Altruism Today

An Interview with Kevin Jones, Co-founder & Convener 2011 Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP)

August 26th, 2011  |  Source: Forbes Blogs

Recently, I interviewed Kevin Jones, Co-founder and Convener of SOCAP, a multi-platform organization dedicated to the flow of capital towards social good. Their event series connects leading global innovators – investors, foundations, institutions and social entrepreneurs – to build this market at the intersection of money and meaning.

Besides SOCAP, Kevin is founder of Good Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in social enterprises. He is also part of the team launching the first U.S. node of the Hub, a network of more than a dozen work spaces for social entrepreneurs in cities across the world from Cairo to London.

Rahim Kanani: Now in its fourth year, describe a little bit about the motivation and founding of the Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP) to be held in early September.

Kevin Jones: SOCAP was formed with a single goal: to show that the space between giving and investing, the market that acts with the heart of a giver and the rigorous discipline of an investor, is real. When we started four years ago, two pocket thinking was the dominant paradigm; I invest and put the money in one pocket, then I put some of the excess in another pocket and give it away. Linking the two things, giving and investing, was seen as heretical. Some people said it literally made their heads hurt when we proposed it.

Our goal is to show that the market in the space between giving and investing, the market at the intersection of money and meaning, was not only real, but that it is big and growing. The problems of the world are too big and coming at us too fast for philanthropy or public sector funds alone to solve them. The market, for profit businesses created to solve a social or environmental problem, are an essential part of the solution. Businesses can move faster than either non profits or public sector and thrive on disruptive innovations that can make big, systemic change. Partnering with donors and public dollars, as we are learning to do, we can all do more. The problems of climate change, peak oil, food security and the demand for economic and political justice require us to deploy all our resources together in order to create a resilient world in which our grandchildren can thrive.

Read on here:

Philanthropy Gains Eager Followers in B-Schools

August 21st, 2011  |  Source: Business Week

MBA and undergraduate courses on philanthropy are proliferating as interest grows among a generation of B-school idealists

According to the Aspen Institute’s most recent Grey Pinstripes report, a biannual survey of business school education, 36 of the world’s business schools now offer philanthropy-related courses. The movement has also taken off at the undergraduate level. According to Campus Compact, a national coalition of universities and colleges that promotes civic engagement, there are approximately 100 courses offered across the country on the topic. Many classes give students a set amount of money that they can donate to local nonprofits in their community, says Maggie Grove, a special-projects consultant for Boston-based Campus Compact. This makes them popular with students and many have wait lists, she notes. “Students are embracing it because it is active learning,” Grove says. “Students want opportunities that allow them to make an impact in their community.”


The Ohio Campus Compact office runs the U.S.’s largest university philanthropy program, Pay it Forward, a federally funded service-learning program offered on 33 college campuses in Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky. Every course selected to participate in the program receives a certain amount of money—for the past two years, $4,500 annually; students spend the semester determining how to award the money to local nonprofits and devoting at least 15 hours volunteering at one.

Business students have been keen to participate in the classes. In the 2010-11 academic year, more than 34 percent of all students participating in the Pay it Forward program were business majors. Thirty of the 74 courses offered were either in business or in business-related fields such as grant writing or leadership, says Pay It Forward Project Director Kirsten Fox. Together these courses contributed about $137,00 and more than 12,000 student-volunteer hours to nonprofit groups.

“How many business students are out there hoping to be the next Bill Gates?” Fox says. “These things are exciting to them because they see them happening outside of academia, but they can make it happen in the classroom.”

9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance

August 18th, 2011  |  Source:

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: or email:

New Cause Marketing Technology Platform Connects Nonprofits and Brands

August 17th, 2011  |  Source:

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

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:

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

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:

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.

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