Altruism Today

Wikipedia's Happy New Year: $16 million in support

January 3rd, 2011  |  Source: Cnet


Wikipedia is ringing in the New Year with $16 million in donations collected this holiday season.

Founder Jimmy Wales said in a post today that the fundraiser was the most successful in the history of the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, parent of Wikipedia.

"This year is a little more incredible than most because this year we celebrate Wikipedia's tenth anniversary," Wales wrote. "It's so important that we kick the year off just like this: by fully funding the Wikimedia Foundation's budget to support Wikipedia and all the sister projects as we head into the next decade of our work together."

Wales also offered up some other numbers, saying the foundation and its ad-free sites had enjoyed more than 500,000 donations, nearly 130,000 donations to local Wikimedia chapters worldwide, two of the largest fundraising days in Wikipedia history, and an average donation size of about $22.

"This fundraiser had all the ingredients of what we love about Wikimedia projects: people come together, contribute what they have, and together we do something amazing," Wales wrote. He also pointed out that it's not too late to pitch in.

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Containers to Clinics

December 31st, 2010  |  Source: Containers to Clinics


Dear C2C Friends and Supporters:


We are only $10,000 away from meeting our annual fundraising goal and we offer you our most sincere thanks for supporting C2C with your generous donations this year. You're helping us bring urgently needed healthcare services to Haitian women and children and to double our impact in 2011.


A long-standing supporter of C2C has pledged to MATCH, dollar for dollar, any donation that is made via the C2C website between now and midnight on December 31st! This generous challenge will get us where we need to be to mobilize three new C2C clinics in 2011 ... but we need your help!


Please help us close out a tremendous year for C2C by making a donation online and clicking here. By contributing online now, you'll ensure that your donation is doubled immediately!


Thank you for all you do to support C2C as we roll-out this innovative model for healthcare delivery in the world's poorest communities. Together, we can reach our goal of 15,000 patients treated in the next 12 months!


Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year,


Liz Sheehan

Containers to Clinics
PO Box 446
Dover, Massachusetts 02030

Nemcova, Muriel Interview on Happy Hearts

December 27th, 2010  |  Source: Bloomberg


Model Petra Nemcova and Carlos Muriel, chief executive officer of ING Groep NV for Latin America, talk about a nonprofit Nemcova started called the Happy Hearts Fund, which focuses on rebuildling schools in disaster-stricken areas.

The 2004 tsunami that devastated countries around the Indian Ocean killed Nemcova's fiance and photographer, Simon Atlee, and left her immobile in a hospital with her pelvis broken in four places. Nemcova and Muriel speak with Margaret Brennan on Bloomberg Television's "InBusiness." (Source: Bloomberg)

Two Degrees of freedom

December 25th, 2010  |  Source:


As you know, I don't often write about commercial ventures here, but from time to time, one that has a broader public service mission emerges. Here's the latest, recently announced.

A company called Two Degrees is marketing a new, nutrition bar.* That's nothing special (although it does taste good**), but what is special that for every one they sell, they will produce and distribute -- working with Partners in Health -- a nutritional pack to a hungry child in the world. The nutritional packs themselves are manufactured locally, so the company is creating jobs in the areas being served. Here's more information about those packs.

"Nutrition packs are revolutionary  treatments for severe and chronic malnutrition. Known as Ready-to-Use Food (RUF), these nutrition packs have been endorsed by the World Health Organization and treat chronic and severely malnourished children with up to 95% success rates. As convenient packs that do not require water or refrigeration, they have shifted the treatment of hungry children from doctors in hospitals to a community-based model focused on mothers in homes."

* Disclosure: My friend Lauren Walters is a founder, but I have no financial interest in the company.
** The other founder's grandmother says: "I can't believe how good this is! I usually don't eat bars unless they have the word 'candy' in front of them."

Charity Illegally Wiretapped: U.S. to pay $2.5 million

December 23rd, 2010  |  Source: NPQ


Source: New York Times | 

On Tuesday, Vaughan R. Walker, a federal judge found against the U.S. government and for an Islamic charity in a wiretapping case that was a part of the warrantless surveillance practiced by the Bush Administration after 9/11.

The now defunct Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation was charged in 2004 for laundering donations to Chechnya. It was also designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The finding is not based on whether or not the group indeed laundered money. It is, instead, based on the judge’s finding that the group was wiretapped without a court order and that the administration did not have the right to operate “outside of the bounds of judicial scrutiny and in conflict with surveillance rules set by congress.”

Tours of London, led by the city's homeless

December 22nd, 2010  |  Source: Springwise


It's a well-known fact that tourists typically get a very different view of a city than locals do, but it's a pretty safe bet that participants in Sock Mob Events tours get an even more different view than most. That's because Sock Mob's Unseen Tours of London are led by none other than homeless residents of the city streets themselves.

Inspired by London's Sock Mob, which is a volunteer group that engages routinely with London's homeless, Unseen Tours offer an entertaining and poignant walk through the streets of London with trained homeless guides, giving participants a historical but also unexplored perspective. The tours interweave the guides' own stories and experiences, giving participants a view of the city through the lens of homelessness while introducing a new social consciousness into commercial walking tours. Four routes are currently available — more are coming soon, the group says — each culminating in a “merry pub trip” at the end. Pricing is GBP 5 or GBP 8 per walk, depending on what the participant can afford, and two free places per tour are always set aside for people who are unable to pay and/or are accompanying someone as a care-giver. Launched on World Homeless Day — 10 Oct. 2010 — Unseen Tours happen at 7pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine.

In offering its Unseen Tours, Sock Mob aims not only to provide tour participants with a different view of the city, but also to empower the homeless and restore their confidence. The “lion's share” of the tour's proceeds goes to the guides, the group says, with any profit getting reinvested directly back into the enterprise to engage more guides and widen the scope of the offered tours. Ultimately, the group hopes to turn over the reins of the enterprise to one of the homeless guides themselves, and to spread the concept to other cities. (Related: Specialist tours of London — Niche tours focus on sustainable London — Blind guides take sighted on sensorial walking tours of Lisbon — Guided travel for photographers.)


The Basic Utility Vehicle

December 21st, 2010  |  Source:

The mobility that we often take for granted in the United States can be a life-giving tool for people in developing nations.  BUVs open up possibilities for faster water delivery to remote villages, for quickened access to medical care, and for the safe transport of people and goods through rugged terrain.  There are over 90 BUVs serving in 19 countries across Africa and Central America.

Every day, we hear stories about the impact that BUVs are having all over the world.  Anytime a child is transported safely to school, a fresh crop of fruit is delivered to a rural village, or a missionary’s work is supported through the use of a BUV our belief in the power of affordable transportation is affirmed.

$528 Million to 14 SME Winners

December 17th, 2010  |  Source:

The G-20 has  committed more than one-half billion dollars to support the winners of the G-20 SME Finance Challenge. Pres. Barack Obama, Korean President Lee Myung-bak, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated the winners in person and announced this stupendous funding commitment at the closing of the G-20 Seoul Summit.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said the SME Finance Challengewas "one of the most important events" at the summit meeting of world leaders in South Korea.

"Funders are thinking of financing us because of the high level of this recognition from the G20. It's also sending a message to banks who are now thinking more seriously about financing SMEs," said director of the BiD Network Foundation, a SME Finance Challenge winner.

Let There Be Light: How a new kind of bulb will transform the developing world

December 17th, 2010  |  Source: Foreign Policy

We in the developed world are preoccupied with the consumer technologies of the 21st century -- ubiquitous high-speed Internet, the iPad, and the Wii Fit. We forget that vast swaths of the developing world have yet to be transformed by a technological upheaval we experienced more than a century ago: the advent of electric lighting. But the latest illumination innovation could change that, bringing not just greater efficiency to the well-wired West but also better quality of life to everyone else.

The first lighting revolution was powered by gas. As gaslight replaced candles over the course of the 18th century, the amount of artificial illumination produced in Britain each year shot up more than 100-fold. In 1879, Thomas Edison began the second lighting revolution when he strung his Menlo Park headquarters with electric lamps using carbonized bamboo filaments. By 1881, a few blocks of southern Manhattan were illuminated by electricity, and the West has never looked back.

Over the past 100 years, there have been many bulb innovations -- including tungsten halogen, metal halide, sodium, and compact fluorescent. And thanks to improved manufacturing and design, it costs 1,000 times less to light a room today than it did 100 years ago.

Still, the vast majority of light bulbs worldwide today --12 billion of them -- use a filament system similar to Edison's. And for all the progress over the last century, these bulbs remain very inefficient. The amount of energy pushed through a filament that actually emerges as visible light is around 2 percent -- most of the rest is lost as heat. This inefficiency is the big reason why in the United States, the power used to light Edison bulbs produces half as much carbon dioxide as the country's car fleet. And it is why governments around the world are so keen for consumers to switch to more efficient bulbs like compact fluorescents.

But the compact fluorescent is yesterday's news. The new technology leader that will spark the third lighting revolution is the light-emitting diode, or LED. The amount of energy converted to visible light by an LED already climbs as high as 14 or 15 percent. That's a thousand times higher than diodes managed in 1968, and considerably better than today's compact fluorescent bulbs. And efficiency is expected to double again by 2020. Diodes have an array of other advantages: they last five times longer than compact fluorescents (50 times longer than the Edison bulb), they are smaller, less fragile, and inert. That all adds up to a lot less expense in manufacture, storage, shipping, and disposal. And it's likely to mean a considerably easier task for those trying to end our addiction to the filament in therich world.


Full Story at:

Looney Tunes for Charity

December 15th, 2010


Source: Third Sector | This story reveals the power of social media and its sometimes-unintended effect on online giving.

A Facebook fan page that encouraged users to replace their profile picture with a favorite cartoon character to flag their support for an end to violence against children has had quite unexpected results. Despite the page having no affiliation with existing charities or any mechanism to accept donations, Britain's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)—which said it had no involvement with the initiative—saw its Facebook fan base almost double, increasing from 65,000 to 115,000 supporters. In addition, because the source of online donations is trackable, the charity determined it received £100,000 (about $150,000) in gifts directly from the Facebook campaign.

After going viral, the campaign even managed to have an effect on Google. Almost every one of the top 20 most actively searched terms this past Saturday referred to "old cartoons," as users trawled through images of Bugs Bunny, Foghorn, and Captain Caveman.

The original fan page poster is still unknown, and their motives remain a mystery. But for one nonprofit, the effects are all positive.

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