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October 16, 2007

News Briefing: Nonprofit Investigative Journalism

  • A group of philanthropists will start ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization that will conduct investigative reporting and provide articles free to other news outlets. [Chronicle of Philanthropy]
  • Newspaper, state investigate a Massachusetts nonprofit with history of giving jobs and contracts to family members and friends. [Patriot Ledger]
  • Nonprofit assistance for Hurrican Katrina victims in the Gulf states is running dry. [The Advocate]

May 21, 2007

Newest onPhilanthropy Blog Focuses on Video and Podcasts

We've wanted to do this one for a while, so last week the team here at onPhilanthropy quietly launched media, our new blog on distributed audio and video. The blog, updated near-daily, will feature embedded video content from a variety sources - all focusing on philanthropy, causes, and nonprofit management. Podcasts are part of the mix as well.

There's such a rich trove of content out there these days, and everyone here wished aloud for a single souce feed for audio and video in our sector. Then we thought: let's do that! So here it is.

We're very much interested in your feedback - and on suggestions for links and videos. We know there are more sources out there than we've been able to find, and we'd like very much to add them Please subscribe to the feed, drop some comments, and spread the word.

April 25, 2007

A 'Younger' Redstone Makes a Commitment

Michael Milken introduced Sumner Redstone, the 84-year-old media mogul behind Viacom and CBS, as a younger man than the one he'd known 20 years ago. And at a conference where philanthropy clearly came to the fore, it was appropriate that Redstone used this 10th annaul Milken Global Conference to announce a major charitable commitment - and to urge the audience of 3,000 movers and shakers to exercise and consume anti-oxidants.

Redstone - not previously well-known for his philanthropy - announced his commitment of $105 million in charitable grants to fund research and patient care advancements in cancer and burn recovery at three major non-profit healthcare organizations. The cash contributions of $35 million each will be paid out over five years to Milken's own FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions; the Cedars-Sinai Prostate Cancer Center in Los Angeles and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

In introducing Redstone, Milken noted that "70 percent of healthcare spending is related to lifestyle," and recalled how Redstone - a hard-charging CEO - adjusted his lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise more than a decade ago, and still remains fully in charge of his empire. Said Redstone:

"Advancements in research and medical science are creating a better world and a higher quality of life for all of us. Like many, I have personally benefited from these advancements and have been an active contributor for many years to help speed their development. But I also know that there is so much more to be done and with the right resources in the right hands, we can make even more rapid progress and literally change the world."

FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions is a non-profit "action tank" formed under the auspices of the Milken Institute with a mission to identify and implement global solutions to accelerate the process of discovery and clinical development of new therapies for the treatment of deadly and debilitating diseases.

According to the official announcement, funds provided by Redstone's foundaton will support and expand The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN), a program created by FasterCures in 2004. TRAIN coordinates the work of more than two dozen non-profit, disease-research organizations and aims to improve their effectiveness by sharing best practices, standardizing data collection, and enhancing dialogue with philanthropic and investment communities. FasterCures, which believes collaboration is essential to successful innovation, convenes the TRAIN network to accelerate medical solutions by uncovering the best approaches to get patients connected to treatments. The TRAIN groups say they are making significant strides in getting treatments to patients with diseases as diverse as prostate cancer, breast cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, autism, brain cancer, HIV/AIDS, malaria, epilepsy, MS, Parkinson's, heart disease, ALS, cystic fibrosis, and multiple myeloma.

The grants will be used to bring other disease groups into TRAIN and take these non-profit disease research organizations into new areas of collaboration, including accelerating clinical trial enrollments, identifying and implementing best practices for research, and increasing the use of information technology to study and treat diseases.

The TRAIN Program will be renamed The Redstone Acceleration and Innovation Network.

March 28, 2007

Peter Gabriel's Web Portal to Human Rights

Rock star Peter Gabriel took the stage here early this morning to talk about uploading video to the Internet. But it wasn't YouTube funnies or MySpace hijinks that was on the mind of this classic rocker - it was genocide in Darfur and sweatshops in New York City. Gabriel is the founder and chairman of Witness, which uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations, and he was here at Skoll with executive director Gillian Caldwell to introduce a new Witness program.

Witnes plans to launch TheHub this summer, which will be a distributed media platform for video about human rights abuses worldwide. It will accept uploaded video from anyone. A Wikipedia-like community of users will, in effect, rate the content for quality and accuracy. No log files will be record, thereby protecting users via anonymity - and keeping Witness itself free from subpoenas and government inquiry.

"We would like this to be the central destination for human rights related media, a central online repository," said Gabriel.

But Caldwell also added that TheHub would maintain an open platform, and license and dsitribute its content freely via RSS feeds and search. "We're not in competition for an audience - we want to be partners with as many organizations as possible, including news organizations."

The organization, founded by Gabriel in 1992 and now based in Brooklyn, has a long history of spurring news coverage. According to its Website, "partner footage has appeared on major networks around the world, including CNN, ABC, CBS, PBS, and BBC. It is carried by satellite networks and film distribution companies and is frequently featured in film festivals worldwide. Witness also organizes like-minded coalitions to create powerful, wide-reaching campaigns. This approach enables many of Witness' videos to have an impact far beyond the modest resources we can provide."

TheHub is due out of beta in August. Gillian Caldwell is also a blogger, and will be filing posts from Oxford.

December 22, 2006

Story of the Year: How Time Blew It

Over on our main site, we've got an article on the top 10 stories of the year in philanthropy. But I thought I'd use this space to take a poke at Time magazine and their cop-out in naming the annual Person of the Year - because that person was me, and it wasn't you, and it wasn't all the Web 2.0 gurus (wonderful as we all are). The Person of the Year was Warren Buffett. This was an oversight of fantastic proportions and I think if you hold up a mirror to Time's editorial board, they wouldn't pass the steady gaze test. What silly fluff was their tinfoil cover, when the largest gift in American history was on the table. And how important will that shiny faux mirror work out for them looking down the line - not very well. It was a gimmick. Buffett's move was the first salvo in a transformational wealth transfer that holds the possibility - just the possibility for now - of truly changing the world. What a waste.

November 27, 2006

CNN Spot on Charity and Shopping

CNN did a piece on cause marketing and holiday shopping last Friday, and I was asked to make some comments on the phenomenon. The video is here, if you'd like to watch. Correspondent Ali Velshi did a neat job summing up how hot philanthropy is this year, and how it ties into consumer brands. Given the rise of "philanthropy coverage" in the mainstream press, the business of giving - from both a consumer and economic viewpoint - will continue to be a hot story next year, I'd guess. And I confess: it was fun being on TV.

November 20, 2006

For U.S. charities, a crisis of trust

NBC News: Americans’ charitable spirit peaks during the holiday season, but this year the urge to give is battling a strong contrarian tide – a crisis of trust born from public disenchantment with a philanthropic system that many consider disorganized, under-regulated and tainted by scandal.

A poll by Harris Interactive released this summer found only one in 10 Americans strongly believes charities are "honest and ethical" in their use of donated funds. And nearly one in three believes nonprofits have "pretty seriously gotten off in the wrong direction," it found.

November 14, 2006

If there's nothing you wouldn't do for your daughter

Houtlust - Nonprofit Advertising and Social Campaigns: Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney have created yet another thought-provoking campaign in support of White Ribbon Day in Australia, the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25. Building on the award winning campaigns of the previous two years, the approach this year aims to bring the issue of violence against women even closer to home, by calling on fathers to take action now in order to improve the future safety of their daughters.

Google donates $30,000 to Creative Commons Google has donated $30,000 to Creative Commons, the open licensing organization. The charitable corporation has essentially created a new method for the licensing and sharing of intellectual property. Creative Commons empowers creators of original content with licensing alternatives that allow them to retain copyright protection while permitting free use of their content under certain circumstances. In this way, artists, scientists and others are able to gain visibility in the wider world while protecting their content.

November 09, 2006

Fashion Industry Philanthropy

Philanthromedia: Seems like everyone has an opinion on the lastest, high-profile celebrity gigs benefitting Africa which include the "I Am African" campaign created by the model Iman and "Project Red" headed by Bobby Shriver and U2 lead singer Bono.  What's more interesting is the unapologetic way these proponents retain a straight-up profit component to their campaigns.

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