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.

Charitable Recap for 2014 Positive; 2015 Forecast, Less So

Tiles spelling "donate" set on dollar bill

Charitable giving in 2014 was up, but that trend may not last through 2015.
Image: Shutterstock

According to a report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy on the top 50 American donors to nonprofits, donations in the philanthropic world of 2014 were positive and plentiful. The takeaways:

 

  • Donations from the top 50 philanthropists of 2014 were up 27.5% from donations in 2013, reaching $9.8 billion. Some donors credited the recovering economy with their ability to donate more this year.
  • More technology entrepreneurs, often younger than 40, were on the list. The biggest donors of 2014, who gave more than $500 million apiece, were Jan Koum, founder of the messaging company WhatsApp; Sean Parker, former Facebook president and the founder of Napster; and Nicholas and Jill Woodman, who founded the camera company GoPro. Nine other top donors came from the tech industry as well.
  • More gifts–$6.9 billion—went to foundations. While some say this was so that wealthy donors could get tax breaks, others suggest that it was simply a matter of this sort of donation being simpler.
  • Gifts totaling $1.6 billion went toward scientific research in 2014.

Initial forecasts for 2015 are not looking quite as rosy, however. The Atlas of Giving says its preliminary research suggests that charitable giving will fall by more than 3% this year to $442.1 billion despite growth of more than 9% in 2014. The organization makes these claims based on a team of 25 mathematicians using 65 economic algorithms, suggesting that stock market declines, weak European economies, an increase in interest rates, and low income may all lead to this decline.

Other fundraisers are skeptical, however, saying that it’s far too early in the year to predict how things will go.

 

Celebrity Charity Under Scrutiny Due to Missing Funds

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria’s charity Global Gift Galas has come under scrutiny due to alleged misappropriation of funds.
Image: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

An article published in The Hollywood Reporter has rankled celebrity and philanthropist Eva Longoria. Longoria’s charity, Global Gift Galas, came under fire from THR in particular because of suspected misappropriation of funds committed by its co-runners, Longoria’s friends Maria Bravo and Alina Peralta.

Longoria acts as host and honorary chair for a series of charitable events held around the world by Global Gift Galas, which has attracted the attention of celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Victoria Beckham. The organization has raised millions for international causes; however, according to THR, tax documents and accounting records for 2009-2014 show discrepancies the organizers have not been able to explain sufficiently.

Longoria, who has a long history of charitable work in liberal politics, has expressed dissatisfaction with the conclusions drawn by the report, saying that it is misleading. “My first thought is that as a philanthropist I believe in total transparency when it comes to charities,” she said. “My second thought is that the article is inaccurate. The philanthropic space is very complicated.”

Charity organizers Bravo and Peralta were questioned regarding the tax and accounting documents for Global Gift Galas over the course of 15 days by THR reporters. Numerous concerns arose regarding, for example, the numbers for 2013. The organization website stated that they raised $3.4 million for charity that year, but their documents suggest that only $1,349,212 was donated. When questioned, Bravo said the discrepancy was an error and thanked THR for pointing it out.

Certainly philanthropy can be a time-consuming, complicated endeavor, but it is still uncertain whether this situation is merely a series of unfortunate accounting errors or an active attempt to misappropriate funds. Longoria’s involvement appears to be minimal, but the charity remains under scrutiny.

CharityTracker Helps Organizations Connect and Serve

Woman holding heart

CharityTracker connects charitable organizations and helps them become more efficient.
Image: Shutterstock

Hurricane Katrina may have been catastrophic on many levels, but it also drove local charities to create new ways of networking and providing services. One of these methods is a program called CharityTracker, which connects charities and helps them streamline their work.

Tina Scott, then executive director of the United Way of Northwest Alabama, put together a team including agents from the Salvation Army, 221, social services, and local churches to address the issue. These meetings culminated in the CharityTracker program. Since 2007, CharityTracker has tracked 7,808,094 assistance records—a total of $229,839,644 of assistance money for 2,926,975 cases, according to the website.

CharityTracker allows its users to track assistance histories using 256-bit SSL encryption, share information securely, create detailed reports and demographics for grant writing purposes, identify needs, encourage accountability, and prevent duplication of services.

Three case studies are available on the CharityTracker website as examples of how the program has been used. SEANtracker (Shoals Emergency Assistance Network) serves as an example of small city implementation. Representing collaboration between community organizations and local churches, SEANtracker used CharityTracker to connect 50 agencies based on existing relationships to expand on support for Hurricane Katrina victims.

“We had 330 families,” said Tina Scott, “and in a short time we were trying to accommodate large numbers of people. We learned that we weren’t getting the same information from some families; that they were getting aid from elsewhere and from us, which, in the end caused resources to dry up faster than they would have if there would have been a way to monitor who received what and the organization they received it from.”

CharityTracker allowed for that sort of monitoring, which enabled the organization to communicate with each other and help families in real time. As of 2008, there were 21,700 case records in CharityTracker, and the charities are saving time and money by sharing information. The program allows them to screen clients, keep records, and look at trends in the lives of the people they serve.

Though Hurricane Katrina was definitely an ordeal, it has led to innovations in the charity world that are sure to help deal efficiently with any future emergencies.

If Giving Feels Good, Why Don’t We Do It More Often?

Volunteers at a food drive

If giving feels good, why don’t we do it more often?
Image: Shutterstock

Around this time of year, many of us find ourselves being much more generous than usual. Not only do many people give gifts to friends and family around the holidays, in general, it seems that people are more likely to make donations or buy a homeless man coffee at the local coffee shop. Not only does it make the people receiving these things feel great; being generous can give you a boost of good feelings, too.

In 2009 a study was published that suggested being the receiver of generosity can trigger a release of oxytocin, which is the hormone associated with feelings of love and trust. The study also suggested that after an initial act of generosity, a sort of domino effect takes place. It turns out that recipients of generosity were more likely to be generous to other people; in essence, the chain reaction of paying it forward takes place.

Something worth pointing out is that we get these effects regardless of whether we are giving to a loved one or a complete stranger. When you give to another person, there is a physiological response that rewards our brain, and we get a boost of feel-good endorphins, similar to a “runner’s high.” With all of these warm and fuzzy benefits to giving, why don’t more of us do it more often?

Sure, it sounds great to give, but what are the reasons that most of us end up not giving throughout the year, rather than just around the holidays? Often, we don’t instantly see or understand the benefits. Giving away money can be a stressful thing, and some may see it as adding even more of a stress.

In general, people think that giving is too complex. After all, there are countless worthy organizations and causes to volunteer your time with, or donate money to. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about giving, focus on picking a cause that means something to you, and the rest becomes simple. Also, the next time you see someone down on their luck, remember that buying them a cup of coffee is not only a kind thing to do, but something that will make you feel good, too.

New Report Finds Art Museums Dependent on Charitable Donations

Guggenheim Museum of Art in New York City

A new report on art museum funding states that museums such as the Guggenheim rely on dwindling charitable donations.
Image: vvoe / Shutterstock.com

A new report by the Association of Art Museum Directors, called “Art Museums by the Numbers 2014,” found that museums spend far more per guest than they receive in admissions and purchases of food and merchandise.

According to the report, which surveyed 236 museums, visitor revenue only covered about 15% of museums’ total expenses. Museums invested about $53 per attendee, while the average guest spent less than $8. This data was based on the 61 million recorded trips to art museums that occurred during the last fiscal year.

Perhaps not surprisingly, art museums rely primarily on private charitable donations to both create and maintain their collections. The report found that 54% of contributions to museums in the past year came from individuals, as opposed to 13% from corporations. These donations added up to over 73,000 works of art—almost six times the number of artworks museums purchased during the same period.

Christine Anagnos, the executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors, hopes to continue collecting this data to observe trends over time in museum donations and gift-giving. She noted that corporate gift giving “isn’t as strong as it used to be. That’s coming through loud and clear in this report.

However, now that museums can aggregate this sort of data digitally, Anagnos hopes the continually updated information will allow them to gain insight from trends and improve the interactions between museums and the individuals and corporations who donate to them.

Video Gamers Raise $1.5 Million for Cancer Research

Video Games Done Quick logo

Video Games Done Quick raised $1.5 million for cancer research this year.
Image: VideoGamesDoneQuick.com

Awesome Games Done Quick tweeted on January 11 that they raised $1.1 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Taking into account subsequent donations, the total charitable contributions peaked at roughly 1.5 million—more than $450,000 more than was raised last year. There were 38,806 total donations.

The bi-annual, week-long event collects donations and live-broadcasts speedruns of video games. Participants play through a variety of games, including Ninja Gaiden, Kaizo Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Tetris, with the goal being to complete the games as fast as possible. The speedruns are filmed and include commentary, discussions, gamers playing blindfolded, and the occasional marriage proposal. More than 150 games are played over the course of 160 hours, with livestreams available 24 hours a day during the event and a Youtube playlist put up afterward.

The event was held at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport hotel in Herndon, Virginia, from January 4-10.

This was the eleventh Games Done Quick event and was overseen by Andrew Schroeder, Charity Events Manager at Twitch, an online community for gamers. Twitch broadcasts games being played competitively via speedruns like those hosted for the Awesome Games Done Quick event. Recent metrics showed that Twitch ranked fourth in peak web traffic in the US.

Sponsors included Humble Bumble, Yetee, and Game Grumps, who all provided merchandise. The proceeds were added to the total donations.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to the prevention and early detection of cancer through research, education, advocacy, and community outreach. They have provided over $120 million to cancer research since 1985.

Summer Games Done Quick, the second yearly speedrunning-for-charity event, will take place later this year.

Junior Orange Bowl Hosts 32nd Annual Sports Ability Games

Participants in the Junior Orange Bowl Sports Ability Games

Event partners made the Junior Orange Bowl’s Sports Ability Games possible last month. Image: JuniorOrangeBowl.org

 

Last month, the Junior Orange Bowl hosted the 32nd annual Sports Ability Games, a three-day series of events for upwards of 300 physically challenged youth. The Sports Ability Games are just one component of more than 15 athletic and academic events that make up the Junior Orange Bowl festival, an annual happening that attracts more than 7,500 participants from South Florida and beyond.

Since 1948, the Junior Orange Bowl has celebrated the athletic, academic, and creative talents and strengths of young people from all over the world. “Our organization has expanded its vision to host competitive athletic, academic and cultural arts events in a culturally rich, diverse and safe environment,” explains the organization, of its more than 65 years supporting and championing the talents of children.

One of the things that makes the Junior Orange Bowl and its yearly events so unique is how the organization is just as focused on the physical skills of young people as it is on celebrating their creativity and academic potential. In addition to athletic events like tennis and basketball, activities such as photography, creative writing, and chess are all part of the Junior Orange Bowl.

Now in its 32nd year, the Sports Ability Games have been instrumental in helping hundreds of children set goals for themselves and expand their horizons annually. According to the Miami Herald, the events are designed to accommodate children with a wide range of physical disabilities including amputation, blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, and others. Event Chairperson Richard Naue explains that the “games are developmental in nature so participants can take on new challenges in a non-threatening environment with the appropriate encouragement and support.” Naue adds, “It also provides our volunteer community with the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life even for just one day.”

Event partners that make the Junior Orange Bowl’s Sports Ability Games possible include KIND Healthy Snacks, Whole Foods Supermarkets, Walgreens, and other corporate sponsors. Local sponsors include Coffey Burlington, a Miami-based law firm headed by Kendall Coffey and Robert Burlington, longtime supporters of local charity initiatives, the University of Miami Physical Therapy Department, and Melreese Country Club.

Learn more about the Junior Orange Bowl by visiting the organization’s official website.

Swift Gives Back to Fans During the Holidays

Some say that 2014 was the best year yet for singer Taylor Swift—and based on recent news, it’s hard to argue. Before the pop superstar hit the stage in Times Square for New Year’s, she uploaded a video that highlighted all the different ways Swift has thanked her fans over the past year.

The clip shows Taylor Swift wrapping presents that she purchased herself and writing out personalized cards to send out to fans. The holiday time became known for “Tay-lurking,” which was used to refer to Swift’s use of social media to learn every detail about her most devoted fans. When the music superstar decided she wanted to give back to a fan, she would leave a single Santa Clause emoji as a comment on their account to indicate she was planning something special.

“Large FedEx boxes began to appear on the doorsteps of certain fans in what became tenderly referred to as ‘Swiftmas,’” the video says. Beyond just gift giving, Swift also thanked her fans by surprising them in different capacities. One example was showing up to a bridal shower when she received an invite from a dedicated fan. In the video of her gift giving, she is also shown personally traveling to Connecticut to deliver gifts to the young son of one adoring fan.

As you can imagine, the video is filled with squeals, tears, and total meltdowns from the generosity of a celebrity who has become known for breaking down the wall of fame. Cheers to you, Taylor Swift!

 

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