Altruism Today

Invisible Children, The Group Behind Kony 2012, Is Shutting Down

December 15th, 2014  |  Source: Fast Company

Invisible Children, the nonprofit behind the Kony 2012 film—often called the most viral video of all time—is slowly shutting down its operations. First, the U.S. office will close, leaving just a handful of remote workers behind to work on advocacy. Then, within 12 to 18 months, Invisible Children will hand off its work on the ground in East Africa to partner organizations.

The shutdown isn't just about cofounder Jason Russell's much publicized 2012 naked meltdown in the wake of the film's viral success, though that certainly didn't help the nonprofit's fundraising after the huge infusion of money that followed the video. Invisible Children—which was founded to end the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), an armed group of child soldiers in Uganda led by a mysterious, brutal leader, Joseph Kony—has spent most of the money it raised and is finding it hard to raise more, but that may not be the worst thing: The issue might be close enough to being resolved that the organization just isn't needed anymore.

In a world where the next ice bucket challenge is a tweet away, how the organization handled the rush of cash, rode a wave of criticism, and dealt with the subsequent attention vacuum can be a lesson to every organization hoping for its own viral hit.

Can "Pay for Success" end chronic homelessness? Massachusetts will find out.

December 11th, 2014  |  Source: Root Cause

A letter from Andrew Wolk:

Dear Laurance,

What if you could be sure that your work would produce tangible outcomes?   You would feel much more confident investing funds, people, and energy, right? Here at Root Cause, we use data to ensure projects are successful for vulnerable populations every day.  I am excited to share with you that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a coalition of partners working together to address adult homelessness just announced that they share that vision, too.
On Monday, MA Governor Deval Patrick launched the Massachusetts Chronic Individual Homelessness Pay for Success Initiative, a cross-sector partnership to loan private funds to public and non-profit agencies to create 500 units of stable supportive housing for up to 800 chronically homeless individuals—paid back with public funds if, and only if, the project is successful. That’s where Root Cause comes in.
Root Cause is pleased to be selected as the independent evaluator to assess the “Success” of “Pay for Success.” Using data to see what actually works, we’ll help the coalition set its achievement benchmarks—and collaborate to help everyone verify their progress. While this is the second Pay for Success (PFS) initiative in Massachusetts, it is the first ever, anywhere, to address chronic homelessness: it could be a real game-changer.
We look forward to advancing state-wide insight into which promising practices are actually proven performers. And then we look forward to integrating that insight into the rest of our knowledge base to help you —our partners, funders, non-profits, and communities—move ahead confidently.  
For more information about this Massachusetts Pay for Success Initiative, click here.
Read more about the Root Cause vision and services on our website.
Andrew Wolk
Founder and CEO, Root Cause
P.S. If you’d like to know more about how Root Cause could help you use data to inform your own choices about projects and resources, please contact Elizabeth Leberman at

Digital Innovation in Civil Society Is a Growing Global Phenomenon

December 9th, 2014  |  Source: Foundation Center

Annual Blueprint Anticipates the Future for Philanthropy and the "Social Economy"

The revered annual industry forecast for philanthropy was released today by GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center. Authored by scholar Lucy Bernholz, Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015 provides a global perspective on how digital data and infrastructure are being used for socially-positive purposes. The report provides evidence that beyond the realm of traditional nonprofits and foundations in the U.S., global civil society is also made up of for-profit firms, religious bodies, informal associations, and networks that are making investments in the social good and using digital tools to do it.

"A great deal of innovation in the use of digital for social good around the world is coming from outside of nonprofits," said Lucy Bernholz, visiting scholar at Stanford University's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and author of Blueprint 2015. "We are seeing an increase in the diversity of the types of organizations that participate in the global social economy, partly due to the fact that new and ubiquitous digital tools level the playing field."

Foundation Center is the leading authority on philanthropy worldwide, and its GrantCraft service shares the practical wisdom of funders. The Blueprint is a forecast that anyone using private resources for public benefit — philanthropists, social business leaders, nonprofit and association executives, individual activists, and policymakers — can use to innovate and be more strategic.

This year's report is informed by Berlin-based betterplace lab's "Lab Around the World" initiative, a 14-country exploration of "digital social innovation." Bernholz highlights a few of its case studies describing groups that are using digital technologies for social good in places as diverse as Brazil, China, and Indonesia. The examples show how digital civil society is blossoming in places with vastly different government structures and cultural practices.

Bernholz also presents big ideas that matter about digital civil society in the U.S. and abroad; the increasing organizational diversity of players in that community; strategies for promoting digital innovation; and progress in particular domains, such as human rights, health, and education. She also makes predictions for 2015 (and presents a scorecard of those she made for 2014) and considers questions for the future with regard to the use of digital tools in impact investing, the sharing economy, and political funding.

"Worldwide, philanthropy is being transformed by the emergence of new forms of social enterprise and new digital tools," said Bradford K. Smith, president of Foundation Center. "The Blueprint's thoughtful examination of what lies ahead makes it a unique resource in the field."

A prominent feature of each year's Blueprint is a top 10 list of emerging philanthropy-related buzzwords, including terms like "the internet of things," "citizen science," and "giving days." The Blueprint also predicts wildcard world events — unanticipated legislation, scandals, or disasters — that have the potential to mitigate or accelerate the timing of big shifts in the social economy. For example, Bernholz projects that foreign foundations working in China will face increasing oversight and public scrutiny by the Chinese government in 2015.

In her career as a consultant, writer, and blogger, Bernholz has established herself as an incisive authority in the complex arena of data and philanthropy. The Huffington Post calls Bernholz a "philanthropy game changer," Fast Companymagazine named her Philanthropy2173 blog "Best in Class," and she has been named to The Nonprofit Times' annual list of 50 most influential people. Throughout 2015, Bernholz will continue to investigate and cultivate conversations around the ideas in Blueprint at the GrantCraft blog, in online discussions, and on Philanthropy2173.

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015 can be downloaded for free and discussed online using #blueprint15. gets $25 million from big names

December 9th, 2014  |  Source: Money CNN has raised $25 million from a group of big-name investors, including Bill Gates and Richard Branson, to help accelerate the online petition company's rapid growth.

Arianna Huffington, Ashton Kutcher and the co-founders of Twitter (TWTRTech30),LinkedIn (LNKDTech30) and Yahoo (YHOOTech30) are among the other investors, said Tuesday. is a fast-growing start-up known for mobilizing support for social causes via online petitions. One recent petition, for instance, calls for police to wear body cameras after two unarmed men were fatally shot in separate incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and in New York City. The petition sparked has 132,000 signatures. has always had close ties to Silicon Valley. Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay (EBAYTech30), was the lead investor in the first two rounds of fundraising. All told, the outfit has raised $50 million since its inception in 2007. hopes to benefit from the philanthropic experiences of some of the latest round of investors.

"We wanted a group of investors who are passionate about our mission and who have experience that we could learn from," Jen Dulski, president and chief operating officer at, told CNNMoney.

Though's mission is closer to that of a nonprofit, it operates like a traditional business. It is incorporated as a "class B corporation," meaning it must adhere to certain social and environmental standards.

Dulski said the company is expected to provide returns to its investors. Its main source of revenue is advertising. has grown to 80 million users, up from 35 million in 2013. The company now has 222 employees and offices in 18 countries. has had some significant victories, mainly with petitions aimed at big corporations.

Dulski said LinkedIn introduced a "blocking" feature in response to a petition that raised concerns about stalkers on the social network. And The Gap (GPS) agreed not to sell fur.

But changes at the political level have been much slower. A petition that calls for a new federal law, where failing to report a missing child after 24 hours is a felony, has drawn more than 1.3 million supporters. However, the petition has gone nowhere.

Dulski said plans to use the new capital to develop technology for mobile devices, create new tools for "decision makers," such as politicians and corporate leaders, to respond directly to petitioners, and also to expand globally.

The company partners with major nonprofits, such as Unicef, Oxfam and the WWF, in sponsored campaigns. It also gives users the option to pay for "promoted petitions" which will be featured more prominently on the website. - TOP

UK Charity donations up 270% on #Giving Tuesday

December 4th, 2014  |  Source: Guardian

Donor websites report huge rise compared with same day last year as UK embraces post-Black Friday and Cyber Monday fundraising drive

·       Why Giving Tuesday will last longer than ice bucket challenge

·       Giving Tuesday: 10 ways to donate that don’t cost a penny

Celebrating and inspiring philanthropy around the world

December 3rd, 2014  |  Source: Coutts

The 2014 Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report illustrates that major philanthropy is thriving. Tracking donations worth a total of $26.3bn[2] across seven regions - up from $19bn in 2012 - our findings make for encouraging reading and suggest that major philanthropy is becoming more prevalent, more visible and more organised.

Since 2008, Coutts has produced the Million Pound Donors Report to provide insight into major UK philanthropy. In 2013, we decided to cast our net wider to capture also the scale and nature of donations of $1m or more in the USA, Russia, Middle East (GCC[3]), China and Hong Kong. This year, we also added Singapore. The result is a report that is a leading authority on major philanthropy internationally.

Our report is about more than just data. The inspiring interviews with major donors demonstrate that philanthropy is driven by people’s values, passions, interests or visions for a better future. We are grateful for the frankness and honesty of the donors who kindly shared their personal experiences of philanthropy with us.

The social, economic and political contexts for the seven regions we looked at vary enormously. Data on high-net-worth giving may be easily accessible in the likes of the UK and the USA, but in other regions it is not as readily available. Whether this is due to the relative infancy of the philanthropic sector, or because of cultural factors that encourage major donors to stay out of the public eye, the result is that the true scale of giving in some areas is likely to be considerably larger than we report. We would also like to acknowledge the vast number of donations below the $1m threshold, which are not tracked in this report.

Such considerations mean that it would be misleading to make direct comparisons between the jurisdictions covered. This report nonetheless gives a strong sense of how philanthropy is growing and changing in each region, and which causes and communities attract the most attention. Overall, there is little doubt that major philanthropy is on the rise.


The Philanthropy Workshop's new website

December 3rd, 2014  |  Source: The Philathropy Workshop

Founded in 1995, The Philanthropy Workshop leverages the strengths of forward-thinking philanthropists, advisors, and their founding organizations, including the Rockefeller and Hewlett Foundations and the Institute for Philanthropy, to bring educational programming, a diverse network, and a united position as the foremost influencers of strategic and innovative philanthropy in the global community.

With offices in San Francisco, New York, and London, the TPW member network of more than 350 philanthropists is the largest of its kind and unique to the field of philanthropy.

The Philanthropy Workshop web site is designed to provide journalists with access to the latest news, information, and story material related to TPW and its members and their organizations and related issues.

They invite journalists to follow them on Twitter @TPWgivebetter 



December 1st, 2014  |  Source:

We have a day for giving thanks and days for getting deals.

Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day for giving back.

On Tuesday Dec. 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, students and more will come together to create #GivingTuesday a day when people around the world will use the Internet & social media to share information about how they give and why. Click here to start your own campaign:

After a Scandal, Pearson Dissolves Foundation, pays $7.7-million to settle the investigation

November 21st, 2014  |  Source:

Pearson, the education-publishing company, is closing its scandal-plagued foundation and will begin asking its corporate-responsibility arm to make grants that more closely link giving with its global network and expertise.

One example of the new approach is Project Literacy, which Pearson announced in September. John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, describes Project Literacy as a social movement "that will make headway on giving every person access to the tools they need to become literate."

Pearson had been supporting the foundation through its commitment to give 1 percent of operating profits to the communities in which it works. In 2012, the latest year for which data are available, the foundation made grants worth $14.7-million. The funds that the company had been contributing to the foundation will now support Project Literacy and other nonprofit efforts.

In more tightly linking giving to its business interests, Pearson is joining a national trend in which corporations are making big commitments to causes that are close to their expertise.

"Given our role as the world’s largest education company, we have social purpose at the heart of our business model," says Kate James, a former top spokesman for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who joined Pearson as chief corporate-affairs officer in January. "It’s important that we think about how to maximize social impact. It doesn’t make sense to look through a foundation lens—an arm's length lens."

$7.7-Million Settlement

But the new strategy may raise some eyebrows after an investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman determined that the foundation had engaged in activities to aid its for-profit business.

The attorney general found in a December 2013 settlement that the foundation worked closely with a "prominent foundation"— Gates—to develop classroom materials and tests for the Common Core, new elementary and secondary academic standards that have been adopted by most states. Pearson executives believed that working with Gates would enhance Pearson’s reputation and enable the for-profit company to sell products for "tens of millions of dollars" in profit, the attorney general found.

The Pearson Foundation denied any legal wrongdoing but agreed to pay $7.7-million to settle the investigation.

Helping Grantees

The dissolution of the foundation, slated for the end of this year, won’t result in a transfer of assets out of the foundation. The grant maker has been in a position of negative equity since at least December 31, 2009. As of year-end 2012, it had net debt of $8.65-million, but a spokesman said that amount has narrowed since then and that the company has budgeted funds for eliminating the debt when the foundation closes.

Ms. James says the foundation has worked hard to help some of its grantees win support from other grant makers and in other cases will provide "bridge funding" to support organizations through 2015.

The foundation’s grants during 2012 included $500,000 to First Book, which provides books to children in need, $460,918 to the Smithsonian Institution, and $200,000 to the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations, a nonprofit that offers a framework for lifting student goals.

"Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy" Created to Transform Collaboration and Impact

November 20th, 2014  |  Source: Foundation Center

As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come to a close and the global aid community embarks on the post-2015 development agenda, opportunities abound to introduce innovation and insight into the way we address the world's most pressing issues. Against this backdrop, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Foundation Center, and a committee of leading foundations guided by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) have launched a new initiative to facilitate stronger philanthropic input into the changing global development landscape.

The project, known as the Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy, will enable philanthropy to better understand the opportunities for engaging in global development goal processes and will help governments and the UN system understand the value philanthropy can bring in driving greater impact for people.

"Partnerships will be even more vital in achieving the new sustainable development goals than they were for the MDGs. The Partnership Platform will take us and our government partners a step further in working with others in achieving sustainable development. And it will demonstrate how philanthropic contributions can also address other challenges such as building the capacity of our partners at the country level," said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator.

The project aims to help funders have a voice in the post-2015 development agenda, playing a more active role in both planning discussions and the implementation. In doing so, the philanthropic field can serve as a strategic partner in these broader global processes.

Another key objective of the project is to develop country-level platforms that help inform and identify opportunities for collaboration. Planning workshops in various countries will kick start this process by facilitating the exchange of knowledge and laying the foundation for future engagement in the post-2015 agenda. The first workshop takes place on November 21 in Kenya, with representatives from philanthropic institutions, government, civil society organizations, and other regional and local networks. Additional pilot projects will roll out in Colombia, followed by Ghana, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

"Philanthropy is uniquely positioned to help convene multiple stakeholders and to amplify the voice and action of its civil society grantee partners in shaping and achieving the development targets within each country," said Steven M. Hilton, chairman, president, and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

This initiative will also deliver a new web portal called that makes data on philanthropic investments more accessible, in order to help funders track progress, find partners, and tell their stories.

"The website will combine Foundation Center's expertise in the philanthropic sector, data, and technology with the passion and insights of funders dedicated to making a difference," said Bradford K. Smith, president of Foundation Center. "The post-2015 development landscape looks much brighter when funders and other partners have the knowledge tools they need to be strategic and collaborative."

The Partnership Platform was launched during the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly, at a side event at Ford Foundation entitled, "Strengthening Philanthropy's Engagement with the Post-2015 Development Agenda." Throughout the project, guidance and input will be provided by leaders from foundation and philanthropy support organizations comprising a Collaboration Committee, which currently includes the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, and WINGS.

Follow us on Twitter: #phil2015


About the United Nations Development Programme 
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

About Foundation Center
Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center's website each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 470 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

About Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors 
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) is a nonprofit organization that currently advises on and manages more than $200 million in annual giving by individuals, families, corporations, and major foundations. Founded in 2002 and continuing the Rockefeller family's legacy of thoughtful, effective philanthropy, RPA remains at the forefront of philanthropic growth and innovation, with a diverse team led by experienced grantmakers with significant depth of knowledge across the spectrum of issue areas. It has facilitated more than $3 billion in grantmaking to nearly 70 countries.

About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world's disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton's support for the work of Catholic Sisters. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants, distributing $92 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2013. The Foundation's current assets are approximately $2.4 billion. For more information, please visit

About Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. For more information, please

About The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with $7 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation's programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please

WINGS is an independent not-for-profit global network of grantmaker associations and philanthropic support organizations. WINGS strengthens, promotes and provides leadership on the development of philanthropy and social investment around the world. WINGS gives voice to the many cultures of giving and provides its members and other participants with information, knowledge, and peer exchange. Our vision is of a strong, global philanthropic community that strives to build more equitable and just societies around the world.

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