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On the entrepreneurial journey | The Hindu, 06 feb 2021
Do we give more to charity after we've been sick? | VoxEU, 05 feb 2021
How virtual reality has helped charities | Charity Digital, 05 feb 2021
Leading A Nonprofit Through A Crisis: Executives, Board, Staff, Volunteers, & Donors | Forbes, 05 feb 2021
Five ways social ventures are fighting fake news | Pioneers Post, 04 feb 2021
What can charity investment portfolios expect in the year ahead? | Third Sector, 03 feb 2021
Fewer Than 50% Of Nonprofits Have A Digital Marketing Strategy | The NonProfit Times, 02 feb 2021
How women are changing the philanthropy game | Deccan Herald, 31 jan 2021
Commentary: A V-Shaped Recovery for Volunteering? | The NonProfit Times, 13 jan 2021
Social enterprises can change entire industries. This is how | World Economic Forum, 11 jan 2021
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 oct 2020
Small women-run farm collectives became a success story of self-sufficiency during COVID-19 lockdown in Tamil Nadu (India). These informal groups have been facilitated by a grassroots nonprofit 'Women's Collective' that encourages poor women, who neither own land nor are able to lease land on their own, to come together and lease land collectively to grow food. In the IndiaSpend article dated 09 sep 2019, author Shreya Raman states, 'In a country (India) where 73.2% of rural women workers are engaged in agriculture, women own only 12.8% of land holdings.' Sheelu Francis, co-founder of Women's Collective, says, 'We began with five collective farms in 2010, with the intention of helping landless single or widowed women achieve food security. With collective farming, we ensure nutrition and food security for landless women at the household level.' There are now 89 collective farms with a total of 695 members spread across Tamil Nadu. Each collective has 5-10 members. Women's Collective is responsible for training and providing agricultural know-how. Farmers utilize organic farm methods and avoid chemical fertilizers. The size of the plot determines the choice of crops the women farmers will grow. Landlord usually gets 1/3 of the harvest as rent while the members distribute the rest among themselves. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 sep 2020
Senior citizens often find themselves struggling with latest consumer technologies that are evolving at a rapid pace. These technologies on the other hand, are a normal part of the daily life of the new generation. If senior citizens can be made to learn these technologies in an effective senior-friendly way, they can benefit from them immensely and improve their quality of life. COVID-19 pandemic has also brought the issue to the fore with social distancing norms and extra vulnerability of senior citizens to viral infections. A nonprofit, AnewVista, founded by Shalini Gupta and Eric Gee, has been working for the last couple of years with senior citizens to help them overcome the barrier to using latest technologies. Before the pandemic the nonprofit hosted in person workshops at senior centers, retirement communities and centers of trust locally. But now most of the learning classes are happening virtually through video conferencing apps. AnewVista offers 40-50 topics, such as cleaning out email folders, navigating social media and finding reliable news and podcasts, as well as some higher-level concepts. Ms. Gupta says, 'When it comes to these simple devices, which are made for younger people, they struggle. Intellectually, they are very smart, but it's just the hands-on part that gets very hard sometimes - and once you open the wall for them, it's all there for them to enjoy. Basically, we cover all bases, like how they can be safe, how they can be creative, how they can be social and how they can enjoy more things for fun, communication wise.' Mr. Gee says, 'The trick is to really find what's the obstacle for older adults to engage with technology or engage with the digital economy. We invite everybody to enjoy and just learn a little bit more, especially in these times of sheltering in place, which isn't going to end anytime soon.' Read on...
Los Altos Town Crier:
Nonprofit helps seniors stay connected with evolving technologies
Author: Marie Godderis
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 | 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...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jul 2019
According to the online research by Booking.com, 59% of youth surveyed want to give back to society as part of their travel experience. This is almost double the global average (31% of Gen Z) that want to volunteer while travelling. Report surveyed 21807 respondents of 16 years or above in 29 markets with about 1000 from each country. 71% of Gen Z travellers consider volunteering as enhancement to their trip's authenticity - more interaction with local people and making a difference. Sustainability travel is also on the rise with care for environment at the top of traveller's mind. Ritu Mehrotra, country manager India at Booking.com, says, 'Over 71% of all travellers want to reduce their carbon footprint by limiting the distance travelled. This number increases further among the Gen Z to 76% as they want to use more environmentally-friendly transport, walking or biking, during the holidays.' Read on...
More youth want to volunteer while travelling: Report
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2018
The possibility of eco-friendly biodegradable paper-based batteries is now made a reality by the scientists at Binghampton University (SUNY), Prof. Seokheun 'Sean' Choi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Prof. Omowunmi Sadik from the Chemistry Department. Their research titled 'Green Biobatteries: Hybrid Paper-Polymer Microbial Fuel Cells' was recently published in Advanced Sustainable Systems. Prof. Choi engineered the design of the paper-based battery, while Prof. Sadik was able to make the battery a self-sustaining biobattery. The biobattery uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers. The polymers - poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine) - were the key to giving the batteries biodegrading properties. Prof. Choi says, 'There's been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that. Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries. The polymer-paper structures are lightweight, low-cost and flexible. Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices.' Read on...
SCIENTISTS CREATE BIODEGRADABLE, PAPER-BASED BIOBATTERIES
Author: Rachael Flores
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2018
Nonprofits have to take the cue from their for-profit counterparts for successful implementation of marketing and technology oriented strategy implementations. Content marketing is now a mature field both in B2B and B2C aspects of business. Best practices are available. Gloria Horsley, founder of Open to Hope Foundation, explains the value of effective content for nonprofit organizations to educate, inform and engage with donors, volunteers and those the nonprofits intend to support and help. She shares her mistakes in content marketing in nonprofit realm and the learning from these experiences - (1) Transferring Existing Print Content Online: Offline content is outward-facing and telling rather than sharing or interactive; Written for entire audience and not personalized for specific segments; Online content need to be written in a way to engage audience; Interactive for audience to share their opinions; Utilizes story telling and visual content. (2) Delivering Content That Lacks Educational Value: Merely information and facts are not always valuable content; Specific content that educate different audiences is more valuable; Produce content that answers specific questions; Educational content attracts more supporters, donors and volunteers. (3) Letting Volunteers Run With It: Giving too much control to volunteers for content development risks consistency and integrity; They may create content that is not fully compliant with regulations; Specific rules and guidelines for content must be laid out; Templates and formats must be shared with temporary workers and volunteers; Provide volunteers access to content management system where content is checked and approved before being published. (4) Failing To Focus On High-Quality Writing: Emotion-based writing may not always be the best quality writing; Long sentences, grammatical mistakes, passive voice use etc leads to content exhaustion where audience lose interest; Use online tools like WordPress and Grammarly for appropriate writing; Professional writing techniques need to be adopted. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 aug 2018
Apparel production is generally linked to environmental issues like water and air pollution, alongwith the land, water and pesticide use related to growing natural fibers. But now research points at the source of another problem created by apparels made wholly or partially from synthetic textiles. Microfibers, a type of microplastic, are shed during normal use and laundering, and remain in the environment similar to plastic packaging that coats so many of the world's beaches, and they bond to chemical pollutants in the environment, such as DDT and PCB. Moreover, the textiles from which they are shed are often treated with waterproofing agents, stain- or fire-resistant chemicals or synthetic dyes that could be harmful to organisms that ingest them. Also, microfibers are being consumed alongwith food and drink. Research review (Microplastics in air: Are we breathing it in? - Johnny Gasperi, Stephanie L. Wright, Rachid Dris, France Collard, Corinne Mandin, Mohamed Guerrouache, Valérie Langlois, Frank J.Kelly, Bruno Tassin) published last year shows that microfibers suspended in air are possibly settling in human lungs. Research led by Richard C. Thompson from the University of Plymouth (UK) in 2004 (Lost at Sea: Where Is All the Plastic? - Richard C. Thompson, Ylva Olsen, Richard P. Mitchell, Anthony Davis, Steven J. Rowland, Anthony W. G. John, Daniel McGonigle, Andrea E. Russell) documented and quantified the occurrence of microplastics in the marine environment. Research by Mark Anthony Browne, one of Prof. Thompson's graduate student, published in 2011 (Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks - Mark Anthony Browne, Phillip Crump, Stewart J. Niven, Emma Teuten, Andrew Tonkin, Tamara Galloway, Richard Thompson) found - (1) Samples taken near wastewater disposal sites had 250% more microplastic than those from reference sites and the types of microplastic fibers found in those samples were mainly polymers often used in synthetic apparel, suggesting the fibers were eluding filters in wastewater treatment plants and being released with treated effluent (which is released into rivers, lakes or ocean water). (2) A single polyester fleece jacket could shed as many as 1900 of these tiny fibers each time it was washed. Another 2016 study by researchers from UC Santa Barbara in US (Microfiber Masses Recovered from Conventional Machine Washing of New or Aged Garments - Niko L. Hartline, Nicholas J. Bruce, Stephanie N. Karba, Elizabeth O. Ruff, Shreya U. Sonar, Patricia A. Holden) has shown far higher numbers - 250000 fibers. Rosalia Project, a nonprofit focused on ocean protection, led a study of microfiber pollution across an entire watershed (from the mouth of Hudson River all the way to where the river meets the Atlantic in Manhattan). Rachael Z. Miller, group's director, was surprised to find that, outside of samples taken near treatment plants, there was no statistically significant difference in the concentration fibers from the alpine region to the agricultural center of New York state to the high population areas of Manhattan and New Jersey. This suggested to her that fibers might be entering surface waters from the air and from septic system drainfields in rural areas without municipal sewage systems. According to Textile World, demand for polyester has grown faster than demand for wool, cotton and other fibers for at least 20 years. And by 2030 synthetics are expected to account for 75% of global apparel fiber production, or 107 million tons. All textiles, including carpeting and upholstery, produce microfibers. So do commercial fishing nets. But due to the frequency with which apparel is laundered and the increasing quantities of clothing being purchased throughout the world (thanks at least in part to the so-called fast fashion trend), apparel is the microfiber source on which researchers and policy-makers are focusing attention. Krystle Moody, a textile industry consultant, says, 'Outdoor gear is heavily reliant on synthetic textiles due to their performance profile (moisture wicking) and durability.' Jeffrey Silberman, professor and chairperson of textile development and marketing with the Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York, says, 'Price is the big driver behind the use of synthetics in textiles. A poly-cotton blend is generally far cheaper than a cotton one, but doesn’t look or feel appreciably different to most consumers. The motivation is to get natural-like fibers and still be able to get a price point that people are willing to pay.' Katy Stevens, sustainability project manager for the outdoor gear industry consortium European Outdoor Group (EOG), says, 'Initial research suggested that recycled polyester might shed more microfibers. Are we doing the right thing by using recycled polyester that might shed more? It has added a whole other big question mark.' Other studies have found microfibers in effluent from wastewater plants (Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) as a Source of Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment - Fionn Murphy, Ciaran Ewins, Frederic Carbonnier, Brian Quinn), in the digestive tracts of market fish (Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress - Chelsea M. Rochman, Eunha Hoh, Tomofumi Kurobe, Swee J. Teh), throughout riversheds (Mountains to the sea: River study of plastic and non-plastic microfiber pollution in the northeast USA - Rachael Z. Miller, Andrew J. R. Watts, Brooke O. Winslow, Tamara S.Galloway, Abigail P. W. Barrows) and in air samples. Two separate studies released in March 2018 revealed that microfibers are found in bottled water sold all over the world. And a study published weeks later revealed that microplastic - chiefly microfibers - were present in 159 samples of tap water from around the word, a dozen brands of beer (made with Great Lakes water) as well as sea salt, also derived globally. Although most research has focused on synthetics textiles, but Abigail P. W. Barrows, an independent microplastics researcher who has conducted numerous studies on microfibers, says, 'Natural fibers such as cotton and wool, and semi-synthetics such as rayon should not be totally ignored. While they will degrade more quickly than, say, polyester, they may still be treated with chemicals of concern that can move up the food chain if the fibers are consumed before they degrade.' The study she led in 2018 (Marine environment microfiber contamination: Global patterns and the diversity of microparticle origins - Abigail P. W. Barrows, Sara E. Kathey, C. W. Petersen) found that in the surface water samples collected globally while 91% of the particles collected were microfibers, 12% of those were semi-synthetic and 31% were natural. Read on...
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 | 31 jul 2017
2017 'Consumer Email Habits Report: What Do Your Customers Really Want', a study of 1003 online respondents commissioned by Campaign Monitor and conducted by Market Cube, finds that nonprofit email marketers are lagging behind peers, and the preferences of constituencies, in their ability to provide personalized, relevant messaging. 81% of consumers in the report want touches of personalization in emails they receive from nonprofits. In terms of relevancy of emails to supporters and potential supporters, nonprofits lag behind substantially with only 42% respondents stating that they regularly receive relevant emails. Andrea Wildt, chief marketing officer for Campaign Monitor, says, 'Email personalization can be based on either personal demographics or behavior - how an individual is interacting with an organization...personally relevant emails resonate better with recipients - building a trust that is sometimes hard to foster when recipients are bombarded with so many contacts from so many senders.' According to Ms. Wildt, 'Nonprofits struggle to provide personally relevant emails due to overall lack of ability to capture data and use that data to segment. Resources available to nonprofits are often far more modest than those of retailers.' Further complicating matters for nonprofits is the disparate ways various age groups interact with emailed material. Ms. Wildt suggests, 'Nonprofits must take a multi-pronged approach to marketing (using different tactics/strategies/technologies to target specific age groups)...They are just not quite as mature at leveraging some of the technology. There is so much noise that nonprofits really need help cutting through. The competition for donors' wallets is still fierce.' Read on...
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 | 30 may 2017
Volunteering for a charitable cause is not only a popular way to give back to society, but it also helps individuals to hone their skills and add to their experiences. There are number of platforms, both online and offline, like United Way, Points of Light, VolunteerMatch etc, that can assist in finding the right cause to volunteer. According to Basil Sadiq, marketing associate at VolunteerMatch, 'Our platform gives volunteers the ability to search for opportunities that adhere to their skill level or learning outcomes.' Following are some innovative ways to volunteer - (1) Strut your stuff: Volunteer for a community theater production; Share music with hospital patients; Share your voice with the community by giving tours; Interpreting exhibits at a local museum or zoo; Share your voice that can help people who use assistive communication technology. (2) Plan a party: Help in birthday celebrations to homeless kids and families; Contribute for hospice agencies and senior centers that plan events. (3) Get crafty: Knit and sew for those in need. (4) Make very special deliveries: Bikers can participate in logistics service for a charity. (5) Build and rebuild: Help veterans to build and maintain homes; Build and improve parks and playgrounds for kids. (6) Create Code: Address community problems with technological solutions; Write code and develop website for a cause; Help raise money for charitable causes by participating in computer games events. (7) Volunteer virtually: Blogging; Language translation; Virtual interaction with people in trauma and offer relief. (8) Hike or climb for a higher cause: Keeping and maintaining trails; Add service to a hiking vacation; Helping with outdoor adventures. (9) Help a pet get to a new home: Transport a rescued pet. Read on...
9 Creative Ways to Volunteer and Really Make a Difference
Author: Catherine Holecko
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 dec 2016
According to the recent report by Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), 'Impact Investing Trends: Evidence of a Growing Industry' (Authors: Abhilash Mudaliar, Aliana Pineiro, Rachel Bass), impact investors have demonstrated strong growth, collectively increasing their assets under management (AUM) from US$ 25.4 billion in 2013 to US$ 35.5 billion in 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 18%. The report provides compelling evidence that impact investing industry is growing, both in terms of size and maturation. More than 60% of AUM was allocated to emerging markets each year, and the top three sectors receiving the highest proportions of AUM were microfinance, other financial services and energy, respectively. 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 | 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 | 15 jul 2016
Local communities require participation from its members for their better development. Individuals have to be proactive and should make valuable contribution, and work as a team to make a difference. Pawel Alva Nazaruk, social entrepreneur and owner of Better World International, suggest 7 ways to support communities and change neighbourhood - (1) Support Children - They Are Our Future: Support a child or team for a community activity. (2) Build A House - Sweat And Get Dirty: Find opportunities to help build homes for the disadvantaged. (3) Shop In Your Community - Keep Your Money In Your Local Area: According to American Independent Business Association, 48% of each purchase made in your local independent businesses stays in your community. Also helps create more local jobs. (4) Clean Up Your Neighborhood: Start from the area around your home and then organize a community cleaning event. (5) Take Part In Your Local Political Process: Vote for local representatives. Organize around issues of community development and support the best candidate. (6) Support Community Events: Support activities like farmers market and community gardens. Engage in events that create fun and build a healthy environment in community. (7) Be Friendly: Develop better relations with neighbors and other members of the community. Introduce yourself to the new member who joins the community. Be helpful, caring and supportive to members who are in need. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2016
According to the survey by U.S. Trust (a subsidiary of Bank of America), of 684 high net worth (HNW) individuals, all with investable assets of US$ 3 million or more, there is increasing interest and activity in social impact investing, particularly among women, Millennials and Gen Xers. The survey also found the 7 out of 10 HNW Americans have more confidence in the private sector to solve social and environmental problems than the public or nonprofit sector. Moreover, another 6 in 10 believe that private capital invested in social and public programs can produce superior outcomes, all while ownership and interest in impact investing climb. Jackie VanderBrug, Managing Director of U.S. Trust, says, 'Understanding how and why individuals make impact investments is an increasingly important component of nonprofit management. I think that nonprofit executives that look at impact investing as a trend to be welcomed and embraced are going to be the ones ahead of the curve. Impact investing is not going away. It's fundamentally changing how investments are being made by individuals and fund managers. Understanding that and what it means to your donor base, constituency and board members is an important part of a nonprofit executive's job.' The survey report also finds that, environmental protection and sustainability is the issue that matters most to HNW investors, followed by healthcare equality and access; disease prevention, treatment and cure; access to education; and assistance for veterans. Ms. VanderBrug further adds, 'This is not about confusing philanthropy. Our clients are extremely philanthropic and we don't think that that should stop. My experience is that most individuals who are interested in impact investing are also very philanthropic. They understand that all sectors of the economy need to work.' Read on...
The NonProfit Times:
Big Donors Losing Faith In Charity To Solve Problems
Author: Andy Segedin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2016
A number of studies have strengthened the common belief that being around trees and close to nature improves one's mental and physical well-being. Research by Prof. Bin Jiang of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (now at University of Hong Kong) and his team, further emboldens the belief regarding the soothing aspects of green environment on stress levels and blood pressure. The study was undertaken to determine the dose-response curve between tree cover density and stress recovery. It included 158 volunteers in mildly stressful situations. The experiment utilized virtual reality headset to view 360-degree videos of an urban space with varying amounts of tree canopy visible. Results obtained from the tests showed a positive linear association between the density of trees and the self reported recovery from stress. Prof. Jiang comments, 'These finding suggest that viewing a tree canopy in communities can aid stress recovery and that every tree matters.' Researchers found that regardless of age, gender, and baseline stress levels the greater the exposure to trees, the less stress the subject felt. Read on...
Total Landscape Care:
University study - Stress falls as exposure to trees increases
Author: Jill Odom
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...
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