Monthly Archives: October 2012

Gates Foundation, USAID Award African Women Scientists $19 Million

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African Women in Agricultural Research and Development has announced $19 million in joint funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in support of a fellowship program for women scientists.

Grants of $14 million from the Gates Foundation and up to $5 million from USAID will support the second five-year phase of AWARD’s efforts to bolster the research and leadership skills of female agricultural scientists in eleven sub-Saharan African countries. Since 2008, more than two thousand women have applied for two hundred and fifty fellowships, and more than a thousand are competing for seventy places in the next round, which will be announced in December.

According to a 2008 benchmarking study by AWARD, while the majority of those who produce, process, and market food in Africa are women, only one in four agricultural researchers is a woman and only one in seven holds a leadership position in African agricultural research institutions.

“Cultivating a new generation of African leaders in food and agriculture is strategically important,” said AWARD director Vicki Wilde. “That leadership will be all the more effective when women are highly represented, especially by those technically competent and strategically positioned to generate and promote the innovations needed by rural women and other smallholder farmers.”

Millennials search for career opportunities to create social impact

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Social entrepreneurship is the new black. The idea of not choosing between profit and purpose seems to be gaining traction as America continues to cultivate a new sense of philanthropic virtue.

And the growing emphasis on social good is empowering millennials (ages 16-29) to balance their career goals with karma. One question keeps coming up. Will social entrepreneurship drive a paradigm shift in the hiring procedures of corporate America?

There is a growing trend in business school students searching for opportunities to create social impact. A recent study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business showed that ninety percent of MBAs were willing to sacrifice financial benefits to work for a company that demonstrates a strong commitment to social good (i.e. positive ethics, community reputation etc.)

From the corporate perspective, more potential employees sourced from top learning institutions ask specifically about volunteering and community service, indicating that it is one of the criteria for an “employer of choice.”

It’s clear that in this day and age of blogging and information sharing, companies that don’t consider magnifying their community footprint will be held accountable by future potential employees. With volunteerism and social entrepreneurship becoming a bigger part of college applications, curriculums and media, it seems the trend is here to stay.

Dedicated Funding for Leadership Development

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The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund … believe strongly in the critical importance of unrestricted general operating support because it provides nonprofit leaders with the flexibility to direct spending toward strategic priorities facing their organizations.

However, the Haas, Jr. Fund also believes there are times when general operating support may not be the most effective capacity-building strategy. Over the past seven years of the Haas Leadership Initiative, our experience has been that executive directors are often reluctant to allocate unrestricted funds to strengthening organizational leadership for a variety of reasons:

  • Executive directors almost always find it difficult to prioritize longer-term staff and leadership development work when confronted with short-term programmatic needs and tight budgets.
  • The “selfless” culture of nonprofit leadership discourages leaders from dedicating resources to their own development.
  • Some executive directors fear that choosing to invest general support funds in leadership development could be perceived as a sign of weakness—a sign that a leader, or the board, isn’t up to the task of managing an organization and “needs help.”

John Harvey, Managing Director of Global Philanthropy with the Council on Foundations, recalled his own time as a nonprofit ED and the struggles he went through as he sought to convince himself and his board of the value of investing discretionary funds in leadership development. “A restricted grant would mean that no one—not a frugal board nor a prudent (or un-self-aware) nonprofit leader—could say no to professional development,” Harvey wrote.

The bottom line: many in philanthropy, including the Center for Effective Philanthropy, agree that large, multi-year operating support grants are critically important for nonprofits. But it seems that an increasing number also see that there are times when dedicated funding is an important complementary strategy for strengthening organizational leadership.

Excerpt of article by Linda Wood

The nonprofit outlook on donor fatigue

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To make up for funding gaps, many nonprofit organizations are working harder than ever before to reach donors through Facebook, Twitter and chain emails.

Often, however, the reality is that multiple charities are trying to reach the same donors, creating a potentially annoying situation.

“There’s a lot of great organizations,” said Travis DiNicola, executive director of Indy Reads, a nonprofit that works to improve literacy skills of adults. “But at some point, there’s only so many donors and so many dollars.”

Many leaders of nonprofits say it has allowed them to maximize the resources they have and cut out unnecessary ones. It also has taught them how to weather future economic downturns.

“There’s not a doom-and-gloom. I think that’s wrong,” says one director. “It’s just changed. So you rise up. You move on.”


Microsoft has given $1 billion to 31,000 non-profits

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Microsoft is celebrating 30 years of giving, a huge milestone for the Redmond-based software company. And at a press conference, the company also announced that it has given $1 billion in donations to more than 31,000 non-profit groups during that time.

“We stood up in times of crisis and helped the people in Japan, in Pakistan, in Haiti,” said CEO Steve Ballmer.

Needless to say, Microsoft has given time and money that has had a huge impact around the world.

It’s a culture of generosity that was started by co-founder Bill Gates, who credits his parents for setting an example of philanthropy and encouraged him to start a giving program.

Doing what you love as a social entrepreneur

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Social entrepreneurship heals one of the world’s most common ailments: hating work.

While too many people see their job as a necessary burden on the path to a paycheck, the social entrepreneur’s journey is a reward, in and of itself. Work is a vehicle to translate passion into action, and action into social change. There is no divide between personal values and professional aspirations because they are aligned in the social venture.

Nevertheless, there will be times in every social entrepreneur’s life that make her wonder whether the return justifies the investment. Lack of resources, physical and mental exhaustion, disappointing results – these factors, and others – spell doubt and fatigue. While the highs of social entrepreneurship are deeply satisfying, the lows can be crippling because so much is at stake around the cause.

This emotional rollercoaster makes social entrepreneurship a psychological battle. In the face of agony and chaos, Inspiration Capital provides the edge to succeed.

Inspiration capital is the motivational force created by your greatest source of inspiration. It is necessary because, without hope, financial capital is an incomplete resource. During inevitable periods of adversity, the most valuable currency is inspiration. Inspiration capital reinvigorates your purpose and revitalizes your confidence to pursue it.

The value of inspiration capital is freely exchanged: not only do you leverage it for support, but also you share it through your positive actions. Whether you are a social entrepreneur who is just getting started, getting going, or getting over a setback, you have to stay focused, motivated and optimistic. Only the most tenacious succeed in this war of attrition. As a founder, your attitude – positive or negative – is contagious to all your stakeholders. When you experience moments of despair or frustration, remember your greater purpose and tap your inspiration capital. The exercise will refresh you and your commitment to the mission.

Read full article by Ashok Kamal


Wealthy focus more on giving globally and quickly

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Forbes Insights and Credit Suisse conducted a study of some of the world’s wealthiest to gain deeper insight into their motivations, strategies and financial philosophies. The research shed light on the total lifecycle of philanthropy — from the moment an individual first decides to use his or her fortune to do good to the legacy he or she plans to leave behind — and the spirit of giving they hope will live on in their descendants.

Those who participated in the study bring the same tenacious, pragmatic approach to giving away their wealth as they brought to amassing it in the first place. This makes sense; when you get right down to it, business and giving are not really all that different. Both require a results-driven approach, a strong strategic vision, the ability to surround oneself with the right team for the job and the understanding that the biggest risks most often result in the biggest rewards. Fifty-three percent found applying their business experience to their philanthropy an effective and successful approach to giving – a sentiment that only increases with wealth.

More of the wealthy respondents partner with businesses (40%) for their philanthropic endeavors than with government agencies (22%) or other non-profits (28%). Eight in 10 of the wealthiest preferred to give to early- or growth-stage endeavors, rather than the more established organizations. Why allow yourself to get snagged in the stickiness of so much red tape when you can use other channels to move more quickly?

But what surprised us most in our Forbes Insights study was not just the scope and scale of the wealth they plan to disburse, but how quickly they plan to do so.

And more than half – 54% — of respondents to the study planned to leave more than a quarter of their assets to charity. Close to half of those with more than $20 million in investable assets plan to leave half or more of their wealth to charity; nearly 1 in 5 of those with over $50 million in investable assets plan to give it all away. A massive level of giving, to be sure – but those with the greatest amounts to give planned to give it away the fastest.


Top American charities struggling

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Many of America’s biggest nonprofits have officially left the Great Recession behind, but the slow economic recovery continues to dampen results at even the most sophisticated fundraising organizations.

The 400 groups that raise the most from private sources achieved a median 7.5-percent gain last year. That’s much better than for the rest of the nonprofit world: Giving USA said charitable giving over all grew less than 1 percent last year.

But the outlook among the top 400 charities is far less optimistic for 2012, with nonprofits forecasting a median gain of less than 1 percent.

The unfortunate new normal for nonprofits

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The new normal — nonprofit organizations are going to have to do more with less. Sad, because the needs are great, and the funding is challenging for a lot of not-for-profits.

Although total charitable giving is rising from the pits of the 2008 recession, it’s doing so at an agonizingly slow pace and has yet to reach pre-recession levels.

In fact, last year, corporate donations dropped by 3.1 percent, adjusted for inflation, which cut into the slight gains in personal giving. Many charities, as a result, have cut staff or put added pressure on remaining employees to raise funds. Some workers, and even donors, are feeling burned out. Many nonprofits also are increasingly relying on volunteers to fill the gap in resources.

In 2010 and 2011, U.S. charitable giving grew only by an inflation-adjusted average of 1.8 percent nationwide — making it the second-worst recovery following a recession in 40 years, according to a report by the Giving USA Foundation and Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy.

If giving continued to increase at that rate, it would take 10 years to reach the amount donated in 2007.

Grameen Bank taken over by Bangladesh government

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Mads Kjaer of MYC4 commenting on the Grameen Bank being taken over by the Bangladeshi government, and ousted Nobel laureate and micro finance pioneer Muhammed Yunus:

Microfinance of 20 years ago is completely different from what we have today. Actually, what Yunus started was micro-credit and now we have microfinance (that offers a whole range of other financial products & services). Microfinance has grown to such a level that it cannot go unnoticed by governments. And that’s why in the last decade, there has been a wave of regulation and licensing of MFIs and the industry has evolved from donor and government programs to commercial ventures primarily driven by the private sector.

Microfinance Institutions are currently holding a lot of financial resources in both credit and savings and if not properly managed and controlled, they can be cause a risk to the financial sector. Microfinance has therefore evolved as an industry and moving forward we should see professionalism  and proper ownership and governance structures in place.

The case of Yunus could have had a political angle to it but the fact the government could not give him exemption to remain a director being over-age, is a manifestation that microfinance has outgrown its “founding fathers” and emerging as a professional industry.

History often repeats itself; in our western culture we seem to forget that we also used to have thousands of small savings-credit and cooperative institutions/banks that over time were merged, acquired, and grew to large financial institutions of today like Chase.