A blog by Grant Montgomery, co-founder of a 501c3 that provides emergency services and sustained development for communities, families and children on 5 continents. Articles and commentary on Philanthropy, Global Aid and Development.
Nonprofit charity: water recently launched its innovative, annual September Campaign, seeking to raise $1.7 million in order to bring clean, safe water to nearly 26,000 people in Rwanda.
Under the leadership of founder Scott Harrison, the organization is reinventing the nonprofit model by marketing itself like a tech company, guaranteeing 100 percent of donations to funding its water projects and taking full advantage of social media. For those and other reasons, it has become one of the hottest and most innovative nonprofits around.
Bill Clinton’s annual Clinton Global Initiative attracted a cast of political, celebrity, and nonprofit all-stars, bringing a flood of new commitments to push for real, fast change. Call-outs to some of the lesser celebrities:
John Calipari (Kentucky basketball coach) – John Calipari likes to see action on and off the court. “I don’t like getting involved where there’s no scoreboard,” he said. At the “Turning Inspiration Into Action” breakout meeting, he talked about seeing the first photos emerging from the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and leaping into action with his team, raising $1 million in one day soon after. It wasn’t something to mull over, he stressed. “People were dying. What we had to do was act now. I went to Haiti, and, I’ll be honest with you, we kept people alive.”
Loretta Claiborne (six-time gold medalist at the Special Olympics) – “I had a mother, and she was told to institutionalize me. To put me in an institution, and that would be the end of it,” Loretta Claiborne, a six-time gold medalist at the Special Olympics, told the audience at CGI’s opening plenary. “Still today, around the globe, people with intellectual disabilities such as I are still being housed in warehouses and institutions.” Claiborne, who was born partially blind and experienced delays in walking and speech development, made a touching speech leading to the announcement of a $12 million donation by philanthropist Tom Golisano to expand the Special Olympics’ health services.
The Awards Ceremony – Sometimes politicians, CEOs, and otherwise stiff-lipped professionals need to let loose too. At the Global awards ceremony, musical artists set the crowd on fire, especially Benin singer Angelique Kidjo. Belting out rhythmic African songs, Kidjo climbed down from the stage to get the audience singing. Sister Rosemary, a Ugandan nun at President Clinton’s table, waved her hands over her head, as Clinton sang along. At one point Kidjo passed the microphone to Mexican billionaire businessman Carlos Slim, who gave the ceremony a taste of his vocal cords. Not bad.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS have recommended a significant change in the process for determining whether a foreign nongovernmental organization (NGO) meets U.S. standards for charitable giving.
In “Reliance Standards for Making Good Faith Determinations,” a document just published in the Federal Register, Treasury and the IRS have proposed regulations that lessen the administrative and financial burdens for U.S. grantmakers to engage in international philanthropy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the guidance in an address at the Clinton Global Initiative, during which she unveiled the Global Philanthropy Working Group.
The process of evaluating whether a non-U.S. NGO is equivalent to a U.S. public charity has been subject to rules that have not changed for 20 years. Secretary Clinton noted in her remarks this morning that the change clears the way for the establishment of organizations that can serve as repositories for equivalency determinations, though the proposed regulations do not specifically address this matter.
“Secretary Clinton’s announcement and the IRS guidance support a shared cross-sector vision of ways to reduce redundancy and lower costs and are a welcome signal from the government to grantmakers and their grantees,” said Rebecca Masisak, co-CEO of TechSoup Global.
Kelly Shipp Simone, deputy general counsel of the Council on Foundations, said, “While this guidance is key to reducing the burdens of private foundations in making international grants, we expect it will also serve as a guide to public charities seeking to make similar grants. The net result will be to reduce the burden on potential grantees as well.”
At the newly-opened Clinton Global Initiative, among other things former President Bill Clinton challenged Wal-Mart to open a store in Libya and help create jobs in the world’s most troubled areas.
The annual forum brings together leaders in politics, business and philanthropy for three days of brainstorming about the most pressing global problems. Newly elected Libyan President Mohamed Magariafis is listed among about 1,000 forum participants, as is Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, along with 50 other current or former heads of state.
The theme of the 2012 meeting is “Designing for Impact.” Its stated purpose is to consider how the Clinton Global Initiative community “can utilize our abundance of global capacity to invent better tools, build more effective interventions, and work creatively and collaboratively to design a future worth pursuing.”
The U.N. secretary-general said the “top priority” is sustainable development – especially for basic needs such as energy, food and water in poor parts of the world. “I’m going to sound an alarm to all the leaders,” he said. “We are living in an era of insecurity, injustice, inequality and intolerance, and what should we do?”
Three years ago, Mashable, the 92Y and the United Nations Foundation started the Social Good Summit. This year, the discussions of how new tools and platforms can be used to solve the world’s greatest challenges are extending with the launch of The Global Conversation.
With the help of two new partners, the U.N. Development Programme and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as strategic sponsor Ericsson, the Social Good Summit will extend to Beijing, China and Nairobi, Kenya. Segments of the two conferences, as well as a third in Mogadishu, Somalia, was streamed online.
Though the Social Good Summit has been streamed online in the past, this year’s expansion offers tech and digital leaders on opposite ends of the world a seat at the table. Outside of New York, Beijing, Nairobi and Mogadishu, the Global Conversation will be taking place in local meetups in more than half of the countries on earth. The goal is nothing short of creating the biggest conversation the world has ever held.
Late last week, Microsoft announced the launch of YouthSpark, a new worldwide program that seeks to close the “opportunity gap” that is disenfranchising young people across the world. The program is an important first step in solving the rampant unemployment issues that have left young people jaded and discouraged in both the developed and developing world.
The lack of job opportunities are one reason the Arab Spring has flared up across the Middle East. Meanwhile, the dearth of job skills stifles business growth in Latin American nations. And the lack of jobs for high school and college grads in the U.S. has been one of the worst outcomes of the recent global financial crises.
To that end, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, announced the company’s most ambitious philanthropy initiative in its 37 years of existence. At a cost of $500 million spread over the next three years, the program’s goal is to provide training, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to as many 300 million youths in 100 nations. Children as young as six up to young adults in the mid-twenties, according to the company, will benefit from Microsoft’s partnership with over hundreds of NGOs and non-profits across the globe.
It’s not often – well ever, really – that 150 of the world’s 400 wealthiest billionaires gather in one place at one time, particularly to talk about how they plan to give all those billions away. But that’s just what philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Jacqueline Novogratz, Leon Black and Steve Case – and their peers – gathered together to do this past June.
Forbes Insights, together with Credit Suisse, used this unprecedented gathering to better understand how the world’s wealthiest approach giving back. What we found surprised us: yes, legacy is important, but not as important as making an impact as quickly as possible. And billions of dollars can make a tremendous impact — it can truly change the world.
More than half of Summit attendees who participated in the poll said that they expected to see a meaningful return on their philanthropic investment within 10 years, while four in 10 were prepared for an impact that stretched beyond their lifetime.
And they were risk takers, applying the same aggressive approaches in their charitable endeavors that they used in their business activities. Two-thirds invested in either early- or growth-stage philanthropic endeavors, rather than the old tried-and-true established charities with long track records.
In short: they were looking to make their mark, take risks, and solve the world’s most intractable problems – the huge knots that no one had yet been able to untangle.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are the most philanthropic folks on the planet. To date the men have given away $28 billion and $17.5 billion respectively.
And Buffett’s and Gates’ partnership in generosity is by now well-known. In 2006, Buffett pledged to donate 10 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The gift, then valued around $31 billion, is given in annual increments of 5% of the remaining pledged shares. So far, more than $9.5 billion has been transferred—and largely given away.
One of Buffett’s few requirements is that each installment be spent within a year of receipt. So the 2011 payment of about $1.5 billion must be granted out in 2012. His other stipulations are that use of his gift must meet all legal requirements of charity and that Bill or Melinda must be alive and active in the foundation for the pledge to hold.
Buffett’s $1.25 billion contribution in 2009 accounted for slightly more than 50% of the just under $2.5 billion given by the foundation in 2010. So that year, by Forbes estimations, Buffett gave $751 million to global health and $157 million to education, while Gates gave $734 million and $154 million, correspondingly.
In total, Forbes estimates that Gates has given around $8.3 billion toward health and $4.6 billion toward education. Buffett’s health total is about $3.9 billon and his education number is around $1.1 billion.
A little over a decade ago there were around 100,000 phone lines in Nigeria, mostly landlines run by the state-owned telecoms behemoth, NITEL. Today NITEL is dead, and Nigeria has close to 100 million mobile phone lines, making it Africa’s largest telecoms market.
Across the rest of the continent the trends are similar: between 2000 and 2010, Kenyan mobile phone firm Safaricom saw its subscriber base increase in excess of 500-fold. In 2010 alone the number of mobile phone users in Rwanda grew by 50 per cent, figures from the country’s regulatory agency show.
Amongst the ways lives are changing as a result: A simple text-messaging solution was all 28-year-old Ghanaian doctoral student, Bright Simons needed for his innovative plan to tackle counterfeit medicine in African countries. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 30% of drugs supplied in developing countries are fake. (In 2009, nearly 100 Nigerian babies died after they were given teething medicine that contained a solvent usually found in antifreeze.)
Simons’ pioneering idea was to put unique codes within scratch cards on medicine packaging that buyers can send via SMS to a designated number to find out if the drug is genuine or not. The system is now being used by several countries in Africa and rolled out to places such as Asia where there are similar problems with counterfeit drugs.
In South Africa there’s Impilo, a service that allows people to find healthcare providers anywhere in the country 24 hours a day, using their mobile phones.
Mobile phones are going to play an increasingly important role in mediating the provision of better healthcare to the citizens of African countries. Phone companies are realizing that mobiles are highly effective — and potentially lucrative — for the dissemination of health and lifestyle tips.
Over the next several decades, as baby boomers in the United States age and transfer their wealth to the next generation, an unprecedented $41 trillion will change hands.
These young inheritors are, for the most part, Millennials — the generation born between 1978 and 2000. As it turns out, this group’s attitudes about social responsibility, private capital, and the intersection between the two do indeed appear to differ from those of their parents, perhaps starkly.
“Think back to the great philanthropists of years past who thought of making money in the first half of their lives and giving it away in the second half,” says Justin Rockefeller, a trustee and member of the investment committee at the $739 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund, great-great grandson of John D. Rockefeller, and, at 33, himself a Millennial. “Today, that view is still pretty pervasive, that there’s capitalism and making money on one side, and philanthropy on the other. I think the younger generation is seeing that as a false dichotomy, or at least something that will increasingly become a false dichotomy.”
Data indicates that he’s right: Millennials are more likely to embrace a philosophy that financial interests and social interests ought to directly overlap, thereby ostensibly benefitting both wallet and world.
In late 2011 Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu commissioned two surveys: Both surveys asked whether business success should be based on more than just profit — 92 percent of Millennials said it should, and 71 percent of current business leaders agreed. When each group was asked to describe the purpose of business, Millennials most often said “innovation” and “societal development,” while business leaders’ top responses were “profit” and “value.”
Over half of Millennials believed that in the future, more than any other sector of society, business would achieve the greatest impact on solving society’s biggest challenges. These are no longer abstract philosophical schisms for the wealth management firms and advisers who are overseeing the massive transfer of assets from one generation to the next — the schisms are practical, and they’re starting to force changes at firms and family offices from the inside out.