November 2010

(Business Week)  A minor increase in donations for US nonprofits leaves some hopeful that the economy is turning around, but times are still tough for charities and nonprofits.  Executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University Patrick Rooney said, “Technically, we’re in a recovery.  We are beginning to see some positive signs. But despite that, giving still has a long way to go to return to the levels it was at three or four years ago.”

(ABC News)  The Giving Pledge, a philanthropic endeavor brought about by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in early August, is in the news again.  The idea behind the Pledge is that the world’s wealthiest give away the majority of their monetary worth to solve global problems, such as hunger, health, and education.  Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates, and Mr. Ted Turner discussed wealth, giving, and philanthropy in a recent interview. Though philanthropy and morality were discussed at length, politics also came into play.  Mr. Buffett stated that “tax breaks” for America’s richest is actually not a practical way to have the money “trickle down.” Mr. Buffett said, “Well, all I can say it hasn’t trickled. You know, as I said, a rising tide has listed all yachts, but the row boats have been left behind.”  The Giving Pledge continues to grow, with 40 new billionaires agreeing to pledge in the last three months.



(New York Times)  Clean water is quotidian for Americans, but for much of the globe, it is a constant struggle.  Many aid groups and nonprofits make implementing clean water facilities their mission, but it is no easy venture.  Pipes break or are looted; villages do not have the money or expertise for repairs, and well-intentioned projects become dearth.  Fortunately, the issue has been recently remedied by making clean water efforts a for-profit business as opposed to its historically nonprofit status.  For-profit companies are starting to work on clean water in poorer countries and are charging no money for their efforts, instead opting for payment via global carbon credit markets.  Because of the 2007 Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, large companies can agree to do something “green” to even out their customary pollutions.  Vestergaard Frandsen’s LifeStraw is a water filtering system that allows people to drink clean water without boiling it.  The company is planning on distributing LifeStraws to 4 million families in Kenya free of charge.  The company is expecting approval from the carbon credit markets in February, meaning that it will earn credits for preventing greenhouse gas emissions that large, polluting companies will then purchase, creating a sustainable business at no cost to users.

(New York Times)  Things are looking up in the nonprofit hiring world.  After a couple of rough years in the economy, nonprofits are on the lookout for new hires again, says Ami Dar, executive director of  The usual positions are available, such as openings for  fundraisers, administrators, and customer service professionals, but due to technological advancement, nonprofits are now looking–more than ever–for tech-savvy people who can communicate and develop nonprofits through the Internet.  Social-networking sites like Twitter and Facebook allow nonprofits to communicate their goals more quickly and to a broader audience.  Large nonprofits, such as the National Wildlife Federation, used Facebook, blogging, and Twitter to spread news and gather volunteers for the Gulf oil spill, for instance, and the Red Cross raised $32 million through texting after the earthquake in Haiti.  Though lower salaries are part and parcel of a career in nonprofits, people are still driven to work toward the greater good, says president of Flourish Talent Management Solutions, a recruitment team for nonprofits: “Increasingly people want to find meaning in their work.  They want to be connected to their communities and part of a larger movement.”

(New York Times)  David Bornstein’s blog about the profitability of microfinance companies details the controversies that inevitably arise with microfinancing, a $25 billion industry that gained ground about two decades ago.  Some argue that if microfinancing becomes substantially profitable, it will attract profit-seekers who lack the goodwill to help impoverished people.  Mr. Bornstein points out, however, that with increased government assistance–such as providing credit guarantees–microfinancing seems to be headed in the right direction.  He cites USAID’s help with Root Capital, a nonprofit social investment fund, as an example of this type of partnership.

(CNN)  Two bodies of aid workers, both women, were discovered in Afghanistan Sunday morning.  One of the aid workers is said to be the head of Mahjoba Herawi, an NGO.  More information about this recent tragedy is expected in the coming days.