Category: Philanthropy

PlayStation 5 launch gets more coverage than 10 humanitarian crises combined

Posted on by

Humanitarian crises are largely swept aside by other relatively trivial news:
-The launch of PlayStation 5 received 26 times more news attention than 10 humanitarian crises combined in 2020, according to a Care International report.
-The Eurovision song contest and Kanye West’s bid for the US presidency each received 10 times more online news attention than the humanitarian crises in question, the report also found.

The report points to violence and conflict in Burundi, CAR and Mali; hunger and drought in Madagascar and Zambia, and poverty and climate concerns in Malawi. Only one country in Europe – Ukraine – featured on Care’s list, where about 5 million people needed humanitarian aid last year and women hired out their wombs for money. Food insecurity in Guatemala, conflict in Pakistan and hunger and earthquakes in Papua New Guinea also saw these nations make the ranking.

The lack of media coverage adds to existing burdens for these 10 countries in crisis, including the effects of pandemic restrictions and the growing impact of climate change, said Care’s humanitarian advocacy coordinator and UN representative Delphine Pinault.

“Covid-19 has shown us that humanitarian crises can occur anywhere, but for so many people, especially women and girls, Covid-19 is just another threat on top of what they must face already,” said Pinault. “We must not be silent while the world ignores crises that started long before Covid-19 and yet still have not been addressed.”

An estimated 235 million people globally are expected to need humanitarian aid this year, an increase of 40% from 2020, according to data from the UN.

Care is urging governments to allow journalists better access to report “forgotten crisis” stories, and calling on global media to amplify the voices of women and girls and to partner with smaller, more local organizations to pay attention to news on the ground.

“When a crisis doesn’t make headlines, it often doesn’t receive sufficient humanitarian funding, either,” the report warns. “The publication of Care’s neglected crises report is therefore a call to action to the humanitarian and donor community to not turn a blind eye.”

[The Guardian]

COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities that already existed

Posted on by

In May 2019, when MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, signed the Giving Pledge—a commitment by some of the world’s wealthiest couples and individuals to give away their fortunes—she made an additional vow to swiftly dispense of her billions: “I won’t wait,” she wrote.

Based on the past 18 months, we should take her at her word. The nature and rapid pace of Scott’s giving are nearly unheard-of in the philanthropic world.

“She’s disrupting the norms around billionaire philanthropy by moving quickly, not creating a private foundation for her great-grandchildren to give the money away,” says Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Still, Scott is accumulating wealth faster than she can give it away. Her fortune, totaling $60.9 billion, has grown by $23.8 billion this year, making her the world’s 18th richest person.

The COVID-19 crisis, as we well know, has exacerbated inequalities that already existed. Scott is one of the few beneficiaries of the pandemic to acknowledge—even indirectly—this ugly truth; that she’s gotten richer because of a crisis that’s devastated so many.

She says as much in her Medium post: “This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling. Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color, and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

Scott could let her money do all the talking, but she seems determined insert herself into the conversation about mass wealth and inequality.

[Fortune]

MacKenzie Scott gives away $4.2 Billion in four months

Posted on by

MacKenzie Scott is giving away her fortune at an unprecedented pace, donating more than $4 billion in four months after announcing $1.7 billion in gifts in July.

The world’s 18th-richest person outlined the latest contributions in a blog post Tuesday, saying she asked her team to figure out how to give away her fortune faster. Scott’s wealth has climbed $23.6 billion this year to $60.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. with Amazon the primary source of her fortune surging.

“This pandemic has been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling,” she wrote in the post on Medium. “Economic losses and health outcomes alike have been worse for women, for people of color and for people living in poverty. Meanwhile, it has substantially increased the wealth of billionaires.”

Scott’s gifts this year approach $6 billion, which “has to be one of the biggest annual distributions by a living individual” to working charities, according to Melissa Berman, chief executive officer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Berman said Scott’s donations show that it’s possible to give large amounts quickly without requiring nonprofits to “jump through a lot of hoops to get the money.” The size of Scott’s gifts also disprove a common theory that’s it’s hard to deploy vast amounts of money without running into trouble or proving wasteful.

Scott’s advisers zeroed-in on 384 groups to receive gifts, after considering almost 6,500 organizations. Donations were focused on those “operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.”

Recipients include more than 30 institutions of higher education, including several tribal colleges and historically Black colleges and universities. More than 40 food banks received money, as did almost four dozen local affiliates of Goodwill Industries International.

Betsy Biemann, CEO of Maine-based Coastal Enterprises Inc., said it received $10 million, equivalent to the size of their annual operating budget. It’s a show of how powerful Scott’s enormous fortune is, especially when she decides to give to smaller organizations. “It’s an amazing day at the end of what’s been a very challenging year,” said Biemann, whose nonprofit provides financing and advice to small businesses and entrepreneurs, especially those from rural areas or disadvantaged groups.

Scott, 50, who was formerly married to Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, signed the Giving Pledge in 2019, promising to give away the majority of her fortune.

[Bloomberg]

The Role Model of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates

Posted on by

A lot of people look up to Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. But who do Buffett and Gates look up to?

That would be Chuck Feeney. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s by design. Feeney is a multi-billionaire — actually, make that a former multi-billionaire. He co-founded a chain of duty-free shops (the kind you see in airports), and later made it his life’s mission to donate every cent he’d ever made to charity.

Having made billions, his goal was to die broke. He did it all very quietly for years — even anonymously, trying not to draw attention to himself. His quest eventually became known, however, and last week, Feeney reached his goal: having given away a total of $8 billion — virtually his entire fortune — at the age of 89. “To those wondering about giving while living: Try it. You’ll like it.” Feeney said, during the meeting when he signed the papers to dissolve his charitable foundation, since it no longer has any assets.

For Buffett and Gates, a milestone date of May 5, 2009,  explains their awe and reverence for Feeney: At a dinner at Rockefeller University in New York, Feeney was there, along with Oprah Winfrey, then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg, David Rockefeller (the host), and about a dozen other billionaires. It was out of that dinner meeting that Buffett and Gates teamed up to announce the Giving Pledge, convincing 210 other billionaires (so far) to commit to give away at least half their net worth. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett credit Chuck Feeney as a major inspiration for both the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Giving Pledge.

Feeney and his wife reportedly live in a fairly modest, rented apartment in San Francisco. After giving away most of his fortune, Feeney reportedly has a remaining net worth of about $2 million. That would mean he held on to about .025 percent of his net worth, just to keep himself and his wife comfortable in their Golden Years.

[Inc]

Pope to UN: COVID crisis should help us come out better, not worse

Posted on by

Pope Francis urged world leaders Friday to use the coronavirus emergency as an opportunity to reform the injustices of the global economy and the “perverse logic” of the nuclear deterrence doctrine, warning that increased isolationist responses to problems “must not prevail.”

Francis laid out his appeal for greater involvement and influence of the United Nations in protecting the poor, migrants and the environment in a videotaped speech Friday to the U.N. General Assembly, held mostly virtually this year because of the pandemic.

Francis said the world has a choice to make as it emerges from the COVID-19 crisis and addresses the grave economic impact it has had on the planet’s most vulnerable: greater solidarity, dialogue and multilateralism, or self-retreat into greater nationalism, individualism and elitism.

“The pandemic has shown us that we cannot live without one another, or worse still, pitted against one another,” he said. “This is why, at this critical juncture, it is our duty to rethink the future of our common home and our common project.”

[Washington Post]

World Humanitarian Day tribute to aid workers on the front lines

Posted on by

Today, World Humanitarian Day, the world honors all humanitarians – many working in their own communities – who are going to extraordinary lengths in extraordinary times to help women, men and children whose lives are upended by crises and the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid a global pandemic, unprecedented needs and growing insecurity, aid workers and health-care responders are staying and delivering to the world’s most vulnerable people.

  • The dedication, perseverance and self-sacrifice of these real-life heroes represent the best of humanity as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis and the massive increase in humanitarian needs it has triggered.
  • Last year was the most violent on record for humanitarians, with 483 attacked, 125 killed, 234 wounded and 124 kidnapped.

Humanitarian workers are being tested like never before, struggling with unprecedented movement restrictions and insufficient resources as needs are outpacing funds.  And all too often, they risk their own lives to save the lives of others. Read more

[WHO]

Doris Buffett and the Sunshine Lady Foundation

Posted on by

Doris Buffett, a self-styled retail philanthropist, who once declared that her billionaire younger brother, Warren Buffett, “loves to make money and I love to give it away,” has passed away at age 92.

When Doris inherited millions in Berkshire Hathaway stock from a family trust in 1996, instead of clinging to it like a security blanket, she dedicated the rest of her life to giving it away—all of it—mostly to individuals in trouble through no fault of their own. She gave away well over $100 million of her own money. She said she wanted to give it all away; that she wanted the last check she wrote to bounce due to “insufficient funds.” 

She began the Sunshine Lady Foundation, helping battered women, sick children, and at-risk kids who otherwise would never have had the chance to go to college. She also funded college programs for prison inmates, lowering recidivism. And she did it through “retail philanthropy,” often making personal phone calls to those who needed help, one by one. 

Doris shunned what she called “the S.O.B.’s” — symphonies, operas and ballets — and instead concentrated on the underprivileged.

Despite a life filled with negative experiences, Doris kept her heart open, focusing on the needs of others. She’d been knocked down repeatedly, only to get up, brush herself off, and go on. So there was no greater joy for her than knowing she had given someone else a hand up.

Americans can’t travel to Europe

Posted on by

We’re used to thinking of our blue US passports as keys to almost anywhere. Due to Covid19 spread in the US, we are now forced to experience travel as others do.

We now find ourselves in the uncomfortable position more familiar to the Syrian, Nigerian and Iranian citizens who are routinely, unilaterally denied entry to the US and other countries, no matter their individual actions, belief systems or political persuasions.

Being stuck on the sidelines while the rest of the world gets to experience the joy of travel also provides us with a rare opportunity to think critically about the meaning of global citizenship. An awareness of and compassion for the kinds of challenges other people and communities face is a cornerstone of global citizenship.

{Might this be a time to reflect on making] visitors to the US – from tourists to refugees – feel more welcome and accepted.

Another change should involve never again taking our own sense of welcome and acceptance for granted, in Europe or anywhere else. After all, this sense of entitlement has often led to bad behaviors like insulting Spanish ticket sellers for not speaking English, carving names into Rome’s Colosseum, and bathing in the Trevi fountain. Such actions not only cast a negative light on Americans but result in penalties that affect all tourists, such as barricades around major attractions. They also put a wedge between visitors and residents that threatens to cut off the kinds of cross-cultural exchanges that are such important elements of global citizenship. How can we build connections to other people when they – often rightly – believe we don’t respect their homes?

It’s also time to think more critically about global travel. We must acknowledge its costs in terms of both climate change and “overtourism”, which encompasses the diverse environmental, social and cultural impacts of tourism to already heavily trafficked areas. If we want to bequeath any elements of our current world to future generations, we must reduce our carbon footprints and overall impact on the locales we visit. This may mean forgoing trips to bucket-list destinations in favor of lesser-trod locales or simply exploring closer to home.

[Excerpts of an Opinion piece in The Guardian by Tamara J. Walker]

Twitter CEO donates $1 Billion to coronavirus relief

Posted on by

Billionaire Jack Dorsey is joining a growing list of celebrities and business leaders who are using their wealth to help in the battle against coronavirus.

The 43-year-old, who is CEO of both Twitter and digital payments service Square, announced that he will be transferring $1 billion to focus on providing relief for victims of coronavirus, and then shift to girls’ health and education when the disease is finally tamed.

“I’m moving $1B of my Square equity (~28% of my wealth) …to fund global COVID-19 relief,” Dorsey wrote on Twitter.

“After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl’s health and education, and [universal basic income].”

[People]

Ten-minute coronavirus test for $1 could be a game changer

Posted on by

Already exhausted from testing for monkeypox and Lassa fever, Nigerian molecular bio-engineer Nnaemeka Ndodo had to work well past midnight earlier this month to find out if six Chinese construction workers were infected with the coronavirus. Ndodo had to collect samples from a hospital an hour away in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, then wait for six hours to get the results in what’s one of only five laboratories able to test for the virus in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

In about three months’ time, U.K.-based Mologic Ltd., in collaboration with Senegalese research foundation Institut Pasteur de Dakar, could shorten that wait to 10 minutes with a test that will help a continent with the world’s most fragile healthcare system cope with the pandemic.

With few resources and staff, authorities are racing to contain the spread of the disease in Africa, which accounts for 1% of global health expenditure but carries 23% of the disease burden, including hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from malaria, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis.

Thirty-six of 54 countries on the continent have the capacity to test for the coronavirus, but a spike in cases could overwhelm laboratories. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Sunday he struck a partnership with Chinese billionaire Jack Ma to distribute between 10,000 and 20,000 test kits and 100,000 masks per African country, as well as newly developed guidebooks for treatment.

Separately, the Ethiopia-based Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention expects to distribute 200,000 tests across the continent next week, mostly from Berlin-based TIB Molbiol GmbH, according to the group’s head of laboratory, Yenew Kebede.

“There is no shortage of lab tests in Africa, but what we want is the faster, cheaper test to quickly confirm if there is an outbreak and contain it before it gets bigger,”said Rosanna Peeling, chair of diagnostics research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Using technology from home pregnancy and malaria tests, Mologic’s saliva and finger-prick kit could be ready for sale by June for less than $1 apiece.

“We are ensuring that these tests are made accessible at the cost of manufacture,” said Joe Fitchett, medical director of Mologic, which received a $1.2 million grant from the U.K. government to develop the test.

The current Covid-19 tests, known as PCR tests, detect the genetic material of the pathogen in a laboratory process that can take several hours and cost over $400 in some private facilities.

[Bloomberg]