Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with his wife Priscilla, has donated $25 million to help eradicate the Ebola epidemic sweeping the world. According to a Forbes article that quoted Zuckerberg, the disease has already infected 8,400 people and is projected to infect over a million in the coming months if it continues at this rate.

The money donated by Zuckerberg will be put toward the Center for Disease Control’s Global Disaster Response Fund. The money will support safe burials, services for the dead, the training of more medical staff, medical supplies and more. Approximately 150 members of the CDC will be heading to West Africa to address the issue in person.

Zuckerberg posted on Facebook, “We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio.”

Ebola has quickly become a topic of concern, constantly permeating airwaves and worrying the majority of the world. Accordingly, there are other wealthy philanthropists reaching out in the campaign against this deadly disease.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $50 million to U.N. agencies and other groups giving supplies to those suffering from Ebola. Bill Gates’ business partner, Paul Allen, initiated the Tackle Ebola campaign, setting an example by giving $20 million. Allen strongly remarks, “A winnable battle should never be lost.”

Zuckerberg is considered one of the top philanthropists in the United States, he is involved in various charities and willing to donate financially. With contributions like Zukerberg’s, Ebola relief efforts can advance.

Kathleen Lee

Sources: Business Insider, Forbes
Photo: Flickr

The Work of The Rockefeller Foundation - The Borgen Project

According to The Rockefeller Foundation website, “John D. Rockefeller, Sr., established The Rockefeller Foundation in 1913 to promote the well-being of humanity around the world.” This was how the foundation’s mission began, and over 100 years later, this mission has only been expanded upon.
In order to achieve it goals of strengthening communities around the globe, The Rockefeller Foundation has four primary focus areas: revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, transform cities and advance health.

The Foundation’s website provides up to date blog posts, as well as information about its latest endeavors affecting climate change, food security, ecosystems and electricity issues worldwide.

One particular project, the Campaign for American Workers, was introduced in 2007 during a struggling time in the American economy. Unemployment was at an all-time high and workers were not being given the benefits they were accustomed to or deserved.

The project made great efforts to instill public-private partnerships and to give workers “greater access to health care, predictable savings and retirement income.”

Currently, The Rockefeller Foundation has many projects, one being the “100 Resilient Cities” campaign. The foundation is accepting applications from cities all over the world who are ready to build and improve themselves in order to prepare for socioeconomic changes.

The deadline to apply was September 10. The foundation already has 32 cities on the list and include the following: Bangkok, Thailand; Boulder, Colorado; Christchurch, New Zealand; Durban, South Africa; Melbourne, Australia and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Finalists of the challenge will receive not only a support system from the other cities, but also a grant to hire a Chief Resilience Officer. This officer will have access to various building tools as well as communication with experts in city planning and disaster prevention.

Among its many projects, on September 4, The Rockefeller Foundation was noted by the Digital Journal to have openly recognized and appreciated small businesses who are supporting the hiring of young adults.  John Irons, managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation, states, “The Rockefeller Foundation is focused on addressing the youth employment crisis at scale by engaging employers to support young workers’ entry into the workforce, and it is our hope that these noteworthy businesses will provide models for success that can be replicated throughout the country.”

Thus these young adults will have more opportunity and experience for later down the road when searching for a career. The foundation understands the importance of everyone’s role in stimulating the economy.

The Rockefeller Foundation has become a model organization over the past 100 years. Its core values of leadership, equity, effectiveness, innovation and integrity give it an unbreakable backbone. Its board of 12 trustees are constantly at work writing various grant proposals, investment strategies, budgets and the like in order to provide the world with whatever it can. The foundation is one we can trust and one we can look to as an example of advocacy and humanitarianism.

silicon valley community foundation
Launched in 2007 through a merger between the Peninsula Community Foundation and the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation has developed a new approach for giving. The organization’s overall aim is to maximize the impact each donation will have for any given cause.

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation,  led by CEO Emmett D. Carson, operates by working to “simplify giving so donors can focus on their charitable passions, partner with the most effective organizations to create change, and advance innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems.” Moreover, its five basic strategies (economic security, education, immigrant integration, regional planning and a community opportunity fund) help ensure the foundation’s success.

In order to achieve maximum outreach, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation collaborates with other foundations and initiatives. Many of these foundations target early childhood education and community leadership projects focused on “strengthening organizations serving low-income and communities of color.”

Initiatives that have recently been completed include the Fostering the Future initiative, which took place over a six year period (2005-2011). Its objective was to provide a better life for youth that are subjected to abuse from either their biological families or foster families, as well as for children who have become too old for foster care. The Envision Bay Area initiative, that took place from 2010-2012, aimed to build a community of both leaders and constituents that made daily decisions based on what would be best for the environment. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation made use of YouChoose Bay Area in order to make this initiative successful. The work from this initiative ultimately “convinced the local planning agencies to set higher greenhouse gas emissions than their staff had initially recommended.”

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation is currently responsible for $2.9 million in assets and has over 1,600 philanthropic funds.

Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Photo: Future Partners

There are many great charities out there doing much-needed work to reduce global poverty. Here are some tips on deciding which charity you should give to.

1. Clarify your beliefs

Before you start looking for a charity to give to, be sure you know what you believe. Figure out what missions matter the most to you and your family. Do you care the most about protecting the environment? Fighting human trafficking? Providing education? Once you have selected the category that you care about most, you can begin to research the different methods of solving that problem.

2. Start broad

Use websites like, or to learn how different charities in the category you picked spend their money. Sites like these aggregate tax information and other records you can use to learn how different charities spend their money.

3. Do your research

Find a clear description of the charity’s mission, programs and achievements. Figure out what their goals are, how they measure their success and how they use that information to function better. If you can’t find this information easily, be wary. But be aware that some problems are hard to solve. Don’t place a dollar sign on a human life. Some organizations invest thousands of dollars rescuing women and children from slavery because, simply put, extracting slaves is hard and expensive.

Nancy Lublin CEO of  knows that “Low overhead doesn’t necessarily mean an organization is awesome at fighting poverty, or that its turnover is low and its people productive. And it certainly doesn’t guarantee that the group is spending wisely.”

Lublin cited Apple as an example from the for-profit world of a company with high overhead but incredible products.

“According to Apple’s Q4 2008 report, 78% of its expenses were sales, general, and administrative — the corporate equivalent of overhead. Seventy-eight percent! Yet nobody flinches,” she wrote.

4. Contact the charity and become personally involved

If you’re going to establish a long-term relationship with an organization, take the time to call them, or at least email them about your interest. Best of all, take the time to become personally involved in the charity you donate to allows you incomparable insight into how they operate.

“Be very reluctant to give to strangers,” Dan Moore, vice president of public affairs for GuideStar, an online source of financial information on charities told NBC. “If you know the organization and you know their work, you will know with some degree of confidence that your gift will be put to good use.”

5. Trust your gut

If an organization seems questionable, don’t give. Find a group that you feel comfortable supporting and give what you can.

Picking a charity to support can be daunting but taking the time to give well is incredibly rewarding.

– Sally Nelson

Sources: Fast Company, NBC
Photo: Infiniti

As defined by Merriam-Webster, philanthropy is the giving of money and time to help improve the lives of others. Despite the straightforward definition, philanthropy can relate to a broad range of actions, which is why a question many of us ask is how does one get into philanthropy?

When exploring this question, ask yourself, “What causes do I care about most?” With numerous organizations supporting a variety of causes, it can be difficult to choose among hundreds of philanthropic organizations.

As a result, many donors are strategic in their giving, meaning that they ensure that their donations will yield the best results coinciding with their beliefs. To help realize what causes you care most about, rank organizations according to the categories that they address, such as people, places, issues or philosophies.

Sites like and are helpful when researching and ranking organizations. Don’t be shocked if your rankings change over time. Like everything else, this is a learning process, so allow yourself some time to learn the best ways to donate.

Although monetary donations keep organizations working toward their specific cause, giving time is just as important as giving money. Organizations are always looking for volunteers and even full-time employees dedicated to the organization’s cause. The most popular position people typically apply for in a philanthropic organization is that of program staff member, whose main responsibility is grant-making; but there are so many more positions available that applicants may typically overlook.

Employment opportunities typically available at a philanthropic organization include: member of the foundation board, senior management, finance, programs, communications, administration/human resources, donor relations, research and grants management. All of these positions play a major role in an organization’s daily operations and in the achievement of its core mission.

An increasing amount of volunteers are serving the world’s poor in both the U.S. and foreign countries. Although the common perception of volunteers is that they are merely young and inexperienced college students or graduates volunteering to simply pass the time, volunteers are just as important and influential as employees. With the timing of assignments ranging from weeks to months to even years, volunteering can directly correspond with one’s schedule.

Volunteering has become more than just an easy way to assist international development efforts or humanitarian relief work; anyone can learn new skills and share their knowledge with others. With various opportunities available across the world, finding a volunteer position that is related to your interests or expertise is easy, thanks to sites like and

Even though philanthropy is commonly associated with donations, it goes beyond donating money. While considering how to get into philanthropy, remember that every action helps, whether you contribute your finances, time, or even your gifts and talents.

– Meghan Orner

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Philanthropy New York, Devex, Bridgespan
Photo: MillanCPA

comedy as philanthropy
NBC announced recently that the network would partner with Comic Relief UK, a British charity, and Funny or Die, a comedy video website, to bring American viewers standup, music, short films and sketch comedy in May 2015. The network will raise money for charities both in the U.S. and across the globe through the television program.

Comedy as philanthropy? The idea might surprise Americans, but it is quite familiar to many British television viewers. Comic Relief has been around since 1985 and has promoted Red Nose Day, one of its two major fundraising campaigns, since 1988.

Red Nose Day is the brainchild of Richard Curtis, who will be an executive producer on the American special. Curtis’s name might sound familiar to fans of films like “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Love Actually, ” because he wrote all three screenplays.

Curtis’s charity event takes place every two years. On the day of the event, the BBC airs comedy programs. The event has succeeded overwhelmingly in its goal to “inspire the nation to give generously.”

In 2013, Comic Relief featured Simon Cowell’s marriage in addition David Brent, with his own brand of awkwardness, who played the British version of Michael in “The Office.” In the end, the charity raised £100,331,808 (about $172 million.)

By channeling our desire for entertainment toward charitable purposes, Comic Relief has had a considerable impact.

The charity distributes viewer donations by awarding grants to projects that promote some or all of the following five concepts: (1) “better futures,” (2) “healthier finances,” (3) “safer lives,” (4) “stronger communities” and (5) “fairer societies.”

Grants are awarded both in the UK and throughout the rest of the world. Most importantly, the organization has had a great impact in the areas where it is involved. In the realms of education, HIV treatment and malaria prevention, Comic Relief has helped millions, according to their website.

The hope, then, is that Comic Relief’s successful methodology will resonate with an American audience. The charity has some notable friends in the U.S., which bodes well for the endeavor.

In fact, the most prominent American philanthropist strongly supports Comic Relief’s efforts. “I’ve been really impressed by how Red Nose Day in the UK has both raised large amounts of money and also engaged the public on the issues of poverty,” said Bill Gates, adding: “I hope lots of people from throughout the U.S. will participate.”

– Ryan Yanke

Sources: Deadline, Comic Relief 1, Comic Relief 2, Comic Relief 3
Photo: Mirror

alpha kappa alpha
Carrying on a legacy that extends over a century, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) joined forces with Stop Hunger Now on July 12 to do their part in the fight against global hunger. Gathering at the Charlotte Convention Center in North Carolina, over 2,000 volunteers gave their day to put together packages of food to be sent to West Africa.

AKA is the oldest sorority in the nation, comprised mainly of African American women, and was established at a time when the workforce was male dominated and segregation was the norm. The sorority served as a network of support for women at the time and has gone on to make a difference in civil rights movements and philanthropic efforts since it was established in 1908.

Carolyn House Stewart, the international president for the sorority, remarked on the generosity and strength of these women, explaining, “All of them helped change the landscape. All helped humanity.”

The sorority stands by the theme “Global Leadership Through Timeless Service,” and the event on Saturday was the epitome of these words, as the women worked tirelessly to make a difference.

Over the course the day, the women worked in one-hour shifts in teams of six to package 100,000 meals that will be sent to West Africa. The packages contain “highly nutritious dehydrated meals comprised of rice, soy, vegetables, flavoring and 21 essential vitamins and minerals.” At the end of the day, the volunteers had handled 7.5 tons of food, food that will go on to help thousands of starving people.

The sorority was joined by Stop Hunger Now, an organization that has been helping the world for 15 years now. Since its establishment, Stop Hunger Now has distributed 140,000,000 meals and other aid to 65 countries around the world. It has been very successful as an organization, working hard to mobilize necessary resources to assist those most desperate for help.

Rod Brooks, the president and CEO of Stop Hunger Now, explained the logic behind the organization, saying, “Hunger is solvable and is the common thread among the world’s most challenging issues. When hunger is targeted, you give leverage and hope to every other cause including poverty, disease, education and the welfare of women and children.”

Both organizations came together to honor Nelson Mandela for this event, and he will be internationally celebrated on July 18. Based on the success of their community service efforts, AKA and Stop Hunger Now suitably paid homage to Mandela’s memory.

Worldwide, almost 870 million people lack access to the food and other resources they need to survive on a daily basis, and every day, 25,000 people die as a result. These conditions are fueled by extreme poverty and are also difficult to overcome while poverty still exists. Organizations like Alpha Kappa Alpha and Stop Hunger Now are able to bring some relief to this vicious cycle. They have recognized a need for international support for those suffering around the world, and for the time being, their efforts will help keep thousands of people alive in West Africa.

– Magdalen Wagner

Sources: Q City Metro, Lake Wylie Pilot, News West 9
Photo: Q City Metro

cost to end world hunger
Unfortunately, there is no secret code to guaranteeing success in philanthropy. However, the following is a list of five tips for success in philanthropy.

1) Foster honest relationships between the donor and grantee.

Philanthropy is simply the love of humanity. The definition does not include any notion of wealth. However, wealth is often necessary to fund philanthropic efforts, and often times this creates a strange relationship between the donor and grantee. Kevin Starr, the managing director of the Mulago Foundation, describes how an imbalance of this relationship is created as a result of the inevitable focus on money philanthropic work calls for. However, clearly identifying the causes both the donor and grantee advocate for allows opportunity for a true partnership to bloom.

2) Have a business-like approach to your organization.

While philanthropic work is fueled by compassion and will, running a philanthropic foundation requires shifting mindsets and treating the organization like a business. “Business is about getting stuff done,” says Starr. In the end, applying the disciplines and practices of running a business to philanthropic efforts will lead to successfully and efficiently making progress.

3) Treat your grantees like customers.

This advice is strongly advocated by David Peery, the managing direct of the Peery Foundation. The organization(s) that a philanthropic decides to support is essentially the group he is investing in. Much like businesses invest in entrepreneurs to gain wealth, organizations invest in social entrepreneurs to achieve a lasting, positive social impact. Businesses value honest feedback and intentional communication, and nurturing this type of relationship between a donor and grantee will form a strong and honest partnership.

4) Have an adaptive philanthropy, not a rigid strategy.

Setting a vision and establishing targets are both necessary and wise. Adaptive philanthropy has a clear mission, but does not restrict itself to inflexible multi-year plans. All philanthropic efforts are dynamic processes, and none are immune to the tremendous number of factors that can complicate them. Risks and uncertainty should be expected in the process.

5) Measure the impact of your philanthropic efforts.

In the early days of philanthropy, people donated chunks of money toward a cause without considering the impact. Donors did not require their grantees to evaluate the impact of their programs, and grantees did not know how or what to measure. However, it is imperative to quantify the impact of an organization’s efforts, so that one can determine whether their philanthropic endeavors are working and creating a positive influence. This is often done through rigorous program monitoring and evaluation. For example, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has appointed Jodi Nelson as the Director of Strategy, Measurement and Evaluation (SME) to measure its impact and ensure that it is operating with maximum efficiency.

– Christina Cho 

Sources: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford Social Innovation Review 2
Photo: Huffington Post

emotional responses to global poverty

What is more valuable: $55 given now or $85 given in three months? Obviously, $85 has a higher monetary value than $55, but peoples’ perceptions of value take more into account than the number itself—for instance, people consider the value of getting paid immediately. What’s more, peoples’ emotional states also influence their perceptions of value.

For example, research has shown that people who feel sad tend to act impatiently, so sad people would more often choose the instant $55 over the delayed $85. As it might be in one’s best interest to wait for more money, sadness hinders one’s ability to make wise financial decisions.

So when making financial decisions, one should suppress all emotion! Right?

Not necessarily, argues a new study published in Psychological Science. One emotion, gratitude, actually improves our ability to factor long-term options into decision-making. This study found that people who felt gratitude chose the delayed $85 unless the instant payment was $63, rather than $55. By contrast, people who felt neutral or happy needed only the $55 to choose the instant cash option.

How do these psychological studies relate to philanthropy and emotional responses to global poverty, though?

Ending global poverty requires people to philanthropize, but philanthropy comes in different varieties. Consider two: On the one hand, a person can donate money to, say, have a freshwater well built for people who lack access to clean drinking water. This method of philanthropy—”direct aid,” for lack of a better name—gets real results quickly.

On the other hand, a person can donate money to policy groups that work to mobilize the resources of national governments. This is advocacy, a method of philanthropy that sees results less quickly but often sees bigger results than direct aid. Both methods of philanthropy have been indispensable in the fight against global poverty. Yet, advocacy seems to be a less favored method for givers; for instance, the revenues of the International Rescue Committee were roughly 29 times greater than those of the Center for Global Development, a major policy-shaping organization, in 2013.

Charitable donations are subject to the same time value of money questions that arose in the experiment on emotions and decision-making. “Is it more useful to take the $55 or $85?” becomes “is it more useful to build a well now or to shape policy that secures water for millions of people?” The answer to these questions depends on a number of factors: the desperation of those without the well, or the likelihood that policies will be changed, to name a few.

Philanthropists should probably consider both options, but certain emotions such as sadness seem to inhibit their ability to do so.

People are inundated with images or facts concerning poverty calculated to make them feel sad. To feel less sad, people then donate. However, by nature people want sadness to diminish quickly, which seems best achieved if their donations get quick results. Might this fact then cause them to overlook the potential of advocacy?

In the interest of preserving both direct aid and advocacy philanthropy, perhaps the potential philanthropist must approach global poverty in a certain way. Responding to the grim realities of poverty with gratitude for one’s own fortune might indeed be more useful than responding with sadness—to philanthropists seeking to make the best financial decision, at least.

-Ryan Yanke

Sources: PsyblogHarvard Psychological Science Magazine, The Borgen ProjectCenter for Global Development, International Rescue Committee
Photo: Huffington Post

Cordes Foundation
In 2006, Ron Cordes and his family started to make some changes. First, Cordes sold his successful business, AssetMark Investment Services, to Genworth Financial. Then, after a short three-year stint as CEO of Genworth Wealth Management, Ron and Marty Cordes started giving back.

After $10 million in donations, Ron had begun devoting his time to the initiatives of the Cordes Foundation, and stayed on as co-chairman of Genworth. Marty had started devoting her time to the organizations that the Cordes Foundation supports — organizations that empower women and girls and promote global human rights.

Three key initiatives pave the way for the Cordes Foundation:

1.  Catalyzing new sources of capital for impact investments.

Cordes started building the foundations of this initiative when he co-founded ImpactAssets, a nonprofit that garners investment capital to achieve the greatest impact possible in various global environmental, social and financial issues. ImpactAssests has its own set of goals, which include creating positive social and environmental impacts that generate a return for investors.

2. Equipping the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

The Cordes Foundation does this by supporting the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship. It is a university-based center where practice and training are offered to young social entrepreneurs. The center works to instill values of solution-mindedness and innovation in the coming generations.

3. Connect and support global leaders in social enterprise.

As co-chairs of the Opportunity Collaboration, Marty and Ron foster the sharing of innovation between a number of different parties like social entrepreneurs, impact investors and the public sector. The collaboration gets together annually in October, when 300 delegates gather to represent leaders from 30 countries. But the Cordes Foundation is certainly not alone. It serves as a great example of two recent trends that are quickly gaining speed.

Cordes has five pieces of advice for his daughter:

  • Seek Your Passion,
  • Do Your Best
  • Good Enough is Never Good Enough
  • No Excuses
  • Make a Difference

Cordes seems to be doing all of those things as he takes part in the wave of nonprofit family organizations that have the potential to leave a positive legacy across the world. These family nonprofits offer philanthropists a way to better control their giving, and just like Cordes, they work to leave their children and the next generation with values of generosity and compassion.

Cordes says “Since my early 40s, I had an itch that there was something else out there that I could be accomplishing and a greater purpose out that I could be achieving than running a successful business. The opportunity to sell the business gave me the resources so I could pursue that. I went from trying to build the best business in the world to building the best businesses for the world.”

Ron Cordes represents a great example of how the encore career later in life can be beneficial in the fight against global poverty, hunger and other humanitarian efforts.

– Rachel Davis

Sources: Forbes, New York Times