Altruism Today

New study shows online fundraising appeals to all age groups equally

March 2nd, 2015  |  Source: Miratel Inc.

When reviewing the various new nonprofit fundraising studies and reports every once in a while I stumble upon data that immediately makes me sit upright and pay extra attention because it counters what might be my own preconceived thoughts about the sector or contradict earlier analysis. A new study created by Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker certainly falls into that category and I think it might just surprise many of you reading also.

According to the study the percentage of donors aged 66 and above who made a donation online in 2014 has doubled from 29 percent in 2010 to 59 percent last year – a quite remarkable increase in just four years no matter what sort of adoption rate one is trying to measure. In fact the report even verifies the opposite of what I know is a widely held notion for many, in that the current rate of 59 percent is virtually identical to the 60 percent figure for those aged 65 and below.

In short it means that the age of a donor now has extremely little if any relationship to their likelihood of making an online donation to a nonprofit. The data itself certainly counters the vast majority if not all studies that I have read and written about over the last half decade. Rick Dunham , President and CEO of Dunham & Company said of the report:

“The trend of older donors giving online has definitely accelerated in the last two years. From our perspective, charities must seriously consider that an older donor is now just as likely to hop on to their website to give as a younger donor. This means charities must do all they can to optimize their website for ease of use as well as streamline the giving process to better serve these older donors, as donors over 60 are a prime demographic for giving.”

After digesting the data I gave it a little thought and in truth the lack of a discrepancy due to age demographics in online giving actually makes quite a lot more sense as opposed to the preconceived stereotypes which could just be based on data that is now out of date.

New GrantCraft Guide Helps Funders Navigate Capacity Building

February 26th, 2015  |  Source:

Suite of Related Resources Promotes Knowledge About Strengthening Nonprofit Organizations

A new guide released today by GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center, adds unique perspective on the ways foundations can boost organizational effectiveness of nonprofits.

Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together helps grantmakers make informed decisions about enhancing the sustainability of nonprofits by making investments aimed at improving specific organizational capacities.

The guide illustrates thoughtful approaches to capacity building through real-world examples from funders of different sizes, missions, and geographies. Like other GrantCraft guides, it builds on the wisdom and experience of funders to spread knowledge and improve the practice of philanthropy. The guide is supplemented by more than 30 new GrantCraft resources and a special collection of case studies, white papers, and evaluations published by practitioners and experts in the field.

"'Capacity building' can carry many different meanings, but at its heart, it represents an investment aimed at strengthening effectiveness," says Jen Bokoff, director of GrantCraft at Foundation Center. "These resources synthesize insights derived from actual experience and provide a useful framework to help funders who may be just starting on this journey, as well as those looking to assess their investments so far."

The guide tackles many themes, including investment approaches, appraisal of funding opportunities, funder-grantee power dynamics, and evaluation of results. It blends data from interviews, focus groups, surveys, and a scan of existing literature to provide a comprehensive and in-depth view of the field. A unique aspect of the guide is its focus on the funder-grantee relationship, with importance placed on defining roles and expectations, establishing trust and open communications, and recognizing and analyzing the variables at play in capacity-building situations.

Throughout the report, there are "action steps" and hyperlinks to a wealth of related online content, including case studies and podcasts that animate topics presented in the guide.
A special collection of case studies, white papers, and evaluations builds on the topics explored in Supporting Grantee Capacity. This repository, which can be accessed, provides free and direct access to the experience and expertise of foundations and nonprofits that have shared lessons learned from their own capacity-building efforts.
Foundation Center is the leading authority on philanthropy. Its GrantCraft service offers guides, blogs, videos, and other media that address questions faced by funders in the United States and around the world. In the past year, it has published 30 new videos and podcasts, added an RSS feed of all new content, posted nine guided readings that facilitate conversations among colleagues on important topics, and translated 14 guides.

Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together can be downloaded for free at, and the special collection can be accessed

Funding for this project was generously provided by the Open Society Foundations.

Anti-homeless spikes: ‘Sleeping rough opened my eyes to the city’s barbed cruelty’

February 25th, 2015  |  Source: The Guardian

The spikes installed outside Selfridges in Manchester are the latest front in the spread of ‘defensive architecture’. Is such open hostility towards the destitute making all our lives uglier?

More than 100 homeless people are “living” in the terminals of Heathrow airport this winter, according to official figures – a new and shameful record. Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have warned that homelessness in London is rising significantly faster than the nationwide average, and faster than official estimates. And yet, we don’t see as many people sleeping rough as in previous economic downturns. Have our cities become better at hiding poverty, or have we become more adept at not seeing it?

Last year, there was great public outcry against the use of “anti-homeless” spikesoutside a London residential complex, not far from where I live. Social media was set momentarily ablaze with indignation, a petition was signed, a sleep-in protest undertaken, Boris Johnson was incensed and within a few days they were removed. This week, however, it emerged that Selfridges had installed metal spikes outside one of its Manchester stores – apparently to “reduce litter and smoking … following customer complaints”. The phenomenon of “defensive” or “disciplinary” architecture, as it is known, remains pervasive.

From ubiquitous protrusions on window ledges to bus-shelter seats that pivot forward, from water sprinklers and loud muzak to hard tubular rests, from metal park benches with solid dividers to forests of pointed cement bollards under bridges, urban spaces are aggressively rejecting soft, human bodies.

We see these measures all the time within our urban environments, whether in London or Tokyo, but we fail to process their true intent. I hardly noticed them before I became homeless in 2009. An economic crisis, a death in the family, a sudden breakup and an even more sudden breakdown were all it took to go from a six-figure income to sleeping rough in the space of a year. It was only then that I started scanning my surroundings with the distinct purpose of finding shelter and the city’s barbed cruelty became clear.

I learned to love London Underground’s Circle line back then. To others it was just the rather inefficient yellow line on the tube network. To me – and many homeless people – it was a safe, dry, warm container, continually travelling sometimes above the surface, sometimes below, like a giant needle stitching London’s centre into place. Nobody harassed you or moved you on. You were allowed to take your poverty on tour. But engineering work put a stop to that.

Next was a bench in a smallish park just off Pentonville Road. An old, wooden bench, made concave and smooth by thousands of buttocks, underneath a sycamore with foliage so thick that only the most persistent rain could penetrate it. Sheltered and warm, perched as it was against a wall behind which a generator of some sort radiated heat, this was prime property. Then, one morning, it was gone. In its place stood a convex metal perch, with three solid armrests. I felt such loss that day.

Missing millionaire keeps giving

February 23rd, 2015  |  Source:

38 years ago, candy heiress Helen Brach disappeared in heist attempt, but thieves didn't know her millions were safe in the foundation that still carries on her philanthropy.

"Known as 'The Candy Lady,' Helen Brach was one of Chicago's richest widows after inheriting the Brach Company fortune when her husband Frank died in 1970.

When Mrs. Brach went missing 38 years ago this week in a murder plot aimed at stealing her fortune, swindlers didn't know that her money was untouchable. It had been hidden away in a foundation bearing her name- an organization that continues to pay out decades after her death. In an old South loop office building, up on the 13th floor, is a small office marked by a small sign: Helen Brach Foundation. But there is nothing small about the fortune behind the foundation." --

Business Leaders Move Quickly to Send Thousands of Kids to See ‘Selma’ Free

February 19th, 2015  |  Source:

An act of "pop-up philanthropy" in New York City raised thousands of dollars to help school kids see the movie "Selma" and sparked similar movements in more than 30 cities across the country.

"Selma," nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, chronicles the civil-rights movement protests that led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Central to the story is the Alabama march from Selma to Montgomery. It took several tries to complete the protest, with state troopers assaulting peaceful black participants during the first attempt, and ultimately the effort compelled President Lyndon Johnson to endorse the bill.

Moved by the film, a group of African-American business leaders in New York City raised money for public middle-school students to see it for free.

"I walked out of the theater with my wife and said, ‘Every New York City eighth grader should see this movie," said William Lewis Jr., co-chairman of investment banking at Lazard.

Mr. Lewis proposed the idea to Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor and a director of Viacom, which owns the movie’s production company, Paramount Pictures, then pitched it to friends at a dinner party. Four people offered to donate $10,000 each.

After Mr. Phillips called Paramount to figure out logistics, the small group called other friends and in a matter of days had raised $270,000 from 27 people. Donors included Debra Lee, CEO of BET Networks, Ed Lewis, co-founder of Essence magazine, and Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express.

MacArthur Launches $75M Initiative to Reduce America's Use of Jails

February 11th, 2015  |  Source: MacArthur Foundation

MacArthur today announced an initial five-year, $75 million investment that seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. The Safety and Justice Challenge will support cities and counties across the country seeking to create fairer, more effective local justice systems that improve public safety, save taxpayer money, and lead to better social outcomes.

Jail populations have more than tripled since the 1980s, as have cumulative expenditures related to building and running them.

“For too long America has incarcerated too many people unnecessarily, spending too much money without improving public safety,” said Julia Stasch, MacArthur’s President. “Jails are where our nation’s incarceration problem begins; there are nearly 12 million jail admissions every year, and jails too often serve as warehouses for those too poor to post bail, nonviolent offenders, or people with mental illness. With this substantial, long-term commitment and investment, MacArthur hopes to support and demonstrate alternatives to incarceration as usual, and to create demand and momentum for change across the country.”

The Challenge will support jurisdictions across the country working to safely reduce over-reliance on jails, with a particular focus on addressing disproportionate impact on low-income individuals and communities of color. Core to the initiative is a competition through which the Foundation will fund up to 20 jurisdictions to design and implement plans for creating fairer, more effective local justice systems using innovative, collaborative, and evidence-based solutions. The Foundation released a request for proposals for the competition today.

Despite growing national attention to the large number of Americans confined in state and federal prisons, significantly less attention has been paid to local justice systems, where the criminal justice system primarily operates and where over-incarceration begins. 

According to a report released today by the Vera Institute of Justice, “Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America”:

·       There are nearly 12 million local jail admissions every year – almost 20 times the number of prison admissions, and equivalent to the populations of Los Angeles and New York City combined.

·       Nearly 75 percent of the population of both sentenced offenders and pretrial detainees are in jail for nonviolent offenses like traffic, property, drug, or public order violations.

·       From 1982 to 2011, cumulative expenditures related to building and running jails increased nearly 235 percent. Local jurisdictions now spend $22.2 billion annually on correctional institutions.

The Challenge will engage a diverse range of organizations and individuals – law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, defenders, policymakers, academia, advocates, and funders – to lend their insights and participation to this effort. Four of the nation's leading criminal justice organizations will provide technical assistance and counsel to Safety and Justice Challenge jurisdictions: the Center for Court Innovation, the Justice Management Institute, Justice System Partners, and the Vera Institute of Justice.

The MacArthur Foundation has been active in the justice field for more than 20 years. Through its Models for Change juvenile justice reform initiative, the Foundation has supported reform in more than 35 states in an effort to create a more rational, fair, effective, and developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system. MacArthur has supported seminal research on the effects of modern neuroscience on criminal law and has a rich history in international justice, including helping to establish the International Criminal Court. The Foundation has for several years supported work related to criminal justice reform as part of an exploration of a strategy for reform in the field. This work included support for the National Academies of Sciences 2014 report The Growth of Incarceration in the United States.

- See more at:

Aid Charity Investigated by USAID Purges Senior Leadership

February 10th, 2015  |  Source:

More than half a dozen top executives at International Relief and Development resigned Friday amid multiple inquiries into alleged financial misconduct by one of the U.S. Agency for International Development's biggest contractors, according to The Washington Post.

The Arlington, Va.-based charity's chief financial officer, general counsel, and chief administrative officer were among those departing as the organization seeks to demonstrate accountability after it was suspended by USAID last month.

International Relief and Development has received $2.4-billion in government contracts since 2007, primarily for humanitarian and community-development work in Afghanistan and Iraq. Jean M. Hacken, the charity's chief of compliance from 2009 to 2014, said its executives charged Redskins game tickets, personal dining and travel, and alcohol at organizational functions to the government as overhead costs. The nonprofit's husband-and-wife founders, Arthur B. Keys and Jasna Basaric-Keys, retired last year.

Young Tech Donors Take Leading Role in Philanthropy 50

February 9th, 2015  |  Source:

America’s 50 most generous donors increased their giving by 27.5 percent last year—powered in large part by a $1.5-billion gift from Bill and Melinda Gates and a stunning rise in the number of tech entrepreneurs under 40, three of whom gave more than $500-million each.

The increase is striking compared with 2012, when giving by the Philanthropy 50 rose just 4 percent.

Two of the technology wunderkinder who are transforming the profile of big philanthropy have not previously disclosed the extent of their giving. They are Jan Koum, the 38-year-old founder of the messaging company WhatsApp, who donated $556-million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, putting him at No. 4 onThe Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50, and Sean Parker, the 35-year-old former Facebook president and founder of Napster, who ranked No. 5 by contributing $550-million, split between his family foundation and a donor-advised fund.

They are followed by Nicholas Woodman, 39, and his wife, Jill, 38, founders of the high-tech camera company GoPro, who donated slightly more than $500-million, also to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Why non-profits should consider a revenue-driven model

February 4th, 2015  |  Source: Globe & Mail

In a recent article in The New Zealand Herald, “Why Does Social Enterprise Matter?”, The Akina Foundation explores why now is a better time than ever for nonprofit social organizations to shift to self-sustaining (or even profitable) business models. We couldn’t agree more.

Our organization, The Global Good Fund, accelerates the development of young social entrepreneurs through a 15-month Fellowship. We pair Fellows with esteemed executives who serve in a coaching capacity, provide leadership assessment resources and offer a network of peer leaders, sector expertise and targeted financial capital. Until now, we have relied on donor funding to support these young leaders. But given the immense amount of time and resources invested in each Fellow, we realized that it would be impossible to scale our program and invest in more leaders each year without making fundamental changes to how we operate.

As a result, we are creating revenue-producing services that shift us from a donor-driven organization to a financially sustainable enterprise. With this critical shift, our objective is to scale and further accelerate the development of young social entrepreneurs tackling the world’s greatest challenges. For us, iterating to develop revenue streams is imperative to our long-term growth and ability to deliver global social impact.

And we are not the only organization that faces the crossroads of donor-driven versus revenue-generating operations. The reality is that it doesn’t need to be an either/or situation.
In response to The Akina Foundation’s article, we identified 10 reasons why shifting from a donor-driven organization to a revenue-producing social enterprise is more beneficial in terms of global impact.

Read on here:

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