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Profiles

Prominent People in Philanthropy: Bruce Cohen

Bruce Cohen
Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Bruce Cohen has created magic onscreen as the producer of critically lauded films such as Big Fish, American Beauty, and Milk. Away from the cameras, however, he tries to create something else: change.

As the president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), Cohen works for equal rights for Americans. AFER is currently focused on marriage equality, and they are the sole sponsor for the court challenge of California’s Proposition 8, a proposition that limits the definition of marriage in California. Cohen is involved in more than just AFER’s fight for equality, however.

Read the rest of Bruce Cohen’s profile here.

 

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Profiles

Prominent People in Philanthropy: Pierre and Pam Omidyar

As a young researcher at an immunology lab, Pam Omidyar spent hours examining cancer cells in her lab. In order to relax after work, she would play video games, and she began to wonder if video games could also act as therapy for children struggling with cancer. And thus began HopeLab, a nonprofit that conducts research on a range of chronic illnesses, and that produces solutions like Re-Mission, a video game that helps youth cope with their cancer.

Pam’s work is made possible by her philanthropic work with her husband, Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Together they founded the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, which empowers people to help their own communities. Read the rest of their profile here: Pierre and Pam Omidyar.

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Organizations Resources

Philanthropy: Available at a Store Near You

For a long time, causes and capitalism ran on parallel yet separate tracks: philanthropists and entrepreneurs alike worked endlessly in order to gain attention and support from the public. Companies sought profit while charities sought aid. Today more consumers are seeking products, services, and retailers that use their influence and their means to support a good cause. Some  People want companies that give back to the community, and retailers have eagerly met this demand. Some companies host short-term campaigns in order to raise awareness and funds for a cause while others have established long-term, committed associations with philanthropies that they believe in. The companies and campaigns highlighted below illustrate how when a capitalist and a philanthropist collide, a new wealth of opportunities arise.

Target, one of the largest discounters in the U.S., is proud of their long history of philanthropy. Target has been donating 5% of their income to local communities since 1946. Their focus on charity has expanded since, and last year they launched an agenda called “Here for Good” that hosts programs surrounding education, the environment, safety & preparedness, and well-being. These programs, coupled with their social services, crisis relief, and their military and veteran support, Target has received accolades for their corporate social responsibility.

A brand-new glasses retailer, Warby Parker, had combined their cause with their product before the first pair of spectacles sold. For every pair of glasses that the company sells, they provide funding and/or glasses to a non-profit organization VisionSpring that trains men and women to sell glasses in developing countries. This model creates jobs while also providing glasses to a few of the almost one billion people worldwide in need of glasses. So far Warby Parker has distributed over 150,000 pairs.

Warby Parker’s model follows in the footsteps of the capitalism-cum-charity giant, TOMS. TOMS began in 2006 as a socially-conscious shoewear company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie’s motivation for the company is simple: “If I started a charity, I’d have to go raise money every time I wanted to give them shoes. But if I started a business and made a shoe where the consumer liked it for what it was, then the consumer will be my natural provider of the shoes every year.”

TOMSBy September of 2010 TOMS had donated over 1 million pairs of shoes, and their popularity had exploded. Since its founding, the company has also put on an annual event called One Day Without Shoes that raises awareness for their cause, and they have established campus programs for passionate, involved students. TOMS has been praised as one of the most innovative retail companies of this decade, and it has been the exemplar of the for-profit-as-non-profit movement of the last decade.

These companies have created an easy link between consumers and charity; consumers are able to feel socially conscious and philanthropic while they get to buy the products and services they want. Meanwhile non-profit organizations get access to reliable funding sources and widespread exposure to their cause. The relationship benefits both parties, and most importantly, it benefits the people who need it most.

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Resources

Where Should You Volunteer?

Where Should I Volunteer?
IMG: via Shutterstock.

It’s a common problem.  You want to volunteer someplace, but don’t know where to get started.  How do you find a place to volunteer?  Are you just supposed to hit the internet and Google things like “soup kitchen,” or “build houses” in your area?  Are you supposed to look up charities you’ve vaguely heard of, things like “habitat for humanity,” or “local food bank”?  And if you do, how do you know that the charity you find is reputable and worthwhile?

Luckily there are groups out there who can take care of all of that for you.  These organizations will help rate charities for you so that you know where they are located and what to expect.   And they’re not any farther away than a click of the mouse .

One of these groups online is  VolunteerMatch.org. With nothing more than a desire to volunteer and a zipcode you can find volunteer organizations in your area that are reputable, organized, and actively looking for volunteers.  They’ve got millions of visitors and over 80,000 organizations on their site, which is more than enough to help you find someone you can help near you.

But if you’re looking for something a bit more than VolunteerMatch then Idealist.org might be the website for you.  It’s a board for volunteer opportunities, internships, or even jobs that are looking for people.  You can post your resume, explore options, and even apply online.

And that’s not it.  Both groups also keep blogs containing an extensive collection of news articles and write-ups of different organizations in their network.  All-in-all, they’re excellent resources for potential volunteers, and a great way to scratch that philanthropy itch.

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Profiles

Prominent People in Philanthropy: Ken Mehlman

Ken Mehlman
IMG: via kenmehlman.com

Sometimes to change things in politics you need to have access to an insider, someone who believes in your cause and who knows how to get things done.  In order to cover all aspects of philanthropy more effectively we are profiling prominent individuals in philanthropy.

Ken Mehlman understands politics. So when the New York state legislature was debating whether or not to pass a same-sex marriage law in New York he knew what needed to be done.

The issue is an important one to Kenneth Mehlman as he’s been an active advocate for LGBT equality ever since he came out in the Atlantic in 2010. Since then, he’s helped to raise almost $3 million for marriage equality campaigns in New York, Maryland, New Hampshire and Washington State.

Click here to read Ken Mehlman’s entire profile.
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Profiles

Prominent People in Philanthropy: Joseph O’Donnell

There aren’t that many who can take a terrible personal loss and turn it into a quest for good.  In our quest to cover prominent individuals in philanthropy we are profiling prominent individuals in the field.  People like Joseph O’Donnell.

In 1986 Joseph O’Donnell, a well-known Boston business executive , lost his son Joey to cystic fibrosis. He was only 12.

In response, with his wife Katherine O’Donnell he founded the Joey Fund in his memory. In partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Joey Fund raises money for research and to help New England cystic fibrosis patients and their families receive financial assistance for CF related problems. Since its founding the fund has raised over $51,000,000.

Read the rest of his profile up on his page here: Joseph O’Donnell.

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Profiles

Prominent Profile in Philanthropy: Henry Kravis

There are those who are in business for business, and those who are in it to make the world a better place.  In the interest of keeping up-to-date in philanthropy we are profiling those individuals who take time out of their lives to make the world a better place.  One such businessman is Henry Kravis.

Henry Kravis is perhaps best known for his work in the board room as a founding partner of KKR & Co. But behind the scenes private equity mogul Henry Kravis does more than his share of charitable activities, working on projects that support everything from social and community development to education.

In partnership with Claremont McKenna College, Kravis’ alma mater, Kravis supports the Henry Kravis Leadership Institute. The organization sponsors the programs and training of future leaders of the school and, with Kravis’ help, the school has also been able to construct several new facilities including the Eaglebrook School, Deerfield Academy, and the Loomis Chaffee School.

To learn more about Henry Kravis, check out his entire profile.

 

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Profiles

Prominent Profile in Philanthropy: Brooke Burke

Brooke Burke
Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

In the interest of exploring issues in philanthropy we are profiling prominent individuals in the field.  One such person is Brooke Burke.

Brooke Burke is the co-founder of the ModernMom Channel on YouTube, a free channel offering meaningful ideas, inspiration, and entertainment to mothers and parents. She also started a company called Baboosh Baby, which offered products and advice for pregnant women.

The oldest of nine children, Brooke Burke probably grew up with plenty of experience taking care of her younger siblings.  It makes sense that, as an adult, she would focus her attention on helping moms and pregnant women.

Read her full profile page here: Brooke Burke.