Altruism Today

The Economist debate on The Global Elite. This house believes the global elite serve the masses.

February 20th, 2011  |  Source:

Many of today's global elite—which our Special Report of January 22nd defines as those "with enough brains, money or influence to affect the lives of large numbers of others"—have become influential by doing clever things, such as inventing (or finding ways to popularise) things that make many people's lives better. However, some argue that many members of the elite—for instance, those in the financial sector—have profited from rules, whether on financial-sector bonuses or income-tax rates, that they have had a hand in deciding. And as the very rich have done far better than everyone else over the past couple of decades, inequality within countries has exploded. Should we accept, even laud, this inequality as the logical result of the greater rewards for brilliance in a globalised world? Or is it right to worry about its less savoury origins and decry its possibly disruptive consequences?



Representing the sides

Defending the motion

Jamie Whyte  

Journalist/author and head of research and publishing, Oliver Wyman Financial Services

Voluntary transactions benefit both parties. If they did not, they would not happen. In a free market, everyone serves those they deal with. Anyone who gets rich must have done others a lot of service.



Against the motion

Daniel Ben-Ami  

Journalist and author of "Ferraris For All: In defence of economic progress"

From the 1970s onwards the Western elite have retreated from the notion of progress. Although they pay lip service to economic and social advance they have become strikingly ambivalent in practice.


Admitting Failure

February 9th, 2011  |  Source:

Failure is an important part of learning, most educators would agree, yet few of us do more than rush to put our failures behind us. Admitting Failure is a new site that aims to help charities around the globe share, reflect upon and learn from the mistakes they've made.


Launched last month by Engineers Without Borders Canada, Toronto-based Admitting Failure is intended to be “a collaboration between like-minded NGOs, governments, donors and those in the private sector,” in the site's own words. Those involved with charitable development groups can visit the site to submit their own stories of plans gone wrong, or they can browse through the stories submitted by others, rating and commenting upon them along the way. Either way, lessons are bound to be learned, the site believes, causing fewer mistakes to be repeated in the future.

Transparency has already shaken up industries far and wide, so it's not entirely surprising to see it applied in a deliberate way to the nonprofit sector as well, with the potential to benefit everyone involved.


Controversial Bishop Entangled in Financial Schemes

February 8th, 2011  |  Source: NPQ

Source:CNN Belief Blog | A reader of the Cohen Report article on Senator Charles Grassley's investigation of six televangelists' misuse of tax exempt contributions tipped us off to the latest news about Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in suburban Atlanta.

Already fighting four young men's charges of sexual coercion and doing his best at damage control in the wake of Grassley's revelations, Bishop Long is now battling Ephren Taylor of the City Capital Corporation, who apparently led a "wonderful" church-sponsored financial seminar and got church members to invest $1 million through the corporation.

Although Long preaches the Gospel of Prosperity, prosperity isn't what happened to the City Capital investments. Instead, they went “sour,” Long said. Long wants Taylor to show compassion to the church members and return them their money. Long addressed Taylor in a YouTube video, saying, "You're a great fellow. You're a great man. You do great things. Let's settle this so these families can move on."

This "great man" may not be all that great an investor and left his position as City Capital CEO last year, but doesn't appreciate Long's criticisms. He pointed out in a public statement that contrary to Long's contention that neither he nor the church got any "financial blessing or gift" from Taylor's seminar, Long's church "received a percentage of product sales" (Taylor's books and CDs) from the City Capital seminar and that he has personally been engaged in helping church members solve some of their investment problems.

It seems the investments weren't all 401(k)s. In Taylor's statement, he says "members of the church elected to partner with [City Capital] on community project opportunities that aid in creating jobs and stimulate local community-based projects." What kind of community projects? According to a local Fox TV investigative report, Taylor's "Wealth Tour Live" pitched investments in video sweepstakes machines, and the investment went sour when Taylor's company was "indicted for operating a gambling enterprise."

It doesn't appear that Taylor is blameless by a long shot, but he was brought in and sold to New Birth's parishioners by Bishop Long. Senator Grassley's report, now in the hands of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) for follow-up, focused on the televangelists' potential misuse of charitable funds. The Senator might want to question the use of tax-exempt churches for investment schemes like that of Taylor's and Long's, which increasingly sound like new versions of Bernie Madoff;s Ponzi schemes.

Salvation Army’s social justice app, The Daily Cup, sees 190,000 mobile downloads in 6 weeks

February 3rd, 2011  |  Source:

GetJar, the world’s largest open app store, and DIDMO, creators of the award-winning Magmito mobile application creation solution, report today that in less than six weeks,The Salvation Army’s social justice app, The Daily Cup, has solicited more than 190,000 mobile downloads. 

Of the users that downloaded the app, 6.2 percent clicked through to the “Donate $10 Now” button within the app, and 3.9 percent submitted the volunteer form.  

“The success of The Daily Cup app is a testament to the growing trend of mobile and how it is reaching every facet of society and business, especially when a philanthropic organization like The Salvation Army embraces mobile to connect with younger donors,” said Patrick Mork, CMO of GetJar. 

“We, together with DIDMO, are excited to have a hand in this impactful initiative and proud to report the app solicited an over 10 percent response rate from those users clicking through to donate or wanting to volunteer.”

The app’s impressive download and click-through numbers speak to the growing trend of non-profit organizations successfully expanding their donor bases by embracing mobile marketing.  By reaching these demographics through emerging mobile platforms, charities like The Salvation Army are forging relationships with younger donors early in an effort to sustain these relationships as they grow older. 

“The Salvation Army partnered with DIDMO and GetJar in an effort to engage the mobile generation and allow these people to help the less fortunate during the holiday season,” said Major C. Mark Brown, Community Relations and Development Secretary at The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory Headquarters.  “We were incredibly successful in connecting with over 190,000 people who are now getting informed, educated, and encouraged to participate in the fight against social injustice directly on their mobile phones.”

The free Daily Cup mobile app addresses important social justice issues such as hunger, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and natural disasters through building awareness and encouraging donations of both time and money from the younger, mobile demographic.   Participation among users is encouraged via a feedback form for volunteer inquiries and donation options including a “Donate $10 Now” button. Created by DIDMO, using its cross-platform Magmito mobile app creation software, The Daily Cup app was exclusively distributed on GetJar, which has received over 1.5 billion downloads in more than 200 countries.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go

About GetJar

GetJar is the world’s largest open app store with over 1.5 billion downloads to date. The company’s key point of difference is its open market approach, which allows it to deliver applications for both feature phones and smartphones across all major platforms such as Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iPhone and Symbian among others. The company provides more than 75,000 mobile applications to consumers in more than 200 countries. GetJar has been selected by the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer for 2011 for its innovative approach to technology and its deep impact on business and society on a global scale.  GetJar is backed by Accel Partners and is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in the UK and Lithuania. For more and follow us on Twitter @getjar.


Creators of the world’s first cross-platform mobile content creation solution, Magmito, DIDMO has empowered everyday people and companies around the world to easily create, deliver and track rich and engaging mobile applications. Magmito’s award-winning toolset has been used by companies including Turner Broadcasting, Sennheiser, Sony Ericsson and Disney to launch mobile campaigns including product promotions, special events, customer surveys and more, delivered directly to virtually any phone on the market. DIDMO’s “develop once, publish everywhere” philosophy leaves no phone unturned, from iPhone to Android, Blackberry to Java devices. Recipient of the 2010 Mobility Award, “Best in Mobile Marketing” for Magmito, DIDMO also won Sweden’s Gold Mobile Award for, “This Year’s Mobile Business Solution”.

State Economic Development Agency to Convert to Nonprofit

February 2nd, 2011  |  Source: NPQ


Source:Wall Street Journal This article from the Wall Street Journal puts Ohio Gov. John Kasich's plan to do so into context.


According to the WSJ, several states including Wisconsin, Iowa, and Arizona are thinking about privatizing the governmental function of economic development in this way, and it isn't in order to save money. Partly it is to function like chambers of commerce, according to Scott Walker, the newly elected Republican governor of Wisconsin. Walker told WSJ that private groups "are better equipped to create jobs and attract companies."

One of the "benefits" of privatization is that nonprofits may be exempt from certain kinds of disclosure that public agencies must adhere to, such as open meetings and disclosure of donors. But Ohio state legislators have pushed back against Kasich's proposed nonprofit, JobsOhio, and introduced legislation to increase disclosure beyond a once-a-year annual report and to permit the state's inspector general to examine the agency (see here and here), a position supported by much of the Ohio press (hereherehere, and here).

If governors are creating nonprofits so that they can camouflage their economic development programs and subsidies behind the confidentiality of a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt structure, nonprofits should feel mighty uncomfortable. If states want to create nonprofits for economic development purposes, hopefully these new nonprofits will bring the skills, speed, and flexibility to the task outweighing their attractiveness to governors and special interests because of their ability to withhold much important information from the press, critics, and the public at large. 

What’s a Nonprofit Worth?

February 1st, 2011  |  Source: NPQ

Source:America Magazine | John DiIulio ran President Bush's faith-based programs until he became somewhat disillusioned with the program's emphasis on politics over faith. Since leaving government service, DiIulio has remained an advocate of faith-based service providers.

In this essay in America Magazine, he begins to articulate a concept of the "civic replacement value" of nonprofits such as Catholic Charities. He asks the question, "What would it cost Uncle Sam to replace Catholic agencies?"

He seems exercised by the increasing local, state, and federal inquiry into the value of nonprofits – that they might be asked to contribute payments in lieu of taxes, be required to restrict executives' salaries, or compelled to serve low-income communities.

Conveniently Upset: Avoiding Altruism by Distorting Beliefs about Others

January 31st, 2011  |  Source: HBS Working Knowledge

This paper explores the idea that people who can take advantage of a particular situation will tend to believe that others would choose to take advantage of the same situation if given the chance-thus helping to justify the decision to act selfishly. In their research, Harvard Business School professor Rafael Di Tella and Harvard PhD student Ricardo Pérez-Truglia test their hypothesis on a group of well-heeled Argentinean college students, using a modified version of the "dictator game" in which both the "dictators" and the "recipients" are given the chance to make a selfish choice. Key concepts include:

  • The researchers conducted a modified dictator game in which the "dictator" player could take any percentage of tokens from the "recipient" player (à la taxation), but the recipient player could reduce the overall size of the pie in exchange for a personal side payment (à la hiding economic activities from the authorities).
  • In general, the dictators who chose to take a large number of tokens from the recipients reported believing that the recipients would choose to take the side payment-that is, to make a selfish choice.
  • The results of the experiment support the idea that people often avoid altruistic actions by letting themselves believe that others are selfish, too.


Full Working Paper Text

Senator Grassley and the Televangelists

January 27th, 2011  |  Source: NPQ


How many Bentleys do you need to be charitable?  How many Gulfstreams?  How many trips to the Caribbean?  Senator Charles Grassley has been asking about televangelists' need for excess paid for by charitable contributions--and so do we.  This Cohen Report, Senator Grassley and the Televangelists, digs into the Senator's investigation of televangelists such as Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Randy and Paula White to reveal exactly how they spent their charitable donations - or at least as much as they would reveal to the Senator's investigators, because for the most part, the last four brushed off Grassley's requests for information.

It made us think of Burt Lancaster huckstering his followers as a ready-made evangelist in the movie version of Sinclair Lewis's "Elmer Gantry," pulling the wool over the eyes of the people flocking to his and Sister Falconer's tents. Like Gantry, these televangelists have their helpers and supporters, the businessmen and family members who profit from their excesses.  Grassley has turned to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability  (ECFA) to help him sort through these issues and figure out how to rein in these modern day Elmer Gantrys.  ECFA is well respected in the self-regulation arena, and deserves the respect, but will self-regulation be enough to infuse charitable accountability into these high-flying televangelists?

Social Fundraising Site Expects To Drive $20 Million in Donations in 2011

January 26th, 2011  |  Source:

The online social fundraising platform, StayClassy (, completed a $1.25 million convertible debt-funding round led by 15 angel investors.

The startup develops easy-to-use, web-based fundraising software for nonprofit organizations and plans to use the funds to accelerate StayClassy's customer acquisition, expand customer service, and further develop its innovative technologies. 
Since their new platform launched in May 2010, more than 1,400 nonprofit organizations have registered for StayClassy, attracting 130,000 individuals, donors and supporters. The company expects to process more than $20 million in donations, and attract thousands of new customers in 2011.

“For decades, nonprofits have been forced to select from a limited and expensive set of software options to help manage their organization,” said StayClassy co-founder & CEO Scot Chisholm. “Our goal is to make social fundraising and donor management easy and affordable for all nonprofit organizations.”

StayClassy’s web-based software works for nonprofit organizations, foundations, schools, clubs or any type of organization with a fundraising need.  Clients can accept online donations, manage donors, publish fundraising events, sell tickets, and market themselves online to existing social networks as well as the StayClassy community.  There is no set up fee for the service, which is especially appealing to small and medium sized nonprofits on a tight budget.

“The nonprofit industry is demanding better solutions,” said Chisholm. “And we’re excited to be building a creative and powerful set of tools from the ground up to transform the way fundraising organizations achieve their mission.”

The company is also taking steps to add more discovery features to it’s consumer facing website by matching individuals with organizations they may want to support. 
“Even before our StayClassy event happened we started getting calls and emails from new supporters to find out what they can do to help,” said Director of Outreach Center Operations for Stand Up for Kids Oceanside, Kim Goodeve. “We had volunteer requests, clothing donations and just interest in general about what we are doing. Getting our name out there is the hardest part of all of this and StayClassy has made our job a little easier.” 

OMEGA and brand ambassador Daniel Craig team up to support ORBIS

January 25th, 2011  |  Source:


OMEGA and Daniel Craig team up to support ORBIS’ mission:  

Preventing and treating blindness by providing quality eye care to transform lives



Omega has announced that it will work in cooperation with actor and brand ambassador Daniel Craig to support ORBIS International and its Flying Eye Hospital in the fight against preventable blindness.

A special watch – the Hour Vision Blue – has been created to celebrate the partnership, and OMEGA has guaranteed that at least one million U.S. dollars from its sale will be donated to ORBIS, an organization which delivers eye care to some of the world’s most remote and developing regions. 

OMEGA president Stephen Urquhart spoke of his brand’s commitment saying, “OMEGA is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to ORBIS’ remarkable mission. It’s particularly gratifying to be working with Daniel in support of an organization whose work we all believe in.”

Daniel Craig is arranging a visit to ORBIS’ Flying Eye Hospital with Omega this year. “I think that it’s important to do all that we can to draw attention to the invaluable work that ORBIS is doing. By visiting them in the field and seeing their team at work, I hope we will be able to make more people aware of the issue of preventable blindness and to let them know how much of a difference they can make. I’m delighted that OMEGA feels as strongly about this initiative as I do.”

Since it was founded in 1982, ORBIS has carried out programs in 88 countries to provide medical training, tools and technology for local partners to address the tragedy of avoidable blindness in their communities. As a result of ORBIS’ support, more than 12 million individuals have received medical care and more than a quarter of a million eye care professionals have been trained.

"We are tremendously excited about our new partnership with OMEGA", stated Dr. Robert Walters, Chairman of ORBIS, "and are looking forward to working closely with OMEGA and Daniel to heighten the awareness of preventable blindness in the developing world.  With OMEGA and Daniel's support, ORBIS will reach and treat even more people, reducing the global burden of blindness and ensuring productive lives for many".

The Hour Vision Blue wristwatch is a special edition of the elegant Hour Vision. It has a classic 41 mm stainless steel case and is equipped with OMEGA’s Co-Axial caliber 8500, the movement that signaled a revolution in series-produced mechanical watchmaking. The movement can be viewed through the sapphire crystal on the caseback.

Adding distinction to the timepiece is its specially designed sun-brushed blue dial. It has 18 Ct white gold facetted hour, minute and seconds hands coated with white Super-LumiNova and features a date window at the 3 o’clock position. 

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