she can donate time and his or her voice to the larger discussion of global poverty. As Bill Gates said as the keynote speaker at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy last month, “Risk takers need backers. Good ideas need evangelists. Forgotten communities need advocates. And whether your chief resource is volunteer time or hard-earned dollars, for a relatively small investment catalytic philanthropy can make a big impact.

– Rachelle Kredentser

Sources: Forbes 1, Forbes 2 Gates Foundation 1, Gates Foundation 2, Gates Foundation 3, Huffington Post, Bank of America, NY Daily News, Philanthropy Roundtable,
Photo: World Crunch

Having been married for two decades, supermodel Iman and heavy-rocker David Bowie have walked a consistent pathway in relieving several communities of hardships pertaining to third-world threats such as the harrowing HIV/AIDS threat.

In late 1990, the dynamic pair participated in a fundraising event, 7th on Sale, for the enhanced medical research in treating and curing AIDS. The pair would go on to serve as recurring donors and participants in foundations that conducted deep, thorough studies of the then-unknown sexual catastrophe throughout the remainder of the 90’s.

But even with impactful collaboration in donor work as a married couple, the pair has never ceased in aiding disadvantaging areas on a separate, individual basis.

In 1998, Iman partnered with fellow philanthropist Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott in a charitable cosmetic line, Misdemeanor Lipstick, where proceeds collected from each item sold were issued to the nonprofit Break the Cycle, an organization that works to minimize domestic hardships and abuse to help young children and teenagers to live safely.

Around this time, other philanthropic measures taken by the supermodel included her support for organizations alleviating the mistreatment against Somali native women, world hunger and HIV/AIDS-related crises. A majority of Iman’s charitable endorsements were further supported through her organization IMAN Cosmetics, which supports the “Raise Hope for Congo Campaign,” an initiative aimed at protecting and empowering Congolese women and girls.

With his spouse generating similar awareness, David Bowie has headlined global concert tours that assist in the betterment of drastic illnesses that take a toll on developing nations. Along with his famous contributions was his feature in the 1985 Live Aid concert, which generated funds to minimize threats of climatic and AIDS-related dangers.

Moreover, Bowie went on to utilize his live performing skills through another charitable opportunity, this time in loose hand-in-hand with wife Iman. In 2006, the groundbreaking rock musician collaborated with Grammy-winning R&B musician Alicia Keys. The two artists sung and performed live at a New York concert as part of Keys’ nonprofit Keep a Child Alive, an organization that works to rid African children of AIDS and poverty-induced restraints.

Iman was also involved in the lively event, as she and comedian Wanda Sykes served as hosts of the event’s black-tie dinner in celebration of the initiative’s planning and success.

It would not be long until Keys and fellow organizers appointed Iman as the initiative’s Global Ambassador for Keep a Child Alive after noting the model’s sincere elements in raising awareness for multiple pandemics across the globe. With a newly designated role, Iman launched not only additional fundraisers to support a variety of causes but also programs like “I am African,” a tool utilized to build awareness of the AIDS pandemic greatly affecting her native Somalian homeland.

As years have progressed, nothing has stopped this power couple’s path to giving back to those in need. With social media tools redefining the nature of networking for a passionate cause, Iman and David Bowie still remain fixated and up-to-date on endorsing as many foundations as they possibly can to improve the world.

Jeff Varner

Sources:, Billboard, CNN, Slice, Iman Cosmetics, Getty Images
Photo: ENCA


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Arin Kerstein

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