Donna Callejon Posts

International Giving Can Be Tough for Companies, but…

 

Last month the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (“CECP”) published its annual report on corporate philanthropy, “Giving in Numbers2009.”  This is one of the reports we look forward to seeing each year, as CECP is very highly regarded and counts among its member CEOs of many of the leading global corporate citizens, including several of GlobalGiving’s corporate partners – Applied Materials, Gap, Inc.,  Hasbro and PepsiCo, to name a  few.

CECP describes itself as the only international forum of CEOs and chairpersons pursuing a mission exclusively focused on corporate philanthropy. The Committee’s membership consists of more than 170 executives who lead the business community in raising the level and quality of corporate giving.

The ~60 page report is actually pretty easy to digest, but here are some highlights:

  • Even in challenging economic times (and giving overall being down in 2008), 53% of surveyed companies increased giving from 2007 to 2008;
  • Among the 53% of companies that gave more in 2008, non-cash giving increased by a median of 29%;
  • Improved contributions tracking, beyond-budget disaster-relief giving, and strong profits through the third quarter were among the reasons cited for increased giving;  And  interestingly,
  • Financial results are not statistically linked to corporate giving, as corroborated by Giving USA.

The minor mentions of “international giving” are highly noteworthy, as they continue to emphasize the barriers and difficulties many U.S. companies identify:

Frequently cited challenges in expanding global giving include: developing local issue expertise, vetting NGOs, U.S. Patriot Act compliance, and building local community partner­ships. The complexity of receiving tax deductions for international dona­tions can be an additional deterrent. Cultural differences among employee attitudes toward volunteerism and charitable giving can also hinder global giving initiatives.

Companies also face hurdles in accurately measuring giving abroad. Pockets of international giving may be unrecognized because the tools and communication channels needed to record them accurately have not matured. Still, international giving is a growing priority as business globalizes.

We are glad that we’ve been able to help many companies address these challenges.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Nike and Gap have been able to engage their employees globally and create equity worldwide in workplace giving – not just for disaster giving but every day
  • Symantec has funded a great strategically-aligned program in Pune, India through GlobalGiving, providing them a way to find grantees and receive the tax deduction they need
  • Intel has sponsored the Technology and Innovation Fund and we have worked to establish very specific deliverables with the implementers – tracked by GlobalGiving -giving Intel the measurement/impact assessment it desires and a platform to engage other stakeholders.

We feel privileged to work with some of the most creative companies around.  And we’re always up for working with more. :)

 

Do You Believe in Life After Love (and War)?

 

In her 1998 worldwide number one hit iconic superstar Cher asks, “Do you believe in life after love?”  But these days that memorable line could be amended to add “…and war?”

For years Cher has been a visible and unabashed advocate for ensuring that women and men who serve our country are honored through policies and programs that lift up their heroism and ensure their dignity, both during deployment and after they return from combat.  She has demonstrated this commitment  by supporting organizations from Operation Helmet to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and by performing at USO events.  In 2006 Cher appeared on The Ed Schultz Show to discuss her work in support of U.S. troops fighting abroad, as well as returning veterans. Schultz noted her involvement with both Operation Helmet and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which is building a center to serve military personnel who have been catastrophically disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those severely injured in other operations, as well as in the normal performance of their duties, combat and non-combat related.

Now Cher is creating her own non-profit, The Heroes Project. The mission of The Heroes Project is to improve the care and protection of heroes through individual support, community empowerment and systemic change. Through this organization, Cher will continue to support heroes through service and advocacy. The organization works closely with many of the leading military and veterans organizations and aims to leverage their work, rather than duplicate it.

GlobalGiving has been very fortunate to help facilitate a portion of Cher’s philanthropic activity, by working with her philanthropic and advocacy advisors to facilitate the funding of the Shikamana School in Kenya.  Now, we are working together to raise funds for The Heroes Project, kicking it off with an amazing auction currently running on eBay. In this auction, Cher is generously donating three sets of tickets and a backstage visit (with champagne) to the highest bidders.  All the proceeds will go to The Heroes Project.

So if you believe in life after love and war, and you want to combine your love of music and an icon with doing something good – bid now – you only have three more days!

Reminded Why We Do This Thing Called GlobalGiving

Last Friday the GlobalGiving office looked like a college freshman boy’s dorm room, albeit with fewer beer bottles around. We were in this stacking, dumping, pizza-box mode as we prepared for a move to our new office space.  We are moving because we have outgrown our existing space – thanks to increasing donation volume, support from our capital funders, and because we have been able to attract an amazing number of free or almost-free “interns” who are in transition.

And into this chaos stepped Dennis Gaboury, one of the top finalists in our recent Global Open Challenge, and founder of ZimKids.

ZimKids is not a 501(c)3, and had never done any formal fundraising before last month.  Dennis is a sculptor whose wife was on a Fulbright in Zimbabwe when he started volunteering his time working with orphaned and sick kids…and morphed into an amazing social entrepreneur.    When they started the Challenge they just hoped they could find 50 people and $4,000 worth of donations and get on the site permanently.  What they ended up with was more than $30,000 and over 120 donors, and third place in the Challenge.

But the real gift of Dennis’ visit was not hearing about how they succeeded in the Challenge.  It was in hearing about his experience in Zimbabwe, and his love for the kids he works with.  Rather than being in constant survival mode these 160 kids now have a radically transformed day-to-day existence, lengthened life expectancies, and more chances for economic self-sufficiency.

Dennis is the type of social entrepreneur that motivated Mari and Dennis to start GlobalGiving, especially representing those who have no other way of raising tax-efficient charitable funds in the U.S., and his visit was a welcome break in the packing.  More importantly, it reminded us why we do what we do – whether in our old crowded dorm room space, or our new, slightly nicer home.

A Grassroots Alternative to Carbon Offsets

Originally posted at HuffingtonPost by our co-founder, Dennis Whittle

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like the carbon-intensive industries are likely to face either a tax on carbon or a market for buying and selling emissions allowances in coming years. But it is not just power plants and large manufacturing facilities that contribute to climate change. All of us are accountable for some level of emissions–begging the question, how can you account for what your organization produces?

A popular answer is carbon offsets–essentially funding a reduction in emissions or increase in carbon storage somewhere so that you can continue emitting carbon here. Although offsets have been widely embraced, the actual amount of carbon kept from entering the atmosphere is often questioned. OK, it will help plant trees. But where? By whom? And will they live the 20+ years necessary to accomplish their offsetting purpose?

An alternative for skeptics is to fund projects that have received the climate-friendly “Green Leaf” designation on our online philanthropic marketplace, GlobalGiving. Our site features smaller environmental and social projects from around the world, letting you find opportunities you would not otherwise discover. Project leaders post detailed project descriptions so donors can see exactly what they’re funding. And donors on GlobalGiving can see directly the difference their donations are making through updates from the field.

Instead of quantifying offsets, we are encouraging individuals and organizations to take responsibility for their own emissions by helping these projects expand their reach. And, we are able to promote a much broader range of projects that address climate change. For instance, a project in Ecuador teaches tens of thousands of children about climate change and ways to combat it. We can’t translate this into tons of carbon, but it can result in a future generation of green voters, consumers, and policymakers. Other projects from the Environmental Foundation for Africa are working not only to provide solar electricity to schools in villages in Sierra Leone, but also to train technical school students in their installation and maintenance.

Encouraging the Third World to keep walking the same well-trodden carbon intensive path is ultimately unsustainable. As David Wheeler and Kevin Ummel of the Center for Global Development report, if nothing changes in the global South their cumulative contribution to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will exceed that of the North within the coming decades. That means that even if developed countries cut their carbon emissions to zero, developing countries will face the same future–rising temperatures, more droughts and flooding, more frequent and intense storms, changing weather patterns.

And there’s no better time to donate to GlobalGiving Green projects than now – the Give a Little Green campaign is matching donations to these projects by 50% through April 28th or until matching funds are exhausted.
Thanks to Bill Brower for the research supporting this post.

To blog or not to blog

We’ve been on a bit of hiatus, trying to figure out if anyone actually reads this blog and how to make it useful to the GlobalGiving community at large.  The silence has been deafening.

So we’re throwing ourselves at the mercy of our handful of blog readers and asking the two- part question (pay attention lest you miss the two parts):

1. Should GlobalGiving have a blog and

2. If so, what would be worth your time reading?

Let me duck so I don’t get bombarded with the thousands of instantaneous comments.

Seriously, what do ya think?