Nonprofit Helps Military Aircrew in Need

Military pilot in cockpit

The Air Warriors Courage Foundation supports aviation veterans and their families.
Image: Shutterstock

The Air Warriors Courage Foundation (AWCF) is a non-profit dedicated to helping disabled or needy veterans, their dependents, widows, widowers, and orphans. Veterans do not always receive the help they need from the government after their discharge, so charitable organizations like the AWCF are, regrettably, a necessity.

The AWCF has its roots in the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association which, starting in 1970, was dedicated to providing scholarship assistance to the surviving dependents of airmen killed, captured, or missing in action during the Vietnam Conflict. They expanded their efforts to help the families of association members, but it became apparent that there was more work to be done.

In 1998, the AWCF was formed and granted nonprofit status in recognition of the increasing number of difficulties that active, retired, and former members of the US military and their families face. Since then, they have expanded their efforts to provide a variety of philanthropic services to service members and their families.

The Earl Aman Courage Fund helps needy military aircrew and their families cover their medical expenses. The Helping Achieve Normal Development Fund (or HAND for short) helps cover therapeutic programs for military-dependant children with a variety of developmental difficulties. The Troop Support 9/11 Memorial Fund provides scholarships and financial support to the families of military personnel injured or killed in the War on Terror and helps military units with humanitarian efforts around the world.

The Air Warriors Courage Foundation does a lot of good, and they have been recognized for their efforts. They have won numerous awards for their work and are highly rated by Charity Navigator. Like any charitable group, though, they can always use assistance. If you’re interested in helping the AWCF help others, they accept donations online or via the postal service. They also accept automobile donations.

Finding the Right Charity to Support

Drawing of businessman putting money in donation box

How do you decide on the best charity for your donations?
Image: Shutterstock

How do you go about choosing what charities or non-profits to support? At the very least, you should choose a charity that deals with issues you’re concerned about–people worried about the environment should choose green charities, people more concerned with women’s issues should choose charities that focus on women’s rights, and so on.

It’s possible, and likely a good idea, to put a little more thought into the charities you support, though. Just because an organization is concerned with the same issues as you, doesn’t mean that they will necessarily use your money (or your time) in ways that you completely agree with.

Do some research and find out how a given organization thinks and what they do with their funds. Dan Pallotta has raised over $108 million for HIV/AIDS research, and another $194 million for breast cancer research, so it’s a safe bet that he knows a thing or two about charities. Pallotta suggests that you do some research to find a charity that you want to support, and then commit to supporting them for an extended period of time, even if you can only give a little here and there.

He suggests starting with an Internet search, then reading up on promising searches. Don’t stop there, though. Give prospective charities a call, or see if you can arrange a tour or set up a meeting. Well-organized nonprofits will have people dedicated to building relationships with donors, and it’s their job to talk to people who want to help out.

Pallotta also suggests not worrying about the overhead of a group you’re considering supporting. He notes that Americans tend to gauge charities by how much of their donation goes to the target, the people in need, for example, and how much goes to running the charity. Low overhead is seen as better, but it’s not. A nonprofit with a larger overhead might be doing much more good in the long run, as they tend to be better organized and further reaching.

Bon Jovi Receives Lifetime Philanthropy Award

Bon Jovi performs

Jon Bon Jovi will be one of three recipients of the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service. Image: Shelly Wall / Shutterstock.com

Last Thursday singer Jon Bon Jovi was named as one of three winners of the 2015 Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service for his ongoing charitable work with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in Philadelphia. The honor, now 36 years old, will be presented at an event on April 25. Bon Jovi will be awarded $75,000.

The JBJ Soul Foundation, founded in 2006, combines the efforts of Bon Jovi and other celebrity owners of the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football Team to use their influence to help the surrounding community. The Foundation’s mission—“to recognize the human potential in those affected by poverty and homelessness”—has manifested itself in the establishment of programs that provide food and housing for those in need, as well as supporting social services and job training programs.

The Foundation raised more than $200,000 to help local charities in its first year and has continued the trend to the present, including providing more than 34,000 meals in 2012 and assisting with Hurricane Sandy recovery in the same year.

Bon Jovi and the others involved in creating and running the Foundation have a clear desire to incorporate the energy of a sports team and its fans to do good for the community, both on a local and national level. Players, dance team members, management, and staff have all contributed to the mission and are dedicated to being positive role models.

In addition to Bon Jovi, the Common Wealth Award will be given to actor Edward Norton and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Vales. Previous winners include Martin Sheen, Alan Alda, and Madeleine Albright.

 

A Library for Refugees in Less Than 20 Minutes

Paris-based Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, or Libraries Without Borders, is set to launch a UK branch on March 30. Founded in 2007 by French historian and University of Paris and Yale University Law School lecturer Patrick Weil, LWB exists to promote culture and knowledge-based development, particularly in areas of the world without easy access.

Their latest endeavor is the Idea Box, a portable library and technology center that can be set up by four people in less than 20 minutes. Designed by Philippe Starck to be transportable and simple to use, the Idea Box will provide access to education and books for refugees in areas of the world suffering from the aftermath of war and natural disasters.

The Idea Box was tested in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake with great success—though some questioned whether a library should be as much of a priority for earthquake victims as food and shelter.

“Naturally when a disaster happens, it is the priority to save lives and bring food, water, clothes,” said Weil in response. “But after you get that, what do you do? People have to stay months, years, in places with no access to books, education or connection to the rest of the world.”

Weil argues that access to books, culture, and a broader range of information improves the outcomes for displaced refugees, who suffer from boredom and trauma, by promoting intellectual stimulation, self-worth, and a sense of normality.

LWB wants to develop the Idea Box further, bringing it to locations such as Jordan, Lebanon, Cambodia, and underprivileged communities in the UK and the US.

The launch of LWB’s UK branch will be celebrated with an event at the Institut Francais in Kensington, London, where there will be discussions about access to information, education, and culture, led by a panel of experts, including Ian McEwan, Kenan Malik, Lisa Appignanesi, and Martyn Wade.

Free Site Helps Connect Volunteers and Non-Profits

Volunteermatch.org main page

Volunteermatch.org connects volunteers with the right opportunities.
Image: Volunteermatch.org

Many people want to help out their communities and those less fortunate than themselves. They can make donations, but some people have more time than money or don’t feel like giving money is enough. Maybe they need to be more hands-on with their giving. For those people, volunteering can be really rewarding. It can also be difficult to find somewhere to volunteer.

Luckily, there’s a pretty cool website called volunteermatch.org, where users can locate charities, non-profits, and other organizations looking for help from people like them. Users can search by location, looking for opportunities near them, or they can look for virtual options, allowing them to volunteer for groups anywhere in the world. Users can also search by specific terms or choose from a number of categories, such as “animals” or “crisis support.”

When you find an organization that sounds promising, you can follow a link to a more detailed description of that opportunity. The description tells you the basics of what the position calls for and offers a wealth of other information. You can see what kinds of causes the group is concerned with, the location, and the general flexibility of the scheduling. There is also a section that lists the kind of skills you need for the position, the requirements and expected commitment, and what kind of volunteers are best suited for the position.

If you decide you want to work with a given organization, just click the big “I want to help” button, and the site will automatically send the group an email with your profile and contact information. Then they’ll generate an email to you as a reminder that you applied for the position. It’s as simple as that.

VolunteerMatch makes it easy to find places to volunteer, but they can also make it easy on non-profits that need to find volunteers in the first place. There are a wealth of services offered to non-profits for free, and further benefits are offered with a monthly membership fee.

Hedge Funders Raise $275K for StreetWise Partners in NYC

Streetwise Partners logo

Streetwise Partners’s Up the Ante poker tournament raised funds for mentoring programs for low income individuals in New York.
Image: Streetwisepartners.org

Last week StreetWise Partners, a New York City-based nonprofit that transforms the lives of disadvantaged, low-income people by helping them realize their career potential, hosted its annual Poker Tournament to raise funds for the organization. The event was dubbed “Raising the Ante,” and invited NYC’s hedge fund heavyweights, private equity leaders, and a few special guests to come together to raise vital funds to benefit the life-changing work that StreetWise Partners does.

Founded in 1997, StreetWise Partners works to transform the lives of disadvantaged people by empowering them through employment. According to the organization, “StreetWise Partners has transformed the lives of 2,600 job seekers while leveraging the time and expertise of approximately 6,000 volunteers,” of the impact the organization has made in NYC.

The nonprofit is distinct because of its deep relationships with corporate partners and its mentorship programs. StreetWise Partners has a dedicated Board of Directors, including Board Chairman Anton Levy, Managing Director of General Atlantic, Vice-Chairman Orlando Ashford of Holland America Line, Christine Lattanzio of PricewaterhouseCoopers’, and others. It is a combination of the ongoing efforts of the StreetWise Partners Board and the dedicated efforts of the organization’s longstanding volunteers that allow it to make such an impact.

At the Raising the Ante Poker Tournament on March 11, StreetWise Partners raised significant funds with the generous support of event attendees. According to HedgeCo.Net, “The hedge fund industry joined up with non-profit charity StreetWise Partners in NYC, raising $275,000 for programs that change the lives of hard-working disadvantaged individuals.”

Brian Korb, StreetWise Partners Board member and Event Co-Chair commented that “Proceeds from this event will make a huge impact on so many more lives” of the individuals that will directly benefit from the generosity of donors. Some of the Raising the Ante Poker Tournament attendees included NY Knicks Legend John Starks, John Sabat of Cubist Systematic Strategies, and J.R. Havlan, an Emmy Award winning writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

“It’s a compassionate, thoughtful, and brilliantly run organization that I look forward to providing with my continued support,” said Havlan at the event.

Learn more about the work that StreetWise Partners does to change lives through employment in NYC by visiting its official website.

 

Charitable Giving and Naming Rights: The Case of the New York Philharmonic

Avery Fisher Hall exterior at night

Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic, will be renamed Geffen Hall in honor of a large donation from David Geffen.
Image: robert cicchetti / Shutterstock.com

When wealthy philanthropists donate, should they expect anything in return? The question has been batted back and forth for years, and this past week it came to the forefront again when media mogul and philanthropist David Geffen officially promised $100 million to the renovation of Avery Fisher Hall, the home of the New York Philharmonic. It wasn’t just the donation—Geffen added the stipulation that the building be renamed Geffen Hall in perpetuity.

The hall was originally named after violinist Avery Fisher, who revolutionized sound reproduction via Fisher radios and phonographs. He was a board member of the New York Philharmonic, and in 1973, he gave them $10 million as an endowment.

Now, however, the hall needs repairs, and Fisher’s descendants threatened legal action if the hall were rebuilt or renovated under a different name. In response, New York Philharmonic leaders offered the family $15 million to release naming rights, which the family accepted.

That taken care of, the organization announced they would rename the building after the person who offered to donate the most toward renovations, the total of which is estimated at more than $500 million. Geffen’s was the highest bid, winning him the naming rights.

There’s nothing illegal about the whole process, and some might say that Geffen deserves the naming rights because of his generosity. But the question remains: Should it be enough to give? Or should philanthropists always be given something in return?

Legally, the specific terms of donations are considered a private matter between the charitable organization and the donor. Charities are allowed to decline gifts with strings attached…but what charity can afford to do so? And the tendency for donors to require naming rights has risen in the past few years, such as with the New York Public Library (now officially called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) and the New York State Theater (now called the David H. Koch Theater). These namings rights are not always perforce in perpetuity—but some are.

In the case of the New York Philharmonic, the charitable organization itself decided to make the offer to donors, as opposed to a donor suggesting it. Still, it begs the question of whether or not this trend is likely to continue in philanthropic giving, particularly in New York.

What do you think? Should philanthropic donors be given naming rights when they contribute to cultural buildings? Should limits, if any, be set on how long the name lasts and what level of donation is required?

Help in the Struggle to Cure Lupus

Lupus Foundation of America logo

The Lupus Foundation of America is fighting to understand and cure the disease.
Image: Lupus.org

Looking for a new charity to support? Did you get your tax refund, and the urge to help others is burning a hole in your pocket? Consider chipping in to help the Lupus Foundation of America fight this terrible and little understood disease.

Although many people are likely aware of the disease as a kind of bogeyman from television’s House MD, lupus is a very serious autoimmune disease that can wreak severe damage to patients who develop it. Lupus causes the body’s own immune system to lose track of which entities are invasive, such as viruses, and which are supposed to be there. The result is that the immune system creates antibodies that attack the body itself, which can cause pain, inflammation, and permanent damage to organs and other tissues.

Lupus also “flares,” meaning that the effects of the disease come and go. Patients might suffer the effects of lupus only to have to go into remission for a period before striking again. Especially if someone has not yet been diagnosed with lupus, this can lead to patients thinking that they are healthy, while the disease is just waiting to come back.

It’s also a very poorly understood disease. Doctors know that it tends to strike women between 14 and 44 more often than men, that women of color are more likely to develop it, and that it isn’t contagious. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus, and that another 16,000 cases are identified each year.

So what can you do to help? Well, you can always donate to the Lupus Foundation of America, and you can tell others about the group to help spread awareness of the disease and to help research and combat it. The Foundation helps organize numerous Walk to End Lupus Now events, and you might consider organizing such an event in your community. Anything you can do will help in the struggle to better understand and treat this terrible disease.

BNP Individual Philanthropy Index Indicates Charitable Giving is Up

Jar with coins on wood table with hearts

The 2015 BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index indicates that charitable giving is up around the world.
Image: Shutterstock

The 2015 BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index report reveals that philanthropy is growing worldwide, increasing by five points on a 100-point scale in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States.

This is the third edition of the index, and it shows that impact/mission investing is seen as the most promising trend in philanthropy, with collaborative efforts also being strongly supported—in fact, many respondents said they rely heavily on both family and financial advisors to make the best decisions about their charitable giving.

Philanthropists are also embracing technology, particularly social media (42%), crowd evaluation (42%), and crowdfunding (41%).

The areas of highest interest currently are health (prioritized by about 65% of the survey respondents), environmental charities (52%), and education (44%).

Reasons behind philanthropists’ decision to give varied by region but generally came down to a sense of duty, a desire to give back to society, and wanting to help others. In the Middle East, religious beliefs were also a significant driver.

One reason for the increase in charitable giving could be the slowly recovering global economy. This is particularly true of Europe, which rose 9.2 points from 2014 to rank nearly even with the United States in terms of the amount of projected and actual giving.

However, the economy isn’t necessarily the only reason for the increased generosity. Oxfam International’s Acting Head of Income Development, Suzi Faye, said that in fact, people are often more generous when times are hard. She suggested this may have to do with the nature of Oxfam’s affiliates.

Reddit to Donate 10% of 2014 Earnings to Charity

Reddit logo on a website

Reddit will donate 10% of its 2014 ad revenue to 10 charities chosen by the Reddit community.
Image: Gil C / Shutterstock.com

Back in Feburary 2014, Reddit announced it would be donating 10% of its 2014 ad revenue to charities chosen by Reddit users. That promise has now come to fruition: a blog post by Reddit product manager Ryan Merket says that users can vote now on which charities will receive the donations.

Reddit earned nearly $8.3 million last year in advertising revenue, which means they will donate $82,765.95 a piece to each of the ten charities chosen.

Reddit has teamed up with Charity Navigator, using its database of charitable organizations to give users the opportunity to browse and research which organizations they would like to see receive the donations. Charity Navigator provides charity descriptions and US tax identification information. Users can vote for as many charities as they want, but only once for each charity.

Only users with accounts created before 10 AM today will be eligible to weigh in.

Some of the most talked-about charities at the moment are Doctors Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Wikimedia Foundation, and NPR.

“Here at Reddit, one of the things that gets us out of bed every morning is knowing that we have the ability to help the world at a scale that was, until very recently, only imaginable,” wrote Merket in a blog article announcing the opening of the voting period.

The voting is open now and ends Wednesday, Feburary 25 at 10 AM PST. Winners will be announced within the following 24 hours.

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