Altruism Today

Cause.It Unites Volunteers, Local Business, and Nonprofits in One App

March 16th, 2012  |  Source:


Can an app boost community engagement? A new mobile app called, which made a splashy debut during SXSW Interactive in Austin, may do the job better than just about anything.

The company is aiming to transform the way local business, nonprofits, and volunteers interact by giving do-gooders discounts in exchange for volunteering their time or social media accounts for nonprofits. It's a win for the businesses—who bring in new customers and have access to metrics about their cause marketing—and for nonprofits, which acquire new contacts for their mailing list. 

Many U.S. Churches Facing Foreclosure

March 13th, 2012  |  Source: NPQ

Source: Reuters  

Reuters reports that many U.S. churches that took out mortgages to purchase their facilities are facing defaults and potential bank foreclosures.

According to the CoStar Group, a real estate information service, in 2011, 270 churches were sold after defaulting on their loans; 131 were sold by banks themselves as opposed to the church property owner. Most of the churches facing foreclosures have been “small to medium size houses of worship,” and the highest percentage of foreclosures have been in the same states that have suffered from rampant home foreclosures—California, Georgia, Florida, and MichiganBanks have traditionally been flexible with churches about allowing them to refinance their loans and have often been unwilling to foreclose on churches because it would make them seem heavy-handed and callous. But banks are now being pressured to restructure and clean up their mortgage loan pools, making the churches that haven’t paid up easy targets for the banks’ internal auditors. 

Reuters mentions not the big commercial banks, but the Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECC), which “was particularly aggressive in lending to religious institutions.” As an example, in 2008 ECCU gave the Solid Rock Christian Church near Memphis, Tenn. a $2.9 million loan to construct a new, 2,000-seat, 34,000 square foot church. With the recession, donations and membership from worshipers probably fell and the church began to tap its savings to pay the loan. Eventually, Rock Christian defaulted, prompting an ECCU foreclosure and auction. 

In Boston, the Charles Street African American Episcopal Church is facing a March 22nd foreclosure auction because of its default on a $1.1 million balloon loan. The lender is OneUnited, among the largest African American-owned banks. Charles Street is also fighting OneUnited over a $3.6 million loan that paid for the rehab of two buildings used as a community center. Like a homeowner with a subprime loan, Charles Street says that it had been making its payments until it confronted the balloon which it couldn’t pay. 

Mainstream banks are also in the picture. Sun Trust Bank gave Flat Rock Church in Lithonia, Ga. an $850,000 balloon loan to build a new 300-seat church. The church defaulted, Sun Trust foreclosed, and now the bank plans to auction the property. The church’s leaders cannot understand why the bank appears unwilling to renegotiate.

Online Platform for Corporate Giving

March 7th, 2012  |  Source:

Snoball Inc., today announced the availability of a new version of their online platform ( designed to allow socially responsible businesses to engage their employees, customers and stakeholders in charitable giving.

The platform enables companies to facilitate employee and customer directed donations into their existing corporate giving programs, using their own brands and systems.

The World Needs Us to Be Fearless

March 1st, 2012  |  Source: Case Foundation

by Jean Case

When we look at the state of the world today, we see a mixed picture. Rapid innovation in an increasingly connected society is transforming the way we work, play, and live.

But we also see global economic woes, civic unrest, and political stalemates.

As a result, social issues that challenge communities both domestically and globally are becoming more urgent and interconnected. Meanwhile, those of us charged with finding or funding solutions to chronic social challenges — philanthropy, government, nonprofits — seem to be moving too slowly and often operating with the same set of tools, concepts, and cautions of the generations before us. If we’re going to keep up with the rapid pace of change and the daunting volume and complexities of these challenges, we must rethink traditional models.

Wall Street must wake up to impact investing

February 24th, 2012  |  Source:

Commentary: Resources available for those who want to know more

Nearly 40% of affluent investors would like to know more about impact investing — getting a financial reward while benefitting the world — but don’t receive any recommendations from their financial advisors.

A survey of more than 4,000 high net-worth investors conducted last year by a major consulting firm also found that 10% of those investors are “very interested” in impact investments but remain on the sidelines; Wall Street isn’t letting them play, profit and do good.

It’s time for Wall Street to wake up to the fact that what investors want now is very different from what investors have wanted in the past. While “greed is good” may have been the mantra of the financial community, what people are saying now is: “greed can do good.”

Ron Cordes, co-chairman of Genworth Financial Wealth Management, a multi-billion dollar financial services company, teamed up with long-time social investing advocate Tim Freundlich to launch Impact Assets. Read more at

The site, which went live in July 2011, includes a raft of information on impact investing for both individuals and financial advisors. It also includes the ImpactAssets 50, a widely available global database of leading private debt and equity fund managers that deliver social and environmental value in addition to financial returns. Cumulatively, these managers represent some $9 billion of capital invested across multiple asset classes, geographies, and impact areas (including microfinance, community development, fair trade, and other popular impact investing sectors).

It’s a much needed tool. As the field of impact investing evolves, advisors and their clients are “increasingly looking for ways to make sense of the complex landscape,” the Impact Assets site notes. Its mission is for “advisors to help investors connect their portfolios with their passions and allocate capital to impact investments,” Cordes says.

In short, investors can log on and invest directly or go through their financial advisors to impact the world.

Abstracted from THOMAS KOSTIGEN'S IMPACT INVESTOR on                                       [July 2011]

Surplus Government Property: Homeless Help vs. Revenue

February 23rd, 2012  |  Source:

Turning unloved federal property into homeless services centers has been federal law for a quarter century, but tough times have bureaucrats hoping to shove that tradition into the cold.

For the past 25 years, many organizations that serve the homeless in America have been able to do so with a free supply of real estate: surplus federal property that the government no longer wants. Old warehouses have been turned into food banks. Small agency office buildings have been converted to counseling centers. Decommissioned military housing now sometimes shelters the homeless.

But in a reality of the recession, as America’s homeless ranks have risen, so too has the pressure in Washington to make a buck by selling these properties.

New York Hospitals Ignoring Indigent Care Law

February 18th, 2012  |  Source: NPQ/NYT

Source: New York Times | According to a new study by the Community Service Society, New York hospitals divvy up an annual $1 billion-plus pot from New York’s Indigent Care Pool, but they largely ignore legal mandates to provide relief to patients who cannot afford their oversized hospital bills. Incredibly, some hospitals receive millions from the charity care pool without disbursing a dollar of aid.

The law in place demands that hospitals provide aid for patients with income up to 300 percent of the poverty level. Hospitals may pursue judgments and liens, but must first offer aid applications with assistance for completing them, and not seek payment while the application is pending.

Greater New York Hospital Association trade group executive David Rich acknowledges “there’s a law in place,” but defends the nobility of his group’s members, saying that “hospitals are providing a lot of charity care at a loss.”

New York Department of Health spokesman Michael Moran announced that a panel of patient advocates and hospital administrators is convening to improve application of the law. He stated that the department is in the middle of “a comprehensive data integrity project that will include the retention of an outside auditor.”

Stanford Shatters Higher Ed Fundraising Campaign Record

February 10th, 2012  |  Source: NPQ


Source: Chronicle of Higher Education | The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Stanford University’s five-year fundraising campaign, which ended in December of 2011, brought in $6.2 billion.

According to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, that is a record for higher education fundraising campaigns—breaking the previous record by $2.3 billion. Stanford’s original goal of $4.3 billion was left in the dust long ago.

Wikimedia’s Study Reveals Big Tip About Online Donors

February 8th, 2012  |  Source: NPQ

Source: Wikimedia Foundation Global Blog | We think you should each take a look at Wikimedia’s blog post about what it found out through its survey of why readers donate to the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, and who they tend to be. If you will remember, Wikimedia’s most recent fundraising campaign raised $20 million from readers. 

Editing at Wikipedia is, of course, dependent on you and me, and our favorite takeaway is the fact that editors are much more likely to donate (26 percent did) than are regular readers (only 3 percent did). Additionally, while non-editors have donated three or fewer times, “as many as 21 percent of the editors have donated more than five times.”

Washington Post Chairman to Donate $45 Million in Facebook Windfall to Education

February 3rd, 2012  |  Source: NPQ


Source: The Atlantic Wire | With an estimated net worth of $500 million, Donald Graham, the chairman of the Washington Post Company, probably does not really need the $46 million windfall he got from the Facebook IPO filing yesterday.

So, Graham plans to keep his shares for now but says he will donate them to three education-related charities in the D.C. area when he leaves the Facebook board, which he has been on since 2008. He and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are longtime friends. The 66-year-old Graham, by the way, has 4,888 friends on Facebook. 

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