Altruism Today

The Affordable Care Act Meets IRS in Climate of Scandal

June 9th, 2013  |  Source: NPQ

The unfortunate IRS controversy has given new life to critics of the Affordable Care Act due to the IRS’s role in the implementation of healthcare reform.

Almost overnight, diehard critics of “Obamacare” have begun to fret publicly about the ability of the Service to meet its obligations to carry out the program, giving Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) more Republican plaudits for his prediction that the implementation of the ACA could be a “train wreck“ than he has heard from his friends across the aisle since he became the Democratic negotiator for tax cuts during the Bush Administration.

With the focus on four or five supposed scandals diverting the attention of the press and the public—and, not least, the nonprofit sector—from the Affordable Care Act, it is no surprise that apprehensions are increasing and reliable information decreasing about the emerging contours of national healthcare reform.

Two specific elements of the Affordable Care Act have been enveloped in the Washington climate of controversy and scandal, both with components significant to the nonprofit sector. But these ACA-related scandals are only so much smoke, being stoked by critics of national healthcare reform, without much kindling to ignite a broader fire.

The Role of the IRS in the ACA: Assigned or Usurped? Rick Cohen’s article asks, read his take here:
http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/22377-the-afforda...


New Report: 50 worst charities in America

June 6th, 2013  |  Source: CIRonline

Many charities nationwide are turning donations that were intended for paralyzed veterans, dying children and cancer victims into huge profits for private fundraising companies.

Nearly $1 billion has been collected in the name of charity but diverted elsewhere in the past decade, according to a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and California-based The Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation’s largest and longest serving nonprofit newsroom dedicated to watchdog journalism. CNN joined the partnership in March.

The results of the investigation are chronicled in the series – America’s Worst Charities – that will start publishing online today at www.tampabay.com/charity and cironline.org/americasworstcharities.
The series also will publish June 9, 10, and 16 in the Tampa Bay Times. CNN will air broadcast reports on June 13 during the AC360 show at 8 pm and 10 pm ET.

The series identifies the nation’s 50 worst charities based on the huge amount of money they have paid for-profit solicitors over the past decade. These charities spend just a few pennies of every dollar raised on the needy. In some cases, more than 90 percent of the money
raised went to the telemarketing firm. Until now, the public has had no way to know where their money has gone.

Find out the 50 worst charities in America by the list of the charities at www.tampabay.com/americas-worst-charities.


Bill Gates And Bono: 'Partners In Crime' Discuss Their Collaboration For Good

June 6th, 2013  |  Source: Forbes

The richest man in the world and the biggest rock star in the world made a rare joint appearance Wednesday at the second annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, discussing the genesis of their partnership, friendship and their goals as they work together going forward.
Bill Gates and Bono joined approximately 150 billionaires, near-billionaires, philanthropist and leading social entrepreneurs, as well as two Nobel Peace Prize winners, all of whom spent the day sharing ideas and seeking solutions to extreme poverty.
And what did this duo have to say? Over the course of a free-wheeling hour, which I moderated and encompassed more than a half-dozen questions from others in the room, ranging from Paul Tudor Jones II to Indian billionaire Prakash Hindura, quite a lot.

View the video here:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2013/06/06/bill-gates-and-bono-o...


Coalition of Investors Voices Support for Conflict Minerals Rule

June 4th, 2013  |  Source: Social Funds

Expressing their disagreement with a lawsuit filed by the US Chamber of Commerce and industry trade groups, the group states that improved disclosure and reporting on social risk factors will protect investors.

A coalition of more than 50 sustainable investor groups representing $459 billion under management have issued a statement of support for the Security and Exchange Commission's rule mandating disclosure of the presence of conflict minerals in corporate supply chains. 

Included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed in 2010, the rule was finally implemented by the SEC last August and requires that companies begin providing disclosure on the issue this year. However, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and the Business Roundtable filed a lawsuit shortly afterward, arguing that implementation would amount to an overly burdensome cost to companies. 

In November, multi-stakeholder group led by the Responsible Sourcing Network spoke out strongly in favor of the rule, urging "all stakeholders to continue the important work underway to address the critical issue of transparency in the supply chains for these minerals." 

"We strongly believe these efforts are a matter of corporate social responsibility," the group stated. 

The signatories to the Investor Statement include members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), signatories to the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment

Noting that conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resulted in more than five million deaths and "contributed to egregious human rights abuses," the coalition stated, "As investors and fiduciaries with a long-term view of capital appreciation that must meet the interests of multiple generations of beneficiaries, we believe it is important to protect investors through improved disclosure and reporting on social risk factors such as labor practices and human rights." 


Designer Uses Fashion to Save the Culture of South Sudan Nomadic Cattle Camps

May 30th, 2013  |  Source: Obakki Foundation

The Obakki Foundation’s Founder and Creative Director Treana Peake sees a strong connection between fashion and the ancient culture of South Sudan cattle camps. In fact, her newPreserved in Time collection is inspired by the shades, colours and shadows of the very cattle camps she is working to save. 

Peake, an active philanthropist, mother and wife, heads up The Obakki Foundation, a unique non-profit based in Vancouver. At The Obakki Foundation, fashion is used as the main fundraising vehicle and Peake and her team use creative campaigns and authentic storytelling to engage and inspire consumers to support their projects. And 100 per cent of net profits go to the charitable work being done. Not a part of the profits, not a percentage – all of it. To date, they have raised close to $2.5 million for initiatives focused on providing education and clean water for communities in urgent need in South Sudan and Cameroon.

Proceeds from the Preserved in Time collection will build water wells for the nomadic people of the cattle camps in the far-reaching corners of South Sudan. Clean water is a valuable resource that is in such short supply in the region that it is considered a crisis. The people of these camps are being forced into conflict with each other over access to water needed to sustain their people and their cattle. They are the last truly preserved society to roam the African terrain alongside their revered cattle. With 80% of the internal conflict in South Sudan emanating from these battling cattle camps, there are political threats to dissolve the camps, extinguishing this culture’s ancient way of life.

To better understand the challenges being faced by these historically significant cattle camps and to hear from the tribespeople themselves about the negative effects of the water crisis on their youth, their culture and their way of life, please watch the five-minute video of Peake’s recent visit to South Sudan: http://obakki.com/campaign/preserved-in-time/

At a cost of $10,000 per well, Peake is hopeful that their focus on building wells will help to alleviate the growing conflicts between the cattle camp tribes. “With the provision of water, we hope we can help these cattle camps create a sustainable framework for peace, health and growth,” said Peake. “The people purchasing an item from the Obakki collection get a stylish piece that has a very real connection to the culturally significant nomadic cattle camps. Tribespeople get fresh water and a chance at a peaceful, sustainable existence.” She added: “We’ve been told by customers that these items are conversation starters, since each piece reflects the world that the cattle camp tribes have lived in for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.” 


Bank of America – Khan Academy announce a new partnership

April 10th, 2013  |  Source: BetterMoneyHabits.com

Bank of America and leading online educator, Khan Academy, have joined forces to create BetterMoneyHabits.com, a free platform to improve financial literacy. The platform will explain financial concepts in a simple and conversational way and will be completely free of advertising. In addition, Khan Academy will provide videos on financial subjects with no outside editorial control, reflecting a shared goal of providing information in an unbiased environment.
See: www.BetterMoneyHabits.com


New platform launched by GiveCorps

April 5th, 2013  |  Source: GiveCorps Foundation

Did you know Michael Bloomberg’s first donation to Johns Hopkins, in 1965, was just five dollars? That was a billion dollars ago! With the millennial generation standing to inherit trillions, it’s important for charities to build relationships with and cultivate small donations from that age group now.

GiveCorps, a Baltimore-based startup dedicated to creating technology to make philanthropy easy and accessible, believes their new GiveCorps Pro platform will equip nonprofits with the tools they need to reach this demographic.

GiveCorps Pro gives nonprofits the ability to harness their supporters’ passions and social networks by allowing them to create their own giving campaigns on the organization’s behalf.

GiveCorps Pro recently launched with four high profile clients, including the United Way of Central Maryland, the Community Coalition for Haiti, Baltimore’s Kingdom Life Church, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

You can see United Way’s use of the platform here: https://givecorps.com/en/uwcm/projects

For the GiveCorps.Pro website go to: http://givecorps.pro


On Gun Control, White House Fails to Tap Power of Nonprofits

April 2nd, 2013  |  Source: NPQ

In his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama urged the Congress to adopt stringent gun control measures, including a ban on assault weapons and large ammunition clips. It was tough talk. Did he really mean it?

Though he has barnstormed parts of the country on the issue, speaking to mayors and police chiefs who were already on the gun control bandwagon, his administration has done little or nothing to mobilize large constituencies that could neutralize the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful pro-gun lobby that appears to terrorize so many or our congressmen and senators. On March 28, the president once again urged Congress to pass his gun control agenda, yet the White House has not yet taken any action to back up his rhetoric.

Organizing for Action (OFA), the so-called 501(c)(4) grassroots organization founded by White House operatives and led by Jim Messina, was supposed to deliver masses of people, many of them young veterans of the Obama political campaign, to support administration initiatives such as gun control and immigration reform. But, so far, it has turned out to be just a fundraising mechanism to lure big money to White House coffers. Only a strong outcry from watchdog groups like Common Cause forced OFA to abandon its plans for a pay-to-play vehicle for corporate and large individual donors.

Contrary to its promise, Organizing for Action has not launched any major effort to rally the forces needed to win the immigration reform and gun control fights. One is left with a perplexing question: for what action is the OFA organizing?

White House staff have demonstrated an incredible lack of interest and/or incompetence in failing to call out nonprofit sector organizations as activists for tighter gun controls. Surprisingly, they have done no such thing. They haven’t, as one might have expected, convened any conferences or workshops for nonprofits to enlist them as soldiers in the battle for gun control. Nor, as far as we know, have they reached out to individual groups to gain their support for such an initiative.

It is a major missed opportunity. Many large nonprofits, with substantial constituencies, have the money, staff and resources to mount major campaigns. The foundation community also has the money needed to finance comprehensive, sustained efforts. Together, they have the wherewithal to outspend and to politically outmuscle the National Rifle Association. Yet they haven’t been asked to do anything. If they were to join forces with Mayor Bloomberg of New York, who’s had the courage to give millions of dollars and his personal involvement to the cause, chances for much tighter gun controls would be enormously enhanced.

Why, then, has the Obama administration done nothing but talk about gun violence? For an alleged former organizer, the president has either been a poor organizer or a reluctant warrior.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, has yanked the assault weapons and limited ammunition clip provisions from the gun control bill the Senate will consider, claiming there weren’t enough votes to pass it if the legislation included the controversial measures. The president could have pressured Reid to introduce the complete bill, but he didn’t.

One is left with the impression that the president, as in other cases, is satisfied with the rhetoric of toughness and a mild gun control bill, that he has no intention of fighting hard for what he promised. In doing so, he, not incidentally, is helping the fortunes of several Senate democrats facing difficult challenges in conservative states in 2016.

But that is not presidential leadership. He had a chance to enroll a potentially powerful nonprofit sector as his agent of change on the issue, a decision that might have turned the tide of the battle and broken the back of the NRA. What a waste of resources.

And what a retrograde step in helping to solve the problem of violence in American communities.


 

Pablo Eisenberg is a senior fellow at the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute.


Ch-Ch-Changes: Nonprofit Sector Predictions for 2013

December 26th, 2012  |  Source: NPQ

The most insightful statement about predicting the future comes from Nobel Prize-winning chemist Neils Bohr, who reportedly once said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once said roughly the same thing, though he also said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Berra and Bohr seem to be describing the future that faces nonprofits and foundations in 2013, based on dozens of predictions we received from smart people in and around the Nonprofit Quarterly orbit. It would take several columns to reprint all of them, so this Cohen Report excerpts some telling commentaries that lay out thematic predictions for the coming year. In some cases, we hope that they are on the mark. In others, we hope that some of these Cassandras (the mythic Greek character who knew of the future but couldn’t change it) are mistaken.

Relationships with Government

Heading toward the precipice of the fiscal cliff, people with predictions for the sector were notably absorbed with what will happen to nonprofits at the hands of—or in bed with—government. With “organizations such as Robert Egger’s CForward endorsing candidates, and with other thought leaders calling for more political involvement, DePaul University professor John Ronquillo observed, “expect nonprofits and government to get even more intimate.”

To read Nick Cohen’s predictions go here: http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/management/21540-ch-ch-changes-nonprofit-sector-predictions-for-2013.html


A Tale of Two Nonprofit Messages on U.S. Gun Violence

December 17th, 2012  |  Source: NPQ

In 2010, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave President Barack Obama an “F” on gun control based on his administration’s “extraordinary silence and passivity.” That was after the killings in Fort Hood, Texas in 2009 but before the Obama administration’s statements of concern (followed by no action) after the attempted assassination of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Tucson in 2011, the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo. in 2012, and the gun violence at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., also in 2012.

In the second 2012 presidential debate, the president said something to the effect that while he supports some unexplained interpretation of the Second Amendment, he doesn’t think weapons meant for warfare belong on the streets of American cities. Still, the Obama administration didn’t do anything about it, which presumably didn’t improve his grade from the Brady Campaign. But after the horrible murders of elementary school children in Newtown, Conn., the president has indicated that now, at last, is the time for “meaningful action.”

Facing off against the nonprofit Brady Campaign is a much larger nonprofit, the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA has been almost completely silent since the Newtown shootings, even cancelling a “Tweet and Greet” with country music rapper Colt Ford. Several sources are citing an unnamed NRA spokeswomanwho said, “Until the facts are thoroughly known, the NRA will not be making any comment.”

You can all imagine the comments that the NRA will be offering members of Congress. Think about the pending legislation in the 112th Congress that would limit the capacity of large ammunition feeding devices, close the gun show loophole, keep guns away from federal events (like the one that resulted in the shooting of Gabby Giffords), and prevent people on terrorist watch lists from obtaining guns. Not one of those bills moved an inch during the past two years. How about the legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban? To our knowledge, a bill to that effect wasn’t even introduced. The NRA essentially tells lawmakers to see no evil, do no gun control legislation. The Brady Campaign gives lawmakers—and the White House—a failing grade for doing exactly what the NRA wants.

Will the president and his Democratic allies finally take the meaningful action that the president said he would pursue? Will it happen in the wake of 20 dead kids in an elementary school in Newtown, or the 87 gun deaths that occur every day in the U.S.? Will something be done to address the more than 18,735 suicide deaths, 11,493 homicide deaths, 493 unintentional deaths, and 73,505 non-fatal injuries attributed to firearms in a year? 




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