Refugee-made products on display at the world’s biggest trade fair

For the first time ever, refugee-made products will be on display at Ambiente, the leading international consumer goods trade show, from 9-13 February 2018, in Frankfurt, Germany. Twelve product lines created by refugee artisans and craft people from Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iran, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Syria will be presented.

This breakthrough is the result of MADE51, a new initiative by UNHCR and a global network of social enterprises to help talented makers fleeing war or persecution achieve greater self-reliance and access to the global marketplace. At Ambiente, potential buyers can view and order a variety of products, including:

  • bowls and jewelry created by Malian Tuareg refugees
  • cashmere throws, embroidered bags, block-printed scarves, lampshades and soft furnishings crafted by Syrian refugees
  • wall hangings and basketry woven by Burundian refugees
  • complex pile rugs, wool kilims and embroidered home textiles created by artisans who have returned to Afghanistan
  • scarves and bags hand-dyed by South Sudanese and Somali refugees
  • smoked bamboo lighting and embroidered jewelry made by refugees from Myanmar

[ReliefWeb]

The Engine of Impact: Funding

Somewhat paradoxically, most nonprofit executives spend more time and effort on financial matters than their counterparts in the business sector do. For people in the nonprofit sector, that’s an unfortunate fact of life. Nonprofit leaders, whether they like it or not, must take seriously their obligation to secure adequate funding for their organizations. Funding is one component of the engine of impact that every nonprofit organization must build and tune to become truly effective.

Go Where the Money Is. When the bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he gave a memorable (if perhaps apocryphal) reply: “Because that’s where the money is.” Going “where the money is” means recognizing that individuals account for most philanthropic giving in the United States today. In 2016, Americans gave $389 billion to charitable causes, and 72 percent of that sum came from individual donors. (Foundations accounted for 15 percent, bequests for 8 percent, and corporations for only 5 percent.)

Meet Donors Where They Are. Successful fundraisers interact with donors on their terms and enable them to give in a way that makes them comfortable. Once you have identified and investigated a potential donor, create a roadmap for your conversation with that person. Then, in the meeting, resist the urge to wax rhapsodic about how compelling your nonprofit is, and instead focus on asking questions in order to understand what motivates the donor. In this way, you will be able to establish points of connection between your organization and the donor’s interests.

Master the Ask. “The ask” is the essential, albeit often daunting, process of asking a specific donor for money to support your organization. Be ready to provide a plan for how your organization will use the donation and a clear explanation of how the donated funds will further your mission. In considering how much to request, aim to specify an amount that will enable your organization to cover the full costs of a program or project, including overhead expenses. Then, once you receive a donation, don’t forget to express your gratitude. “Stewardship is by far the most ignored and overlooked aspect of fundraising. If you thank your donors and steward their donation with care, you’ll find that asking them for money gets easier, not harder.”

[Excerpts from “Engine of Impact” by William Meehan and Kim Starkey Jonker]

Donor fatigue grips USA

The charity World Vision International is a major provider of disaster relief across the globe. So when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the group revved up its fundraising big-time. “We’ve raised just under $4 million in cash donations,” said Drew Clark, the charity’s senior director of emergencies.

Two weeks later Hurricane Irma roared through the Caribbean and Florida. This time World Vision brought in $900,000.

Then came the big earthquake in Mexico that killed more than 340 people. That fundraising appeal netted $150,000.

And for Hurricane Maria–which has left many of the 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico without reliable sources of power, food or even water–World Vision has only taken in about $100,000.

“There is clearly evidence of donor fatigue,” says Clark. “There’s just a limit to the amount of responses that we can successfully fundraise for.”

“I would say it is somewhat unprecedented,” says Leisel Talley of the epic cascade of disasters. She is leading the international component of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s response to the hurricanes. Talley says it’s not just that the U.S. has been clobbered with three disasters in a row. It’s that this happened alongside multiple other new crises since August.

[NPR]

Line up of 1,000 musical artists to play refugee solidarity concerts

Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds are producing a global concert series Give a Home, taking place in cities all over the world on 20 September 2017.

After joining the lineup of artists performing, Ed Sheeran said, “We all deserve a home, not just the memory of one. That’s why I’m proud to join Amnesty International and Sofar’s Give a Home campaign in raising awareness for the global refugee crisis and funds for Amnesty’s important work.”

Sheeran will play a Give a Home gig in Washington D.C., USA.   Playing alongside him will be Jean-Jean Bashengezi (‘JAJA’) a guitarist, singer and refugee who now lives in Washington. Bashengezi’s music draws influence from his roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was forced to flee in 1994 when his country descended into deadly conflict following the Rwandan genocide.

With more than 22 million people now forced to flee their home country, the aim of the ambitious concert series is to unite people in showing solidarity with refugees. The funds raised by the project will support Amnesty International’s work in documenting human rights abuses and violations against refugees and pushing governments to find a sustainable solution to the refugee crisis.

Give a Home will see music fans around the world open up their homes to host intimate concerts in more than 60 countries worldwide.

[Amnesty International]

Millennials are changing charitable giving

Many people think of Millennials as self-centered, selfie-snapping, uber-texting, uber-riding, narcissists. Even some Millennials share this opinion. Johnny Oleksinski, a Millennial himself, wrote in the New York Post:

“This is my number one rule: Do whatever millennials don’t. Definite no-nos include quitting a job or relationship the moment my mood drops from ecstatic to merely content; expecting the world to kowtow to my every childish whim; and assuming that I am always the most fascinating person in the room, hell, the zip code.”

He sounds like he’s loads of fun to be around.

But is this true? Are Millennials really the most selfish generation of all time? Are Millennials only obsessed with the Kardashians and Snapchat?

Millennials care more about others than you might think. The 2015 Millennial Impact Report reported that 84 percent of Millennials made a charitable contribution in 2015.

Read about 6 ways that Millennials are changing the face of charitable giving

UN makes its largest funding request ever for humanitarian aid

A new United Nations report detailing its humanitarian aid efforts around the world offers a snapshot of a world in chaos, and a price estimate for what it would cost to prevent the situation from getting worse: a record-breaking $22.2 billion.

“For 2017, humanitarian partners will require $22.2 billion to meet the needs of 92.8 million people in 33 countries,” the report says. “Humanitarian access is severely constrained and has grown in complexity in countries including Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, preventing humanitarians from carrying out their work and leaving affected people without basic services and protection.”

Take Syria, which is slated to receive more than a third of the UN’s total requested funding, or about $8 billion. Over the past five years, fighting there has killed more than 400,000 people, left millions on the brink of starvation, and sent more than half of the country’s prewar population fleeing to safer places inside and outside Syrian borders.

In Yemen, the UN estimates it needs $2.7 billion to help the more than 3 million children and pregnant women who are acutely malnourished there, as well as the millions of others currently at risk of starvation.

South Sudan is also a huge priority for the UN humanitarian effort, which wants to spend $3.4 billion in the country. The conflict there has already killed more than 50,000 people and displaced 1 million refugees. Nearly 4 million people are at risk of starvation.

The money the UN actually receives from the global community often doesn’t come close to fulfilling its needs; the UN basically got about half of what it requested from international donors for this year.

Most of the major conflicts that are driving the UN’s need for funding are showing no sign of letting up. If the world continues on its current course, the UN very well may set another record with its appeal next year.

[Vox]

Changing the world from Seattle

At Cascade Designs, just south of downtown Seattle, something new is coming off the shop floor: a compact, no-frills water purifier designed to bring clean water to struggling populations in rural Africa.

The device, able to chlorinate water by the 55-gallon drum, was designed with help from several big nonprofits, including one funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private philanthropy, and the United States military. And it is an example, in its mix of altruistic and profit-seeking motives, of how fortunes earned a generation ago at Microsoft, the computer software giant, are still shaping economic life here.

Microsoft, co-founded by Mr. Gates and Paul G. Allen, put Seattle on the map as a tech-rich city before the boom of dot-coms. Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen then took some of the billions they made and, starting in the early to mid-2000s, set out to work on global health at the Gates Foundation, and fundamental science in cell and brain research at the Allen Institute.

The result: In trying to change the world, they are also changing their backyard. Their causes, such as clean water, sanitation and health, are spawning a new ecosystem of global health care companies, research institutes and academic expertise at places like the University of Washington.

A study sponsored last year by the Washington Global Health Alliance said that global health–a mix of research, logistics and manufacturing–now accounts for more than 12,000 jobs in Washington state and nearly $6 billion in economic activity. In addition, there are growing networks of second-generation, nonprofit leaders who were schooled at the Gates Foundation or Allen Institute, and have now filtered out to form a kind of self-reinforcing army. Seattle is first in the nation in private foundation revenue per capita, according to the Urban Institute, with two and a half times the amount of the No. 2 city, San Francisco, where philanthropic technology wealth has also soared.

[NY Times]

Syrian refugee makes good on hand up

Abdul Halim al-Attar, a refugee from Syria who was photographed selling pens in the streets of Beirut, is now running three businesses in the city after an online crowdfunding campaign in his name collected $191,000. The 33-year-old father of two opened a bakery two months ago and has since added a kebab shop and a small restaurant to his business venture. He employs 16 Syrian refugees.

One of those moved by al-Attar’s plight was an online journalist and web developer in Norway, Gissur Simonarson, who created a Twitter account and an Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000 for al-Attar and his family. When it closed three months later, the campaign had collected almost forty times more: $188,685. Another $2,324 in donations has trickled in since then.

“Not only did my life change, but also the lives of my children and the lives of people in Syria whom I helped,” he said. Al-Attar said he gave away about $25,000 to friends and relatives in Syria.

For al-Attar, it’s a long way from Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus where he was employed at a chocolate factory. The camp is now devastated by fighting.

Getting the funds to al-Attar has been a struggle. So far he has only received 40 percent of roughly $168,000, after Indiegogo and Paypal took out about $20,000 in processing and banking fees. PayPal does not operate in Lebanon, so at the moment the cash is brought over to Lebanon bit-by-bit by a friend of the campaign who can make withdrawals in Dubai.

Despite his frustration and the uncertainty about when and whether he’ll receive the rest of his money, al-Attar feels grateful. He sported a T-shirt reading “Stay positive,” and a large smile. “When God wants to grant you something, you’ll get it,” he said.

“Seeing that he opened a restaurant and his kids look well taken care of, I’m really happy,” Simonarson said in a phone interview from Oslo.

[AP]

Toronto couple gives up big wedding plans to help Syrians

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian’s big March 2016 wedding–which they had been planning for over a year–was just months away when a photo of a little boy appeared and shocked the world.

The image of the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who had drowned along with several family members in a desperate attempt to reach Europe in September, drew attention to the Syrian refugee crisis like no other photo before it.

The photo “was a turning point, in the sense that we knew this was a perfect time to act,” Yousefian told the Star. “We knew that people were aware of the issue because (the photo) had made such an impact and brought the issue to the fore … We wanted to build on the momentum of that photo. It was a tragic circumstance, and we couldn’t fail to act.”

The couple decided that instead of a big celebration, they would opt for a smaller event at City Hall last month, in hopes of raising enough money to sponsor a Syrian family of four. Their wedding reception doubled as a fundraiser. Fortunately for the couple, their original wedding venue refunded their deposit, which was also a big help toward their $27,000 fundraising goal. So far they’ve raised about $17,500.

“We felt we had an obligation, in light of the humanitarian crisis, to contribute, and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to do that,” Yousefian said. “The joy we received from celebrating our wedding with family and friends would be amplified if we could use that as a platform to give back at the same time.”

[Toronto Star]

Frugal innovation for developing countries

“Frugal innovation” is a trendy term for a widely known–yet often overlooked–fact: The developing world cannot afford to throw massive resources at increasingly complex technologies to solve its problems. The developed world’s “model is … too costly, elitist, and rigid and fails to address even basic socioeconomic needs,” explains innovation and leadership strategist Navi Radjou.

In his 2014 TED/Global talk, Radjou illustrated that the “more (and better) with less” strategy is indispensable in developing new technologies. In many cases, simply paring down technologies that already exist makes them more widely accessible.

Accessibility, along with sustainability, affordability, and quality, are the four cornerstones of frugal innovation. They ensure that the technologies make it to the populations that need them most and, further, that the technologies will thrive there.

Crowdsourcing is essential to frugal innovation. Some of the most effective innovations derive not from experts with infinite resources but from individuals who come from the very conditions of poverty they are trying to eradicate–“where the street is the lab,” Radjou says.

Arunachalam Muruganantham, for example, created a simple machine that has provided thousands of women with much-needed sanitary pads. He was a poor college drop-out living in rural India when he built his machine out of sheer necessity as he realized his own wife lacked access to basic feminine hygiene.

And in Kenya, two university students from rural villages came up with a system to recharge a cell phone battery using energy generated from a bicycle. “We took most of [the] items from a junk yard–using bits from spoiled radios and spoiled televisions,” one of the students told the BBC.

[Global Envision]