Altruism Today

K9s For Warriors Asks: Can We Stop 22 Veterans From Committing Suicide Today?

January 22nd, 2015  |  Source:

22 veterans and active duty military personnel commit suicide in the United States every day.

K9s For Warriors wants you to know, we have a solution to STOP22.

"I went to grab my pistol and before my hand even touched it, my service dog started barking non-stop, which is not like him. He was jumping in my face and wrapping his head around the arm I was going to grab the gun with. When I finally pulled away, he stopped barking and just stared at me." - A K9s For Warriors Graduate.

In launching the "STOP22" campaign on January 22, 2015, K9s For Warriors wants every American to know we have a veteran suicide epidemic and that there are solutions.

K9s For Warriors provides service dogs to post-9/11 veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or military sexual trauma (MST) at no charge to the veteran. We give rescue dogs and military heroes a new leash on life. To date we have had a 100% success rate preventing soldier suicide.

How we are asking for help? Awareness. K9s For Warriors is asking you to share our message of #K9sSTOP22. We want you to get creative and share this message in a Facebook post, a Tweet, or an Instagram post using the number 22. You can share your photos on K9s For Warriors

website and help us bring awareness to this epidemic.

"Today, tomorrow, the day after that, 22 veterans will commit suicide in America. This sobering fact can't be ignored and we are asking for your help," said Shari Duval, President of K9s For Warriors.

Fig-leaf philanthropy and the costume of chaste concern

January 19th, 2015  |  Source:

A few weeks ago I wrote about a problem that arises when generosity is kept neatly and conveniently aloof from the means that make generosity possible. I suggested that philanthropy can be a compromised and compromising affair when the gifts given are ill-gotten in the first place.

In thinking more about this I was reminded of a passage in a new book titled The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America: The Moral Origins of the Great Recession, by David Bosworth (Front Porch Books, 2014). It is an elegant and intelligent book I cannot recommend emphatically enough.

Writing about the movie industry’s ability “to stage a convincing pretense of perpetual innocence,” Bosworth compares almost in passing the profitability of cinematic sexual allure to a problem that bedevils philanthropy:

Just as the rapacity of greed was frequently concealed in modernizing America by the fig leaf of philanthropy (the more money given, the better the person, no matter how his money had been earned), Eros in these older movies was often disguised by a saintly costume of chaste concern.

I leave aside what Bosworth is up to in this section of his book (as it happens, making a case against Ronald Reagan, who “enlisted as an enthusiastic participant in staging this pretense” of chaste concern) to draw attention to this apt and felicitous image of the fig leaf.

How is it that, unlike the deity walking in the garden in the cool of the day, demanding of that first fig-leafed pair how exactly they came by the knowledge of their nakedness, most of us seem to be impressed by the fig leaves but inexplicably incurious about what’s behind them? And since when does a lump sum cover a multitude of sins?

Read more here:

Motivating donors: Which prizes work best for Giving Days

January 16th, 2015  |  Source: Knight Foundation

Anyone who has hosted an online giving campaign can relate to the exhilaration that comes when the total-amount-raised tracker goes up and up and up.  Prizes offered throughout Giving Days, or online fundraising sprints, are a big part of generating that excitement and keeping donors and nonprofits engaged.  

But what prizes are most effective in motivating donors? How can matching funds be used to keep the momentum going during a 24-hour campaign?  Below are some insights we’ve learned through an evaluation of the Giving Days run by community foundations that Knight Foundation supports. These insights build on Knight’s new report that contains 10 lessons for Giving Days.

Prizes that work

Here are the types of prizes that will give you the most bang for your buck: Those for Highest Total Giving, Most Unique Donors and Most Unique Donations.

Almost all of the Knight-supported Giving Days used these prizes to incentivize donations. For these prizes to work, an online leaderboard with the frontrunners in these categories needs to be displayed on the Giving Day website. Since these prizes were offered the entire length of the Giving Day, it’s hard to quantify how effective they were without a comparison to times when these prizes weren’t offered. Nevertheless these prizes serve an important role as they encourage nonprofits to continue fundraising throughout the day.

Social Media Incentives

Three community foundations in Knight’s Giving Day initiative used prizes to increase buzz on social media. Central Carolina’s Midland Gives, for example, awarded $1,000 to the organization that had the most tweets using the hashtag #midlandgives. Tying the prizes to specific nonprofit or donor behavior was effective as it increased the social media traffic at specific times during the Giving Day and boosted the organizing community foundation’s social media following in the long term as well.

Quick Start

A “quick start” prize incentivized donors to give during the first hour of a Giving Day and was used to garner early excitement.  Giving Days that did offer this prize saw increased amounts of giving during the first hour when compared to the second hour in the Giving Day. The Miami Foundation for example offered a prize for the first gift made on a Giving Day and had 536 percent more donations in the first hour than in the second hour. Centre Community Foundation offered a prize for the first organization with 25 donations and had 1,115 percent more donations in its first hour than the second.

Power Hours

A “power hour” awards a prize to the nonprofit that receives the most money, unique donors or donations in a single hour during a Giving Day. The “power hours” were used to incentive increased giving or more unique donations during specific periods of time, such as an hour that might typically have less traffic. All Giving Days that offered this prize saw an increase in their desired behavior during the power hour.  For example, GiveMNdonors were 22 percent more generous during times that power hours were offered.

Matching Funds

Hours where donations were matched by the community foundation dollar for dollar (or in some cases two dollars to one dollar) until the match pool was exhausted saw much higher levels of donations but the funds quickly ran out. Silicon Valley Community Foundation used this strategy during its Giving Day. Hours where matches were offered raised 153 percent more dollars and had 67 percent more donations on average when compared with other hours. Interestingly, the difference in amount raised between the 2:1 and 1:1 matches offered by Silicon Valley was minimal, with the 1:1 matches only bringing in 4 percent less in total donations. The matching funds strategy has been effective in increasing donations but should be used with time constraints.

Prizes that can fizzle

Here are prizes that were less effective at incentivizing donor behavior:

Golden Tickets

A golden ticket, or randomly drawn prize, was offered by many Giving Day organizations. These prizes were good in incentivizing more donations when they were offered. However, the donation amounts were smaller as donors were more likely to give multiple times in lesser amounts to increase the odds of winning the prize.

Milestone Prizes

These prizes were awarded to nonprofits for donations made at an exact time of day or for hitting a specific milestone, for example a prize for the 1,950th donation to commemorate the community foundation’s founding in 1950. These prizes were not successful in incentivizing donor behavior as they are hard to predict and winning is really based on luck of the draw. These types of prizes are generally meaningful for the community foundation, yet they appear to be unsuccessful at increasing donations or other donor behavior.

Big Finish

This prize is similar to the “quick start” prize but is used to incentivize donors during the last hour of the Giving Day. Community foundations that offered this prize saw fewer donations during that time period compared to other hours. It is likely that at the end of the Giving Day nonprofits and donors are fatigued, but it’s unclear from our data why this prize didn’t work.

The effectiveness of prizes and matching funds is just one of the lessons we’ve learned through a review of our Giving Day initiative. More examples and lessons from Giving Days can be found in the report “How Giving Days Can Work for Your Community Foundation: 10 Lessons From the Knight Foundation Giving Day Initiative.”  We are continuing the conversation too on the Giving Day Exchange group on Facebook, where community foundation organizers can swap insights with others who are also in the trenches. We are also participating in a special deep dive session at the Council on Foundations’ fall conference in October. We hope to see you there.

Anna Dilernia is an assistant on the strategy and assessment team at Knight Foundation.

Nonprofit Impact Investing Assets Up 77% in 2014

January 15th, 2015  |  Source:

Nonprofit organizations saw the assets they manage that are committed to social-impact investments increase 77 percent in 2014 compared with their 2012 level, according to a new report.

Foundations, pensions, educational endowments, and religious groups managed $4.04-trillion in such investments at the beginning of this year, according to a study released in December.

Over all, assets managed with "sustainable" and "responsible" strategies reached $6.57-trillion at the start of the year, compared with $3.74-trillion in 2012, a jump of 76 percent, according to the survey of 1,500 investment firms and institutional asset holders by the US SIF Foundation, a membership association for impact investors. The researchers defined sustainable and responsible investments as those that apply environmental, social, and governance criteria in addition to traditional guidelines that seek the highest market return.

Most of the growth came from commercial funds that offer alternative investing options. Those funds increased more than three-fold during the two years covered by the survey, to $4.8-trillion.

Arts Organizations Search for the Missing Audience

January 14th, 2015  |  Source: PS Magazine

A National Endowment for the Arts report finds people who decline to attend arts events cite some unexpected reasons for staying home.

Over the past couple of decades, the National Endowment for the Arts has been dutifully tracking the gradual decline in attendance at cultural events. As part of a series of reports released on Monday, the federal agency decided to augment its latest update (spoiler alert: The situation is getting worse) by focusing on two key questions: How many people seriously have considered attending a play, concert, or art exhibit, only to finally pass? And why did they end up staying home?

If your knee-jerk answer to that second question was “the high price of tickets, of course,” think again. While cost certainly made the list, it was less of a factor than a lack of time.

What’s more, inaccessibility—the perception that the venue where an event is held would be too difficult to get to—was cited nearly as often as money. In addition, one in five decided to stay home because “they could not find anyone to accompany them.”

Altogether, these “interested non-attendees”—members of what Sunil Iyengar, NEA director of research and analysis, calls “the missing audience”—make up about 13 percent of the population, or 31 million Americans. Convincing them to buy tickets will require “creativity among arts providers,” Iyengar says. “There’s a real demand for this stuff, but organizations need to find ways to be more flexible and adaptable.”

Taking art to the people, finding ways to fit it into their busy schedules, making concerts and exhibits friendlier to single people—there is no shortage of ideas regarding how to stop the slide in attendance, but there is also no time to waste regarding their implementation.

The NEA reports that, as of 2012, only 33 percent of American adults attended one of the “benchmark” arts—classical music, jazz, opera, theater, ballet, or visits to an art museum or gallery. That’s down from 39 percent a decade earlier.

A separate study using data from the General Social Survey, which included the aforementioned questions about non-attendance at arts events, produced slightly different numbers. It found 45.6 percent of respondents reported attending a live music, theater, or dance performance in the past year. That more broadly worded question included attendance at pop, rock, or hip-hop concerts.

Nevertheless, the long-term trend is decidedly down for both the visual and performing arts—and the recession, which began in 2008, can’t be blamed.

“Following a sharp decline in overall arts attendance that occurred from 2002 to 2008,” one NEA report states, “participation rates held steady from 2008 to 2012” for classical music, jazz, and dance performances. However, ticket sales for non-musical plays continued to slip further during those final four years, and attendance at stage musicals—one of the few art forms that had been holding steady earlier in the decade—declined from 2008 to 2012.

“There’s no tidy answer as to why this is happening,” Iyengar says. “There’s a lot of competition for leisure activities.”

Iyengar points to two trends occurring simultaneously. First, both the elderly and Hispanics are growing as a percentage of the population.

“Both groups have historically low rates of arts participation,” Iyengar says. In spite of a growing Hispanic population, the total number of tickets sold to Latin, Spanish, or salsa music programs “saw substantial declines” between 2002 and 2012.

Second, the report documents a decline in attendance among demographic groups that have traditionally formed the backbone of arts audiences (and donors). “Highly educated Americans are going (to arts events) at much lower levels than they did 10 years ago,” Iyengar says.

Of course, all this coincides with the rise of the smartphone and e-reader, which have become highly convenient ways to enjoy (and share) both music and written texts. But not all that many users are reading Shakespeare, or even John Grisham.

“The percentage of adults reading a play, poem, or novel dropped to 2002 levels (47 percent) after increasing to 50 percent in 2008,” the NEA reports. (Sadly, there is no breakdown on the amount of time spent watching cat videos.)

The NEA also pointed to some regional differences in their findings. Sorry, Eastern snobs: People living on the West Coast (including Alaska and Hawaii) “had among the highest rates of media consumption for nearly every art form referenced,” the NEA reports.

The state-by-state statistics also yielded an interesting additional piece of information: Exposure to the arts in childhood is a very strong predictor of participation in the arts as an adult. Indeed, it was even a stronger prediction that age or income.

For example, in Washington state, 75 percent of residents reported they had visited an art museum as a child—a figure far above the United States average of 54 percent. It’s likely not a coincidence that nearly 34 percent of adults in the state reported attending an arts museum or gallery in 2012—“among the highest museum attendance rates in the country,” and far beyond the national average of 21 percent.

So, it’s crucial to get people in the culture habit while they’re young. That realization makes the following finding still more troublesome: “Parents with children under age six at home are significantly less likely to attend arts overall, and they are especially less likely to visit art museums.”

“The most common barrier cited by interested non-attendees in this group is lack of time,” notes the NEA, which goes on to suggest “co-locating” arts events “with other family-friendly attractions and sites.” Such cooperative ventures would effectively reduce the cost of attendance, as well as save people valuable time—two of the issues cited by members of “the missing audience.”

Intriguingly, the report cites a number of zoos that have created cultural components in conjunction with area arts organizations. The alliance might not be an obvious one, but the symbolism works: Where better to preserve the endangered species of culture vultures?

Quietly philanthropic

January 13th, 2015  |  Source:

Profile of novelist James Patterson waits until end to tell you about his philanthropy, which includes $1m to independent bookstores and $26m to alma maters.

"Patterson intends to arrange his estate so that about half of his wealth goes to charity, and he hopes that his son, Jack, might someday like to take charge of the giving. His philanthropy at this point is hands-on ('because I think institutions frequently are very sloppy'). He told me that he has no interest in having his name on buildings." -- Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

Naming The Dead: One Group's Struggle To Record Deaths From U.S. Drone Strikes In Pakistan

January 12th, 2015  |  Source: HuffPo

Last year, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London embarked upon an ambitious effort to record the names of people reportedly killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. The project, called Naming the Dead, aims to acknowledge those who have lost their lives in the strikes and to create more transparency about a counterterrorism program shrouded in secrecy.

The CIA has conducted hundreds of drone strikes targeting militants in Pakistan's tribal regions since June 2004. U.S. officials have lauded the program for its effectiveness and precision, and it has become an essential pillar of the administration's counterterrorism policy. Yet despite promises by President Barack Obama to make the program more transparent and apply the highest possible standards to avoid civilian casualties, the administration has, so far, continued its secretive practices.

With Naming The Dead over a year into its investigation, The WorldPost sat down with Jack Serle of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to discuss the progress of the project.

Read on here:

Local Governments and Nonprofits Test Crowdfunding for Civic Projects

January 8th, 2015  |  Source:

Fresh from municipal bankruptcy and locked in a court-mandated spending plan, Central Falls, R.I., controlled little of its budget. But officials found wiggle room in their fiscal straitjacket by borrowing a new idea from the world of philanthropy.

About a year ago, they launched a crowdfunding campaign similar to what’s found on Kickstarter, the online platform where artists, entrepreneurs, and others seek donations to bankroll creative projects. Using a Kickstarter-like website, the former mill town posted a proposal to beautify and clean up its landmark park. It promoted the project through videos, mass emails, and social and mainstream media—typical fundraising tools. Within weeks, it had raised $10,000 to buy new bins for trash and recycling in the park, designed by local artists as public art.

Central Falls is one of dozens of municipalities that has gone hat in hand online in recent years. They are part of a niche group of local governments, nonprofits, and community groups experimenting with "civic crowdfunding" campaigns to raise cash for programs and infrastructure designed for the common good.

The campaigns are typically small, aiming to raise from $5,000 to $30,000 and pay for things that might not even merit a line item in a municipal budget. In Philadelphia’s first successful crowdfunding campaign, for instance, it raised $2,163 for a youth garden program—this when the city spends about $4.5-billion a year.

The architects of civic crowdfunding campaigns are using the cash raised online to attract bigger dollars from state and federal sources. They’re also earning grants from private foundations that see robust crowdfunding as evidence of community backing for a project.

In Denver, the roughly $150,000 needed to design a milelong protected bike lane is coming from the business community, the local Gates Family Foundation, and a nearly completed $35,000 crowdfunding campaign.

The dark side of civil society: A case study in architecture

January 7th, 2015  |  Source: Philanthropy Daily

Traditional accounts of civil society see it as a counterbalance to government excess; free and voluntary associations’ pursuit of their particularistic goals tends to create roadblocks and bulwarks against the bounding activism of energetic or even destructive political authority. (Whether civil society groups are motivated either by bald self-interest or a more enlightened sense of altruism does not, in the end, matter.) A government left unchecked by civil society will, the theory goes, overstep its station, taking responsibility for certain decisions and wading into certain debates for which it is not properly competent; and of course, proponents of civil society are quick to point out, most everything the government touches quickly goes bad. Thus conservatives in particular have in recent years sought refuge from the increasingly far-reaching hand of the state in their own “little platoons.” If only these intermediary institutions were stronger, many believe, we might reclaim some vision of classical beauty, truth, and goodness.

The realm of architecture often serves as a contentious battlefield in this ongoing war. Many on the right today believe that government is incapable of commissioning beautiful buildings—here in Washington, D.C., the Department of Education building, the FBI Headquarters, and the Office of Personnel Management all seemingly attest to this. Groups like the National Civic Art Society lead a bold charge against the degradation of aesthetic standards in public buildings. Civil society is seen as a kind of balm, mixed with nostalgia for a more decentralized time—St. Peter’s in Rome and Notre Dame in Paris, people sigh, were built not by a government committee but by patrons, popes, and laypeople contributing years of work and untold treasure.

Tom Wolfe’s classic 1981 monograph From Bauhaus to Our House complicates this linear picture somewhat by drawing attention to the ways in which architecture degraded itself more or less independent of government intervention. In a tour de force of both historical analysis and social criticism, Wolfe traces the movements of the modernist movement from Walter Gropius to Philip Johnson, showing how the glass-and-steel “antibourgeois” style that now marks (scars?) our proudest cities was born in the quasi-philosophical architectural “compounds” of post-War Europe before migrating to the American academy, where its inclinations to pragmatism and utilitarianism were refined. Conspicuously absent from Wolfe’s account is any discussion of the role of government in this dramatic transformation of tastes. Indeed, it seems to have been, rather, primarily a product of civil society.

With regards to the barren, even inhumane “International Style” that we now simply call “modern,” Wolfe notes how by the 1950s all the most fashionable apartments began to look the same: “The walls were always pure white and free of moldings, casings, baseboards, and all the rest . . . the dining-room table was always a smooth slab of blond wood (no ogre edges)”; and stale fluorescent light hung over a living room filled by little more than impossibly uncomfortable Barcelona chairs (“which no one ever sat in because they caught you in the small of the neck like a karate chop”). Why were the urban haute bourgeoisie willing to live in something that “looked like a factory”? Wolfe points to the subtle pressures of reputable opinion: “Every respected instrument of architectural opinion and cultivated taste, fromDomus to House & Garden, told the urban dwellers of America that this was living. This was the good taste of today; this was modern.”

This is decidedly not a case of the iron hand of government mucking up an otherwise healthy and well-adjusted culture of beauty. Indeed, as Wolfe points out, if the architecture of the day were to have followed the broader American political and cultural trends, it should have been all the more triumphalistic, brash, and confident—America had just emerged as the global hegemon, more prospero us and powerful than any other country in the world.

Read on here:


January 6th, 2015  |  Source: Nexus Youth Summit

Montego Bay Summit to Connect Young Social Entrepreneurs and Next Generation Wealth Holders

Jamaica is set to host the first Nexus Caribbean Youth Summit in Montego Bay fromFebruary 5-7, 2015.  The Summit aims to connect philanthropists, next generation wealth holders, investors, social entrepreneurs, and allies to learn, cross-examine and debate relevant social issues and explore innovative ways to make an impact on philanthropy throughout the region. Targeting individuals in the Caribbean and the Diaspora, the Nexus Global Youth Summit will be held at Half Moon, A RockResort.

“Destination Jamaica is delighted to host the upcoming Nexus Caribbean Youth Summit in our tourism capital, Montego Bay. We are always happy to support events designed to bring long-term benefits especially to the lives of young people,” said Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook. “This meeting of brilliant minds that will discuss issues relating to philanthropy and social entrepreneurship, augurs well for the region. As a destination, we are aware of the power of philanthropy and are committed to leveraging opportunities for our youth.”

Among the speakers confirmed for the inaugural Nexus Caribbean Youth Summit are Hon. Lisa Hanna, Jamaica’s Minister of Youth and Culture; Hon. Damion Crawford, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment; Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts International; Abigail Noble, Director at Impact Investing World Economic Forum; and Kate Roberts,

Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships & Philanthropy at Population Services International (PSI).

The Nexus Global Youth Summit is a global movement of over 2,000 aspiring, young minds from over 70 countries who are changing the world through philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. The Nexus Caribbean Youth Summit is hosted by the RMP Foundation and The Phoenix Group in partnership with the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Sandals Foundation and the MapeX Foundation. For more information on the Nexus Caribbean Youth Summit or to apply, visit

For more information on events in Jamaica or to book a vacation, go or speak to your local travel specialist.

About Jamaica Tourist Board

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), founded in 1955, is Jamaica’s national tourism agency based in the capital city of Kingston. The JTB was declared the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board by the World Travel Awards (WTA) from 2006 to 2014. Also in 2014, Jamaica earned the WTA’s vote for the Caribbean’s Leading Destination andCaribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination for the eighth consecutive year. Additionally, the Historic Falmouth Cruise Port was recognized as the Caribbean’s Leading Heritage Tour while Ocho Rios was named the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Port and Sangster International Airport was voted the Caribbean’s Leading Airport. In Canada, Jamaica was voted the Favourite Honeymoon Destination by Travel Agents.

JTB offices are located in Kingston, Montego Bay, Miami, Toronto and London. Representative offices are located in Berlin, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Mumbai and Tokyo. 

For details on upcoming special events, attractions and accommodations in Jamaica go to the JTB’s Web site or call the Jamaica Tourist Board at 1-800-JAMAICA (1-800-526-2422).  Follow the JTB on Facebook at, on Twitter at, on Instagram at, on Pinterest at, or on YouTube View the JTB blog at

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