Notes of Note from John F. Ince

Archive for the ‘Future of Philanthropy’ Category

TheGivingMachine: how technology is making donating free | Social Enterprise Network | Guardian Professional

A social enterprise that taps into the hidden world of online sales referrals allows us to give to charity without opening our wallets  Through TheGivingMachine, charities that might otherwise directly ask for money are asking people for a small change in their online behaviour. Photograph: Alamy

Would you donate more to charity if it wasn’t coming out of your pocket? Thanks to the combination of several technologies and services, this is now possible through the social enterprise TheGivingMachine.

Every year, online shops pay hundreds of millions of pounds to other websites for sales referrals. This is a hidden pool of money to which we have all added by clicking on a link, buying a product and as a result unknowingly created a sales commission for someone else. TheGivingMachine taps into this established technique called affiliate marketing and enables you to generate a sales commission from buying what you were already going to buy from hundreds of the best known online shops. 75% of these commissions are then converted into free donations to the charities and schools you choose, with the remainder providing the income needed to operate the website and distribute the many donation payments every month.

via TheGivingMachine: how technology is making donating free | Social Enterprise Network | Guardian Professional.

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich –

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

via Stop Coddling the Super-Rich –

PHILANTHROPY 2173: Why would a foundation tweet?

Lucy Bernholtz: Why would a foundation tweet?

A few days ago I checked my Twitter stream and saw several items tagged #JIFLAB. I could tell that these tweets were coming from staff of The James Irvine Foundation. I pinged the people I knew and asked “What’s #JIFLAB? What’s going on?”

I’ve been asked the question “Why should my foundation tweet?” at least 1,000 times. My usual answer has to do with listening. Chances are some of the people you want to learn from are using Twitter. Chances are they are using it to be part of interesting/important/relevant/useful/ thought-provoking conversations. If your job requires you to know what the key people in a certain field are talking about, then listening to and being part of the conversations on Twitter is part of that.

One of the people in the#JIFLAB conversation was the Foundation’s CEO, Jim Canales. I asked Jim (on Twitter, of course) if I could interview him for this blog on why the Foundation was tweeting and what they hoped to learn.

We tried the interview by Twitter but switched to email. Here’s the quick-and-dirty back and forth. Here is why one Foundation is trying out Twitter.

LB) Why is JIF staff tweeting? Is it part of an emergent strategy (on social media? listening? transparency? something else?) and, if so, what other practices are part of that strategy?

JC) In setting out the Foundation’s goals for 2011 (I do this annually for both board and staff to align our work and set key institutional priorities), I described that we should actively explore the ways in which social media might serve to advance our Foundation’s programmatic goals. More specifically, we are interested in exploring ways to use social media to: (1) share what we are learning more rapidly and broadly; (2) listen more actively to our partners and key stakeholders, building greater two-way exchange instead of one-way transmission of information; (3) build alliances and broader networks of support to advance our program goals; and (4) demonstrate Irvine’s continued commitment to transparency and openness.

via PHILANTHROPY 2173: Why would a foundation tweet?.

Silicon Valley and “Breakthrough Philanthropy”

In the movie The Social Network, the character of Peter Thiel is played as a slick Master of the Universe, a tech industry king and kingmaker with the savvy to see that a $500,000 investment in Facebook could mint millions later.

Reality is a little more rumpled.

On a recent December night, Thiel walked, slightly stooped, across a San Francisco stage to make a pitch to an invitation-only audience of Silicon Valley luminaries — investors and innovators who had scored sometimes huge fortunes through a mix of skill, vision and risk-taking.

The billionaire PayPal co-founder didn’t tell them about the next big startup. He wanted them to buy into a bigger idea: the future.

A future when computers will communicate directly with the human brain. Seafaring pioneers will found new floating nations in the middle of the ocean. Science will conquer aging, and death will become a curable disease.

If anything can transform these wild dreams into plausible realities, he believes it is the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley — the minds and money that have conjured the technological marvels that have already altered everyday life.

“Do we try to pursue ideas that are weird and have optimism about the future, or do we give up on all new things and compromise?”

Sitting before him in the audience, among others: Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and technology publishing guru Tim O’Reilly.

As venture capital in Silicon Valley chases the next big mobile app or group discount service, Thiel was asking for them to fund technological breakthroughs that some believe in fervently and others see as sheer fantasy.

He even has a name for it: Breakthrough philanthropy.

via Facebook, PayPal mogul: Silicon Valley can free future from hurdles _ even death _ to progress –

Kevin Lawton: SEC Regulations Barricade The Crowdfunding Floodgates

Joseph Pulitzer used a form of crowdfunding to finance the Statue of Liberty. Obama used crowdfunding to bankroll his presidential campaign in 2008.

Crowdfunding is such a pervasive concept that today more than 175 crowdfunding sites exist online. Seemingly, a new crowdfunding site pops up every other day. So it may be surprising to learn that none of them allow entrepreneurs to raise money in exchange for equity in their business. That’s because regulatory organizations like the SEC ban it.

SEC regulations that date back to the 1930’s usurped entrepreneurs’ ability to pitch their business ideas to the general public with the aim of securing funding. Ostensibly, this was done to protect unsophisticated investors from fraudsters, but in any case effectively handed the role of financing new companies over to the wealthy. These days, the regulations don’t make sense given the Internet’s ability to add transparency to the opaque venture capital model.

In the same way that social networking changed how we allocate time, crowdfunding will change how we allocate capital. Crowdfunding, generally speaking, is the merger of group funding and social networking. While group funding dates back millennia, the social networking aspects of crowdfunding are quite new, and are a major driving force behind this revolutionary form of financing.

Building on social networking, crowdfunding creates a vehicle for people to invest or pledge money to projects for which they have an interest, a passion and an attachment. In doing so, it creates a marketplace opportunity for a diversity of players. Whether financing an indie movie, a fashion line, an around-the-world sailing adventure, or the next Lance Armstrong, crowdfunding is being applied everywhere.

Still, the human race hasn’t even come close to integrating the collective wisdom of our multi-billion person crowd with ways to allocate capital. 2 billion people already use the Internet, and that number is increasing rapidly. Until recently, capital allocation was largely the province of a small and entrenched minority. But with the explosive growth of connectivity and technological complexity, the classical models of capital allocation are folding and becoming dysfunctional. What are the weaknesses of old methods, especially the sheer scale of information and ideas, are the strengths of a new model of funding which has the potential to tap an almost unfathomable collective intelligence. Therein lies the immense future of the crowdfunding revolution.

via Kevin Lawton: SEC Regulations Barricade The Crowdfunding Floodgates.

SocialVest Debuts Cause-Based Shopping Platform

Today, SocialVest is launching its online and in-store shopping platform that makes it easy for consumers to support non-profit organizations while making purchases. The free service works by rewarding users with cash back for purchases from retailers. Money earned by SocialVest users can then be donated to over one million registered non-profits with the service.

Here’s how it works. Consumers sign-up for SocialVest with their info and credit card details and can then start shopping in its online mall or at physical stores with whom SocialVest has partnered. The startup currently has partnerships with over 500 retailers including Target, Macy’s, Home Depot, Best Buy, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales. When the user make a purchase at one of these stores using the registered credit card, SocialVest will give users a cash rebate ranging from 1% to 15% of qualifying purchase prices. Funds are accrued in users’ SocialVest accounts, and can then be pledged to any non-profit.

SocialVest has also partnered with Causes, and will be the exclusive registered credit card shopping partner for the community. The startup, which has raised $500,000 in seed funding, faces competition from CauseOn, Causeworld and Endorse For A Cause.

via SocialVest Debuts Cause-Based Shopping Platform.

Bolder Giving

Those of us who consider ourselves of “normal” means may look at the giving of millionaires and billionaires and think “That’s nice.  If I had that much money, I could be that generous too.”  Jill Warren is a woman who doesn’t say “if.”  She and her husband, a minister, regularly give away at least 30% of their modest income to support causes they believe in.   If you missed the recent Bold Conversation teleconference with Jill, you must listen to the recording. You will be inspired!

Jill shared how she and her husband decided to start giving the percentage of their income that the average American pays for housing, which they do not pay because the church provides their housing.  She talked about the joys of giving, as well as the hard times they have encountered because they choose to boldly give and live check to check rather than save their money for themselves.  For Jill, the biggest benefit of giving is the liberation she feels in switching from worry over how to use money to gratitude for what they can do with the money by giving it away.  Their bold giving has not always been painless, like when the car broke down and there were no savings in the bank to help them out.  But reflecting on these times, Jill said “This is why we do it.  Not so we can have an easy life.  We’re giving because we’ve been given so much.”

To learn more about Jill’s story, listen to the recording of the teleconference, view Jill’s story page, or read the archive of her Chronicle of Philanthropy chat.  You can also join a temporary list-serv discussion by emailing Elizabeth at

via Bolder Giving.

The Way We Live Now – The Charitable-Giving Divide –

lower-income Americans give proportionally more of their incomes to charity than do upper-income Americans. In 2001, Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization focused on charitable giving, found that households earning less than $25,000 a year gave away an average of 4.2 percent of their incomes; those with earnings of more than $75,000 gave away 2.7 percent.

This situation is perplexing if you think of it in terms of dollars and cents: the poor, you would assume, don’t have resources to spare, and the personal sacrifice of giving is disproportionately large. The rich do have money to spend. Those who itemize receive a hefty tax break to make charitable donations, a deduction that grows more valuable the higher they are on the income scale. And the well-off are presumed to have at least a certain sense of noblesse oblige. Americans pride themselves on their philanthropic tradition, and on the role of private charity, which is much more developed here than it is in Europe, where the expectation is that the government will care for the poor.

But in the larger context of “the psychological culture of wealth versus poverty,” says Paul K. Piff, a Ph.D. candidate in social psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, the paradox makes sense. Piff has made a specialty of studying those cultures in his lab at the Institute of Personality and Social Research, most recently in a series of experiments that tested “lower class” and “upper class” subjects (with earnings ranging from around $15,000 to more than $150,000 a year) to see what kind of psychological factors motivated the well-known differences in their giving behaviors. His study, written with Michael W. Kraus and published online last month by The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that lower-income people were more generous, charitable, trusting and helpful to others than were those with more wealth. They were more attuned to the needs of others and more committed generally to the values of egalitarianism.

via The Way We Live Now – The Charitable-Giving Divide –

Social Capitalism – The most sustainable and thus profitable ecosystems will come from Social Capital based companies | Digital Vision Fellowship

Social Capitalism – The most sustainable and thus profitable ecosystems will come from Social Capital based companies

Look at a microfinance company in India who raised over $350m at IPO, built around social capital.

SKS Microfinance IPO to raise up to $353m

Published on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 21:20 | Updated at Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 21:47 | Source : Reuters

(Disclosure: I have no equity or other others interests at the time of writing in the company).

This is one among the many examples around the world from Mexico, Brazil and the United States to China, India and Europe, that social capitalists will lead the coming next wave of capitalism built around the most sustainable fundamentals and all for profit, except that everyone is included in a community.

Why? Because it is fundamental.

1. Deals with an industry’s value chain challenge and the key is “Fragmentation of Demand & Supplychains”, seen across in the most critical sectors of any community and economy, from Agriculture, Housing, Energy, Water, BFSI, Healthcare, Governance, to Commodities, Telecommunications and Education.

2.The only sustainable model is to leverage decentralized businesses based on Social Capital or Networks around communities, which lead to;

a.Lower SG&A

b.Lower NPA risks

c.Higher productivity of resources, Labor, Land and Capital

3.Inclusive by community of networks

Social capitalism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Social capitalism (Socio-capitalism), as a theory or political or philosophical stance, challenges the idea that socialism and capitalism are inherently antagonistic.[1] The essence of social capitalism is that markets work best and output is maximized through sound social management of the macroeconomy.

via Social Capitalism – The most sustainable and thus profitable ecosystems will come from Social Capital based companies | Digital Vision Fellowship.

Is Social Finance the ‘Next Big Thing’? – Al Etmanski

Recently the UK Telegraph quoted Sir Ronald Cohen, known as the ‘father’ of the venture capital and private equity industry in the UK, declaring that entrepreneurship should be harnessed as an agent of social change.  Speaking to Harvard business students he advised the next big thing in the business world is social finance.  If I had been leaving Harvard in 2010, this would be the area I would want to be going into, he added.

“I think societies everywhere will come to the conclusion that an important part of the capitalist system is having a powerful social sector to address social issues, because government doesn’t have the resources.”

Ronald Cohen has already played a major role is the growth and development of a social finance infrastructure in the UK. He seems poised for another great roll forward.

Fortunately Cohen is not alone.  Here are quotes from Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation in her speech: Innovative Philanthropy for the 21st Century: Harnessing the Power of Impact Investing.

At the Foundation, we also see an unfolding tale of two globalizations.  One generates

substantial progress for many.  Another leaves many more by the wayside – families and

populations that fall further behind as the pace of change quickens.

Although philanthropists can only muster billions of dollars against the trillions of dollars of

social needs, private investors like you in this room manage more than $100 trillion in for-profit capital markets. So we no longer ask ourselves, ‘why isn’t there enough money to solve social problems?  Instead we ask, How can we tap into these enormous private capital flows to create both financial profit and social return?

via Is Social Finance the ‘Next Big Thing’? – Al Etmanski.