Altruism Today

9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance

August 18th, 2011  |  Source: 911day.org

The 9/11 Day Observance is led by the 9/11 nonprofit MyGoodDeed, which represents the interests of many 9/11 organizations, and was the first group to formally call for September 11 to be designated as a federally recognized Day of Service and Remembrance, in partnership with HandsOn Network, the volunteer activation division of Points of Light Institute.

Other prominent groups that have joined in collaboration are the 9/11 Memorial, Business Civic Leadership Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AARP, The Mission Continues and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Many other leading national service organizations also participate actively in promoting the observance in collaboration with these principal organizations. For more information, go to: www.911day.org or email: info@911day.org.


New Cause Marketing Technology Platform Connects Nonprofits and Brands

August 17th, 2011  |  Source: CauseCast.org

The launch of “Cause Marketing Campaigns for Nonprofits,” offers a new feature giving its member organizations the ability to participate in high-profile cause marketing campaigns. 

The new platform enables non-profits to easily and quickly connect with brands that align with their mission, and for brands to discover and engage with qualified non-profits. It is the first time a single portal has screened, curated and facilitated such partnerships. 

“It has never been easier for nonprofits to participate in cause marketing campaigns,” said Ryan Scott, CEO and founder of Causecast. “For the first time, nonprofits have direct access to cause marketing campaigns, and marketers now have a new way to attract vetted nonprofits with whom they can partner with for donation and volunteer opportunities.” 

The new service launched with the following campaigns available to participating nonprofits:

Change the Equation - Initiative to answer the call of President Obama’s Educate to Innovate Campaign. Causecast is looking for nonprofits in the Science Technology Engineering Math space.

Salute to Service - Campaign that supports veterans, servicemen and women, and their families with donations of time or money to a veteran and military nonprofit organizations.

Startup America Partnership - A White House campaign to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. Causecast provides information about nonprofits that encourage and support entrepreneurs.

The Huffington Post - Causecast powers widgets on the Huffington Post that provide volunteer opportunities with local nonprofit organizations.

Virgin Mobile The RE*Generation - Virgin Mobile USA and Virgin Unite invite volunteers who donate time to homeless youth organizations near Baltimore to earn tickets to FreeFest.

The complete list of active campaigns can be viewed at http://nonprofit.causecast.org/campaigns.

Any 501(c)(3) organization that builds a free Causecast profile is eligible to apply for inclusion in active cause marketing campaigns that Causecast powers for its corporate clients and partners. 

Becoming a Causecast nonprofit is free to all U.S. based 501(c)(3) organizations.

In addition to access to cause marketing campaigns, Causecast offers free fundraising tools, no-cost donation processing and an extensive resource library to help nonprofits achieve their online fundraising and volunteering objectives. 


The Unintended Consequences of the Hospice Medicare Benefit

August 15th, 2011  |  Source: University of Chicago

Hospice managers have an incentive to choose patients who are unlikely to live very long.

The spate of hospice bankruptcies in recent years has exposed critical weaknesses in Medicare's reimbursement policies.

To keep a hospice afloat, its managers might be tempted to actively recruit and discharge certain types of patients, which goes against Medicare's objectives. "It's an undesirable practice to seek a particular patient type," says Chicago Booth professor Rodney P. Parker.

Full article here: http://www.chicagobooth.edu/capideas/aug11/3.aspx?source=em-cap-ideas-aug-2011-01


One Hen: Microfinance for Kids

August 9th, 2011  |  Source: One Hen

 

One Hen empowers kids to become social entrepreneurs who make a difference for themselves and the world. We do this by equipping educators with educational resources to inspire kids to four values: financial responsibility, personal initiative, global awareness and giving back-website


Governing NYC By Writing a Check?

August 8th, 2011  |  Source: NPQ

Source: New York Times | What began as a “toss-off laugh line”—New York City’s most intractable problems could be solved by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg just by pulling out his checkbook—has now become an “unprecedented reality in the Big Apple, writes New York Times’ columnist Michael Powell.  This week, Bloomberg drove a “two-gilded shot” of his own money into helping to cover the cost of the midyear Regents exam for several thousand high school seniors and, with fellow philanthropist, George Soros, launching a $30 million-plus initiative to bolster the educational and economic prospects for young black and Latino men.  

While some laud the mayor’s largesse, noting that in these lean economic times, “it would be a strange beggar to turn away a wealthy man’s money,” especially for poor and low-income kids who stand to benefit from it, others are not so sure.  As Powell notes, there are legitimate questions that might be raised about “government by personal checkbook,” including the “thin membrane between philanthropy and mayoral advantage.”  The mayor’s first deputy mayor, Patricia Harris, for example, is both the CEO and chairwoman of the Mayor’s $1.75 billion charity.  Nonprofits that have received grants previously from the mayor’s foundation—including numerous arts programs—have benefited but have also, “slowly almost imperceptibly” become willing advocates for Bloomberg’s policy agenda (including the mayor’s successful attempt to revoke term limits that would allow him to run for a third term).  And then there's the issue of reconciling the mayor’s philanthropy and his “personal and policy contradictions,” among them, running a police department that, Powell observes, “stops and frisks record numbers of black and Latino men…sometimes at gunpoint.” 

Los Angeles Times article echoes the above, reporting that the NYC mayor has "become much more public with his giving."  In addition to the Young Men's initiative, the mayor has also recently given a $50 million gift to the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign and $24 million to five cities to support innovative government projects—efforts that have drawn both praise and criticism for mixing philanthropy with government, the article notes.  Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York, who is quoted, sums up the dilemma:  “You have private money which is pushing where the public money will be spent...Where’s the evaluation process?  Where’s the public input?”  Those questions will become increasingly important to ask as the line between the role of publicly elected officials and philanthropists becomes more blurred, and in turn, the public's ability to assume its voice will be paramount in public policy decisions becomes less certain.


The unholy alliance in Somalia: Media, donors and aid agencies

August 7th, 2011  |  Source: The East African.co.ke

The season of giving has started — and it not even Christmas yet.

Leading international aid agencies, including the United Nations, Oxfam, Save the Children and Islamic Relief UK, have launched massive campaigns to save the thousands of Somalis who are facing hunger in their own country and in refugee camps in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked donors for $1.6 billion in aid for Somalia and the World Bank has already pledged more than $500 million towards the relief efforts.

The appeals for food aid have been accompanied by heart-wrenching images: children with swollen, malnourished bellies, emaciated mothers with shriveled breasts that no longer lactate, campsites bursting at the seams with hordes of skeletal refugees. Almost all the large humanitarian aid agencies are rushing to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya to witness, photograph and film the crisis. We have seen these images before — in the mid-1980s when Mohamed Amin filmed the famine in Ethiopia that triggered the trend of rock stars becoming do-gooders. Since then, famine has become the biggest story coming out of Africa — and one of the biggest industries.

...........Despite all these glaring inefficiencies and failures, the aid industry continues unabated; in fact, it is going from strength to strength. Statistics indicate that the number of aid agencies and NGOs have mushroomed since the end of the Cold War – in Kenya alone, for instance, there are more than 6,000 registered international and local NGOs that contribute more than $1 billion to the Kenyan economy.

In my assessment, there is a strong relationship between the number of donors and aid agencies in a country and its level of poverty – the more donors and aid agencies there are, the less likely that country is to significantly reduce poverty levels.

Abstract only. For the full story go to: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/The+unholy+alliance+in+Somalia++Media++donors+and+aid+agencies/-/2558/1214866/-/item/0/-/149kmcs/-/index.html


Shopkick Switches To For-Profit Status, Sees Surge In Charitable Giving

August 3rd, 2011  |  Source: The Good Capitalist

In a fascinating case study of how the for-profit industry can sometimes make a greater social impact than the nonprofit world,Shopkick, a popular geo-location app, has paradoxically created a more charitable community since it decided to ditch its charity business model and focus on giving people free stuff. >>>Read article


CREW Calls for a Special Counsel to Investigate the House Ethics Committee

August 2nd, 2011  |  Source: CREW

 

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called on both leaders to jointly appoint an outside counsel to investigate the House Ethics Committee.  Read CREW’s letter here.

CREW’s call follows a report in Politico, indicating the investigation into Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) was tarred by partisanship, staff and member misconduct, and the deliberate withholding of evidence.

“More important than an inquiry into any specific member of Congress is an investigation into the committee itself,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “At this point, who could possibly have confidence in anything that comes out of the committee?  The only solution is for the Speaker and Minority Leader to hire a well-respected outside counsel to conduct a thorough and fair review and to release the results to the public.”

Last December, the Washington Post reported the Ethics Committee was in near total disarray. Today we learned that in late 2010, Blake Chisam, then-chief counsel of the committee sent a series of memos to then-Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) claiming the two lead attorneys handling the Waters investigation, Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign, breached confidentiality by providing confidential material to those not authorized to view it. 

Mr. Chisam also claimed Mr. Kim and Ms. Sovereign had failed to provide Rep. Waters’ defense team with all the material to which it was entitled and had improperly accessed the computers of other committee staff members.  Mr. Kim and Ms. Sovereign counterclaimed that Mr. Chisam withheld evidence against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and that he had tried to protect Democrats.

“CREW has been a long-time critic of Rep. Waters, but given the serious nature of the charges against the committee and its staff, we agree with the congresswoman that the current case should be closed.  Outside counsel should be appointed to investigate the matter from the date of the referral by the Office of Congressional Ethics,” said Ms. Sloan.  “It is depressing that even the one committee intended to protect the institution of the House as a whole has been decimated by partisan politics, further savaging the already dismal reputation of Congress.”

Click here to read CREW's letter.


Common Cause vs a Smart Alec

July 29th, 2011  |  Source: Salon.com

 

A taxpayer-supported campaign against Big Government

ALEC, one of the right's premier ideas factories, has been the recipient of public money in several states

Taxpayer dollars in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kansas are being spent to fund state lawmakers' memberships in the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which provides model state legislation drafted with the help of big business. In some of the states, public money has gone to travel and food expenses as well, including in Pennsylvania, whose taxpayers spent $50,000 to cater ALEC’s 2007 conference in Philadelphia.

The public money is helping to fund the activities of an organization dedicated to drastically cutting government spending and whose non-profit status is currently being challenged by Common Cause, which contends that ALEC is essentially a lobbying organization. Corporations are given a direct role in drafting the model legislation that ALEC urges states to adopt -- legislation that, if enacted, often benefits the same corporations. ALEC defines itself as a professional association, just like scrupulously nonpartisan organizations like the National Conference of State Legislatures and The Council of State Governments, which legislators commonly belong to.

"ALEC receives payment from a variety of sources, sometimes in the form of educational grants for legislative members," ALEC spokeswoman Raegan Weber wrote in an email to Salon. "ALEC provides an educational environment to hear from experts on a variety of issues including education, public safety, health care and tax and fiscal policy."

The most notable disbursement of public money to ALEC, discovered in documents obtained by this reporter from Common Cause for a separate Philadelphia City Paper article, took place in Pennsylvania, where a $50,000 appropriation to cater the ALEC meeting was slipped into the 2007 state budget. The food bill for that gathering ended up including $30,450 for roasted chicken breast, $4,000 for Philly cheese-steaks and $3,000 for cheesecake lollipops -- all of it paid for by Pennsylvania taxpayers.

In the budget, the ALEC outlay was described as being "for the payment of expenses related to hosting conferences, meetings or conventions of multistage organizations which protect the member states’ interests or which promote governmental financial excellence or accountability."

Abstract, continue reading here: http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/07/28/denvir_alec


Recommended reading...

July 28th, 2011  |  Source: VPPartners

Wise, candid, practical advice to help organizations thrive in an era of scarcity

Leap of Reason presents both an impassioned plea and a logical plan for taking a social sector–wide leap forward in our ability to create meaningful, measurable good for those we serve. The book is deeply relevant for:

Nonprofit executives who want better information to fulfill the mission that compelled them to dedicate their lives to serving others

Funders who want to understand what impact their gifts are having and how they can achieve greater impact

Board members and advisors who want to support disciplined, effective, outcomes-driven management

Policymakers seeking better ways to allocate scarce public funding and services.




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