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The best regulation-approved finance software for charities | Charity Digital News, 10 sep 2019
How Do Nonprofit and For-Profit Hospitals Differ? It's Complicated | Nonprofit Quarterly, 10 sep 2019
Doing Business While Doing Good? Yes, It's Possible | Fortune, 10 sep 2019
Four Ways To Reimagine The Nonprofit | Forbes, 09 sep 2019
Volunteering with kids can help create a habit of giving | nwitimes.com, 09 sep 2019
On Philanthropy: In the eyes of business leaders, "social purpose" has replaced "shareholder capitalism" | The Denver Post, 08 sep 2019
A Better Way To Make Charitable Gifts | Forbes, 06 sep 2019
Giving the charitable sector the tools it needs to thrive | Policy Options, 05 sep 2019
'Design thinking' or how to promote innovation in social enterprises | BBVA, 05 sep 2019
Why the Rich Get Charitable Deductions and Everyone Else Can Suck Eggs | Nonprofit Quarterly, 04 sep 2019
Policy & Governance
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jul 2019
Experts' views are divided on how non-profit hospitals benefit communities. In US, non-profit hospitals received tax-benefits valued at over US$ 24 billion annually in 2011. In exchange for tax exemptions these hospitals provide 'community benefits' like free and subsidized care, investments in public health, community-based health initiatives intended to address the social determinants of health, such as food or housing insecurity. But, many observers argue that hospitals avoid making sustained community investments in favor of counting millions of dollars of 'discounts' to low-income patients as community benefits while aggressively pursuing unpaid bills. Krisda Chaiyachati and Rachel Werner, Senior Fellows at LDI University of Pennsylvania, have recently written two research to add information to this debate. They provide detailed estimates of how much hospitals spend on different types of community benefits, whether community benefits are matched to local need, and what effects community benefits have on health outcomes. Mr. Chaiyachati and Ms. Werner analyzed IRS tax data from over 1600 non-profit hospitals. By law, hospitals report total spending on community benefits, broken out by health care-related spending (e.g. free care), community-directed spending (e.g. anti-smoking initiatives or funds for local community organizations), and research and educational activities. To standardize comparisons, the authors measured all spending as shares of total hospital expenditures. Researchers find out that hospitals still rely on discounted charity care to meet community benefits requirements. In 2014, non-profit hospitals reported that they spent an average of 8.1% (US$ 17 million) of their total expenditures on community benefits, more than 80% of which was health care-related. On average, 6.7% (US$ 11 million) of expenditures were on health care services, compared to 0.7% (US$ 1.2 million) for community-directed contributions. The remainder of community benefits were on educational and research initiatives. The results are disappointing in light of a second study from Ms. Werner and Mr. Chaiyachati, which suggests that community-directed spending could improve health outcomes, specifically, 30-day readmission rates. Readmissions rates are a useful measure of health care quality-capturing in-hospital care, discharge planning, and follow-up. Since the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have been financially penalized for high readmission rates. The evidence from research suggests that increased investment in the social determinants of health, rather than simply writing off free care, has a significant impact on measurable health outcomes. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2019
India's CSR legislation is a step in the right direction and is globally praised. Recently, 47 participants from 33 global multinational companies that are associated with WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) visited India to learn about sustainable businesses. WBCSD Leadership Program is a year-long series of engagements and learning exercises in partnership with Yale University. Rodney Irwin, Managing Director of WBCSD's Redefining Value and Education program, says, 'The legislation asking large companies to spend 2% of their profit on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is appreciable, but large companies should not stop there. These large firms should look at making their businesses sustainable by integrating the concept of environmental, social and governance advantages into the core business.' He advocated the need for integrating sustainable approach to doing businesses along with maintaining profitability. He adds, 'In long-run, profitability can be greater if you embrace opportunities that accompany sustainable approach.' Since a number of large Indian companies are family-owned, he says, 'The companies that have family connections tend to not just make the businesses successful but they want to make sure that the business can be passed on to the next generation. They have a long-term vision.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2019
Companies Act of 2014 made India the first country that made CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) mandatory for a section of corporates. The companies were expected to integrate social development programs into their business models and culture. KPMG's 2018-19 report that analyzed the CSR work of 100 companies found that corporates increased their prescribed amount for CSR expenditure from Rs 5779.7 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 7096.9 crore in 2017-18. Moreover, they were actually spending more than what was prescribed (Rs 4708 crore in 2014-15; Rs 7424 crore in 2017-18. But India's most backward districts remain deprived these CSR funds. According to the Ministry of Rural Development, 115 of the 718 districts in India are backward. NITI Aayog suggests that corporates can contribute to the development of these districts. Jharkhand (19 districts, 1% CSR funds received); Bihar (13, 2%); Chhattisgarh (10, 1%); Madhya Pradesh (8, 3%); Odisha (8, 11%). While Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which account for only 15% of such districts, have received 60% of the CSR money. The most backward districts got only 13% of this year's funds and not more than 25% of the total projects. Companies have found convenient ways to direct their CSR funds and shrug off their social responsibility. In July 2018, 272 companies were served notices by the Registrar of Companies for non-compliance with CSR expenditure. Between July 2016 and March 2017, about 1018 companies were issued notices for non-compliance. KPMG has identified three principal areas of non-compliance - disclosure of direct and overhead expenditure on projects, details of overhead expenses, and keeping these overhead expenses below 5% of total CSR spends. Sujit Kumar Singh, senior program manager at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says, 'There is no data to know if companies are undertaking need-based assessment studies, a must since it prioritises the requirements of the impacted communities.' Mr. Singh adds, '...Often, professionals handling CSR are not trained to comprehend societal nuances. In most cases those heading the human resource department handle CSR activities. The need now is a policy which drive companies towards self-regulation, the key to CSR.' According to the reporting guidelines that CSE has prepared, 'Companies should self-regulate and be responsive to the disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised sections of society. They should respect and promote human rights, make efforts to protect and restore the environment, and support inclusive growth and equitable development. The guidelines show how to improve accountability and transparency in CSR spending, and make it an integral part of business.' Read on...
Indian firms' CSR spending needs more accountability and transparency
Author: Vikrant Wankhede
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 jan 2019
According to the recent report published by the British Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), 'Developing an Inclusive and Creative Economy: The state of social enterprise in Indonesia', millenials are leading a surge in the creation of business that are working to create positive social and environmental impact. More than 70% of a surveyed sample group mentions that the social enterprises started in the last two years and about 50% of the social entrepreneurs are aged between 25 and 34 years. The reports estimates that there are more than 342000 social enterprises in the region. In Indonesia more than 1/5th of social enterprises work in the creative industries, contrary to other countries in Aisa-Pacific region, such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India, where agriculture, education and health dominate. Ari Susanti, a senior program manager for the British Council in Indonesia, says, 'Many young people want to work in an area where they can make change, not just earn a salary.' According to the World Bank, Indonesia is an emerging middle-income country that, over the last 20 years, has seen growth in GDP at the same time as poverty has been cut in half. These conditions are enabling the growth of social enterprises. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of UNESCAP, says, 'UN body would support the development of social enterprise as a key means of building an inclusive and creative economy. Social enterprise is an opportunity for Indonesia...This report provides a solid evidence base to inform future policies and strategies.' These social enterprises mainly support and benefit local communities, women and young people. Moreover, they have also become a substantial source of employment - the number of full-time workers employed by social enterprises increased by 42% from 2016 to 2017. The rise in social enterprises is also proving good for gender equality - the social enterprise workforce is estimated to be made up of 69% women and is responsible for a 99% increase of full-time female employees in 2016-17. Government, corporations and universities have all come together to offer their support to social enterprises. Bambang P. S. Brodjonegoro, economist and the Minister of National Development Planning of Indonesia, wrote in the introduction of the report, 'The government aims to be an active partner of social entrepreneurs and is committed to continue building and nurturing the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.' Read on...
Millennials lead social enterprise surge in Indonesia
Author: Lee Mannion
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 oct 2018
Indian corporates that fulfil the conditions of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 relating to mandatory spending of 2% of last 3 years average profit on CSR are making a difference in vulnerable communities in India. According to the latest India CSR Outlook Report published by NGOBOX, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, Wipro, Tata Steel, NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation & ONGC spent more than their prescribed CSR budgets in FY 2017-18. The report analyzed CSR spends of 359 companies. The prescribed CSR budget of these 359 companies was Rs 9543.51 crore whereas the actual CSR spend was Rs 8875.93 crore (3/4th of total CSR spend in India). There is an increase in the prescribed CSR from 6% to 8% in the actual CSR spend from FY 16-17 and the number of projects have also increased by 25% from the previous year. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat together received over 1/4th of India's total CSR fund. North-eastern states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have received least funds; Public sector contribution is over 1/4th of the total; Oil, refinery and petrochemicals account for alsmost 1/4th of the total while healthcare and pharma contributes the least with just Rs 294 crore; CSR funding on education and skill increased by 50% from last year and is 1/3rd of the total CSR spend; Over 1/4th is spend on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and healthcare projects. Read on...
Corporates spend 50% CSR funds in education, skill development: Report
Author: Sonal Khetarpal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2018
Collaborative partnerships between local government, community, nonprofit organizations, academia and businesses can do wonders to enhance the various aspects of localities, cities and regions. An old factory site being rehabilitated as a business park in Lackawanna (New York, USA) is an example of sustainable redevelopment and the impact a local government can have on climate change. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Deputy Executive Maria Whyte and others officials visited Conrnell Universuty campus and discussed the redevelopment project with faculty and shared county initiatives focused on sustainability and economic growth, quality of life and building strong communities. Mr. Poloncarz says, 'Strong partnerships and sustainable practices are essential to progress, giving more people a say in their community and making responsible use of our resources to effect change that benefits generations yet to come.' Basil Safi, Executive Director of the Office of Engagement Initiatives at Cornell, says, 'The event was organized as a launching point to further community-engaged research and learning collaborations with Erie County', seeding ideas for potential projects involving Cornell students and faculty.' Initiatives for a Smart Economy (I4SE) is an economic development strategy Erie County enacted in 2013 and updated last year as I4SE 2.0. It contains 71 initiatives and is focused on inclusion and creating shared opportunities for all residents, to address persistent poverty and underemployment. Max Zhang, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell, says, 'I can envision that students team up with community partners to address specific challenges they are facing.' Rebecca Brenner, a lecturer at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, began a project in spring 2017 in Buffalo (NY) on improving communications during an emergency for that city's diverse, multilingual refugee population, and creating an emergency notification plan with nonprofit resettlement agencies as community partners. Erie County has about 300 current strategic initiatives led by county departments with community partners. They include fostering hiring of disadvantaged residents in high-poverty areas for construction jobs amid Buffalo's building boom; exploring the feasibility of a new convention center to spur tourism; creating an agribusiness park in rural southern Erie County; supporting health and human services agencies and energy programs targeting low-income households; and infrastructure and environmental remediation in county parks. Shorna Allred, associate professor of natural resources at Cornell, says, 'I was quite impressed and intrigued by what they are doing in Buffalo...We are similarly trying to bring together a partnership of people to work on sustainability issues across the city...' Read on...
Sustainable economic strategies spur engaged research interest
Author: Daniel Aloi
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2018
Food waste is a global concern and innovative solutions are needed to overcome it. Recent data from National Resources Defense Council found that the average American throws out 400 pounds of food a year, meaning that up to 40% of food grown on the farm bypasses the fork and ends up in a landfill. Globally, impact of food waste can be seen in terms of lost resources, wasted water (70% of fresh water is consumed in agriculture), increased levels of climate-change-producing gases, and diverted food that could contribute to alleviating hunger. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - It is estimated that annually over 60 trillion gallons of water are used to grow food that is ultimately wasted; Roughly 1/3 of the food produced for human consumption every year - approximately 1.3 billion tons - gets lost or wasted, representing nearly US$1 trillion. The cost of producing, harvesting, transporting, and disposing of this food isn't just financial - food waste accounts for about 8% of global climate pollution, more than the nations of India or Russia. According to one report, food waste throughout the US accounts for more than 60 million tons of waste, which translates into US$ 160 billion of produce and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), represents over 21% of all waste in landfills. Adequate government policy alongwith solutions from for-profit and nonprofit sectors can successfully tackle this challenge. Sherri Welch, writing in Crain's Detroit, highlights two food-box subscription companies that sell produce and other food that retailers won't touch in the Detroit market. One is the Baltimore-based Hungry Harvest; the other is Toronto-based Flash Food. They are both for-profit companies. Denver's We Don't Waste is a nonprofit working on similar lines. Other nonprofits are working with hunger relief organizations and give their customers the option to buy a box of imperfect produce and donate it to a family in need. Phillip Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan, says, 'At this point, I think we are all working together to feed hungry neighbors, reduce waste and lessen the impact on the environment.' Other solutions include processing food waste as bioenergy. In the Pacific Northwest, Impact Bioenergy develops and manufactures bioenergy products that allow communities and commercial food waste generators to lessen their environmental footprint and conserve local soil resources while also reducing their waste disposal and energy costs. Policy approaches can also play an important role to shift the amount of food entering the waste stream. A May 2017 paper published by Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic looks at the 2018 Farm Bill as a portal for changing the national conversation on food waste by integrating strategies and initiatives to support diversion efforts. Policy is a major focus on ReFed, one of the nation's leading nonprofits dedicated to addressing food waste. One of their initiatives in partnership with the Food Law and Policy Clinic is the US Food Waste Policy Finder, a tool that provides research on current food waste policy. Another promising approach is to incorporate the reuse of food that has been rejected by the conventional market into social enterprises. DC Central Kitchen is a job-training catering social enterprise that buys food seconds from farmers and uses that produce in the meals it serves to students in schools and catering event guests, even as the nonprofit also addresses the cycle of hunger. According to ReFed's 'Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste by 20 Percent', an estimated 15000 permanent jobs could be created through policy initiatives alone. 'Wasted! The Story of Food Waste', a documentary produced by the late Anthony Bourdain, offer a glimpse of ways that nonprofits can expand their missions and collaborate with others to reduce food waste while improving the health and well-being of those in need. Read on...
For-Profit and Nonprofit Firms Devise Creative Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Author: Derrick Rhayn
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 mar 2018
According to the recent report based on PRIME Database, listed Indian companies that total 1019 have spent Rs. 9034 crore in 2017-18 to fund their CSR (Corporate Social Resposibility) projects and activities. Nearly 37% of these funds were used for education and vocational skill training activities. This development area also witnessed the largest absolute increase in allocation of resources and funds. Moreover, the biggest increase was found in activities that support and benefit the armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents. Other focus areas that saw increased in expenditure were community development, infrastructure, environment sustainability, social welfare, sports, and slum development. But, eradication of hunger and poverty, and promotion of healthcare and sanitation had expenditure decreased by 18.6%, from Rs. 2944 crore to Rs. 2394 crore. Report by KPMG, 'India CSR Reporting Survey 2017', showed that while education and healthcare have been in focus for the past three years, organizations have slowly begun diversifying their area and geography of development in the last one year. Another recent report found the total CSR expenditure figure at Rs. 7050 crores and said that out of India's top 100 firms, 59 met their CSR targets, while 33 companies had an expenditure of less than required 2%. This report also listed educational projects, rural development, and healthcare as the key focus areas of the companies. Read on...
India Inc.'s CSR spend highest on education and skilling - Report
Author: Manav Seth
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jan 2018
Philanthropic giving is often influenced by governmental tax policies, social sector needs, economic conditions etc. Bruce DeBoskey, Philanthropic Strategist and Founder of The DeBoskey Group, explains the transformations that will happen in philanthropy - (1) 'Trickle-down philanthropy' not likely: It is a philanthropic notion that lowering taxes for businesses and corporations will result in increase charity and philanthropic giving. The new federal income tax law doubles the standardized deduction and will likely reduce giving by US$ 20 billion in 2018. Wealthiest 5% only give to big institutions like universities and hospitals and less to local, social service and safety-net nonprofits. While middle class donors, without tax incentives now have less to give to their historical segment, local and smaller charities. Moreover, increased estate tax exemption takes away any tax incentive for all except a minority 1800 richest Americans, further reducing giving by more billions. (2) Trump-inspired giving will sustain: Last year politically-motivated 'rage philanthropy' was a big trend. This will continue in 2018 and most will likely continue to use philanthropy as an important and influential form of civic engagement.(3) Giving circles will continue to grow: There will be growth in collective giving. According to the report by The Collective Giving Research Group, giving circles are 'a highly accessible and effective philanthropic strategy to democratize and diversity philanthropy, engage new donors, and increase local giving.' (4) Impact investing will flourish: According to US SIF Foundation, that monitors sustainable, responsible and impact investing, trillions of U.S. dollars of assets are under management using environmental, social and governance factors. In 2018 more foundations will 'put their money where their missions are' and work to achieve their missions from the engine of their philanthropic assets. (5) Benefits of volunteering recognized: Ichiro Kawachi, professor of social epidemiology at Harvard's School of Public Health, says, 'Voluntarism is good for the health of people who receive social support, but also good for the health of people who offer their help.' Such research studies will inspire increase in volunteering opportunities and activities. (6) Philanthropic strategy to go 'mainstream': Philanthropy now is much more than just a monetary transation. It is considered as a strategic and intentional investment that can be transformational - for both society and the donor. Read on...
The Denver Post:
On Philanthropy - Six trends to affect philanthropic landscape in 2018
Author: Bruce DeBoskey
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 nov 2017
Nonprofits have big ideas for social good but limited resources to accomplish them. Nonprofit-corporate partnerships can be a solution to match the vision and commitment of nonprofits with the resources and practices of corporates for making a better world. According to Danielle Silber, director of strategic partnerships at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 'Whether it's tackling the Muslim ban or protecting green spaces, nonprofits have products and services that many companies realize they need to create a healthy business environment, and to contribute to a world their stakeholders - employees, investors and customers - want to live in.' Jessica Scadron, founder of Social Harmony, explains ways to make nonprofit-corporate partnerships successful - (1) A Shared Vision: Although companies and nonprofits have different reasons for partnering, both should agree on the partnership's purpose and outcomes. (2) Define the Partnership: Make sure each organization knows who is responsible for what, how decisions will be made, and which organization will lead the project; Appoint individuals to fulfil commitments; Cheryl Damian, SVP of Ketchum Social Purpose, says, 'Partnership terms are negotiated like any other contract. Not only does it drive accountability, it provides a clear understanding of roles and expectations...' (3) Monitor and Evaluate: Measure progress and figure out how to align metrics with disparate entities; Measurement is critical to the success of the project in order to quickly build on what works, learn from what doesn't, and keep momentum. (4) Communicate: Open dialogue will strengthen your collaboration and lead to better outcomes; Establish processes for communicating with your partner, and your internal team; Create a project work plan, schedule weekly check-in calls, and use technology to communicate. (5) Flexibility: Organizations have their own culture and they evolve and grow, and so do partnerships. Be flexibile and accomodating in approach and resolve conflicts with patience and understanding. Read on...
5 Ingredients to Make Your Nonprofit-Corporate Partnership Succeed
Author: Jessica Scadron
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 sep 2017
Data can be gold for those who can mine and transform it into a valuable form. Mastercard is giving a new meaning to it and evolving a concept of 'data philanthropy.' Shamina Singh, president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, explains the idea of data philanthropy and how data can be utilized for social good and social impact. She says, 'The initiative first came up through a partnership with DataKind in the United States. They were set up to galvanize data scientists from around the world and plug them into social impact work. And so a number of our Mastercard data scientists signed up to DataKind programs, and this gave us the opportunity to form a much more lasting and strategic partnership between the organizations. It opened a new conversation about data for good, what it could look like, and who was doing what in this space. It was also around this time that we had the United Nations opening up to data and data initiatives, and companies like Microsoft thinking about data for good.' Explaining some of the elements of data philanthropy Mastercard is focused on, she says, 'One is working with actual Mastercard data and trying to figure out if there are uses with anonymized and aggregated data that will not only respect the rules of the road around privacy, but can be used for research. We first opened our data for use by Harvard University, who approached us with a proposal to use the data to understand how economies grow, with a specific focus on tourism data and understanding how tourism dollars move in a country. Using Mastercard transaction data, we were able to provide new insights into this area...The other area of data philanthropy is around data analytics. What we have found is that many social impact organizations or NGOs do not need Mastercard data at all. Instead, they need to understand their own data, but often don't have the capacity or resources to help themselves. In those instances, we provide either a grant to hire a data scientist, fund an expert consultant, or provide our own data scientists to build their capacity and ability to learn. The inspiration for this element of data philanthropy came from our work with an organization called DoSomething...' Providing information on how Mastercard data scientists are internally looking for insights, she says, 'We started something called the charitable donations insight, and that is something that one of our colleagues is doing where she is using Mastercard data and drawing insights to help nonprofits understand charitable giving. We asked what a spending poll would look like for not-for-profits and social impact organizations, and insights is the first attempt at that...What she realized is that a lot of the not-for-profits have to raise their own funds, but there is not a lot of science behind potentially where and how they should be doing this. So she thought if she could unlock some of the data around the charitable contributions that we know of, she could offer insights to assist them. The other thing we did, which was very interesting, was we created a dataset that organizations could pull down if they want to, and mix it with your own data to self-regulate your own work.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 sep 2017
According to various studies corporate ethics and social responsibility (CSR) are becoming integral to the realm of businesses and corporations. Ethisphere Institute has been compiling list of 'World's Most Ethical Companies' since 2007. Robert Reiss, host of CEO TV Show and co-author of 'The Transformative CEO', interacted with business leaders to discuss the state of business ethics and CSR, particularly emphasizing on the concepts and their meaning, relationship between ethics and responsibility, best practices in building an ethical culture, and insights on measuring ethics. Here are their summarized responses - (1) Dan Amos (Chairman and CEO of Aflac): 'Ethics is a mindset, not an option.' Consumers respond to it in positive way; Ethics is a subset of CSR. Ethical companies will always display strong governance and compliance. Socially responsible companies are ethical but also understand their overall obligation to make the world a better place; Culture begins at the top. Communicate and celebrate responsibility regularly. Don't be partially ethical; Annual scientific CSR survey, work with Ethisphere and Reputation Institute to validate the direction of ethics and CSR programs. (2) Timothy Erblich (CEO of Ethisphere Institute): 'Good Ethics is Good Business.' Financial return of ethics is significant; CSR is a critical component of overall ethics quotient just like governance culture, transparency, customers, gender equality, philanthropy etc. Its all combined to build trust; Empower managers at the local level. Top leadership must be all in. Be committed and focus on integrity. Measure and communicate results. Incorporate culture at all levels and in all activites; Measure through peer-to-peer analysis and networking. Directly engage with employees. Routinely survey employees, customers and stakeholders. Join exclusive networks like the Ethisphere's Business Ethics Leadership Alliance (BELA). (3) Rodney Martin (CEO of Voya Financial): 'Ethics is a reflection of our commitment to doing business the right way. We emphasize trust and transparency.'; CSR includes key aspects of company culture like ethics and transparency, diversity, inclusion and equality, environmental sustainability, governance, and volunteerism and philanthropy; Exemplary leadership is essential. It should be part of the core values. Building ethical culture must be centered on doing the right thing in a safe and open environment; Participate in Ethisphere Institute's annual World's Most Ethical Companies. It enables to benchmark the company with other industry leaders. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 aug 2017
Executive pay is always a topic of debate and more so when it is a case of nonprofits. Moreover, when nonprofit healthcare executives are in focus, the dynamics of the issue become even more complex. As healthcare is an essential aspect of everybody's life, rich or poor, and has a humanitarian dimension, the issue is an everyone's concern. In healthcare, just like in education, for-profit and nonprofit delivery models co-exist, but general population treats these sectors as noble and a large number despises the business-like profit-making approach. A debate is brewing up at the University of Vermont Medical Center (USA), a nonprofit healthcare provider, where CEO's salary is more than US$ 2 million. To justify the compensation, hospital board members say that their executive pay is in line with competitors and makes up a small portion of their budget. But there are other differing views. Sen. Chris Pearson (P/D-Chittenden) says, 'To see that the CEO of our hospital is getting US$ 2 million...it's just way out of whack with the Vermont economy.' State of Vermont has 14 hospitals, all of them nonprofits. Kevin Mullin, the state's chief health care regulator, decided to highlight the salaries of top officials in these hospitals. He says, 'I think it might be illuminating to the public.' Scottie Emery-Ginn, UVM's board chair, justifying executive compensation, says, 'Our health care professionals come from a national market...In order for us to get the best people and keep the best people, we need to pay competitively.' There are no clear rules on salaries of nonprofit employees. The IRS requires only that compensation be 'reasonable', which has been interpreted to mean comparable to similar organizations. A Wall Street Journal analysis of Form 990s found that, in 2014, 2700 nonprofits provided seven-figure compensation packages, and 3/4th of those organizations worked in the health care sector. Executive pay is a concern during the debates on cost of medical care. The US spends US$ 3 trillion annually on health care - more than any other country - and administrative costs are 20-30% of that sum. Sen. Pearson says, 'It obviously inflates our health care costs...When you have public-relations people at the state's largest nonprofit hospital making half a million a year, it undermines confidence in the entire system.' Views of other employees are important in this regard. Maggie Belensz, a nurse at UVM's neurological unit, says, 'It's difficult to hear those numbers as a nurse.' Laurie Aunchman, a UVM nurse and president of Vermont Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, acknowledged the need to pay competitively but said the hospital should balance 'offering someone a million dollars or 2 million dollars' with investing money in 'taking care of the patient.' Mari Cordes, a UVM nurse and health care activist, says, 'We think it's an ethical issue. That excess money could be used to improve access to health care for everyone in Vermont...It could be used to provide support for people actually providing the frontline high-quality care.' Dr. Deb Richter, a universal health care proponent, described executive pay at Vermont hospitals as 'obscene.' Read on...
Seven Days VT:
Million-Dollar Question - How Much Should Nonprofit Hospital CEOs Earn?
Author: Alicia Freese
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2017
Richard J. Weller, professor of landscape architecture at University of Pennsylvania, and team of academics have created an online project called 'Atlas for the End of the World', a collection of maps and graphics to help viewers see where and how urbanization is in conflict with biodiversity. According to Prof. Weller, 'We mapped that interface between urban growth and the world's most valuable diversity...That conflict is bloody, it's disastrous, it's happening all over the world.' The project is an answer to Ortelius's 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' (Theatre of the World), printed in 1570 and thought to be the first modern atlas. Prof. Weller hopes that by 'mapping the intricacies of ecological conflict...architects, designers, and others can help create more ecologically sustainable relations between people and the planet.' Read on...
Data Activists Map the World's Ecological Conflict
Author: Cyndi Suarez
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 may 2017
Nonprofit boards can be critical resource for the organizations if utilized effectively. Board members bring diverse set of skills, experiences, networks etc. But above all, the passion to do good for the society by supporting the causes of the nonprofits is one of their main driving force. Organizations have to devise mechanisms and methods to effectively use board's time to avail full benefits of the skills and passions. Members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council share the following advice - (1) Pamela Hawley, UniversalGiving: Cultivate a real relationship; Understand board members and their interests; Find out what they care about. (2) Elizabeth Cromwell, Frederick County Chamber of Commerce: Use a consent agenda; Board members are fully prepared and know the deliverables; Productivity is enhanced. (3) Gloria Horsley, Open to Hope: Hold smaller discussions online; Helps to timely address issues; Improves working partnership. (4) Eleanor Allen, Water For People: Engage board members through individual action plans; Customized to each member's strengths; Improves engagement and commitment. (5) Daniel Speckhard, Lutheran World Relief: Seek the board's help with strategy; Engage the board on broad, macro and strategic issues to set the strategic direction of the organization. (6) Peggy Smith, Worldwide ERC: Focus on transparency and efficiency; Stay in frequent contact with board members and perform due diligence on all information - financial, strategic and operational - before it's shared with the entire board. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 apr 2017
Sometimes a simple idea or a message can provide a direction and approach that leads to great long-lasting results. Same happened with Alan McCormick, a partner with a Dubai-based investment firm Legatum, when he was seeking investment ideas for philanthropic funding. He came across a simple message from Alan Fenwick, professor of tropical parasitology at Imperial College London - 'For a fraction of the amount being donated to treat HIV and other potentially fatal infectious diseases, the annual distribution of basic existing drugs to schoolchildren could help prevent widespread infection by a parasite that causes stunting of growth and malnourishment, and limits access to education - with life-long consequences.' The quote inspired Mr. McCormick and his firm to fund pilot programs in Africa to tackle neglected tropical diseases and finally create their own health-focused funding vehicle, The End Fund, with a small staff to co-ordinate and support programs. The programs have provided impressive return on investment and inspired others searching for ways to donate for maximum impact. According to Mr. McCormick, 'It's relatively tough giving away money and doing it well...Ideas need champions, so you need to create an organization...The End Fund model is about the ability to have people come together and collaborate, and bring their expertise.' Read on...
The Financial Times:
Philanthropy - The search for the best way to give
Author: Andrew Jack
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 mar 2017
In recent years, more than 50 countries have increased their restrictions on foreign aid to non-government organizations (NGOs). One of the concerning aspects of the trend is that it's happening not only in authoritarian regimes but also in democracies. The research paper, 'Globalization Without a Safety Net: The Challenge of Protecting Cross-Border Funding of NGOs', by Prof. Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer of University of Notre Dame Law School, identifies this problem faced by NGOs and explores options for countering the restrictions. Some of the new restrictions are - additional registration and reporting obligations, requirements to obtain government approval before seeking or accepting funding and mandates that funding be routed through government agencies or used only for specific activities. Prof. Mayer cites three factors that led to crackdown on cross-border funding - (1) A steady rise over the years in the amount of money flowing from Western donors to NGOs in other countries. (2) An increase in funding designated for human-rights protections and pro-democracy efforts. (3) An overall swelling of nationalist feelings in many countries. Prof. Mayer says, 'I think it's part of the larger trend we see globally of countries becoming more suspicious of foreign influences and the influences of outsiders, and more suspicious of attempts to empower and encourage minorities within countries. They are concerned about the importation of foreign values and views.' The challenges created by restrictions may require alternate strategies. According to Prof. Mayers, 'It creates a huge burden on both the funders and domestic NGOs that seek to challenge these restrictions, because the landscape is constantly changing, and they have to customize their response to every country where they're involved.' Read on...
Notre Dame News:
Professor offers options to counter escalating crackdowns on NGOs
Author: Kevin Allen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jan 2017
Creating long-term and sustainable partnerships between businesses and nonprofits, can play a valuable role in tackling social challenges facing communities. Hussein Farah, founder and executive director of New Vision Foundation, explains how nonprofits can build partnerships with corporations and derive benefits from these meaningful relationships for the communities they serve - (1) Have a strong and relevant mission that provides distinctive value to the community and relates to the values of a corporate partner and identifies it as a significant contributor. (2) Leadership of nonprofits should effectively and compellingly communicate the mission to the corporate partner. Strong marketing effort is required that embodies the mission and displays business sense. (3) Nonprofits should create a solid board that assists in dissemination of its value proposition on a peer-to-peer basis. Boards that include corporate members would be more effective in negotiating the terms of partnerships. Moreover, nonprofits must be clear in their expectations from corporate partners, who should beforehand know their resource commitments. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 jan 2017
Building a successful CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program requires commitment, consistency, continuity and culture within an organization. Claudia Schiepers, Chief Marketing Officer of Greystone and winner of The CMO Club's CSR Award'2016, helped promote a culture-centric curriculum for CSR and shares valuable insights to inspire marketing leaders to develop a successful CSR program in their organizations - (1) Start from the ground up: 'We try to engrain it in everything that we do. I would say start small, test and grow it from within the company...It's all about making suggestions, trying things out and then rolling them out across the organization.' (2) Assemble a top-notch toolbox: 'We gave them a lot of tools. We have employee engagement data that we share with managers, (teaching) them how to have difficult conversations and great conversations. So, it's all about empowering the managers in your company to use the system, having your employees feel like they are involved in it.' (3) Give instruction: Developed a culture book that outlines standards of behavior when it comes to being charitable. 'We say, at Greystone, (caring) means being interested in or concerned about the wellbeing of others. It means that you actively listen, keep an open mind, seek to understand, treat people with respect and kindness. We don't allow yelling. Mentor others, foster other's development, lead by example.' (4) Know that if you build it, they will come: Strikes a balance between good PR and sincerity by publicly commending their local offices' good deeds on social media platforms. 'I think that makes the story more powerful because it is not a corporate driven initiative. We don't do it to get a pat on the back afterwards. I think that's the key for our social responsibility. That is the biggest return on the investment, that we get people that care about other people to join our company.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2016
Philanthropic giving continued to thrive in US and exceeded US$ 373 billion in 2015. Educational institutions got 12.86% (US$ 48 billion) of the total. As public funding to education gets reduced, colleges and universities are realigning strategic objectives and development goals to suit the funding priorities for donors and organizations. Donors have their own criteria to determine the funding goals that make an impact. According to Charles Koch, businessman and philanthropist, 'It is simply identifying organizations which want to make life better by empowering free will and enterprise. I decided that I wanted to give as many people as possible ideas so that they could transform their lives. That's been my motivation.' Michael Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF.org, recently shared his views on the potential for social modeling between UNCF and Charles Koch Foundation, and their US$ 29 million partnership for tuition assistance and career development. He says, 'The success of this program lies in our shared vision that a mind - and a life - is a terrible thing to waste. It is why our partnership's ultimate goal is to give students the opportunity to explore the values and skills of an entrepreneur, and better understand how an entrepreneurial mindset will benefit both them and their communities.' Nicholas Perkins, Founder and CEO of Perkins Management Services Inc, explains about his support to Howard University, 'Anytime that a minority company has an opportunity to partner with an historically black institution, that partnership should be the base from which growth and progress for that particular campus comes. So we always try to fit ourselves into that puzzle.' Educational institutions often find funding success by proactively tapping into the goodwill of graduates and stakeholders. Miami University of Ohio invested a substantial amount from its fundraising campaign towards enhancing academic programming in media studies, writing and gerontology. It launched 'Miami Plan', a 36-credit hour course mandate for all students to be immersed in and appreciative of the impact of liberal arts across all career paths. Gregory Crawford, President of Miami University of Ohio, says, 'For me, people don't expect a physicist to have such a passion for the liberal arts, but it had such a big impact on my life, my leadership style and my interests. I couldn't be more enthusiastic in sharing how it helped me to learn about human flourishing and in thinking more holistically, which was super important to me in the physics world.' He adds, 'Many of our own alums and donors understand the value of the education provided to them, and they love what we're doing with the Miami plan, so they freely invest in that vision.' Read on...
What inspires people, corporations to give to higher education?
Author: Jarrett Carter
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 oct 2016
Conflicts and wars, apart from taking human lives, causing destruction and displacing ordinary people, also disturbs affected children's educational future and creates regional human resources imbalances. The ongoing Syrian Civil War has led to an estimated quarter-million young people getting deprived of college education. Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of UK and currently UN Special Envoy for Global Education, explains collaborative role of charities, philanthropists and nonprofit foundations to overcome educational deprivation of displaced students. He advocates the need of realizing the potential of social enterprises to fill the gaps in global education. He says, 'With 260 million children not in school worldwide, education needs more champions to match the enthusiasm of advocates in, say, the global-health and environmental movements. There is more room for innovation in education than in any other international-development sector, especially as digital technologies and the Internet become more accessible even in the world's poorest regions.' He shares how Catalyst Trust for Universal Education, an education focused social entperise founded by former New York University President John Sexton, is helping out in global education efforts. Catalyst Trust participates in PEER (Platform for Education in Emergencies Response) project intended to connect college-ready Syrian refugees with refugee-ready colleges. Explaining the future of PEER project, he comments, 'In time, PEER will serve as a conduit to higher education for displaced students worldwide, and it will cater to all education levels, by providing web-based information, points of contact, and much-needed counseling and support.' He advocates support to social startups like Catalyst Trust, that are working on various aspects of education globally. He encourages education reformers to learn from pioneering work of Sir Ronald Cohen on social-impact investing. He cites some specific pilot projects that individuals and organizations can support to make a difference in education - help refugee students in their education; human-rights education to determine how school curricula can best cultivate inter-faith understanding; help the two million students who are blind or visually impaired, and whose educational needs have long been neglected. With new technology, we can now leapfrog the 150-year-old braille system and instantly render text into audio recordings, making all types of learning materials accessible to the visually impaired. Mr. Brown concludes, 'For anyone who cares about education, our task is clear: to furnish millions of poor people, especially in the remotest parts of the world, with the innovations they need to transform and improve their lives through learning. As the Catalyst Trust intends to show, a little social enterprise goes a long way.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 oct 2016
In the world of charitable giving, generally 20% givers use techniques and expert knowledge to maximize their effectiveness, while the remaining 80% are unaware and together pay millions in taxes that would otherwise be used for charitable work. Robert G. Collins, Tampa Bay President of NCF (9th largest US charity), provides specialist philanthropic advice and shares some valuable tools and techniques to enhance value of giving - (1) Use a donor-advised fund (DAF): DAF works like charitable account where the giver gets a charitable deduction when assets are contributed. It is also similar to private grantmaking family foundations without the work and expenses of running a corporation. DAF enables the giver to give when it's convenient for them and decide the amount, timing and recipient of the gift at a later date. (2) Stop writing checks: Giving with cash are after-tax dollars exchanged for a charitable giving. Gift appreciated assets to gain a fair market value deduction, but avoid the capital gains taxes embedded in the asset. This way you get a double benefit i.e. giving pre-tax dollars and still getting the charitable deduction. (3) Plan ahead for tax events: Capital gains taxes are optional taxes - you don't have to pay them if you don't want to. If you are charitable and you have a taxable event expected in future, explore your charitable options today. (4) Have a charitable shareholder: Consider gifting a partial interest in your business or income-producing real estate to your DAF. It is critical that the DAF or charity you are giving to has expertise in taking in business interests. (5) Give generously through your estate: Check out givingpledge.org to find out reasons why many respected business leaders are leaving a charitable legacy. A DAF is a simple, easy solution for a family foundation legacy, but ask the fund sponsor whether they have rules about appointing successors. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 sep 2016
According to the first experts' poll conducted by Thomson Reuters Foundation (poll2016.trust.org), in partnership with Deutsche Bank, the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network (GSEN) and UnLtd, the top nations for social entrepreneurs are - (1) United States (2) Canada (3) United Kingdom (4) Singapore (5) Israel (6) Chile (7) South Korea (8) Hong Kong (9) Malaysia (10) France. The poll included survey of about 900 social enterprise experts (social entrepreneurs, academics, investors, policy-makers and support networks) in the world's 45 biggest economies. 85% of the experts said the number of social entrepreneurs finding ways of combining business with social purpose was growing although there is little data tracking the sector. According to Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder of Pipeline Angels (US), 'If someone's interested in financial return on investment, that's not a good fit. We're about so much more. We're about doing good, we're about doing well.' Nearly 60% of the experts surveyed cited three major challenges in the growing sector - people do not know what social entrepreneurs do, which makes raising funds difficult and selling to governments is an uphill struggle. Anne Katrine Heje Larsen, founder and CEO of KPH (Denmark), says, 'There are still too many people who view social entrepreneurs as a bunch of hash-fuming utopian people in knitted sweaters. They couldn't be more wrong.' According to Ayşe Sabuncu, co-founder of Impact Hub Istanbulin (Turkey), 'People do not understand social entrepreneurs create money making businesses like any other business, and they question the philosophy of it if the entrepreneur ends up making profit.' Andy Carnahan, a Swedish social entrepreneur, says, 'A greater understanding of how for-profit businesses can be a driving force for social good would help. We need this (awareness)...among the public who don't realize how much good can be done by a for-profit business that has a social good built into its business model.' Poll found that India, Philippines and South Korea are among those where social entrepreneurs were finding it easiest to access investment. According to Prashanth Venkataramana of Essmart Global, 'A lot of people see India as an opportunity overseas, especially in America.' Bank of America's 2016 survey found that 85% of millennials were interested in having a social impact through investment. It also found that women were more interested in impact investing than men. Peetachai 'Neil' Dejkraisak of Siam Organic (Thailand) says, 'World-class social enterprises are run by women in Asia. They do a really good job balancing the social and financial objectives.' Rosemary Addis, chair of Impact Investing Australia, says, 'Individual enterprises are finding a niche and finding they can engage the market and sell their products or services. But as a sector, the concept of social enterprise and purpose-driven business has not yet got mainstream awareness. That's a job ahead to educate the public.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2016
According to the conditions set forth in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Law in India, all companies with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or revenue of Rs 1000 cr or net profit of Rs 5 cr should spend 2% of last 3 years average profit on charity work. CSR management firm, NextGen, studied the annual reports of the top 100 firms by market capitalizations on NSE (National Stock Exchange) for 2014-15 & 91 firms for 2015-16. The total spend on CSR activities for 91 firms is Rs 6033 cr for FY16, while it was Rs 4760 cr by 100 companies in FY15. According to Abhishek Humbad, co-founder of NextGen, 'More and more companies are realizing that not meeting 2% makes them look bad, and for large companies, it can turn out be a reputational risk.' The energy sector accounted for nearly 26% of the total CSR spending. Reliance was the largest spender in FY16, using 2.3% of its profit (Rs 652 cr) on education, health and other social activities. Jagannatha Kumar at chairman's office of RIL says, 'The amount spent on each of the focus areas varies on an annual basis depending on the scope of work for the year.' In FY16 RIL spend on healthcare halved to Rs 314 cr while on education it increased to Rs 215 cr from Rs 18 cr in FY15. According to Parul Soni of Thinkthrough Consulting, a CSR consultancy, 'Manufacturing companies like automotive have been well poised to do CSR because they focus on communities around their plants and it helps build engagement with local communities. Also, many of them are working in skill development.' Some of the top causes that corporates spend on are healthcare, poverty eradication, education, skill development, rural development, and environment. Noshir Dadrawala, CEO of Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, says, 'Skills have been trendy. These causes have seen an increase because many of the skilling initiatives instead of being classified as an education initiative is being put under providing employment and reducing poverty. Also when it comes to healthcare, conducting blood donation camps is a popular way of doing CSR as it is easy and effective.' Ravi Chellam, ED of Greenpeace, points out that environment is not a priority issue for most Indian corporates. He says, 'On environmental issues, companies seem to prefer to focus on either their own campuses or areas immediately surrounding their locations.' According to Loveleen Kacker, CEO of Tech Mahindra Foundation, '50% of all our CSR capital goes into empowering women and another 10% for the disabled. We believe that any development can happen in any of the areas - from nutrition to sanitation, only when women are empowered. And we feel only economic empowerment of women can bring about social empowerment.' The top geographical regions that were beneficiary of CSR funds for FY16 are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Vinod Kulkarni, head of CSR at Tata Motors Ltd, says, 'It is part of our policy to invest CSR funds in geographies in close proximity to our area of operation. It amplifies the outcomes and impact.' Arun Nagpal, co-founder of Mrida Group, comments, 'The reasons for firms to select geographies close to manufacturing plants or areas of work are valid but this leads to an imbalance in the division of CSR funding.' Read on...
Firms ramp up CSR focus on healthcare, poverty, hunger
Authors: Arundhati Ramanathan, Moyna Manku
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 aug 2016
According to Wikipedia, 'Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became popular in 1960s and is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a self-regulatory mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and national and international norms.' While BusinessDictionary.com defines CSR as 'A company's sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship - (1) Through their waste and pollution reduction processes. (2) By contributing educational and social programs. (3) By earning adequate returns on the employed resources.' According to a Global CSR Study conducted by Cone Communications/Ebiquity, 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. From integrating a social mission into cross-departmental activities to engaging in sustainability practices, there are myriad ways in which organizations can adopt both a good business and commerce-driven model. A new report from PSFK Labs, 'Impact Debrief', explores how brands can innovate around this decades-old concept of CSR to elevate their social impact and influence. The study provides 5 key ingredients for creating social innovation - (1) Identify And Unite Around A Relevant Social Problem. (2) Promote Cross-Functional Integration. (3) Incentivize And Empower Employees. (4) Create Value By Maximizing Sustainability Efforts. (5) Deliver Transparency. Read on...
The 5 Fundamentals For Corporate Social Innovation
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2016
Packaging is an important component of product handling, logistics, advertising, marketing and selling. There are variety of materials that are currently in use for packaging. Environmental challenges arise due to the waste generated through discarded packagings. The packaging industry is exploring better materials that can reduce environmental footprint. In spite of scientific breakthroughs in developing new packaging materials, there are issues related to their performance and price, inhibiting their mass adoption and usage. Bryan Shova, packaging designer and industrial design director at Kaleidoscope, explains sustainability aspects of packaging. He says, 'I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on the promise of zero environmental impact, high performance, premium finish and low costs.' He explains, 'The viability of true sustainability is a complex economic challenge, and the ugly truth is that few consumers, brand owners or municipalities are willing to pay the premium price for cutting-edge sustainable packaging solutions. True solutions will come through "systems thinking" that requires the material supplier, manufacturer, retailer, consumer and the municipality to share in the premium costs and labor required to design, collect and recycle packaged materials.' He provides 10 principles for designing sustainable packaging - (1) Start with commodity materials that are commonly recycled. (2) Design the package from a single material. (3) Focus on the product-to-package ratio. (4) Design for assembly at the point of manufacture. (5) Avoid gluing and laminations. (6) Design for distribution. (7) Eliminate secondary and tertiary packaging when possible. (8) Design for disassembly. (9) Clearly mark the materials on the packaging components. (10) Use Lifecycle Assessment. Read on...
10 ways to design sustainable packaging with intent
Author: Bryan Shova
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2016
There are almost 50 million people living in poverty in the United States, almost 15 percent of the population. Although there are continuous efforts by governments, organizations and individuals to eradicate poverty, but the challenge is huge and at times results are not what are expected. Sometimes there is also lack of coordination between nonprofit agencies and difference in approaches to tackle poverty, even in same locations and dealing with same people. Kavitha Cardoza of WAMU shares her views on poverty with Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey. She says, 'As someone who grew up in India, where you interact with tons of poor people every day. But here (US), poverty is so hidden. Think of people who work minimum wage jobs - office cleaners come in overnight; if you have a maid at home, she comes in when you're at work. And if you think of say, a McDonald's, everyone is wearing a uniform and looks the same. We have sanitized poverty.' She explains, 'We tend to see poverty as fixed when it's really fluid. Of course it's about not having enough money, but we tend to forget all the challenges that go along with that. It becomes about food and housing and transportation and healthcare. And each of those problems leads to more problems.' Moreover, owning a cell phone, a TV or a kid having fancy sneakers, shouldn't be questionable in a poor situation, as they may serve a purpose contrary to typical perceptions. She quotes Greg Kaufmann, Editor of Talk Poverty, who says, 'Put yourself in a poor parent's place. People don't want their children to seem poor, they don't want to seem poor. Clearly, we have so much stigma attached to poverty. Kids get teased. Again as a parent, you can't get what middle class kids get - the sports camp or the music class, and so wouldn't you want to try to do something for your kid? And maybe actually that pair of sneakers is the cheapest thing you could do.' Speaking on lack of coordination and cooperation among charities that are helping poors, she says, 'There isn't a lot of incentive to collaborate...Part of it is each has different ideas about tackling the same problem, they want to do it their way and they all have different governance structures. And different ways of measuring success.' She quotes Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, which works with lots of human services organizations throughout the area, who says, 'The biggest challenge is charities compete with each other for funds. And that does sometimes create incentives for people not to work as closely or to be jockeying among themselves for the attention of funders...And the funding models that are in place to fund nonprofits in some sense encourage that inefficiency.' She quotes Katherine Boo, author of 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers', a book about poverty in Mumbai, who says, 'Journalists often cover poverty by going to a nonprofit and doing a story on someone who is doing well, they've had challenges, now they're fine. The story ends with everything tied up in a neat little bow. That's doing listeners a disservice because then they think that's how it is. There are no relapses, no challenges, no one who doesn't make it. And that's just not true.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2016
According to the latest report by PwC, 'Connecting the World: Ten Mechanisms for Global Inclusion', providing internet connectivity to the remaining 4.1 billion people and bringing them online would increase global economic output by US$ 6.7 trillion. It will lift 500 million people out of poverty over five years. The report says that affordability, rather than infrastructure and availability, is the main barrier to internet adoption in most areas. Therefore, the report suggests that improvement of existing technology or even simply installing existing technology in developing nations, will be sufficient to achieve the essential cost reduction. The report was prepared for Facebook, that itself advocates cost reduction through Internet.org project. Facebook's approach of limiting the low-cost access to a subsection of the web, giving access to select sites like Wikipedia and Facebook, termed as 'zero rating', has critics in 'net neutrality' advocates like Tim Berners-Lee, who says, 'I tend to say 'Just say no.' In the particular case of somebody who's offering...something which is branded internet, it's not internet, then you just say no.' On the other hand, Jonathan Tate of PwC argues, 'Facebook's approach is worth it in the long term. While zero rating provides access to a slimmer version of the internet than the full web, it's a crucial stepping stone to full access. The important thing here is to get things moving.' Efforts like Google's Project Loon and Facebook's Aquila, are geared to achieve total connectivity by creating 'disruptive technologies'. Read on...
Connecting everyone to internet 'would add $6.7tn to global economy'
Author: Alex Hern
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 may 2016
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the Web Foundation, is concerned about governments not providing open access to their data online. He says, 'The lack of free access to government data - or 'data poverty' - is contributing to widening inequality around the world...Inequality and poverty are about more than income. They are also about information.' Openly published data can help fight corruption and improve services for citizens. It can also be of value in understanding and fighting global warming and related issues like deforestation, floods, fall in crop yields etc. The study by the Web Foundation found that that more than half of the 92 countries it studies now have open data initiatives in place. Moreover, fewer than 10% of the datasets surveyed were open, and most of these are in the rich world, and almost non in African countries. Anne Jellema, CEO of the Web Foundation, says, 'Trying to use traditional data sources to tackle complex development challenges like climate change and hunger is like tunnelling through rock in the dark with a teaspoon. It takes ages and you may come out in the wrong place. Making development data open is vital for fast and accurate collaboration on the SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals), and the urgency now is to move from promises to implementation.' Read on...
Sir Tim Berners-Lee - Data poverty is the next frontier of inequality
Author: Ben Rossi
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 apr 2016
This year's World Health Day, that falls today (07 April 2016), has the theme 'Beat Diabetes!'. The World Health Organization has singled out tackling diabetes as one of the most critical healthcare challenge but at the same time tried to give a strong message that it is not too hard to manage if people can put their thoughts and actions in the right direction. Alex Jones, health economist at the social enterprise Oxford Policy Management and researcher at University of the West Indies, provides historial perspective on how international health organizations and governments over time have developed and implemented different types of policies in tackling global health issues. Sometimes they have utilized a single disease approach and at others they have been more holistic and tried to improve health systems around the world. He further explores two approaches and provides opinion on their long-term benefits. According to him, 'A quick look back through history reveals a disturbingly cyclical pattern: As an international community we've been flip-flopping between the two approaches - vertical and horizontal - for at least the last century.' He explains, 'As far back as the 1920s, the sector saw the growth of what was known as the 'Social Medicine Movement' - based on the consideration that ill health could actually be a consequence of poor social conditions...Throughout the first half of the 20th century the Rockefeller Foundation became one of the most influential organisations in global health, implementing programmes in over 80 countries...it always kept the aim of combating specific diseases through targeted campaigns. Post-war politics saw the creation of a number of international agencies that pursued similar vertical programmes...The failure of the GMEP (WHO's Global Malaria Eradication Project) and the relative success of Mao Zedong's community-led 'Barefoot Doctors' programme in China both helped to swing the global health pendulum towards a more horizontal 'systems' approach. In 1975, the WHO launched its Primary Health Care strategy and in 1978 (after sustained advocacy from the Soviet Union) the famous Alma-Ata conference was held...this was a pledge to build up basic health systems around the world...and heralded the birth of the 'Health for All'...The beginning of the 80's, however, saw the pendulum swing firmly back towards vertical interventions...the last ten years have seen a swing back to the ideals of Alma-Ata and the mantra of putting people - rather than pathogens - front and centre of health initiatives...In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly formally recognised and unanimously endorsed the idea of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).' While explaining the current state of health policy focus and interventions, he comments, 'Given the benefit of hindsight, there's a strong risk that today's current focus on UHC might not survive the constant push towards seemingly more feasible, targeted interventions. This apparently inevitable swing to the vertical, however, misses the point on two key fronts: First, history shows us that morbidities are integrated, both with each other and with our ways of life. Second, when something new comes along, a health sector built around a few target pathogens simply cannot deal with it.' Finally, he suggests, 'Let's continue to focus resources where significant advances in disease eradication are possible, partnering with those who can make this happen - but let's take care not to do this at the expense of overall systems strengthening.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 mar 2016
Food wastage is becoming a substantial cause of concern around the world. France recently passed laws to restrict throwing away or destroying food and UK's biggest retailer, Tesco, pledging to give all leftover food to charities. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations website (fao.org) - Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes, gets lost or wasted; Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries. Governments, food chains and retailers, charitable organizations and social enterprises, need to come together to find ways to restrict and minimize food waste and make substantial part of it available to where it is required most. Following are some valuable suggestions - (1) Logistics: Efficient coordination between supermarkets and charities is essential. Supermarkets shouldn't just dump food at charities. Elaine Montegriffo, CEO of SecondBite, says, 'It is not just having enough trucks and storerooms...Some organisation has to take responsibility for coordinating donations so the right food reaches people in useable condition.' (2) Education: Create awareness about food labels and other specifications among consumers. Ronni Kahn, CEO of OzHarvest, says, 'Consumers need to understand what date marks mean.' (3) Food consumed at home should have minimal losses and consumer buying and eating behaviors need to be transformed. (4) Growing less food: Ms. Montegriffo says it's counterintuitive but if producers and retailers were not throwing away 1/3 of the food produced, the cost of producing it would drop. If supermarkets did not over-order food, their costs would reduce. (5) UK's model of collaborative understanding and commitment, between environment ministry, sumpermarkets, manufacturers and packaging companies has been effective and can be emulated. (6) Denmark's model with an organization buying surplus food from other supermarkets and selling at discount can also be helpful to reduce food waste. (7) Legislative measures can be considered and that should evolve with deliberations among various stakeholders. A number of organizations in Australia, for example retailers like Woolworths and Coles, and charities like OzHarvest, SecondBite and Foodbank, are currently working towards achieving minimal food wastes through the following 6 methods - (1) Reasonable and achievable long-term targets through diverse strategies like food donations, commercial composting, fertiliser, electricity production and animal feed. (2) Using food charities. (3) Buying ugly fruit and selling at cheaper rates. (4) Supermarkets are ordering less by using supply chain technologies and ordering systems. (5) Good incentives: Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt introduced an incentive for businesses to reduce food or garden waste in landfill. (6) Talking about food waste and seeking collaborative solutions through participation from wide array of public and private organizations. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 mar 2016
In most organizations, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is not a clearly defined strategic activity at the senior executive and top internal stakeholder level, even though a number of them have CSR and sustainability departments. According to a research study by London-based economic and strategy consulting firm, Economic Policy Group (EPG), 71% of companies in the U.S define their CSR spending as in-kind donations and free product giveaways. Another 16% define it as cash donations, and the remaining 13% as employee volunteering and giving. Large organizations often consider investments in social programs as not providing direct returns. One of the most difficult challenge for sustainability teams is to sell embedded CSR and sustainability programs internally to the top executives and senior managers and advocating that isolated initiatives like philanthropy and volunteering are not enough for corporations to be socially responsible. Organizations have to effectively integrate CSR and sustainability into the overall strategy to drive long-term growth and success. Sustainable thinking should be imbibed into corporate culture and strategic thought processes. Jeff Sutton, Vice President of thinkPARALLAX, provides 7 benefits of integrating sustainability into overall business strategy - (1) Increase in sales. (2) Innovate and differentiate. (3) Enhance and build reputation. (4) Future-proofing. (5) Recruit and retain. (6) Cut costs. (7) Unify teams and align decision making. Read on...
Securing Buy-in From the Top - 7 Benefits of Integrated Thinking
Author: Jeff Sutton
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2016
Harvard University academics, Prof. Mark R. Kramer and Prof. Michael E. Porter, introduced the concept of 'Creating Shared Value (CSV)' in HBR (2011), as an approach that takes into account social problems which intersect with businesses and makes it a major part of the core business strategy of a company. In the context of India the approach is much more relevant as it is still struggling with numerous social issues like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, health etc. The academics feel that Indian businesses are still missing something in their view of long-term sustainabile business models. While speaking at 'Shared Value Summit 2015' in India, Prof. Kramer said, 'You cannot have a successful business in a failing society...for the CSV model to become a part of corporate hygiene anywhere needs major mindset change where we embrace a problem solving approach that goes beyond thinking what we can do in our company alone to also what we can do for society that we operate in.' He further explains that, 'CSV doesn't replace CSR and philanthropy, but can be in addition to them, such that businesses can find new opportunities for competitive advantage by beginning to think about these social issues as part of their overall corporate strategy.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 feb 2016
According to a study by Prof. Sachin Modi of Iowa State University (USA) and Saurabh Mishra of McGill University (Canada), a strong marketing department is crucial to helping a firm leverage its efforts to be socially responsible. Study results show the combination of marketing and CSR can provide shareholders with a 3.5 percent gain in stock returns. Researchers defined CSR as discretionary firm activities aimed at enhancing societal well-being and analyzed six different types of CSR activities - environment, products, diversity, corporate governance, employees and community - to determine whether marketing of these efforts increased long-term firm value and stock price. Firms often consider CSR as a cost and have to make an investment and may not always see the benefits. Prof. Modi says, 'What we want to show is that if a firm is good and has some complimentary capabilities, it can gain a lot from CSR activities...The return is dependent upon the type of activity. Firms benefited from five of the six types of CSR efforts studied, with the exception of charitable giving and philanthropy...We're not saying firms shouldn't give to charity, because it is a very important component, all we're saying is we don't see a financial return.' Prof. Modi further suggests, 'Our hope is that firms see it is important to be socially responsible. It's not a choice of one versus the other. Firms have to do multiple aspects of being socially responsible.' Read on...
ISU News Service:
Marketing key to return on corporate social responsibility investment, ISU study shows
Author: Angie Hunt
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 feb 2016
Collaborative multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches are needed to tackle complex real world problems that require large amount of resources, diverse set of perspectives, and extensive expertise and skills. A similar joint effort is being utilized to create 'Human Rights Methodology Lab' by Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGC) at NYU Law School, Human Rights Institute (HRI) at Columbia University Law School and Human Rights Watch (HRW). The lab will bring together leading human rights investigators, advocates, and scholars with experts across disciplines to develop new approaches to the investigation of human rights abuses and to propose concrete improvements in advocacy-oriented human rights research. According to Prof. Margaret Satterthwaite, co-chair and faculty director at the CHRGC, 'Rigorous, interdisciplinary methods are essential to making human rights advocacy more effective. Improving methods helps us solidify the evidence base for our advocacy, and gives us tools to help understand the dynamics behind violations, their scope and intensity, and ultimately, their causes.' Prof. Sarah Knuckey, co-director at HRI, says 'The lab will bring together small, carefully curated groups to develop methods for human rights projects during their early stages of development. There are currently too few formal spaces for human rights advocates to critique and experiment, and the lab responds to the needs of researchers to innovate, test and share new research tools and techniques.' According to Amanda Klasing, senior women's rights researcher at HRW, 'The chance to discuss methods with experts in other disciplines is an invaluable resource. It allows researchers to develop innovative projects with data and approaches that can help us improve our advocacy for ending abuses.' In addition to above persons, the other convener of the lab is Brian Root, quantitative analyst at HRW. The lab will also have participation and assistance of Holly Stubbs, a researcher at Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR). Read on...
Human Rights Watch:
Innovative Lab Launched to Strengthen Human Rights Work
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jan 2016
Concerned authorities try to provide affordable housing to their marginalized communities. In regions with extreme climate conditions it becomes even more challenging to manage costs related to energy consumption. Nanaimo Aboriginal Center (British Columbia, Canada) in partnership with the city administration is planning to build an affordable housing complex that will abide by the energy efficiency standards. The project will use passive housing design, that is more economical and is an alternative to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design). According to Chris Beaton, Executive Director of Nanaimo Aboriginal Center, 'You build your building so it's oriented to the sun and during the winter, you're allowing in the heat of the sun to warm the interior of the building. You put in robust insulation...then you vapour barrier it so no cold air is coming in and you're not losing heat during the winter.' Read on...
Nanaimo News Bulletin:
Affordable housing project aims to use passive house design
Author: Karl Yu
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 dec 2015
U.S. spends a total of US$ 2.8 trillion on healthcare and surprisingly about half of it is spent on just 5% of the general population. To expand healthcare reach the general solution is to spend more money. But Prof. David S. Buck of Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Primary Care Innovation Center (PCIC) in Houston (Texas, US), explains that spending more money, specifically in Harris County, has yielded poor outcomes, no coordination between healthcare providers and no safety net system for those most in need. According to him the healthcare system is non-existent in the region and it is merely a grouping of medical silos. The nonprofit PCIC is working towards creating a true healthcare system to reach the most vulnerable and most medically expensive residents, and provide affordable and better healthcare overall by reducing hospital costs. PCIC is first identifying 'super-utilizers', a small group of patients that are extremely sick and costly. These patients utilize most of the healthcare services and are generally treated in emergency rooms. Health staff after identifying these 'super-utilizers' will work with them individually and develop a treatment and care plan for better management of their health issues. This will finally reduce their hospital emergency visits and lower healthcare costs. Delay in treating small problems leads them to become emergencies and bring inefficiencies in the health system along with increased difficulties to patients. Prof. Buck suggests an integrated database of these patients for timely and effective treatment and care. According to him, 'Developing a safety net takes time, commitment and shared data...If hospitals share data, it won't just improve the institution's bottom line; it'll improve care for the community...We also need school systems to share data, so that we can learn how health and social factors are linked, and improve the health of students and their families.' Read on...
Medical data-sharing could curb cost of 'super-utilizers'
Author: David S. Buck
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2015
The fast-paced world of fashion and related consumption leads to generation of large amount of waste that leaves a substantial ecological footprint. According to the nonprofit GrowNYC, in the city of New York the average person throws out 46 pounds of clothings and textiles every year (totals 193000 tons for NY). While Council for Textile Recycling found that US generates 25 billion pounds of textile waste per year (82 pounds per person) and estimates that it will increase to 35.4 billion pounds by 2019. But only about 4 billion pounds (15%) gets donated and recycled and the remaining reaches landfills, contributing 5.2% to all trash generated in US. Elizabeth Cline, author of the book "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion", says 'There is so much waste being created and that has changed really dramatically in the last 15 years with the rise of fast fashion and disposable consumption.' Adam Baruchowitz, CEO of Wearable Collections, which coordinates textile recycling in partnership with GrowNYC, acknowledges the increasing rise in textile waste. While Nate Herman, VP of international trade at American Apparel and Footwear Association, have a contrarian view and explains 'People are actually buying less than they did 10 years. While there has been a lot of press about [wastefulness], the numbers don't bear that out.' But he acknowledges that the industry is trying to effectively handle the clothing's end-of-life issues. Some companies provide small credit to consumers who trade-in used garments, while others donate used clothings to charities. Some companies provide support and contribute to the recycle programs where used textiles end up in producing materials used in other industries like insulation in buildings. Moreover, there are a number of startups that are working to give a second life to used clothings. A small number of fashion companies are also incorporating recycled materials in their new line of clothings. Eco-friendly strategies are considered costly by the industry. According to Jill Dumain, director of environmental strategy at Patagonia, 'It's an industry-wide dilemma, for sure, on how do we do something at scale that the industry can participate in...The end result is that you have smaller-scale production that ends up to be more expensive.' She suggests that awareness about recycling is necessary and at the same time there need to be a thinking among consumers not to treat clothes like a cheap disposable item. Slow fashion might be the way forward. She further explains, 'I do think consumption is a big part. People need to learn how to buy less and companies need to learn how to be profitable in selling less.' Read on...
Is the fast fashion industry ready to change its wasteful ways?
Author: Michael Casey
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 oct 2015
To transform cities into 'HUBs' of something requires deliberate collaborative efforts and partnerships between the people and government. There are numerous examples from US and around the world where residents, local businesses, city administration, civil society and governments have come together to create ideas and concepts, developed a concrete roadmap, and carefully executed strategy, that lead to the evolution of a city or region to become great at doing something and attract other people, businesses and investments that helped develop and grow its economy. They worked relentlessly as a team towards the shared vision and goal. Kansas City in United States is one such example where the city and its citizens built upon its strength and made it into a hub of 'Social Entrepreneurship.' Josh Schukman (Founder of Social Change Nations), explains five essential elements that helped transform Kansas City and how other cities can replicate and implement this model - (1) Capitalize on the strengths of area universities. (2) Rally local foundations. (3) The effort must be driven by the social entrepreneurs themselves. (4) Embrace the startup culture. (5) Remember this is a long term play. Read on...
How to Make Your City a Hub For Social Entrepreneurship
Author: Josh Schukman
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