Altruism Today

The 7th Annual Failed States Index

July 12th, 2011  |  Source: Foreign Policy


The World in Misery, 2011

Somalia, once again, tops the list, with Chad and Sudan not far behind.

Plus: The World’s 60 Most Fragile States

Photo Essay: Postcards from Hell, 2011

Images from the world's most failed states

The Poor Work Without A Net

July 11th, 2011  |  Source: Andrew Sullivan's Blog


A construction worker was recently arrested for trying to cash a check the bank mistakenly thought was a forgery. The man ended up sending a few days in jail, which lead to him losing his car and job. The lesson Chait draws:

Middle-class people enjoy all sorts of protections against misfortune. For poor people, a single thing going wrong can lead to a life-altering spiral -- they lack the social and financial resources to overcome one problem, so a flat tire become a late day at work which becomes a lost job, an overcharge fee busts a checking account, which in turn becomes a ruined credit rating.


July 8th, 2011  |  Source: Better World Books


The volunteers of Prison Book Program, located near Boston, MA, were delighted to learn that our grant proposal won a Spring 2011 Literacy and Education in Action Program (LEAP) award.  Our proposal related to the General Equivalency Diploma (GED), providing a comprehensive GED test-prep guide and an English dictionary to approximately 220 prisoners throughout the United States.

According to the Department of Justice, 77% of US prisoners have not received a high school diploma. Yet GEDs are necessary for almost any job. A New York Department of Corrections study showed that prisoners who earn their GED are up to 14% less likely to return to prison within the next three years. Given that at least 90% of the 650,000 prisoners incarcerated every year will eventually re-enter society, gaining critical education skills is paramount.

Alexander McCall Smith's wish for Darfur

July 7th, 2011  |  Source:


Mma Ramotswe, Isabel Dalhousie and the eccentric inhabitants of the Corduroy Mansions have become much-loved literary characters for millions of readers worldwide. Now their creator, best-selling British novelist Alexander McCall Smith, has become one of 18 acclaimed authors helping to ensure that children living in refugee camps can also enjoy the pleasures of reading. The writers have each contributed a short story to a collection entitled "What You Wish For" and organized by theBook Wish Foundation.

All of the proceeds will be donated to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to build libraries in camps housing more than a quarter of a million refugees displaced by the conflict in Darfur. McCall Smith, who is best known for "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," spoke recently with UNHCR's Laura Padoan about "The Strange Story of Bobby Box," his contribution to the collection, and why he believes that books are vital to our well-being. Excerpts from the interview here:

Transforming Nursing Practice through Technology & Informatics

July 7th, 2011  |  Source: HIMSS

Nurses are key leaders in developing the infrastructure for effective and efficient health information technology that transforms the delivery of care. Recognizing this vital leadership role of nurses in providing quality patient care, the HIMSS Board of Directors approved a position statementdescribing how to transform nursing practice through technology and informatics.  Leaders from the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Community, representing over 2,900 members who not only serve the nursing profession, but also, the broader healthcare industry and HIMSS membership at large, developed the position statement.

The position statement supports the landmark report from the Institute of Medicine and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health Report. The report provides criteria to transform the nursing profession, leading to new roles and leadership positions for nurses in the redesign of the healthcare system.

Fox News Declares War on the Tax Exempt Status of Media Matters

July 6th, 2011  |  Source: NPQ


Source: Fox News | Last week, Media Matters celebrated Glenn Beck's last-ever show on Fox.  Beck is hardly the only Fox denizen that has attracted MM's attention, often taking aim at the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Monica Crowley, Laura Ingraham, Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, Lou Dobbs, and others.  What's a conservative network to do when a watchdog watches -- and criticizes things like Beck's references to liberals as communists, his characterization of progressive policies as slavery, and his charge that President Obama holds a "deep-seated hatred for white people?" 

It's not like there aren't conservative counterparts to the liberal Media Matters, but that doesn't seem to be a factor for Fox. The Fox response is this -- get the IRS to pull the Media Matters tax exemption.

Apparently, the high-minded cover for the Fox campaign was a newspaper column penned by C. Boyden Gray, White House counsel under President George H.W. Bush.  According to Fox News, Gray "claimed [Media Matters] was running afoul of rulings that prohibit 'inflammatory language' for tax-exempt organizations and was too partisan." 

One of the criticisms of Media Matters is that it has violated the "educational" mission that got it its tax exemption by presenting unsupported opinions.  Fox quoted a tax attorney named James King who said, "You may advocate a particular point of view, and you may do so strongly, but you can't have it just be unsubstantiated opinion and you have to be reasonably objective about the way you present your views."

Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer added, "Media Matters is obviously not a media investigative organization that looks at everything.  It’s in a war on Fox. And you’re allowed to do that in a democracy. You can be nasty as you want. The only thing is don’t ask for a government subsidy. Nobody wants to stop them or to shut Media Matters down. It’s a question of whether your tax money and mine ought to be supporting it.”

The "Fair and Balanced" network is providing like-minded viewers help in challenging the Media Matters exemption. Viewers can download an IRS Form 13909 already filled in to challenge the Media Matters 501(c)(3) status. 

So what's the legal analysis offered by Gray, Krauthammer, and Fox?  That if your opinion isn't supported, you're in violation of your (c)(3) status. If your opinions are seen by the people who are criticized as "nasty," you're jeopardizing your (c)(3) status.

Read that last sentence again and keep scratching your head! [Ed]

Homeless Social Enterprise: Street Cleaners Face Market Problems

June 29th, 2011  |  Source: NPQ

Source: DNAInfo | Broadway between Canal and Houston Streets in Manhattan's SoHo is one of the world's most intense and congested commercial districts. For 20 years, the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless has put four- and five-person teams of street cleaners onto Broadway from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. picking up garbage thrown by tourists and shoppers amid the sometimes wall-to-wall throngs of humanity plying the street. 

As of July 1, the ACE teams will be gone. The businesses on Broadway are just not making donations to ACE the way they used to, according to ACE executive director, Jim Martin. He attributes the problem to foreign-owned chain stores that don't automatically contribute the way locally-owned mom-and-pop stores used to, and he finds himself "chasing nickels" from store managers because he can't get to the decision-makers of these foreign-owned chains. 

ACE teams will still work the streets of the West Village, TriBeCa, Nolita, NoHo and other parts of SoHo, but for this part of Broadway, Martin says that the area will be a mess when ACE street cleaners leave. "I know what it's going to look like when no one's out there," he said.

The City Council is considering a City Planning Commission proposal to create a SoHo Business Improvement District, a BID, a nonprofit which would have the quasi-governmental powers to exact payments from merchants for services such as the kind of supplementary street cleaning that ACE's teams of homeless street cleaners provide. If a BID gets established and solicits proposals for street cleaning, ACE plans to offer its services.

Homeless turn to Twitter for food, shelter

June 28th, 2011  |  Source: CNN


Blogging and tweeting might be among the last hobbies you'd list for a homeless person, but some down-and-out people have embraced social media in such a way that it's actually garnered them needed assistance -- everything from food and diapers for children to counseling and housing.

"I did not believe in social networking before I ended up on the streets," says Rd Plasschaert, who became homeless last year. "It's the way people are finding housing. It's the way people are finding food banks."

Plasschaert, who had lost her job and was on welfare, joined the social networking sphere one month before she knew she was losing the bedroom she rented. She started a blog called "Lost Awareness" in desperation when nonprofit agencies told her they couldn't help her out until she had actually lost her home, she said.

A homeless blogger from England recommended Plasschaert sign up for Twitter and search for homelessness-related hashtags, or topics, on that site.

Video and more Here:

What is Crowd Rise?

June 27th, 2011  |  Source:


Crowdrise is about giving back, raising tons of money for charity and having the most fun in the world while doing it. Crowdrise is way more fun than anything else aside from being all nervous about trying to kiss a girl for the first time and her not saying something like 'you've got to be kidding me.' 

The Crowdrise community was named a “Top 25 Best Global Philanthropist” by Barron’s. We're trying to keep Crowdrise a secret so please don't tell anyone but know that, as soon as you Sign Up (which is free and takes all of 8 seconds), you'll be a part of something really special. 

The Crowdrise site is a unique blend of crowdsourcing, social networking, incentives and other nice stuff. If you don't understand anything on the site, please check out the How It Works Page or How it Works Video or just ask any fifteen year old. 

Giving to nonprofit hospitals grows

June 27th, 2011  |  Source: Philanthropy Journal


Philanthropic donations to U.S. nonprofit hospitals and health-care systems grew 8 percent last year to $8.26 billion, with individual donors contributing nearly 60 percent of the total, a new report says.

But fundraising costs grew and return on investment fell, says the FY 2010 AHP Report on Giving/USA by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy.

Donations and grants to health-care institutions increased $620 million from $7.644 billion raised in fiscal 2009.

Last year's total fell short of the nearly $8.59 billion raised in fiscal 2008 and the nearly $8.35 billion raised in fiscal 2007, AHP says, but the rate of growth was the highest since fiscal 2006.

Annual giving accounted for 20 percent of all funds raised, followed by major gifts, 17.1 percent; capital campaigns, 15.4 percent; and special events, 14.8 percent.

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