Altruism Today

New Ethics for a New Time: Sockpuppetry and Paid Editing

January 14th, 2014  |  Source: NPQ

Having an active base of tens of thousands of active volunteers who weigh in with their opinions makes you a different kind of organization. The nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, has fired an employee for editing for pay.

Sarah Stierch had been on staff at the foundation for less than a year as a “program evaluation coordinator,” but prior to that, she was a paid fellow at the foundation.

Editing for pay is widely disapproved of by Wikipedia’s editing community, which considers that it might taint entries. Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner has denounced “paid advocacy editing,” as a kind of “promotional” content that is “clearly problematic” and a “black hat practice” as far as the foundation is concerned. Wikimedia spokesperson Jay Walsh elaborated, “There’s a historical resistance towards it from early days within the project. Wikipedia is a volunteer project written by people who were unpaid to support free knowledge by giving their work freely to the project.”

A discussion of the issue of editing for pay by Sue Gardner was posted on the Wikimedia Foundation websitein October when the issue last blew up. It reads, in part, “Editors on the English Wikipedia are currently investigating allegations of suspicious edits and sockpuppetry (i.e., using online identities for purposes of deception). At this point, as reported, it looks like a number of user accounts—perhaps as many as several hundred—may have been paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products, and have been violating numerous site policies and guidelines, including prohibitions against sockpuppetry and undisclosed conflicts of interest. As a result, Wikipedians aiming to protect the projects against non-neutral editing have blocked or banned more than 250 user accounts.”

Hudson Institute Publishes 2013 Index of Global Philanthropy

December 12th, 2013  |  Source: NPQ

According to the Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances, published by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity, private dollars to developing countries far exceeded aid from governments in 2011.

At the U.S. State Department, leaders are aware enough to have set up a working group on philanthropy to promote private giving. It would be odd if State were unaware of the importance of private philanthropy, given that the spouse of current Secretary of State John Kerry, Teresa Heinz, chairs the board of trustees of one of the nation’s largest private foundations, the Heinz Endowments (plural because it is actual two foundations).

However, digging into the excellent report that CGP, under director Carol Adelmann, regularly issues, it is self-evident that not all dollars are the same. Government aid, private philanthropy, private investment, and remittances sometimes serve very different purposes and reach populations in need somewhat variably due to challenges in cross-border financial flows and, in the cases of many developing nations, the restrictions they put on indigenous and international nongovernmental organizations.

It shouldn’t be difficult to whet anyone’s interest in plowing through the data in the Index to encounter findings such as these:

·       Private capital flows in terms of philanthropy, remittances, and capital investment from the 23 developed donor nations of the Development Assistance Committee to developing countries accounted for roughly 80 percent of the $577 billion total in 2011.

·       Of the total $322 billion in private financial flows in 2011, $196 billion was in the form of remittances (making it the largest component of private capital from developed to developing countries) and private philanthropy totaled $59 billon.

·       In terms of official development assistance (ODA), the DAC countries generated $134.04 billion in aid and four so-called “emerging” economies—China, India, Brazil, and South Africa—added another $3.66 billion. On some projects, Brazil, India, and South Africa cooperate through the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Trilateral Initiative launched in 2003 to generate increased South-South development assistance.

·       The U.S., with $30.92 billion in official development assistance, was the largest ODA donor country, followed by Germany ($14.09 billion), the United Kingdom ($13.83b), France ($13.0b), and Japan ($10.83b), but in terms of ODA percentage of gross national income (GNI), only five of the DAC nations hit the United Nations’ suggested target of 0.7 percent—Sweden (1.02 percent), Norway (1.0 percent), Luxembourg (0.97 percent), Denmark (0.85 percent), and the Netherlands (0.75 percent). The U.S. was at 0.20 percent.

·       Sub-Saharan Africa was the largest recipient of ODA, approximately $45.6 billion. Aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo grew from $3.5 billion in 2010 to $5.5 billion in 2011, making it the second-largest single recipient of development aid. Aid to Haiti dropped from $3.1 billion in 2010 to $1.7 billion in 2011, closer to the nation’s pre-earthquake levels.

·       For the U.S., the CGP counts public and private development assistance to developing countries as $278.5 billion, with official government aid constituting at $30.9 billion, foundations $4.6b, corporations $7.6b, private and voluntary organizations $14.0b, universities and colleges $1.9b, religious organizations $7.2b, U.S. remittances $100.2 billion, and private capital flows $108.4 b. CGP also adds in $3.7 billion as the value of volunteerism directed at developing countries from the U.S.

·       Although Asian countries are worldwide the largest recipients of remittances, Latin American and Caribbean nations are the largest beneficiaries of remittances from the U.S. sources, roughly $44.3 billion, of which more than half ($23.2 billion) goes to Mexico.


November 19th, 2013  |  Source: Crowd Rise

NTEN is the largest community of nonprofit professionals who put technology to use for their causes. Over 50,000 individuals share ideas in our online groups, attend our conferences and classroom workshops, participate in local monthly events, and find inspiration amongst each other to get one step closer to achieving their missions.

As a member of one of our Tech Clubs said to us, “to change the world, you need a community.” And we couldn’t agree more.

A good community is hard to find, and that’s what makes NTEN truly special -- the community’s commitment to helping each other do the best work they can to change the world.

As NTEN gears up for another incredible year ahead, we need your support to help renew and scale up our efforts. This season, we’ve set a fundraising goal of $50,000 in honor of our 50,000+ community members. With this $50,000, you help NTEN:

·       Bring in new members that may not be able to cover the cost of NTEN Membership

·       Ensure a diverse range of organizations can attend the NTC through scholarships

·       Support our worldwide Tech Clubs with more materials to enhance their experience

·       Develop new programs and resources for NTEN’s growing community

It takes a community to raise a nonprofit! With your support, we can build an even stronger community in 2014. Please donate today to help NTEN build a stronger network of nonprofit professionals that do more with less by leveraging technology to support their work.

To donate directly through NTEN's website, visit

Informed Giving: What Donors Want and How Nonprofits can Provide It

November 12th, 2013  |  Source: Root

Root Cause is particularly pleased to share with you the findings of Informed Giving: What Donors Want and How Nonprofits can Provide It, which reinforce the importance of their mission.

Thanks to generous funding from the Hewlett Foundation, Root Cause worked with an independent research firm to conduct qualitative and quantitative surveys of more than 200 Fidelity Charitable donors* with donor-advised funds to learn more about the types and formats of information they are interested in receiving to help them make their giving decisions. This report focuses on the 71 percent of respondents who reported that they regularly or sometimes give to new social causes or nonprofits each year.

Here are some findings that I think you will find particularly relevant:
• Donors want to better understand the social issue being addressed: Of the donors giving regularly or sometimes to new charities/causes, 57 percent actively seek out information about social causes.
• Donors care about the impact a nonprofit is having: As many as 75 percent of donors use information about the nonprofit’s impact, while 63 percent use information about the social issue the nonprofit addresses.
• Benchmarking nonprofit performance is important: If information were readily available and accessible, the number of donors using benchmarking information would increase by 47 percent points, followed by the number of donors using information about best practices (44 percent).
• Donors have an overwhelming preference for using third-party sources: When looking for ratings/ reviews/recommendations, fundraising or overhead costs, and benchmarking data, donors turn to sources like Guidestar and Charity Navigator.
• Donors are interested in concise formats and comparative data: Donors indicated a strong interest in side-by-side (70 percent) and comparative formats (62 percent) in which nonprofits are compared against key metrics.

PDF available at

The NFL Is Still Tax Exempt—but More Than 200,000 Petition Signers Don’t Agree

October 29th, 2013  |  Source: NPQ

The NFL-as-nonprofit controversy continues to reverberate throughout the nation—and among fans of the violent, body-crushing sport. The petition challenging the NFL’s tax-exempt status garners support from fans as well as people who couldn’t care two whits about the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints, or the New York Giants.

Annually, the National Football League receives $250 million in membership dues from the 32 teams in the League. It earns tons of money—$9 billion annually—from network TV contracts, jersey sales, and other sources. It pays its top guy, Roger Goodell, $29.4 million a year. But it is a tax exempt 501(c)(6) trade association promoting the interests of professional football—except that those interests are only in support of the 32 NFL franchised member teams, themselves taxable entities.

That’s the rub. The National Basketball Association has eschewed tax-exempt status. Major League Baseball, for example, dropped its (c)(6) status in 2007. The U.S. Tennis Association is a (c)(6) trade association, but it promotes the entire sport, ranging from the pros who play professional tournaments to the amateurs who sign up in their communities for leagues and matches. That’s what it means to be a trade association for an entire sport, beyond a limited number of predetermined beneficiaries.

The petition on started by Saints fan Lynda Woolard challenging the NFL’s tax exempt status has garnered more than 200,000 signatures.

At any age you need to know about Front Porch

October 23rd, 2013  |  Source: Front

Front Porch, a not-for-profit organization featuring innovative communities and programs that meet the changing needs of individuals as they age, embraces a leading-edge approach to wellness in aging. In keeping with its legacy of innovation, Front Porch has become the first non-profit to enroll its leadership team in the groundbreaking Innovator’s Accelerator program. Seventy of its leaders will take part in the training. Front Porch joins a prestigious roster of top Fortune 500 companies whose employees have participated in the trainings since it was first offered in Spring 2013. 

Developed by Apollo Lightspeed – a San Francisco-based company that brings innovative higher education products and services to life – Innovator’s Accelerator brings world-class content and a unique online competency-based learning model together with broadcast-quality production and design, to create the next step forward in online learning focused on innovation. Developed in part with global design and innovation firm IDEO, Innovator’s Accelerator is a breakthrough six-week intensive executive online training course co-developed by the top minds in innovation (Clayton Christensen at the Harvard Business School, Jeff Dyer at Brigham Young University and The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and Hal Gregersen at INSEAD The Business School for the World), utilizing a mix of interactive content, real-world examples and team projects to increase the user’s innovation skills. 

Today, the number of people aged 60 and older has doubled since 1980, and the number of people aged 80 years will quadruple to 395 million between now and 2050.1 Today’s aging society, as proportions of people 60 and older are rapidly outnumbering those 15 and younger, is creating a global crisis and presenting real-world challenges that must be solved through innovation.  And time is of the essence. 

About Front Porch

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, affordable housing communities through CARING Housing Ministries and related management and development services. Front Porch active adult and full-service retirement communities offer a full range of options from independent living to continuing care, including memory support. Specialized programs like the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, Front Porch Gallery and affiliated Centers for Spirituality and Aging support the Front Porch belief in understanding and meeting needs so that residents can live life their way. With innovative communities and programs that meet the changing needs of people as they age, Front Porch represents a leading-edge approach to wellness in aging. Front Porch is comprised of 10 full-service retirement communities in California and three adult living communities: one in Louisiana and one in Florida. Front Porch also serves individuals and families through more than 20 affordable housing communities managed by Front Porch’s affiliate, CARING Housing Ministries. Front Porch, based in Burbank, Calif. and founded in 1999, is a not-for-profit organization that gives back to its residents and the communities it serves. More information is available at

Spreadshirt builds e-commerce band wagon

September 24th, 2013  |  Source: Spreadshirt

Spreadshirt, the e-commerce platform for creating, selling, and buying of ideas on things that consumers love to share, use, and carry has been a key player in the rapid turn around of apparel and accessories for charities and causes that resonate with consumers. The 24 hour turn around capabilities allow individuals or groups to create apparel or accessories, share them with like minded audiences, spread support, and generate funds to assist with causes or charities that matter to them and continually change messaging as events unfold.

In essence, Spreadshirt is the original innovator in helping thousands of nonprofits and charitable organizations connect with people and spread their message to help raise awareness and funds. Spreadshirt's history with charities and nonprofits around the globe include:

•   A key account partner since inception is doctors without borders (

•   The effort is truly global: European examples:,

•   US examples:

"The Spreadshirt model might not be the one that generates the most financial profit from t-shirt sales, because we are not limiting it to the simplest product available. However, the Spreadshirt model gives a lot of additional value to the charity organization. People who can purchase a shirt or product they like in terms of color, size and of course the message are going to wear it. They are going to wear it and will show that they've given money to this cause. They feel good about what they've done and what they are wearing. Besides sharing with their friends and pals, they are a walking advertisement for the organization. They are entering spaces the message of the charity might not have been able to enter before. The people bond with the shirt, the organization and continue to give. So, the organization / partner gets cash from the t-shirt sales, bonds with the donator and receives extra promotion!

Competition yes, but:

"No doubt that the services CustomInk, Cafepress and as well Teespring are offering are easy to use and quick to set up. But cheap shirts and hardly any choice is not good for any side - neither the non-profit nor the giver. From a charity point of view the most effective way for raising money is still the subscription model (most people simply forget to unsubscribe and keep giving money month over month or even year over year ;-)). But of course in our days, fundraising has changed. There's also crowd funding where people are given 'presents' for certain amounts they are contributing. Sometimes it's shirts but again with no real choice." Phil Rooke, CEO, Spreadshirt.

Go to:


August 21st, 2013  |  Source:

A New Platform for Raising Funds & Awareness Through Sale of Custom T-Shirts

CustomInk, the “design online” custom t-shirt company, announced today the launch of a new platform, Booster (, designed to help people raise money and rally support for their causes, loved ones, groups and projects through the online sale of custom t-shirts. CustomInk expects Booster to attract veteran fundraisers looking for better tools; and empower newcomers with an easy way to launch their first campaigns.

“At CustomInk, ‘T-shirts Unite!’ is our rallying cry,” said CustomInk’s co-founder & president, Marc Katz. “We know that uniting around a common purpose is important to our customers, and it’s important to us too.  We’re extremely excited to introduce this new platform and can already see that a Booster campaign is so much more than a fundraiser.  T-shirts raise awareness, boost spirits and create a lasting connection like nothing else. This is all deeply part of our company character, so it’s really a privilege to help people come together and make a positive difference with Booster.”


Booster is simple, fast and free.  Campaign organizers design a t-shirt using the design lab, set a selling price and sales goal and then spread the word about their campaign using Booster’s simple tools and social media integration.  The t-shirt pros at CustomInk handle the rest – proofing artwork, creating high-quality shirts and delivering them to supporters.  After the campaign has concluded, Booster sends payment to the organizer or his/her designated cause for the full amount of funds raised.

About Booster (

Booster is an online platform for raising funds and rallying support through the sale of custom t-shirts.  Booster allows users to design a custom t-shirt and create a personalized page to share their motivation and fundraising goals. Simple online tools make it easy to promote the sale of the shirt to friends, family and the community.  Booster is the free, easy and fun way to raise money and rally support through custom tees.  Booster was created by CustomInk (, the leader in custom t-shirts.  Since its founding in 2000, CustomInk has delivered approximately 50 million custom shirts to customers nationwide.

Peter Buffett on The Charitable-Industrial Complex

July 27th, 2013  |  Source:

Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism. I noticed that a donor had the urge to “save the day” in some fashion. People (including me) who had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem. Whether it involved farming methods, education practices, job training or business development, over and over I would hear people discuss transplanting what worked in one setting directly into another with little regard for culture, geography or societal norms.

Often the results of our decisions had unintended consequences; distributing condoms to stop the spread of AIDS in a brothel area ended up creating a higher price for unprotected sex.

But now I think something even more damaging is going on.

Read the whole NYT Op-Ed here:

IKEA develops flat pack REFUGEE CAMPS designed to replace tented cities in disaster zones

July 8th, 2013  |  Source: Daily Mail

·       Innovative flat pack refugee shelters from IKEA will be headed for war zones

·       They come equipped with solar panels, good insulation and high ceilings

·       Shelters will be tested by Somali, Iraqi and Lebanese refugees

Swedish furniture giant IKEA is now expanding its reach into a new frontier - warzones.

With its innovative flat pack shelters, now even refugees will be experiencing IKEA's self-assembly living.

Through its charitable arm, the IKEA foundation, it has developed an alternative to the basic refugee tent.

It is hoped they will make desperate conditions for refugees around the world more bearable.

IKEA, along with other refugee aid organisations, believe the flat pack camps could be the solution for the world's shifting refugee populations.

The new structure comes equipped with solar panels, insulation and a ceiling high enough for people to stand up in.

Many of the current refugee camps have a life span of as little as six months before the impact of sun, rain and wind means they need to be replaced. 

However, refugees usually stay in camps for several years.

The foundation has teamed up with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Refugee Housing Unit to design and build a better home for refugee families.

Once assembled, they look like a canvas shed.

Read more:

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