Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Brings Former Obama Adviser On Board

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Brings Former Obama Adviser On Board

Jan 13

Mark Zuckerberg is incredibly wealthy, which is why he and his wife Priscilla Chan have started a foundation to give a lot of that wealth away to help others. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is the organization that the Facebook CEO is using to give away 99% of his wealth, which is going to require a lot of organization. Luckily, they’ve just brought David Plouffe on board, who ran President Obama’s 2008 election campaign. Plouffe joins Ken Mehlman, who worked as a campaign manager for George W. Bush. At the Initiative, Plouffe will be in charge of policy and advocacy, while Mehlman will be in charge of the policy advisory board. They’ve worked together in the past on things like marriage equality (despite coming from different sides of the political isle) so it stands to reason that the Initiative will be able to put its money to good use. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative certainly has a lot of resources, but at a certain scale that can be daunting, especially since it’s a foundation intent on helping other nonprofits pursue their missions. It’s possible, with such a group, to spread those resources too thin and try to throw money at every problem. But solid leadership can help prevent that. It will be interesting to see how these two individuals, among others, steer the resources they’ve been granted. Chan and Zuckerberg have expressed interest in improving education and curing diseases, which is itself a pretty broad mandate for the Initiative, which is precisely why it needs strong leadership. And on top of that, it’s been a rough time for foundations named after wealthy people, with both the Trump Foundation and the Eric Trump Foundation coming under fire for a myriad of reasons. It will be up to the Initiative’s leadership to ensure that they don’t embarrass themselves, and that the huge amount of wealth they’ve been trusted with actually goes to it’s intended recipients. Image courtesy of Corey Harris at Flickr Creative...

The Double-Edged Sword of a Celebrity Spokesperson

The Double-Edged Sword of a Celebrity Spokesperson

Jan 12

A celebrity spokesperson can be a huge boon for a nonprofit organization, but on the other hand, they can also be a huge roadblock. Take Tom Hiddleston, for example. Hiddleston recently earned the wrath of the Internet for expressing pride that a show he worked on was appreciated by medics from Doctors Without Borders. Twitter users accused the actor of being a “white savior” because he was trying to bring attention to humanitarian efforts in the South Sudan. The whole debacle was taken out of context and blown way out of proportion. But that’s not the point. Because he now has some negative press about him, so does the United Nations Children’s Fund (the nonprofit organization that he was serving as spokesman for). It goes to show that high-profile allies can and will be criticized for everything they do, and any affiliated organizations will have to suffer those consequences as well. Angelina Jolie is another good example. She has done a great deal of good work with the United Nations since 2001. However, if social media worked then like it does now, that career would have been cut short because at some point she probably would have said or done something that the Internet could jump all over. Social media is a powerful tool, but it’s far too often used to bully people, famous or otherwise. When a nonprofit teams up with a celebrity, they have to carefully consider what kinds of social media fallout they might have to face. While there are some celebrities who are obviously not worth working with, there are others who would make for excellent spokespeople. The downside is that it’s impossible to predict the future and what could happen down the line at an awards show or red carpet event. In considering whether or not to partner up with a celebrity, it’s important for nonprofits to have an eye on social media, which is where any little mistake is going develop into a full-blown scandal. The cult of celebrity status is much more fragile now that news spreads like wildfire. It’s important to think ahead, and be ready for “damage control” should something go wrong. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore at Flickr Creative...

Food Industry Giving Money From Inauguration Weekend to Charity

Food Industry Giving Money From Inauguration Weekend to Charity

Jan 05

Inauguration weekend is one of the busiest times of year for restaurants and bars. That’s why citizens are calling on restaurants and bars to close in protest of the election. But instead of closing, several diners and taverns in Washington D.C. are offering a better solution: a portion of the money raised during inauguration weekend will be donated to charity. For many small businesses, this is the only feasible option since a complete shutdown simply isn’t affordable. In lieu of shutting down, these restaurants and bars are participating in a campaign called All in Service. All in Service is a coalition of businesses that have pledged to donate a portion of the money earned during inauguration weekend to nonprofit organizations. But the best part about it is that it’s a non-partisan campaign. It’s meant to bring people together for the greater good, regardless of their political beliefs. “We know that tens of thousands of people are coming into the District for that weekend. There are going to be Trump supporters coming into town, and there are going to be protestors,” said Sarah Massey, a PR representative for All in Service. “What this can do is show everyone that Washington, D.C.’s service industry cares about our community.” Some of the charities that will be donated to include: Ayuda: provides support services to immigrants Mary’s Center: provides health care, education, and social services to underserved communities Martha’s Table: provides food, education, and clothing to disadvantaged youth. Planned Parenthood: provides free and subsidized health care to low-income women. Thrive DC: provides support services to homeless people It’s a double whammy for businesses: on one hand, they’re getting a lot of good publicity from this and on the other hand, they’re also doing a lot of good for the community. It goes to show that businesses can be both ethical and profitable. To view a complete list of participating businesses, click...

When Fundraising Goes Wrong: Man Dies in Charity Race

When Fundraising Goes Wrong: Man Dies in Charity Race

Jan 04

A 52-year-old British man died after he fell out of a pram during a charity fundraising event on New Year’s Day. The event was a race in which contestants push each other around in strollers as they dash to the finish line. It was supposed to be harmless fun. Instead, it ended in tragedy for Francis O’Sullivan, who went by the name Titch. O’Sullivan and his two companions were dressed up as World War II pilots. The pram was decorated as a Supermarine Spitfire (a British fighter aircraft used during World War II). One eyewitness said that O’Sullivan’s pram was traveling “a lot quicker” than the pram in front of them. “It all happened so quickly and then I saw blood on the floor,” the witness reported. According to police, O’Sullivan suffered a severe head injury when the pram crashed. He was air lifted to a local hospital where he later died. The deceased’s sister, Jeanette O’Sullivan, was heartbroken when the news first broke. She paid homage to her brother on Facebook, with a status update that read: “My beautiful brother, tragic accident whilst competing in the Sutton Valence pram race. Love you always and forever in our thoughts, a great Brother, Dad and Uncle. May you sleep tight and smile down on us. Sweet dreams. Love you for ever, your family xx.” It’s one of those things where it wasn’t anybody’s fault; it really was just a freak accident. But perhaps there is a little bit of a silver lining. For instance, O’Sullivan died doing something that he loved and believed in. That’s more than what a lot of people can say. Because of his death, he’s also shed a lot more light on the pram race itself, and has likely inspired more donations in his name. Our thoughts and prayers are with the O’Sullivan family. Rest in peace, Titch. Photo courtesy of Pete Edgeler at Flickr Creative...

Donating Stocks to Charities

Donating Stocks to Charities

Jan 03

There are a lot of ways to donate money to charitable causes, but one that often gets overlooked is donating stocks. While donating cash is generally the most efficient way to give to an organization, by donating an appreciated stock, you give the organization the opportunity to sell that stock and add the resulting cash directly to their coffers, which generally allows them (and you) to avoid paying taxes on that money. In essence, this is a way for people who own stocks that have appreciated to reduce their taxes on them. Sure, it’s not the noblest reason to donate them, but whatever works. Frankly, it doesn’t matter why somebody donates to a nonprofit, so long as that donation isn’t illegally obtained. And donating makes people feel good, so even the smallest donations are still at least a little bit driven by personal benefit. The difference between selling a stock, paying the taxes on it, and donating the remainder versus just donating the stock isn’t all that great, but it does result in more money for the charitable organization (provided the stock in question doesn’t end up dropping in value, but it’s still money that the organization didn’t have in the first place). So if you happen to own appreciated stocks, and you were thinking of selling some of them off in order to make a donation to a specific group, donate the stock instead. There are a few things to check first, namely that the stock has appreciated, because otherwise you are better off selling it first. But you also need to make sure that the organization to which you donate the stock is qualified by the IRS, which is easy enough to find out by looking them up on the IRS website. An unqualified organization isn’t going to be able to avoid paying taxes on that...

‘Pianos for People’ Unites Unused Pianos With People in Need

‘Pianos for People’ Unites Unused Pianos With People in Need

Dec 26

Pianos for People, based out of St. Louis, is a nonprofit organization that “connects people who need pianos with pianos who need people.” The organization restores used and broken pianos and gives them to people in need. But that’s not all. The organization also offers free music lessons. It’s a unique and clever concept, and one that’s garnering national attention. The Today Show recently featured Pianos for People on their morning segment. But it’s not just the mere concept that has people talking; it’s the founders themselves. Tom and Jeanne Knowles Townsend founded Pianos for People shortly after the tragic loss of their 21-year-old son, Alex. Alex was a talented and dedicated pianist who attended Georgia’s prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2010, he died in a car accident before he ever got the chance to graduate. But Alex’s parents were to determined to honor his legacy. So in 2012, they created Pianos for People. The organization took off almost immediately. In fact, as of now, the organization cannot accept any more piano donations until February. “We are actually full with pianos right now,” said Sheena Duncan, Executive Director of Pianos for People. “We can’t take pianos at the moment because we have so many to get through and inspect—and we can only afford to do so many at a time.” But it’s always possible that the organization will expand. Given the recent media coverage, it’s highly probable that the organization will receive an influx of monetary donations. But despite potential growth, one thing that will never change is the free-of-charge policy. “It’s really, really important to us that this component of free never go away,” said Tom Townsend. And so People for Pianos will continue to inspire others with their creative and unique vision. If Alex Townsend were alive today, he would surely be beaming with...

Busted: Animal Welfare Charity Caught Misallocating Resources

Busted: Animal Welfare Charity Caught Misallocating Resources

Dec 20

It’s pretty disgusting when charities misallocate resources, but it does happen from time to time. Such is the case with Capricorn Animal Rescue, a nonprofit organization located in Wales. Capricorn is under investigation after evidence surfaced of animals being neglected and funds being misused. The news broke after BBC sent a private investigator to look into the alleged animal abuse and misuse of funds. The investigator, disguised as a volunteer, documented the undercover probe with video footage. “Appalling” doesn’t even begin to describe the kind of conditions these animals were living in. Newspapers soaked in cat urine lay on the floor for days. Food and water dishes were being cleaned in water contaminated with fecal matter. Animals were kept in cramped, overcrowded cages. A few kittens, their fur matted in urine, mysteriously went missing. Another cat was found dead in its cage. And that’s not all. Past volunteers claim that they have irrefutable evidence that charity funds were used to purchase alcohol. Shelia Stewart, founder of Capricorn Animal Rescue, confirmed that the allegation is true. “A fraudulent account was registered with Makro using the charity’s name to purchase unsuitable items. This is from 2014 until 2015,” Stewart stated. “The charity’s bank’s fraud department has this on file. It is being investigated. Makro are aware of this and are helping us find who has perpetrated this fraud.” Unfortunately, when funds are misused like this, it’s the animals that suffer the most. Mike Jessop, a veterinarian and animal welfare expert, was upset by what the footage revealed. “Some of the lack of water is truly concerning—I would be very, very worried about the fact that these animals weren’t having regular access to water and also aren’t being kept clean enough. Those are the key areas that bother me with the footage I’ve seen,” Jessop stated. It may have taken a while to bring this abuse to light, but now that it’s been exposed, the Charity Commission is now reviewing the case. There is no word yet on whether Capricorn Animal Rescue will be shut...

Frame USA’s Monthly Charitable Gift Program

Frame USA’s Monthly Charitable Gift Program

Dec 16

Frame USA, an online retailer that specializes in custom and ready-made picture frames, is setting the tone for corporate social responsibility. Frame USA has a “Monthly Charitable Gift Program” in which the company donates a portion of their proceeds towards a “charity of the month.” $0.75 of every order placed through their website and $1.00 of every custom order placed through their physical store will be given to a charity in need. This month, Frame USA is supporting Fill the Truck. Fill the Truck is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was launched in December of 2010 by Dan Regenold, CEO of Frame USA. It all started with a dream; Regenold wanted to fill a 54’ semi-truck with charitable donations. The donations included simple, everyday items ranging from shoes to winter coats to bedding and even toilet paper. To say it was a success is an understatement—by the end of the month, Frame USA ended up needing a second truck because the first one was overfilled by about 7%. In total, there were 833 boxes and more than 30 skids, making for over 22,200 donations! And that was just the first year… One year later, in 2011, Fill the Truck partnered with nine other businesses to fill a total of 8 trucks and/or storage units. This year, Fill the Truck has more sponsors and partners than ever before, and the organization is on track for a record-breaking year. Other charities that Frame USA has supported in the past include: The American Cancer Society American Diabetes Association American Red Cross Louisiana Floods Relief Autism Speaks Feeding America Foundation for Survivors of Sexual Abuse Leukemia and Lymphoma Society The Wild Animal Sanctuary Wounded Warrior Project … and many, many more. Thank you, Frame USA, from all of us here at Philanthropic People. You are setting an excellent example of what a socially responsible business looks...