J.J. Watt Raises More Than $27 Million for Hurricane Harvey Victims

J.J. Watt Raises More Than $27 Million for Hurricane Harvey Victims

Sep 12

J.J. Watt is 28 years old and at the peak of his football career as the Houston Texan’s star defender. And he’s here to help. When he opened a Houston Flood Relief Fund on YouCaring on Sunday, August 27th, his initial goal of $200,000 was met and passed in a matter of hours, with donations coming from his teammates and fans. Soon enough, he raised $5 million, then $10 million, then $20 million. He rejoiced at hitting each new landmark. “Absolutely incredible. The most difficult times bring out the best in humanity,” Watt said on Twitter at the $10 million mark. By Wednesday, August 30, over 180,000 individual donors had raised that total to $27 million, which will go a long way to help the 50,000 people displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Most donations have been what individuals could afford, averaging around the $20 mark, but a growing handful of celebrities have written checks with a lot of zeros. Ellen Degeneres engineered a million dollar donation from Walmart. Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show donated another million, and promoted the drive on his show Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, Charles Butt, the CEO of Texas supermarket chain H-E-B donated a huge $5 million. YouCaring itself donated $50,000, and Amazon donated trucks and labor to transport more physical donations. Both money and tangible donations will focus on supplying food, water, and needed goods to those who have lost everything to the hurricane, and those still waiting to find out if they have homes to go back to. Watt says that he’s found a great deal of strength and inspiration in the response to his call for funds. “Every time we hit one of these landmarks I’m amazed. I think the worst times bring out the best in people and we’re seeing it in abundance right now,” he tweeted on Friday. And he’s right. Volunteers and donations have flocked to the stricken city and its surrounding towns. It will never be enough, but everything helps. *Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group via Flickr Creative...

Beware of Hurricane Harvey Charity Scams

Beware of Hurricane Harvey Charity Scams

Aug 28

One thing about natural disasters: They bring out the best—and the worst—in people. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the resultant flooding, aid has been pouring in to Texas. Dozens of disaster relief organizations either have or are arranging for staff to be present to assist the people and animals left homeless by Harvey. Not only that, but area residents are helping one another, too. Unfortunately, though, there are always people who will take advantage of our desire to help the victims of natural disasters. Scammers are now using the Hurricane Harvey disaster to trick people into clicking links, both on Facebook and Twitter, and through phishing emails trying to solicit charitable giving for flood victims. Here are some examples provided by KnowBe4’s Security Awareness Training Blog: Facebook pages dedicated to victim relief that contain links to scam websites. Tweets are going out with links to charitable websites soliciting donations, but in reality they include spam links or links that lead to a malware infection. Phishing emails appearing in users’ inboxes asking for donations to #HurricaneHarvey Relief Fund. KnowBe4 suggests that you send employees, friends, and family an email about this scam of the week. Here’s their suggested text: “Heads-up! Bad guys are exploiting the Hurricane Harvey disaster. There are fake Facebook pages, tweets are going out with fake charity websites, and phishing emails are sent out asking for donations to #HurricaneHarvey Relief Funds. Don’t fall for any scams. If you want to make a donation, go to the website of the charity of your choice and make a donation. Type the address in your browser or use a bookmark. Do not click on any links in emails or text you might get. Whatever you see in the coming weeks about Hurricane Harvey disaster relief… THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK. So, what do you do if you want to make a donation and be sure your money is going to a legit organization and your credit card information isn’t going to be hijacked by scammers? Consumerist recommends the following: Don’t be shy about asking who wants your money. If you’re solicited for a donation, ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and the percentage of your donation that will go to the charity and to the fundraiser. Call the charity directly. Fiind out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the...

Co-founder of Private Equity Firm Donating $1 Million to Northern Arizona University

Co-founder of Private Equity Firm Donating $1 Million to Northern Arizona University

Jul 14

Great news for education students at Northern Arizona University! George Roberts, co-founder of private equity firm KKR, is giving $1 million to NAU to support education students during their student-teaching semester. The money will be divided into $5,000 scholarships. The scholarships will be offered to first-generation college students from underrepresented demographic groups that have a demonstrated need for financial aid. The donation is part of Roberts’ greater mission to empower marginalized people. “Those who complete college do better—they make more money and have more stable lives,” Roberts said in an interview with the Arizona Daily Sun. “It’s a way to break the cycle of poverty that keeps so many from reaching their true potential. If we’re ever going to improve the economic inequality in this country it’s going to be through education and jobs.” Roberts is making the donation in honor of William A. Franke, a close friend of his whom he’s known for nearly 50 years. Franke is the cofounder and managing partner of Indigo Partners, a Phoenix-based private equity and venture capital firm. When Roberts brought up the idea of making a donation in his name, Franke recommended NAU. Franke himself has been an avid supporter of NAU for many years, which is why NAU’s W.A. Franke College of Business is named after him. Those who receive the $5,000 scholarships will be known as Franke Scholars. “We are incredibly grateful for George Roberts’ generosity,” said President of NAU Rita Hartung Cheng. “There is a significant need for high-quality teachers, and through this gift, George Roberts and Bill Franke will ensure that NAU students will become those exceptional teachers.” At a time when tuition costs are rising and colleges are facing budget cuts, donations like this are invaluable. It’s especially important due to the fact that it creates more opportunities for minorities, who already face significant socioeconomic...

Rebel Wilson Wins Defamation Lawsuit, Will Donate Payout to Charity

Rebel Wilson Wins Defamation Lawsuit, Will Donate Payout to Charity

Jun 22

Last week, Australian actress Rebel Wilson won her defamation lawsuit against Bauer Media. Wilson, who is best known for her role in the Pitch Perfect movies, is set to receive a $5.93 million payout as a result of libel damages. It all started back in 2015 when Bauer Media published several articles that painted Rebel Wilson as a liar. Wilson said that she lost several employment opportunities as a result of those articles. But as far as money goes, she claims she’s just glad to have her reputation back. “It’s over in my mind,” Wilson said after winning her case. “The reason why I’m here is not for damages, it’s to clear my name, obviously. It’s just really not about the number … what I was hoping was that the jury would do the right thing and send a message.” But Wilson did more than just clear her name; she actually created an entirely new name for herself as a philanthropist. Yesterday, the actress announced via Twitter that she would be giving all of the money she received from her lawsuit to charity. “Re my defamation case win, any dollars I receive will go to charity, scholarships or invested into the Aussie film industry to provide jobs,” Wilson wrote. “I take being a role model very seriously.” It was an admirable decision, considering that no one would blame Wilson for rightfully pocketing the earnings from her case. But electing to donate the payout instead shows that she’s able to turn a negative situation into a positive one. More importantly, it shows that she’s socially conscious and generous. Here at Philanthropic People, we love writing stories about celebrities who use their fame and money to promote good in the world. Rebel Wilson, if you’re reading this, know that we love you and are very proud of all the work that you’ve accomplished! *Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi at Flickr Creative...

Charitable Giving in the U.S. Topped $390 Billion Last Year

Charitable Giving in the U.S. Topped $390 Billion Last Year

Jun 14

Here’s some good news: last year was one of the most charitable years in U.S. history. According to Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy, Americans gave $390.05 billion to charities in 2016—about a 3 percent increase from 2015. But what’s particularly impressive is that Americans were still generous despite a rocky election cycle. Aggie Sweeney, the chair of Giving USA, fully expected donations to drop off in 2016 due to all the political upheaval. But that’s not what happened. “Americans remained generous in 2016, despite it being a year punctuated by economic and political uncertainty,” Sweeney stated. “We saw growth in every major sector, indicating the resilience of philanthropy and diverse motivations of donors.” The report also shows that donations made by individuals are on the rise. Last year, individual contributions topped $282 billion—up 3.9 percent from 2015. Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean of academic affairs and research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (which compiles the report), says that the increase in individual giving reflects the “democratization of philanthropy.” “In 2016, we saw something of a democratization of philanthropy,” Rooney stated. “The strong growth in individual giving may be less attributable to the largest of the large gifts, which were not as robust as we have seen in some prior years, suggesting that more of that growth in 2016 may have come from giving by donors among the general population compared to recent years.” But it’s not just individual contributions that are on the rise; donations from foundations also rose—to the tune of a 3.5 percent increase from 2015. Donations from corporations also increased by 3.5 percent. In fact, the only demographic that saw a decrease was giving via bequests, which fell by 9 percent. As for which causes people are donating to the most, religion remains number one with education coming in at a close...

Boston University Students Climb Mount Kilimanjaro for Charity

Boston University Students Climb Mount Kilimanjaro for Charity

May 24

Typically, a charity fundraising event consists of a gala, an auction, a marathon, or maybe even a raffle. But a group of students from Boston University found a different way to raise money for charity. The students (11 women and one man) decided to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in the name of philanthropy. The group raised over $66,000 for their trip, half of which went towards travel expenditures; the other half went towards the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to families of children with cancer. “One of our main missions is to raise awareness. The climb and the students from Boston University help us to further spread our mission,” said Carly Bergstein, program director of the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. “Here we have 12 students who before knew nothing about B+ and are now taking on this incredible trek. They’re going to the top of Kilimanjaro with B+ posters and banners and T-shirts. It’s incredible for us that students care so much and become so dedicated to the mission of fighting childhood cancer—while doing something really exciting for themselves.” The trip was organized by Alexa Nutter, who is currently enrolled in Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. For her, the issue of cancer hits close to home. “My grandma has cancer,” Nutter stated. “I’ve worked with kids who had cancer and coached special needs hockey at my high school. It was something I’ve done for a really long time.” With the exception of two students who had to drop out due to altitude sickness, the group completed the 19,341-foot trek. It took them a total of eight days (six up and two down). While Nutter and her fellow comrades admit that the hike was a challenge, they maintain that their efforts were worth it in the...