Changing Our World

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Buzz is Changing Our World's news and commentary blog, covering the latest stories and updates in the world of philanthropy.

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July 15, 2010

News Briefing: Microsoft Co-Founder Pledges Fortune to Philanthropy

  • The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation awards $10 million over five years for emergency services for impoverished Holocaust survivors living in North America.  [Baltimore Sun]

  • Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, pledges most of his estimated $13.5 billion fortune to philanthropy.  [Reuters]

  • Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, and Sade will perform at the Keep a Child Alive Foundation ball in September.  [Associated Press]

May 13, 2009

News Briefing: Robin Hood Event Adjusts to Tough Times

  • The Robin Hood Foundation's spring fundraising event adjusts to tough economic times.  [New York Times]
  • The trustee overseeing the liquidation of Madoff's assets has sued the Picower Foundation, alleging that foundation founders knew they were benefiting from fraudulent activity.  [Associated Press]
  • Small colleges, without big endowments to support financial aid, are most vulnerable in this economic climate.  [Associated Press]

May 11, 2009

News Briefing: Recession Fails to Halt Spring Charity Benefits

  • Opportunities grow for nonprofit groups to win money through online contests.  [New York Times]
  • Despite the economy, many nonprofits move ahead with charity benefits, but look to save money on expenses.  [New York Times]
  • Public television stations are forced to be more creative when they approach corporate underwriters.  [New York Times]

May 30, 2008

News Briefing: Gala Auction Feels a Chill From Wall Street’s Slump

  • Bill Cosby will be auctioning off some of his legendary patterned sweaters to benefit a charity established in memory of his late son.  [Reuters]
  • The tax-exempt status of nonprofit institutions is increasingly being challenged.  [New York Times]
  • The World Bank announces $1.2 billion in loans and financing to expand its assistance to poor countries struggling with the soaring price of food and fuel.  [Reuters]
  • The Robin Hood Foundation raises $56.6 million in one night; 21 percent less than last year.  [New York Times]

April 14, 2008

News Briefing: When Strings Are Attached, Quirky Gifts Can Limit Universities

  • Universities' academic programs can be shaped by the interests - and restrictions - of their donors.  [New York Times]
  • Billionaire bond trader will auction the Scandinavian portion of his international stamp collection, to benefit the Millennium Villages Project at the Earth Institute at Columbia.  [New York Times]
  • Charities look for new ways to reach current and prospective donors as they brace for fewer corporate contributions during the economic downturn.  [New York Times]
  • Thomas Jefferson's library is re-created at the Library of Congress.  [Washington Post]

November 14, 2007

News Briefing: Increased Compensation Puts More College Presidents in the Million-Dollar Club

  • Laura Bush, founders of the Gap, and others honored for their support of children.  [Associated Press]
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commits $50 million to expand HIV prevention efforts in China.  [Associated Press]
  • Number of million-dollar pay packages for univeristy presidents nearly doubles.  [New York Times]
  • Less than ten percent of raffle ticket for the Naperville Rotary Charities' House of Dreams Charity Raffle in Chicago will get donated to charity.  [Chicago Tribune]

November 05, 2007

News Briefing: Donors Bid Millions NOT to Rename School

  • Antioch College trustees agree to keep the school open; plan contingent on aggressive fundraising goals over the next three years.  [Associated Press]
  • Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III and his wife, Monica, establish a family foundation focused on education and health care.  [Washington Post]
  • For New York's art institutions, tensions exist between the art and the administrative and architectural structures built to support that art.  [New York Times]
  • Thirteen alumni of the University of Wisconsin donate $85 million in exchange for assurances that its business school would not be named for any donor for at least twenty years.  [Associated Press]

July 10, 2007

Wealth & Giving Forum Message: Get Your Hands Dirty

When it comes to changing the world, you don’t need to know everything to begin to make a difference. That was the message of several major philanthropists this weekend at the Greenbrier, where the Wealth & Giving Forum convened prominent families, experts in the field of water and poverty alleviation, and other leaders in an atmosphere that encouraged open discussion of philanthropy and its place in the world.

 “You know, I was Depression baby and somehow you get that drive, chasing the American dream,” Kenneth Behring told the attendees in the open plenary. “I was at the top of the mountain but it was bare. And I learned that there has to be more to life than possessions.”

Behring is among the nation’s richest men, a self-made entrepreneur who built a substantial fortune in real estate, automobiles and sports franchises. But he has made philanthropy his life’s passion over the last decade – creating a charity to provide wheelchairs for the poorest of the poor, and more recently, as the catalyst behind WaterLeaders, a foundation dedicated to creating a “Safe Water Generation” by providing comprehensive and sustainable water solutions. His advice to other wealthy families was both simple and powerful – and it set the tone for the gathering:

“Look it's more than money. You have to get involved, you have to go there and see what's happening with your money. You have to get your hands dirty.”

And that's the whole point of the Wealth & Giving Forum, created in 2003 by Greensboro, North Carolina philanthropist Leonard Kaplan: to increase giving and hands-on commitment by those who've done well in life. The founder spoke on Sunday about the gathering's impact:

“This is something that seems to produce good feelings – both spiritual and intellectual feelings. When you combine those two things, you reach an whole other plateau.”

Speaker after speaker this weekend sounded the call of personal involvement in causes - from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s passionate attack on systemic pollution of waterways to Jean Case's description of her personal journey in providing cleaner water to villages in Africa. I'll have more specific reports on the sessions over the next several days - including discussion of the ongoing post-Katrina humanitarian crisis in New Orleans, the impact of water concerns on international security, and several stories of life-changing philanthropic commitments. And we'll explore a few of the larger themes.

The weekend's moderator and genial session host, veteran political analyst Jeff Greenfield of CBS News, may well have captured the feelings of those of us who do not have millions to invest in fighting poverty:

“Many of you who come here are people of great means, and you are used to envy. It’s understandable. But for me, it’s not about material stuff. .. The envy I have is for what you’re able to do.”

July 05, 2007

Wealth & Giving Forum: The Problem With Water

Visitors have been visiting this scenic corner of West Virginia since 1778 to "take the waters" at White Sulphur Springs. This week, the philanthropists gathering at the Greenbrier resort also has water on their minds, but not in the therapeutic sense. They're here under the banner of the Wealth & Giving Forum to explore water and its role in the developing world, its power and threat domestically, its role in worldwide conflict, and how philanthropy and social ventures can provide cleaner water for a world that needs it.

A deep and involved line-up of speakers will tackle a range of topics around water at this invitation-only meeting, which allows philanthropic families to discuss issues like clean water in intimate, private setting. Many of the sessions are closed, but I've been granted permission to cover the panel discussions and major presentations over the next three days. Blog posts wil appear next week.

The Wealth & Giving Forum was founded in 2003 to promote greater generosity among individuals and families of significant means and to make more resources available for good causes. Through its semi-annual invitation-only gatherings, regional and topical programs, and publications, the Forum provides a "private meeting ground for individuals and families to reflect with their peers on how best to allocate their wealth."

Among many others, speakers are slated to include:

  • Waterkeeper Alliance president Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
  • Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation
  • Paul Schervish, director of the Center of Wealth & Philanthropy at Boston College
  • Jeff Flug, CEO of Millennium Promise
  • Kenneth Behring, founder of the WaterLeaders Foundation
  • Mike Moore, former prime minister of New Zealand and Director-General of the WTO
  • Yasmina Zaidman of the Acumen Fund
  • John Mroz, president of the East-West Institute
  • Munther Haddadin, former minister of water and irrigation, State of Jordan
  • Shimon Tal, former water commissioner, State of Israel
  • Ray Jetson, CEO of the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps

So check back here beginning next week for updates and reports from the sessions.

[Editor's Note: the Wealth & Giving Forum is a client of Changing Our World, Inc., onPhilanthropy's parent company.]

News Briefing: Can a Global Concert Change the World?

  • Charitable golf events generate more cash for players than they do for charities.  [Washington Post]
  • Live Earth aims to "trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis."  [Associated Press]
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