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Policy & Governance

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jan 2020

Tackling climate change and protecting environment is critical for the better future of our planet. Current agricultural practices and economic policies that surround it have substantial impact on the natural environment. Prof. Benjamin Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at the University of Califoria at Davis and champion of the One Climate Initiative, says, 'Agriculture might just be the single most important industry on the planet for creating negative carbon emissions under current economic policy. Carbon farming is the key to help solve climate change. Farmers and ranchers can capture carbon and store it in the soil. They can create negative emissions, which means the amount of greenhouse gases that are going into the air from their industry is lower than the amount that they're drawing out of the air.' Prof. Houlton plans to further develop the carbon farm project through One Climate. He explains, 'The One Climate vision is about transforming society in a way that is sustainable, produces the jobs we need, trains the next generation of leaders and creates a climate-smart workforce. And one of the centerpieces of One Climate is creating the world's most innovative carbon farm.' Carbon farming involves using resources such as compost, biochar and pulverized rock, and using enhanced weathering - basically, accelerating Earth's natural processes - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Explaining about biochar, Prof. Houlton says, 'We've teamed up with industry partners to use biochar, which is taking organic carbon like trees, vegetation and manure, and burning it slightly at a high temperature. It becomes more resistant to breakdown and helps with water and nutrient use, while also storing carbon for longer periods of time.' In California, biochar can reduce wildfires by removing trees that could be a fire risk and putting it into the soil. Similarly, compost deposits green waste or food waste into the soil to create a carbon sink. Read on...

UC Davis Magazine: How Can Agriculture Be a Part of the Climate Solution?
Author: Ashley Han


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2019

According to nseinfobase.com, CSR spends of Indian corporates have increased 17.2% to Rs. 11867.2 crore in FY19 from Rs. 10128.3 in FY18. This is the highest spend since FY15 (Rs. 6552.5 crore), when the CSR spend was made mandatory through Companies Act 2013. It is observed that corporates are increasingly using their CSR spends on charitable contributions. The highest amount of Rs. 4406 crore were for schedule VII (II) that focuses on education. The next big spend was Rs. 3206.5 crore under VII (I) for eradicating hunger, poverty, malnutrition and promoting health and hygiene. Rural development got Rs. 1319 crore and remaining went for projects that include environment protection, benefits to the armed forces, disaster management etc. From geographical point of view Maharashtra and Gujarat were at the top to get contributions while Bihar and North-East states got the least CSR funds. Experts say that large spends have also seemed to have prompted closer attention to how the money is spent. Amit Tandon, founder and MD of Institutional Investor Advisory Services India (IiAS), says, 'There are more and more companies who are doing impact assessment...people recognise the need to do it.' Pranav Haldea, MD at Prime Database, says, 'Low CSR budget could act as a constraint for some companies to adopt monitoring mechanisms. It may only make sense for firms with very large budgets. Smaller companies may find it too expensive to employ an agency for external audits on a regular basis.' Read on...

Business Standard: Companies spent Rs 11,867 cr on CSR activities in FY19; highest so far
Author: Sachin P. Mampatta


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2019

Social enterprises can become an important pillar of Indian economy just like corporations and businesses. India has more than two million social enterprises that include nonprofits, for-profits and hybrid models. According to a McKinsey study, 'impact investors' in India poured a total of US$ 5.2 billion between 2010 and 2016, with substantial focus on sectors like financial inclusion and clean energy. A survey conducted by Brookings India found that 57% of the social enterprises identify access to debt and equity as a barrier to growth and sustainability. In the budget Indian government proposed a social stock exchange (SSE) to list social enterprises and voluntary organisations. Suresh K. Krishna, MD and CEO, and Geet Kalra, portfolio associate, at Yunus Social Business Fund, explain what benefits this social stock exchange will bring to the social enterprise ecosystem and suggest that careful planning is needed in designing it. They explain, 'SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) set up its working committee on SSEs on September 19, however, many experts have already proposed distilling learnings from those of other countries. Some of these exchanges are either information sites, like in the case of the London Stock Exchange, or list nonprofit projects only. Canada's Social Venture Connexion (SVC) and Singapore's Impact Investment exchange are more advanced in terms of accreditation, valuation and monitoring, whereas the Brazilian model didn't use such valuations at all. While formulating a similar product for India, we need to have an extensive as well as 'cautious' approach. There is no consensus in the wider social impact community about what is and isn't a social enterprise, therefore the definition itself first needs more objectivity...Once we have a shared frame of reference in place, we can design impact valuation parameters for social enterprises based on social and environmental mission, target beneficiaries, service delivery, stakeholder involvement, and impact measurement.' SSE listing will provide visibility to social enterprises and assist in attracting funds in the form of private equity and debt. Listing debt products on the SSE would encourage banks, NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Company) and other investors to participate in the growth of social enterprises and enhancing their impact. Moreover, SSE impact valuation will encourage development of more innovative financial products. SME exchanges operated by BSE and NSE can also provide valuable learning in effectively designing SSE. Mr. Krishna and Mr. Kalra suggest, 'For a social stock exchange to meet its intended objectives, we need to take measures such as: educating market participants about the valuation metrics weighing both on social and financial returns; amplifying the efforts of creating and supporting social businesses; bringing policy and regulatory reforms to support investors, and facilitating research and development for small social enterprises.' Read on...

The Hindu: A social stock exchange will help in raising capital
Authors: Suresh K. Krishna, Geet Kalra


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 sep 2019

To tackle complex issues facing the world like environment protection, peace building, human rights, poverty, hunger etc, requires coming together of people, organizations and governments to find solutions through sharing diverse ideas, collaborative efforts and pooled resources. Around the world various platforms are developed to provide just that. At Stanford Social Innovation Review's (SSIR) Nonprofit Management Institute 2019, leaders and experts from diverse fields converged to address the economic and emotional anxieties facing civil society leaders and shared advice for moving forward with confidence. Prof. Tyrone McKinley Freeman of Indiana University said, 'We must pull more people into the philanthropic circle.' Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland said, 'We have got to think big and be less afraid of losing something through collaboration.' Jeffrey Moore, Chief Strategy Officer of Independent Sector, said, 'We have to co-create everything with community.' Charlotte Pera, President & CEO of ClimateWorks, said, 'We have to work together in and across philanthropy, civil society, government, academia.' Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton said, 'Change in collaboration really only moves at the speed of trust.' Bradford Smith, President of Candid, said, 'Building those relationships will take more than nice memos about teaming up - try joint projects.' The event had various sessions and here are the highlights - (1) THE CHANGING FACE OF AMERICAN PHILANTHROPY: Kim Meredith, Executive Director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and Prof. Tyrone Freeman of Indiana University and co-author of 'Race, Gender, and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations', discussed common myths of modern philanthropy, the true history of giving by minority groups in the US, and ideas on how to better connect with givers in anxious times. (2) MOVING FORWARD - MERGERS AS A GROWTH STRATEGY: David La Piana, Managing Partner of La Piana Consulting, Rinku Sen, a racial justice activist, author, and strategist, and Bradford Smith, President of Candid, discussed the upsides and risks of nonprofit mergers.' (3) VITAL BALANCE - INNOVATION AND SCALING FOR IMPACT IN THE SOCIAL SECTOR: Christian Seelos, co-author of the best-selling book 'Innovation and Scaling for Impact and co-director of the Global Innovation for Impact Lab at Stanford PACS, examined various 'innovation pathologies' that can derail organizations and 'innovation archetypes' - case study-based models that sidestep these threats, blending innovation with scaling. (4) LEVERAGING TALENT - THE POWER OF SKILLS-BASED VOLUNTEERING: Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact, Cecily Joseph, former VP of CSR at Symantec, and Greg Kimbrough, Lead Director of executive development at the Boys & Girls Club of America, shared insights gleaned from their experiences with volunteer programs. They talked about how can skills-based volunteering engage and strengthen your teams amid transitional, high-anxiety, or crisis situations. (5) ACHIEVING GREAT THINGS - THE ART AND SCIENCE OF ASPIRATIONAL COMMUNICATION: Doug Hattaway, President of Hattaway Communications, explored the best ways to use strategy, science, and storytelling to connect with an audience. (6) WORKING TOGETHER - HOW PUBLIC SECTOR AND NONPROFIT LEADERS CAN COLLABORATE TO TACKLE TOUGHEST CHALLENGES: Mayors Libby Schaaf of Oakland and Michael Tubbs of Stockton spoke with Autumn McDonald, Director of New America CA, about the best ways to build successful, mutually beneficial partnerships between local government and nonprofits. (7) TRUST, POWER, EQUITY - TELLING BETTER STORY TO OURSELVES AND THE WORLD: Jeffrey Moore, Chief Strategy Officer of Independent Sector, examined trends with the potential to restore the nonprofit sector's self-confidence and bring back the public's trust in it. (8) WEATHERING THE STORM - LESSONS ON EFFECTIVELY MANAGING THROUGH TOUGH TIMES: Maria Orozco, Principal of The Bridgespan Group, explored lessons from the last recession and drew from her organization's work in the years since to share insight on surviving and thriving in difficult times. (9) ACTIVATING AUDIENCES - PARTNERING BEYOND THE 'USUAL SUSPECTS' TO SPOTLIGHT SOCIAL ISSUES: Jessica Blank, a writer, director, actor, lecturer, and social innovator, Nicole Starr, VP for social impact at Participant Media, Marya Bangee, Executive Director of Harness, and Prof. Courtney Cogburn of Columbia University, discussed how storytelling can expand and accelerate social change and provided advice on how to wield narratives. (10) LEADING WITH PURPOSE - ACCEPTANCE, MINDFULNESS, AND SELF-COMPASSION: Leah Weiss, lecturer at Stanford GSB and the author of 'How We Work', described how to lead with acceptance and resilience using proven self-compassion and mindfulness techniques. (11) CLIMATE CHANGE - THE POWER OF TRANSCENDENT ISSUE TO MOTIVATE AND AFFECT REAL CHANGE: Larry Kramer, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Charlotte Pera, President & CEO of ClimateWorks Foundation, discussed the impact of climate change on society and nonprofits. Read on...

Stanford Social Innovation Review: The Speed of Trust in an Anxious Era: Recap of the 2019 Nonprofit Management Institute
Authors: M. Amedeo Tumolillo, Barbara Wheeler-Bride


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 sep 2019

In the closing speech of United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, 'You understand that climate emergency is the fight of our lives, and for our lives. I thank young people around the world for leading the charge – and holding my generation accountable. We have been losing the race against climate crisis. But the world is waking up. Pressure is building. Momentum is growing. And - action by action - the tide is turning.' Not so long ago, Ernest Hemingway (Novelist and Nobel Laureate) said, 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.' And now the stern remarks of Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, in the UN Climate Summit resonated around the world and were call to action for governments, businesses and all those responsible. Although all humans have responsibility to maintain the environment, but along with governments, businesses have extra responsibility towards the upkeep of environment, particularly those that use natural resources or have direct impact on natural environment. So, what it takes to be a sustainable business? The answers are many and approaches different. In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as 'meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' For businesses to be sustainable would require change in current practices and they come with a cost. They have to evolve strategies towards sustainability by taking all the stakeholders on board. Moreover, one's move to sustainability may impact the environment in some other way. So, there are challenges to attain sustainability. Here are 4 reasons why it's hard for businesses to be sustainable - (1) THERE IS NO SINGLE DEFINITION OF 'SUSTAINABILITY': UN's Mr. Guterres in the recent Summit sets the goal to completely transform the world's economies to be more sustainable and find solutions to climate change. A daunting task considering the slow pace governments and businesses have been moving in that direction so far. Geoffrey Jones, a business history professor at Harvard University and the author of 'Profits and Sustainability: A History of Green Entrepreneurship', says, 'There is a crippling vagueness about what sustainability means. While carbon emissions are receiving much of the focus because of climate change, deforestation, water shortages and soil erosion are also serious problems that should not be ignored.' Lack of clear definition translates to lack of accountability. At present few companies can provide hard evidence that their businesses are not negatively impacting environment. Socially responsible investment funds (Environmental, Social & Governance - ESG) often include oil & gas companies, and also those that have plastics as an essential component of their business model. Businesses are tryig but it is a long way to go before they become truly sustainable. (2) DETERMINING THE VALUE OF SUSTAINABILITY: Switch to sustainability is costly for businesses. Bruno Sarda, President of the Carbon Disclosure Project North America, says, 'Someone can come up with a cost of doing something different much more quickly than determining what is the value to the business.' Sustainability solutions can be complex and expensive. (3) CONSUMING LESS CAN REDUCE PROFITS: Experts suggest that less consumption is road to sustainability. But, it is contrary to the basics of businesses - more consumption, more profits. There are exceptions though. Doug Freeman, COO of Patagonia (an outdoor clothing and gear company), says, 'We hope our existing customers do indeed buy less. But we hope to attract more customers that are interested in our message: to build the best product, to reduce our impact and cause the least amount of environmental harm.' (4) CLIMATE SOLUTIONS REQUIRE COLLECTIVE ACTION: 'Tragedy of the commons', an economic problem, creates a situation of competitive consumption of natural resources thereby depleting them. To overcome this, collaboration and cooperation, is imperative. Companies are now teaming up with each other and with environmental nonprofits. Joanne Sonenshine, CEO of Connective Impact, says, 'By working together, companies gain more leverage in the national and global marketplace and legitimacy in the eyes of consumers. If you have a group of very respectable nonprofits or research agencies saying we are working with this company because we believe they can make a change, that puts a lot of credence behind what they are trying to do.' Read on...

PBS: 4 reasons it's hard to become a sustainable business
Author: Gretchen Frazee


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...

Penn LDI Blog: How Do Non-profit Hospitals Give Back?
Author: Aaron Glickman


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...

IndiaCSR: Large companies should look beyond CSR mandate at sustainable ways: Rodney Irwin
Author: NA


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...

DownToEarth: 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...

Pioneers Post: 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...

Business Today: 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...

Cornell Chronicle: 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...

Nonprofit Quarterly: 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...

People Matters: 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

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