Cricketer Closes Foundation After Failing to Disclose Financials

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Shane Warne, a well-known cricket player in Australia, recently announced that he is closing his foundation, which was started to help ill and underprivileged youth. The group’s closure comes after it continually failed to release its financial information. Consumer Affairs Victoria, a watchdog organization in Australia, called for an audit following fundraising disclosure laws. Only details from 2011 to 2013 were made available, because earlier documents were “missing or unavailable.”

What those documents showed was that, in that time, the foundation raised $1.8 million, but only actually disbursed $281,000. That can only be due to either inept management, or fraud. The leadership of the group has general been paid reasonable salaries for a foundation that size, but also reportedly took home more pay than they claimed.

It also begs the question of how the older documents could have been misplaced. The foundation was around for 12 years, over which Warne claims they raised around $8 million, but they’ve only disbursed $3.7 million. They also claim that they received no donations in 2014.

If the foundation is simply poorly run, laughably poorly run, then it’s possible that, with restructuring, it could have done some real good. Running a successful charity requires a lot of hard work and skill, and it is possible they just screwed up. A lot. But after all that time, it seems unlikely that it was simply a matter of inefficient use of resources or inept planning. It seems much more likely that the foundation was at least partly fraudulent. It’s an unfortunate reality of the charity world, and it wouldn’t be the first time that a celebrity charity or foundation turned out to be little more than a scam. Numerous celebrities, much larger than Warne, have been hit by the truth behind such allegations.

Catholic Group Attacks Amnesty International

Image: A woman with a cross painted over her mouth attends a protest against a government plan to limit abortions in Madrid February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

Image: A woman with a cross painted over her mouth attends a protest against a government plan to limit abortions in Madrid February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

According to the Cardinal Newman Society, a group that promotes “faithful Catholic education,” 20 Catholic colleges and six law schools retain relationships with the non-profit group Amnesty International. The Society is advising those schools to end that relationship.

Amnesty International is best known for their global humanitarian work, focused on human rights, for which they are well respected. The problem stems from the fact that, in 2007, Amnesty International reversed their views on abortion, and since then have been fighting for abortion access worldwide. This doesn’t sit well with the Cardinal Newman Society, who also takes issue with the group’s promotion of gay marriage.

The group maintains the hardline Catholic anti-abortion stance, and in their report on Amnesty International’s campus presence, has resorted to some rather significant leaps in logic to do so. For example, they claim that AI has “directly attacked” the Catholic Church on multiple occasions. They cite a 2011 report that that the Vatican didn’t do enough to protect children, amidst years of scandal about priestly child abuse. They also cite AI’s involvement in a pro-choice campaign in Ireland, an overwhelmingly Catholic country with strict anti-abortion laws.

Presumably, AI hasn’t done anything worse to the Catholic Church, if these are the only attacks that the Newman Society can come up with, neither of which are particularly heinous. The real issue here seems to be power, something which conservatives, Catholic or otherwise, are afraid of losing. The Catholic Church supports education throughout the world, and has a long history of doing so, with numerous highly regarded schools, colleges, and universities associated with it. The key to a proper education though, is teaching students about the multitude of opinions, philosophies, and other differences that make human culture interesting and varied. University students should be allowed to think for themselves, and if that means letting them associate with a group that promotes human rights across the board, even if they are pro-choice, that’s something Catholic schools should be doing.

New Microsoft Branch Supports Non-Profits

microsoft

Microsoft recently launched a new branch called Microsoft Philanthropies, which has vowed to donate technology to 70,000 organizations around the world in the next three years. Their stated goal is to help non-profits, NGOs, and university researchers gain access to cloud-computing and other technologies that businesses use for low cost data storage.

This could be a huge benefit to a number of organizations that need such technology but don’t necessarily have the resources to get it. They’ve made the point that they plan to work with groups in poor parts of the world, such as the Mawingu Project in rural Kenya, to help them not only get the technology but to implement it.

Microsoft does face criticism for the announcement though. While giving technology to non-profits is pretty generous, critics are worried that it’s essentially a marketing tool. They fear that the company is less concerned with doing good than they are with expanding into new markets and building reliance on them and their technology. Sort of like the old drug dealer’s trick of giving somebody the first hit for free. That may be a pretty heavy handed metaphor, but Microsoft has already faced pushback from the Indian government for taking advantage of white spaces on TV frequencies to expand connectivity without paying the associated fees.

It’s a tough question to answer, and something of a chicken and egg scenario. Is Microsoft doing good work that could help them, or doing marketing that happens to help others? How much does it really matter, either way? If they do reap a benefit from this, so long as they don’t plan to give technology to needy groups, then suddenly start charging them for services that used to be free, they can probably avoid doing any real damage while part of a win-win situation.

Charity Lifts PayPal To Guinness World Record

PayPal

PayPal convinced its users to get into the spirit of giving during the holiday season by organizing a charitable campaign that recently set a new world record for the most money raised online for charity in 24 hours.

Following a successful December campaign for #GivingTuesday, the company raised a staggering $45.8 million for various charities, trouncing the previous record of $19 million. #GivingTuesday is an initiative that was created as an alternative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The company reported a 15% increase in giving during the holiday season (compared to 2014) and mobile donations rose by 26%.

If you didn’t think setting the Guinness World Record title with $48 million was enough, PayPal raised a total of $857 million in charitable donations overall during the Christmas season. Donations were sent from 7.24 million people in 183 countries and more than 258,759 charities around the world were supported. This gave 9.1 million donations with an average gift size of $93.

“We thank all our donors who helped us bring smiles to more children during the holidays. The spirit of giving during the holiday season funds our programs in 120 countries around the world including the United States. The sum of many small donations can make a really big difference in children’s lives,” said Ettore Rossetti, Senior Director of Social Business Strategy and Innovation at Save the Children, one charity that benefited from the campaign.

The USA and UK were top giving countries: Americans gave $691,924,261 through PayPal while those in the UK gave $49,377,896.

 

“We believe passionately in harnessing the power of our people, technology and scale to build a global network for good. The sustained surge in giving through PayPal’s platform over the past holiday season is a powerful demonstration of how we are turning this vision into reality,” said Franz Paasche, PayPal VP of corporate affairs.

Way to go PayPal!

CovCath Wins Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic

Image: NewCath's Ben Weyer pulls down a rebound against CovCath during their game in the Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic, Friday, January 15, 2016.  Jim Osborn for The Enquirer

Image: NewCath’s Ben Weyer pulls down a rebound against CovCath during their game in the Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity Classic, Friday, January 15, 2016. Jim Osborn for The Enquirer

Northern Kentucky’s best high school basketball players displayed their talents at BB&T Arena on the campus of Northern Kentucky University on January 15.

It’s been tradition that the Bluegrass-Buckeye Charity local basketball event featured schools from Northern Kentucky to play against schools from Ohio. Proceeds from the event go to the following charities:

-The Ruth Lyons Children Fund helps children find some joy while they’re in the hospital. Donations to the organization are used to purchase toys and books for hospital playrooms.

Neediest Kids of All provides children basic everyday necessities such as clothes, shoes, and eyeglasses for the local community. Funds are also used for educational field trips and training programs in schools.

Chicks & Chucks Inc. provides support and services to breast cancer patients. Donations to the cause are used for resource books used to educate cancer patients as well as providing post-surgery items.

This year was different as the Ninth Region tournament only featured Northern Kentucky teams. The triple-header featured six of the top 10 teams in the Enquirer’s coaches’ poll, including No 1. Newcath playing against No.2 CovCath.

“We definitely wanted to have the event at the Bank of Kentucky Center. And we realized that we had a hard time drawing fans from the Ohio teams with the games being held there, so we decided to try it with just the top teams in Northern Kentucky this year. We left the name the same because the money will still be going to benefit charities in Ohio and Kentucky,” said tournament director Terry Boehmker.

The rivalry between NewCath and CovCath is nothing new as they were ranked as two of the top teams for the majority of the last season. After a stressful 13 lead changes and four ties through the first half, CovCath found some separation and pushed through with a final score of 58-43.

Chance The Rapper Raises $100K For Chicago Homeless

Image: Chance the Rapper Raised $100k to Make Coats for Chicago’s Homeless

Image: Chance the Rapper Raised $100k to Make Coats for Chicago’s Homeless

Chicago born emcee Chance The Rapper is doing his part to make a positive impact on his community. As his dedication to his hometown is no secret, the rapper recently raised an astonishing $100,000 in donations to help supply the homeless with winter coats.

Chance and The Empowerment Plan launched the Warmest Winter Initiative with the hopes of donating 1,000 coats to Chicago’s homeless community in December 2015. The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit non-profit fighting to end homelessness, is looking to expand to Chicago in the near future. With more than 125,000 homeless people in the area, the Chicago Coalition For the Homeless estimates that as many as 20,000 of them are young children. Chance wanted to give them “self heating” and “water resistant” coats so that they can more easily power through the brutal winter season. With additional functionality, the coats can even adjust themselves into a sleeping bag and can also be used as an over-the-shoulder bag when it’s not being worn.

Chance gave fans an update to the campaign and announced that it raised almost $60,000 in the first 10 days. In total, the initiative has raised $103,481 and supplied 1,034 winter coats. “Thanks to good people we raised over $100000 in a few weeks for #WarmestWinter We’ll keep buying coats til the 13th,” the rapper tweeted.

Donators of the campaign are also entered into a raffle for various prizes including concert tickets to Chance’s upcoming shows and tickets to Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox games. People who donate at least $100 are entered into a special raffle for a chance to attend an exclusive meet and greet with the rapper.

Kudos to Chance for being such a positive figure in his community.

Donations for the #WarmestWinter initiative are still being accepted. If you’re interested in donating, visit the link below:

https://www.crowdrise.com/warmestwinterchicago/fundraiser/empowermentplan

Brangelina’s Daughters Sponsor a Cambodian Family

Image: Sweet charity: Shiloh Jolie-Pitt donated clothes to local disadvantaged children in Siem Reap during the family's recent visit to Cambodia

Image: Sweet charity: Shiloh Jolie-Pitt donated clothes to local disadvantaged children in Siem Reap during the family’s recent visit to Cambodia

If you didn’t already know, philanthropy runs in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s family.

Oldest daughters Shiloh and Zahara have been bitten by their parents’ humanitarian bug and are sponsoring a Cambodian family in need with 13 children living in a tin shack.

While traveling to South East Asia while Jolie filmed her next project for late-2016 “First They Killed My Father”, Shiloh, 9, and Zahara, 10, were approached by 16-year-old Ledia Shoun while getting ice cream with Pitt. Shiloh and Zahara were taken away by Shoun and her 12 siblings, who lived in the slum district of Mundal Bai in the town of Siem Reap. As Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, one-third of the population lives on $2 a day, and less than half of students complete primary school. The Pitt daughters began donating hundreds of dollars worth of new clothes – quite a large wardrobe in a country where a t-shirt costs less than $1. They also bought the family two new bicycles to ride.

Jolie first became personally aware of worldwide humanitarian crises while filming Tomb Raider in Cambodia back in 2001. Since then, Jolie has been on field missions across the world and met with refugees and internally displaced people in more than 20 countries including Tanzania, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Pakistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Egypt, Costa Rica, Syria, Chad, Iraq, and more. In addition, she most recently visited earthquake victims in Haiti to help survivors. The Pitts also started the $20 million Jolie-Pitt Foundation in 2006 to help fund schools and clinics in Kenya, Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan.

The Pitts certainly influenced their daughters.

Last year, Jolie told Vogue that she realized Shiloh picked up the do-gooder gene when they visited refugees in Lebanon.

“When she was sitting on the floor with her UN cap writing her notes as she was talking to someone, I was flashing on myself 15 years ago and thinking, I know that moment,” Jolie said.

Top 10 Ethical Travel Destinations for 2016

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Are you a traveler that avoids spending cash in countries with poor human rights and environmental records?

Ethical Traveler, a non-profit organization seeking to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment, recently released its annual list of the 10 most forward-thinking countries in the developing world. Ethical Traveler is a project of the Berkeley-based non-profit environmental group Earth Island Institute.

According to Ethical Traveler, each country is reviewed for its performance based on the areas of human rights, animal welfare, social welfare, and environmental protection. And of course, the country also needs to have plenty of appeal as a travel destination. “By spending travel dollars in forward-thinking countries, explorers can reward the good guys — and encourage humane practices worldwide,” says Ethical Traveler’s report.

Grenada, Mongolia, Panama, Micronesia, and Tuvalu are five countries that made it for the first time on this year’s list.

Here are 2016’s winners, in alphabetical order:

1. Cape Verde

2. Dominica

3. Grenada

4. Micronesia (Federated States)

5. Mongolia

6. Panama

7. Samoa

8. Tonga

9. Tuvalu

10. Uruguay

Seven island nations made this year’s list, marking a continuing trend in the winner’s circle. Climate change affects islands dramatically, so island nations tend to put more effort toward effective environmental policies.

“While we acknowledge that no country is perfect, we honor those that strive to build a better, more sustainable society. Their neighbors can learn and benefit from their example — and so can we,” says Ethical Traveler co-founder and travel author Jeff Greenwald.

Plan this year’s travels to countries supporting human rights, social welfare, and the environment. To read the full report, visit Ethicaltraveler.org.

Doctors Without Borders Ceases Search and Rescue Operations in Mediterranean

Migrants in the water scramble to get onto Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) rescue boats launched from the MOAS ship Phoenix after they  jumped from an overloaded wooden boat during a rescue operation 10.5 miles (16 kilometres) off the coast of Libya August 6, 2015.   REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT

Migrants in the water scramble to get onto Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) rescue boats launched from the MOAS ship Phoenix after they jumped from an overloaded wooden boat during a rescue operation 10.5 miles (16 kilometres) off the coast of Libya August 6, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi MALTA OUT

Medecins Sans Frontieres (better known in the United States as Doctors Without Borders) has ceased its sea rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. During eight months they rescued over 20,000 people in over 120 operations, although according to the International Organisation for Migration, 3,771 people still died during such crossings in 2015. The mission: trying to cross the sea to Europe from North Africa in order to flee conflicts and poverty in nations like Syria.

Doctors Without Borders substantially helped reduce the number of deaths in such crossings, but have stepped back with the belief that European Union resources in 2016 will be sufficient enough to take over. They are, after all, a medical organization first and foremost, focusing on treatment, and are not as qualified for search and rescue operations as other organizations.

As migrations increased last year, they felt the need to step in and help. However, they expect the EU to take over these duties, and they urged that body to make changes to allow migrants and asylum seekers easier access to Europe.

The main reason people die in these crossing is because they are forced to rely on smugglers and small, overcrowded, and often dangerous boats that aren’t always capable of completing the journey. By allowing more safe, legal options for people to make the journey from North Africa to Europe, the EU can reaffirm its pledge to help refugees, and can reduce the deaths caused by those crossings.

A number of member countries in the EU and innumerable private citizens have stepped up to help out refugees from war-torn Syria and other areas, even after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut by ISIL with the intention of getting host countries to close their borders. The next step is getting more people to Europe safely. Despite pulling back on rescue operations, Doctors Without Borders has stated that they will stay on standby, in case the EU once again needs their help with the crossings.

Amazon Donates Anti-Islamic Song Proceeds To Refugee Charities

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Online retail giant Amazon has pledged to donate its share of revenues from the sale of a song by the anti-Muslim song to a nongovernmental organization that helps refugees. The German group Pegida, which stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, released an instrumental song through Amazon on December 1st titled “Gemeinsam Sind Wir Stark” (“Together We Are Strong”).

The wordless hymn sold for 1.29 euros ($1.40) and managed to knock off British pop star Adele’s “Hello” from the top of Amazon’s top 100 singles chart.

The retail giant was put under pressure through social media where it was criticized for making a profit from a song (released over Christmas) by a group that is known for anti-Islam and anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe.

Since last year, Pegida has held rallies on a weekly basis protesting immigration, Muslims, and Syrian refugees in Dresden and several other German cities. The group believes that there are too many immigrants in Germany and that the country needs to prioritize taking care of its own citizens first. The group wanted to donate the proceeds from the song to homeless German citizens.

Pegida’s founder, Lutz Bachman, started the organization as a Facebook group a year ago and faced criticism when a photo of him sporting a Hitler hairstyle and moustache went viral.

As a response to Pegida’s song, Amazon posted a note next to the “buy” button on the product detail page that reads, “Amazon helps. The proceeds of selling this song will go to a charitable organization supporting refugees.”

“Amazon’s profits from the sale of this song will go to a non-profit-making organisation supporting refugees,” the company said.

Pegida’s campaign demonstrations peaked in January when more than 25,000 people joined a protest march in Dresden. In recent weeks, the movement has drawn fewer participants in Dresden and has completely died down in other cities in Germany.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 173 other followers