Archive for December, 2010

Kids Love the Interwebs

At the Huffington Post, “philanthropy wonk” Lucy Bernholz describes a great new way for would-be givers to efficiently research charities online: Have a 10-year-old do it:

I told her to send her son to the websites of each of the organizations on her list. With a pen and paper. Give him 20 minutes per site to answer the following questions:

  • What does the organization do?
  • How do they do it?
  • How do they know if they are making a difference?

His task was to answer these questions for each organization.

This seems like it might be a good way to get kids interested and invested in giving at an early age.


December 31, 2010 at 6:29 PM

Social Media and Philanthropy on PBS

PBS’s News Hour talks to Allison Fine, co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit,” about the role of social media in philanthropy and its limitations in a 6-minute interview.

December 31, 2010 at 6:18 PM

Wealth Outpacing Philanthropy in India

India’s rapidly expanding roster of billionaires is still on the spot following software mogul Azim Premji’s huge gift earlier this month. The AFP reviews some of the criticism the subcontinent’s wealthy are receiving:

India’s booming economy — expected to grow 8.5 percent this year — minted 17 new billionaires in 2010, driving the national total to a record 69, according to Forbes magazine…But philanthropic activity has failed to keep pace, partly, [Arpan] Sheth believes, because the rapid accumulation of individual wealth is a still a relatively new phenomenon.

This is not the first of such criticism noted here. For my part, I’ve argued before that this is part of a first world economy’s maturation; the Unites States had its robber barons before its Carnegies and Mellons. My guess is Premji will prove a first among many great Indian philanthropists to follow. In fact, Premji leads Forbes India’s list of seven corporate moves to watch for.

December 30, 2010 at 7:11 PM

The Giving Pledge and China’s Billionaires

Red China’s official press agency reviews philanthropy by China’s super-rich in 2010.

In June, [Bill Gates and Warren Buffett] succeeded in convincing 40 wealthy individuals and their families in the United States to hand over more than half of their fortunes to a charitable cause as part of ‘The Giving Pledge’ project.

Soon after their giving promotion in the United States, they smiled and waved to China, an economically booming country with fast growing groups of newly wealthy people.

(That last paragraph sounds like an official state press agency at work, doesn’t it?)

The article highlights some specific Chinese donors, noting a few who made Barron’s list of most effective philanthropists in 2010. However, the report argues that while China’s philanthropists have entered the modern era, the legal structure and transparency required still lags. As one interviewee says, “the spring of China’s charity cause has arrived. It is not yet summer.”

Only 25 percent of the charity organizations in China were transparent in releasing information to the public, said a survey released by the China Charity & Donation Information Center at the end of 2010.

The survey also said that nearly 90 percent of people who were interviewed had not received feedback information about the use of their donations, which aroused discontentment among the social charity organizations.

December 30, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Defense Contractor Talks CSR

Federal News Radio – a DC-area news/talk station targeted at our federal government employees – has an interesting half-hour interview with Rick Kiernan of L-3 MPRI, which the story describes as a defense contractor (they appear to focus on training). The kinds of image problems corporations face must be especially troublesome if you work for the DOD:

‘If you look at a perception of a corporation as being cruel and calculating and somewhat callous and only profit-oriented, this softens that particular image because there is more than the bottom line,’ he said.

I think he’s on to something there. During the interview, he also notes that employee volunteering can be good for the company as well as the community. A good primer on the value of corporate philanthropy.

December 29, 2010 at 7:32 PM

UK Government Seeking Pound Notes, Loose Change, Bad Checks, Anything

Across the pond, David Cameron’s government has unveiled a plan to encourage charitable giving by annoying you every time you use your ATM card, reports the Daily Telegraph:

Banks are to adopt a system that allows people to make a small donation to charity whenever they withdraw cash.

The Government also wants shops to offer customers the opportunity to ’round up the pound’ when using a debit or credit card, with the extra money going to charity.

The problem with this sort of thing is, which charities get the money? Are people really going to wait patiently in queue (a “queue” is a British line) while you puzzle over which charity to give your pence, shillings, or possibly quid(?) to?  Actually, that’s the rather large hole in Government’s plan:

It was not clear last night how the schemes would work and whether people would be able to specify which charities they wish to support through the automatic donations — or whether they would be given a menu of options.

Even if it’s a menu, which charities get on the menu? Politically well-connected ones, I suppose. I just see a lot of problems with government-coerced giving – even leaving aside the problem of “coerced giving.”

December 29, 2010 at 7:10 PM

Professional Fund-Raising Booming

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a story on the booming fund-raising industry:

‘This profession is just exploding in growth,’ said Judy Comeau-Hart, board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Cleveland chapter, which has grown from 133 members in 1990 to 331.

The reason? With the economy drying up funding sources, nonprofits that once relied on board members to wheedle donations from friends now hire professionals to get the job done.

The story highlights successful fund-raisers who have brought real value to the nonprofits they work for. Professional fund-raisers have come under fire in other cases.

December 28, 2010 at 4:38 PM

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News about philanthropy and the charitable instinct