Chinese Billionaire Donates $10 Billion to Charity

Chinese Billionaire Donates $10 Billion to Charity

Apr 28

According to a survey conducted in October 2015, China now has more billionaires than the United States. That’s pretty impressive, especially for a “communist” country, but those billionaires haven’t really turned to philanthropy in any meaningful way. There are likely a number of reasons for this, from the fact that the existence of the ultra-rich is very much a new phenomenon in China, to the tendency of many wealthy Chinese to keep a low profile. Big flashy donations aren’t a good way to stay off the radar. But that could be changing. Recently Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent holdings Ltd, a Chinese entertainment company, announced that he was donating 100 million shares to charity. That comes out to about $2 billion, of his estimated $18.8 billion fortune, and is frankly a huge sum of money. That money will go towards medical, educational, and environmental organizations through China. Pony Ma is not the first Chinese billionaire to make such a gesture, as back in 2014 Alibaba founders Jack Ma (no relation) and Joe Tsai donated $3 billion worth of shares between them. Chinese philanthropy recently got another boost when parliament passed it’s first charity law, which attempts to shore up giving in a country where many people do not trust non-profits thanks to a variety of recent scandals there. China does have a lot of opportunities for people to help, as large parts of the country are still “developing” and aren’t nearly as affluent as the major cities of Beijing, Hong Kong, and the like. As with anywhere else, the rise of ultra-wealthy people in China has come at the expense of others, and charitable giving is a way to make up for that, something that the rich in many other countries take to heart. Hopefully, the Chinese rich will do the same with more frequency following these...

Marie-Josée Kravis and Henry R. Kravis Establish New Scholarships for Students

Marie-Josée Kravis and Henry R. Kravis Establish New Scholarships for Students

Apr 07

The Stern Undergraduate College at New York University has announced that it will use a generous donation of $1.8 million from the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation to create a new scholarship. The funds will support high-achieving, low-income students entering Stern for the fall 2016 semester. Students given the scholarship will be known as the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis scholars. The Kravis Foundation also supports NYU’s “Momentum Campaign,” which hopes to raise $1 billion in funding over the next six years for scholarships. With the addition of the Kravis’ donation, the school has now raised over $100 million to put toward scholarships, and it has reached the halfway point in its overall goal with $500 million raised. “Talent doesn’t correlate with zip code. This scholarship will help more talented men and women who lack resources pursue higher education,” said Henry Kravis, co-founder and co-CEO of global investment firm KKR. Andrew Hamilton, NYU’s president, agrees. “Addressing college costs and affordability are among my foremost priorities,” he said. “Next year, we will enact NYU’s smallest increase in undergraduate cost-of-attendance in more than 20 years. But even important steps such as that must be accompanied by improvements in scholarship aid.” “And so we are grateful to Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis for their generous gift, which will permit students filled with talent and ambition but lacking financial resources to obtain the NYU education of which they dream,” Hamilton said. This is not the first donation the Kravis Foundation has made to education. Last spring, the foundation pledged $100 million to Rockefeller University to create a new laboratory as a campus extension. That laboratory will be a two-floor centerpiece of the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation—David Rockefeller River Campus, consuming three city blocks on the shore. The new lab will provide plenty of space for the school’s science and research projects. The Kravis Foundation’s gifts ensure that new generations of intelligent, committed students will have the educational resources they need for years to...

Governor Christie Vetoes Bill to Tax For-Profit Functions in Non-Profit Hospitals

Governor Christie Vetoes Bill to Tax For-Profit Functions in Non-Profit Hospitals

Mar 31

Non-profit hospitals in New Jersey have been scrambling to “defend” themselves against the state government, after Morristown Medical Center as found to be operating for-profit in most of it’s center, and thus was subject to property taxes. Eventually, the two parties settled for $15.5 million, but a lot of other hospitals are worried that they’ll be next, and a number of appeals are in motion at the moment. The state legislature recently passed a bill to establish taxes for non-profit hospitals with have for-profit operations within their property, something that is apparently pretty common in the medical world. The problem is that, since the for-profit aspects operate under the same roof as the non-profit aspects of a given hospital, they aren’t’ subject to property taxes, and that’s simply not fair. They’re still making use of municipal services and therefore should be paying their fair share, even if that’s still less than a totally for-profit medical center. But Governor Chris Christie vetoed that bill, and said he’s pushing for a two-year “freeze” on litigation related to the tax exempt status of hospitals in the state. He wants the state assembly to establish a commission to investigate the issue ad develop a system that works for all parties, and said that the bill he vetoed was “rushed.” Response has been mixed. There are those, both in the legislature and among hospital administrators, who support the governor’s plan, with some of the latter arguing that the current handling of the situation has created an adversarial relationship between the state and the hospitals. Others in the legislature feel that the bill they presented was fair, and that the governor was mistaken in vetoing it. They argue that the problem needs to be addressed now, not later, and that all parties involved deserve clarity in developing a...

Honduran Environmental Activist Berta Cáceres Murdered

Honduran Environmental Activist Berta Cáceres Murdered

Mar 28

Photo credit: a katz / Shutterstock.com Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist and member of the Lenca indigenous people of Honduras, was assassinated in the home of a friend at the end of February. She had been staying there due to recent threats against her life. She was 44 and a mother of four. Two of her children had already left Honduras for their own safety. Cáceres was a long time activist, and most recently was working to oppose the Agura Zarca Dam project, one of the largest hydroelectric plants in Central America, and one which threatens the Gualcarque River and the Lenca people. That dam was being built in without having followed rules Honduras had agreed to follow in order to protect indigenous peoples and their land. As Cáceres and others mobilized support against the dam, the builders responded by militarizing the region, and in February she and others were confronted by the Honduran army, dam workers, and local law enforcement and detained. Honduras has a poor record for environmental and indigenous rights issues, and has recently been judged responsible for numerous violations by the United Nations Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It was following this judgment that the country revised rules for land development which should have prevented the Agura Zarca Dam project in the first place. Berta Cáceres is not alone in having been assassinated for her activism. A close friend, Thomás Garcia was killed in 2013, and in fact hundreds of activists are murdered each year across the globe because of their work. Human rights groups which track such information report that 116 people were killed in 2014 alone, 40% of whom belonged to indigenous groups. Human rights experts believe that these number are probably low, as many such killings take place out of the way and in hard to reach locales, meaning that there are likely more, unreported,...

Make-A-Wish Foundation Auctions One-Of-A-Kind Toys

Make-A-Wish Foundation Auctions One-Of-A-Kind Toys

Mar 24

The Make-A-Wish foundation is teaming up with video game publisher Activision and celebrities to create special, one-of-a-kind toys for the Skylanders SuperChargers video game. The celebrities include Ben Collins, formerly of Top Gear, Formula 1 driver Mac Chilton, French TV icon Joan Faggianelli, YouTube stars St3pny and TheKing77, and kite-surfing champion Gisela Pulido. Each of those celebrities has worked with Activision to create the toys. Make-A-Wish is pretty excited about the prospect, as the celebrities in question, and the Skylanders game franchise, should draw quite a bit of attention. Ben Collins has also expressed how happy he is with the toy he designed, and that the money is going to such a deserving charity. Chilton and Collins’ designs are the first to be auctioned, and went up on the Foundation’s website on March 20, where they’ll stay until April 8. The Make-A-Wish foundation is probably one of the most well-known charities in the world, and has been using their money to make the wishes of sick children come true for years. Hopefully, auctioning off these toys will help them in that mission. Since the auctions just started, we’ll have to wait a while to see how they turn out, but if successful, it could open up the doors to other, limited-edition charitable toy designs. Skylanders is a popular video game franchise available across pretty much every video game console or handheld on the market. The game requires players to place specific figures on a “power base” which allows the to subsequently use that character in the games. The core games come with figures, but there are at lease several dozen more which have to be bought separately. The business model has been successful enough that Disney and Lego have both gotten in on the idea with similar games of their own, and Nintendo has a series of figures called Amiibo that work on a similar...

Americans Aren’t Saving Much, But They Still Donate

Americans Aren’t Saving Much, But They Still Donate

Mar 10

According to recent surveys by Google Consumer Surveys and bankrate.com, 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings, and 21% have no savings account to speak of. The data has raised some concerns among fundraisers as to the ability of people to donate to charitable causes, especially retired people. 4 out of 5 people between the ages of 30 and 54 don’t think they’ll have enough money to retire. There are, of course, deeper problems that these numbers elude too, but it makes sense for fundraisers to be concerned about their ability to raise money for charities. Although charitable donations in 2014 totaled $360 billion, which is the highest in decades and was the fifth year in a row that donations increased, that still only amounts to about 2% of the nation’s GDP, a ratio which has stayed relatively stable for the last half a century or so. That increase is due more to a recovering economy than to a sudden spike in empathy. For those concerned about their ability to raise funds, the relative lack of personal wealth out there might seem disheartening, but people are still donating, and willing to continue doing so. The trick to getting those donations looks to be improving communications to potential donors. People want to know what their money will go to, especially those who don’t have a lot of it, and they want to feel like their donation is going to something useful. Transparency is key here, as groups less willing, or less able, to explain how they use funds are less likely to receive them, at least form smaller donors. But not everyone can tap into lifelong donors for whom writing big checks isn’t a problem. Learning to appeal to smaller donors by being honest and working hard is the best way to overcome a fear that they can’t donate...

New Facebook Ad Program Doesn’t Serve Nonprofits

New Facebook Ad Program Doesn’t Serve Nonprofits

Mar 03

Image credit: rvlsoft / Shutterstock.com Advertising can be an important part of a nonprofit’s mission. Getting the word out there and attracting new donors or volunteers is essential to keeping a nonprofit healthy and stable. And, with the ever increasing presence of social media, advertising on sites like Facebook is becoming more and more important. Recently, Facebook launched a new program called Canvas, which allows advertisers to provide a new system for delivering ads that promises greater audience engagement and returns. It makes the process of creating ads easy, and doesn’t cost anything; it’s rolled into the existing advertising structure. The problem is that the existing advertising structure doesn’t benefit nonprofits. It has become increasingly difficult to advertise on Facebook, in any form, without paying for it. As the company continues to find ways to monetize the site, groups that can’t afford to pay for such advertising continue to lose presence on that service. While a number of companies can build marketing budgets that allow them to use Facebook, that’s a privilege many nonprofits don’t have, because that’s money they aren’t using toward their mission. Though there are certainly a number of large nonprofits which can make use of Facebook in this way, there are far more small organizations that’s can’t afford it. Facebook has unveiled a number of new tools lately that, hypothetically, could be useful to nonprofits, but they have so far been underwhelming. Canvas is simply the newest tool which, if it weren’t for increased barriers that nonprofits face in accessing those tools, could prove useful. If Facebook really wants to promote nonprofits or make things easier on them, then they need to look into finding ways to keep their monetization schemes from preventing nonprofits from actively using their tools. Facebook is going to have to think long and hard about the kind of relationship they want with nonprofit...

Nonprofits Help Rebuild Flood-Damaged Homes in South Carolina

Nonprofits Help Rebuild Flood-Damaged Homes in South Carolina

Feb 25

Following an unprecedented amount of rain last October, a number of homes in South Carolina, especially in Richland and Lexington counties, were damaged by flooding caused by the storms. While a number of the people living in those homes have managed to get the repairs taken care of, a lot of people slipped through the cracks. The elderly, single parents, veterans, the poor, and disabled people have all had a hard time getting damages repaired due to a lack of insurance, a lack of funds, or in the case of Stanley Beard, “preexisting conditions.” Beard had a hole in his roof for years that he couldn’t fix himself or pay to get fixed. During the rains, that hole got worse and led to a lot of other problems, including his toilet dropping through the floor. He didn’t apply for federal aid, but likely wouldn’t have received it anyway because the hole wasn’t caused by the storms. Luckily for Beard, there are several nonprofit groups in South Carolina who have stepped up and done the heavy lifting of getting people’s hoes back into livable conditions. Over a dozen nonprofits have received funding from the One S.C. Flood Relief Fund, endorsed by the governor and established by the Central Carolina Community Foundation. With that money, groups like Columbia’s Home Works of America have been able to help people like Stanley Beard get back on their feet. The first round of grants, issued by the fund last year, got about 350 home fixed over 13 counties. This year should see at least 244 more homes getting fixed. That’s a pretty good step in the right direction, but according Home works executive director Jim Powell, there are likely “hundreds if not thousands” of people who still need help, and that’s just in Lexington and Richland...