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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 | 23 jan 2021
COVID-19 pandemic has brought the focus on online learning and educational technologies. Even though the initiatives have been around for quite some time, but they have not been implemented at such a large scale. It is also observed that there is an imbalance in terms of preparation and implementation of online education in various countries and institutions. Some were able to execute online strategies better as they have been experimenting and utilizing such learning technologies and educational methodologies for many years. Prof. Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor of Online Learning at University of Illinois at Springfield (US), explains how online education has rescued education during adverse circumstances and what the future holds for higher education after the pandemic has subsided and traditional education gets back on its feet. He cites an example of innovative strategy of UK unversities during SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in Asia 2002-2003 when they offered online delivery of class materials to students at Hong Kong universities. He says, 'I was studying the implications of online learning interventions during SARS when Katrina devastated nearly two dozen college and university campuses along the US Gulf Coast. With my colleague Burks Oakley, then associate vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois, we brought the opportunity for online learning intervention to the attention of Frank Mayadas, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This quickly expanded to engage a host of other higher education leaders...The remarkable effort was chronicled by George Lorenzo. Ultimately, the effort dubbed "The Sloan Semester" engaged more than 100 colleges and universities in offering online classes at no charge to students displaced by the hurricane. The intent was to provide transfer credit for those students to continue their degrees from wherever they took refuge while their campuses were closed and under repair.' He explains the current state of higher education with falling enrollments in US institutions and students opting for alternative and economical modes of learning through MOOCs and other at-scale online programs. There has been many fold increase in enrollment in such programs during the pandemic. Moreover, with decreasing US population growth and oversupply of colleges and universities the disruption of the education sector is expected. He further explains, 'The shakeout has begun with faculty layoffs, program cuts and deep deficits. The trends I have been following show this to be undeniable and pervasive. That brings us back to online learning to the rescue. As the U.S. Department of Labor reports the average tenure at an employer is just 4.2 years, we are seeing an ever-increasing number of adults returning to universities for continuing and professional education to retool and upskill for new and changing careers. And, by and large, they are doing this online.' He suggests that it will be an opportunity for education providers and they should focus on 'the "60-year learner" who returns again and again to prepare for work in an ever-changing economy fueled by artificial intelligence.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 dec 2020
Social enterprises have been part of the Indian social sector ecosystem for a long time, albeit not in the theoretically and legally defined framework that exists now. According to the study, 'The State of Social Enterprise in Bangladesh, Ghana, India and Pakistan' (British Council, 2016), led by Emily Darko, Director of Research at Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), there are roughly 2 million social enterprises operating in India. The study based on a survey of 258 social enterprises found a young social enterprise scene with 57% being 5 years old or younger. Moreover, these social enterprises work in many sectors - skills development (53%); education (30%); agriculture/fisheries/dairy (28%); financial services (26%); energy and clean technology (26%). From the surveyed social enterprises, 80% reinvest to further social or environmental goals, and they have supported a total of 150 million beneficiaries over their lifetime. The report found a total of 39 central government policies relevant to social enterprise and entrepreneurship. A notable policy with a specific mention of social enterprises was the 'National Skill and Entrepreneurship Policy' announced on 15 July 2015 by the Ministry of Skills and Entrepreneurship. The policy includes a section on social enterprises that aims to foster social entrepreneurship and grassroots innovation. The research study, 'Social Enterprises in the Indian Context: Conceptualizing through Qualitative Lens' (Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, Springer Open, 15 jan 2018) (Authors: Subhanjan Sengupta of Birla Institute of Management Technology, Arunaditya Sahay of Birla Institute of Management Technology), researches the meaning of the 'social enterprise' construct in the Indian context, and develops a conceptual framework that represents the construct. The purpose of this empirical study is to develop orientation needed for aspiring social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship researchers to familiarize with 'social enterprise' phenomenon in India. Authors explains, 'India is a country with socio-economic and cultural diversity, and a very high population. The country offers no legal definition for social enterprises. The ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in India is created by different organizations and universities/institutes advocating, promoting, and supporting social enterprises. Multiple stakeholders such as these have formulated their own meaning of social entrepreneurship in India; their work being influenced by the social, economic, and cultural diversity across the geographical length and breadth of the country, and the regulatory frameworks of the state and central governments...The key constructs that emerged to be clustering together to form the concept of social entrepreneurship in the Indian context are social value creation, market orientation, social entrepreneur, and balanced impact.' Recently, an India focused book on social enterpreneurship, 'Social Entrepreneurship in India: Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism', is authored by Madhukar Shukla who is a Professor of Strategic Management at XLRI Jamshedpur. The book documents rise of the social innovation movement in India, along with profiles and roadmaps. ON COVID-19 - Prof. Shukla says, 'The pandemic, and the subsequent abrupt lockdown, create an unprecedented humanitarian crisis which has still not ended...In many ways, it was also a watershed event in the civil society and social entrepreneurial space - particularly for many social entrepreneurs, who, with reference to the typology in my book, I would describe as 'Public Goods Providers'. For instance, many of the established social ventures...which were already working in the space of relief and with migrant informal sector workers, spurred up their efforts to meet this challenge. There were also many other innovative initiatives from other ventures. At a smaller and localised level, there were many initiatives taken by individuals, citizen groups, and small organizations such as helping the migrants in their journey back home, providing basic subsistence necessities like rations and sanitary pads to marginalised communities, and so on. Why I used the term 'watershed' is because what I see is that many of these efforts, which started as a response to a crisis, also brought in new talent in the sector, and many are now evolving as viable and sustainable social ventures.' ON ROLE OF ACADEMICS - Prof. Shukla says, 'Academics can and does play a useful role in the social entrepreneurship field by identifying and documenting trends, principles, and models from practice. These can help the entrepreneurs to make more informed decisions.' ON SCALING UP CHALLENGES - Prof. Shukla says, 'When organizations scale-up and try to replicate the model which has succeeded in one place, they have to deal with a new set of problems and challenges. They need to consider and plan for three critical challenges...One, scaling up into other locations also increases the complexity of operations...Secondly, scaling up would also need hiring new talent to manage increasingly complex operations of the venture...Lastly, there is the danger of 'mission drift'.' ON DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY - Prof. Shukla says, 'Over the last decade or so, with the increasing affordability of and access to digital technology, it has become a part of the models that are used by many social entrepreneurs. In my experience, three important ways in which it helps creating social change are Access, Aggregation, and Democratisation.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 nov 2020
Nonprofits are facing challenging times during COVID-19 pandemic and they need any kind of help to pursue their mission. Laura Plato, chief solutions officer at VolunteerMatch, says, 'Traditional in-person volunteering has dropped off precipitously since the pandemic began, while need has only grown. Our nation's nonprofits are having to really get creative and reinvent what volunteering looks like.' Research on teens and adults finds that volunteering has many benefits like for example reduced rates of depression and anxiety, and meaningful improvements in life expectancy. Akua Boateng, a psychotherapist, says, 'But for children volunteering can also be a positive component of their developmental process - helping them understand their place in the social fabric - and is associated with a higher sense of self-esteem.' Prof. Peter Levine of Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life cautions that how parents frame volunteering is important and suggests, 'It's crucial to talk about social inequity in the right way with children to avoid communicating a sense of superiority.' Karen Daniel, VP of programs at Youth Service America, says, 'We have a project ideas database on our website...We really believe in helping kids start with something they love so that the project is fun for them, too.' Pandemic has lead to the mainstreaming of work from home culture and kids can volunteer along with their parents. There are also programs to help kids reach out to military personnel and first responders, or to write letters and cards to older people separated from their loved ones. Moreover, kids can also help by informally volunteering within their local community. Virtual volunteering can also be a good volunteering aveneue for kids. According to Katie Stagliano of Katie's Krops, a nonprofit that helps children start gardens across the United States, community gardening can continue in the colder months with winter crops such as cabbage, carrots, kale, turnips and collard greens, which can then be distributed to families struggling with food insecurity. Lydia Elle, a writer in Los Angeles, and her 10-year-old daughter, London, have started partnering with organizations in 2019 to donate books to children in need. Ms. Elle says, 'During the summer, because we couldn't get out and distribute books in person like we normally would have, we made a huge donation of books to our local food bank instead.' Read on...
The Washington Post:
Volunteering can give kids purpose in uncertain times - and there are still ways to do it
Author: Connie Chang
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2020
COVID-19 pandemic has affected art and culture sector, and significantly impacted talent associated with it. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO in her message on World Art Day (15 April 2020), celebrated on the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, said, 'Bringing people together, inspiring, soothing and sharing: these are the powers of art, the importance of which has been made emphatically obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic.' The art community is adapting to the new challenges and finding innovative solutions to keep the spirit alive. The program, 'Arts and Culture Education Change-Up', a collaboration between South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Culture and Arts Education Service and the Seokyeong University Arts Education Center, has come up with something positive during the pandemic. The program teaches and supports creative people who are interested in social entrepreneurial projects in the field of arts and culture education. Han Jeong-seop, professor and dean of the Seokyeong University Arts Education Center, says, 'If it were not for COVID-19, we might not have brought those international guest speakers or have participants from Jeju Island due to geographical factors...We wanted to showcase how overseas cultural social enterprises play a role in resolving social problems between the public and private sector.' The participants in the online interaction included representatives from STEPS (Canada-based charitable public art organization that develops one-of-a-kind public art plans, installations and engagement strategies that foster vibrant communities), and Starcatchers (Scotland-based art organization specializing in creating performances and exploring creative activities for babies, toddlers and young children up to the age of five and the adults who care for them). Anjuli Solanki, program director of the STEPS Initiative, says, 'Applying our multidisciplinary expertise, we strive to develop a strong contextual understanding of the neighborhoods and sites we are working in for all our projects. Our goal is to create iconic public works that attract widespread attention by transforming underutilized public spaces.' Bebhinn Jennings, program manager at STEPS, says, 'The pandemic has highlighted our need to connect, to be inspired and to contribute to our communities. As such, art and public art in particular are increasingly important as they offer numerous entry points for engagement. Public art can both beautify a space, and ignite dialogues around important issues such has climate change, public health and systemic inequalities - all conversations that have been active throughout the pandemic.' Rhona Matheson, chief executive of Starcatchers, says, 'We know we are not going to be able to tour any of our productions until at least spring 2021 so our focus is on providing a range of activities that parents or childcare settings can share with very young children. Retaining a connection with audiences has been very important and making the offers through our online activities has been essential. Similarly, being able to retain connection with the families who participate in our community engagement programs has been very important - this has been a means to offer support to young families who experience social and rural isolation and have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.' Lee In-kyung, an art instructor at an alternative school on Jeju Island, says, 'If it were not operated online, it would be very difficult and time-consuming for me to participate in a training program held in Seoul. Now I can communicate with other social entrepreneurs while on Jeju...We made environmental picture books and tried junk art, campaigning for environment. I realized that students could learn better through empirical art education.' She developed such experiences into an idea for a social enterprise, aiming to support teenagers to cultivate creativity, problem-solving skills and empathic abilities. Kim Soo-jung, CEO of Open Your Arts and in the second year of Change-Up program, says, 'I wanted to provide sustainable art education for socially disadvantaged children, but it was impossible to solve the problem as a volunteer. So I came up with this art educational kit developed in collaboration with artists...Their (Starcatchers and STEPS) business model is not based nor suitable for online, but it was interesting to see the possibility of online platforms, transcending physical or regional limitations.' Read on...
The Korea Times:
Social enterprise bridges art, community amid pandemic
Author: Kwon Mee-yoo
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jul 2020
According to the survey conducted to find out impact of COVID-19 pandemic on 567 small businesses and nonprofit organizations in US by the research team of Prof. Samantha Paustian-Underdahl of Florida State University, 15.2% of its participants closed permanently, and 14.5% of participants closed temporarily. Another 31% of participants are operating below 40% capacity, while close to 40% of participants are operating at 40% or higher during COVID-19. The survey also found that 46.7% laid off their employees during COVID-19, while 51% reported that they did not. The average number of employees laid off was 10.5. Prof. Paustian-Underdahl says, 'Small businesses and nonprofits have taken a huge hit during this time, with nearly 30 percent of our sample needing to close temporarily or permanently as of early May. The good news is that most organizations are getting some help.' The survey revealed that 92% received some type of financial assistance from the government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and/or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). 75.5% applied for one or both types of government aid. Of participants who applied, 28.9% received PPP funding only, 26.8% received EIDL only, 11.3% received both PPP and EIDL, and 8.3% did not receive anything. Moreover, researchers also found that business owners and nonprofit leaders are experiencing different effects of COVID-19 on their overall well-being and performance, depending on their gender. Prof. Paustian-Underdahl says, 'Consistent with recent research by Gallup , we found that women who own small businesses are experiencing higher levels of stress and burnout during COVID-19 compared to men. While some may assume this could be due to higher work-family-conflict, we found the men surveyed are reporting higher work-family-conflict than women.' Some of the strategies and solutions that respondents have implemented to meet the challenges faced during COVID-19 include - increased communication with employees; an increased focus on implementing technology and creating online content; creating unique ways to contact and keep existing clients instead of seeking new one; increased focus on healthy living, exercise and mental health for their employees and customers. Read on...
Florida State University News:
Survey reveals COVID-19's impact on small business, nonprofits
Author: Calvin Burrows
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 apr 2020
In the digital era, it is imperative for nonprofit leaders to embrace technology and adapt to change effectively. Practicing concepts of 'change management' helps in the technological transformation. Aparna Kothary, director of technology operations at Global Citizen Year, had to implement new technology to help her nonprofit, which organizes gap year study-abroad programs for high school seniors, measure the impact of their work. She says, 'When you put a lot of work into building something, you think it's great and you want everybody else to think it's great, but approaching it with humility is so important...If our end goal is user adoption, it's our responsibility to train people in a way that that works for them.' Setting expectations for new technology adopters is also important. She adds, 'Instead of saying - Here's this shiny new tool we are going to use forever - maybe say - This is phase one of a three-year project, and every year w're going to improve a little bit more...' According to the second annual Nonprofit Trends Report produced by Salesforce, leadership must not only lead the adoption of new technologies but also help nurture a culture that is open to embracing new technology in the first place. But 45% of nonprofits state that they lack the flexibility and adaptiveness that the adoption of new technology demands. Prof. Alva H. Taylor of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College says, 'Leadership has to understand it and know the importance of it, and also communicate (that importance) to everybody in their organization...might involve showing how the new tool is compatible with how they've done their work in the past, while 'really trumpeting the benefits' of adoption.' The Nonprofit Trends Report also shows that, on average, different departments have different rates of adoption of new technologies, and suggests that without full adoption of technology nonprofits may not get the maximum return on investment. Planning is essential along with leadership. 85% of the nonprofits surveyed in the report say that technology is key to the success of an organization like the one they work for, but only 23% say they have a long-term vision for the technology they plan on implementing. Sarah Angel-Johnson, CIO at the education nonprofit Year Up, says that it leads to 'rocks and pebbles' problem. She comments, 'Let's not talk about the technology or the architecture first. Let's talk about the human on the other side (experiencing a digital innovation). If you have a jar and you fill it with sand first, then pebbles and rocks, it won't all fit. But if you fill the jar first with rocks and the pebbles and then finally sand, it will all fit.' This means that leadership needs to establish priority projects and execute on them before pivoting to anything else. Developing nonprofit-wide strategy requires leadership buy-in and is necessary for long-term success. Jarrod Bell, CTO at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, says, 'Painting what the vision was for technology at our organization, tying that to the mission, having that message come from our president and CEO, having that message resonated by our board...reverberate those messages as well, and then repeating it over, and over, and over again.' Rebeca Johnson, VP of constituent experience and digital transformation at the American Heart Association, says, 'Transformation is difficult, because transformation is change, and change is hard. But the world has changed and we have to change with it.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 apr 2020
It is important to be selective and careful while choosing which nonprofits to support and promote. Even more so during times of crisis or economic recession as every dollar of contribution or effort needs to be most effective. In such situations, like the present COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits are expected to serve more while facing resource challenges. Prof. Amanda J. Stewart of NC State University, whose research focuses on nonprofit organizations and foundations, suggests what to consider while supporting nonprofits during disasters like COVID-19 - (1) Nonprofits that provide essential services: Sustained support is needed for nonprofits that respond directly to human suffering in crisis and also essential human services and local community needs. (2) Nonprofits that need cash: Financial donations are critical as they support nonprofits to pay their bills etc and gives them freedom to provide services where most needed in whatever form. (3) Generosity can be specific to these times: Creativity in generosity becomes valuable. Like for example face masks being sewn, remote volunteering options, socially safe distant blood drives etc during current pandemic. Consider what generosity looks like in your neighborhood or what is within your capabilities during crisis time. (4) Give responsibly: While doing so be aware that some 'responsible giving' criteria are biased. Before donating use your best judgment and look for signs of legitimacy and accountability. Smaller niche nonprofits with more grassroots efforts can be effective and responsive in crisis times. (5) Nonprofits are often local businesses: After the crisis has passed many nonprofits just like local businesses would need support to get back to start working. Consider the nonprofit causes you want to see sustained and support the nonprofits to resume functioning after the crisis. Read on...
NC State University News:
How Can I Tell Which Charity to Support During This Crisis?
Author: Matt Shipman
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 | 27 nov 2019
Philanthropy is a huge industry and technology is enabling it's transformation. It's contribution to the U.S. economy is significant. According to The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report (2019), authored by Lester M. Salamon and Chelsea L. Newhouse of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, nonprofits account for roughly one in 10 jobs in the U.S. private workforce, with total employees numbering 12.3 million in 2016. Over the decade since 2007, nonprofit jobs grew almost four times faster than the for-profit ones. Madeline Duva, CEO of Fluxx, provides insights into technological transformation of philanthropy and the positive impact it has on overall growth of nonprofit sector. She says, ' The philanthropic space has begun to adopt new technologies in earnest in order to increase capacity, improve employee job satisfaction and accelerate long-lasting impact. This transformation is further helped by the tech industry entering the space both as a funder of nonprofits and provider of improved tool sets. The innovations that made Amazon a world leader in supply chain optimization are now being repurposed to help nonprofit organizations work more efficiently and collaboratively with their own data, ultimately driving more dollars and hours toward solving long-entrenched societal and systemic issues in the U.S. and beyond.' Philanthropy is on rise and tech industry and their employees are major contributors. According to 'Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018', researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, in 2018 Americans gave nearly US$ 428 billion to charity, with US$ 76 billion of that coming from foundations and another US$ 20 billion coming from corporations. Tech industry's interest in philanthropy and nonprofit sector is seeing increase in specifically designed tech solutions. Ms. Duva explains, 'I've seen a steady increase (but slower industry adoption) in solutions that help foundations leverage data and efficiency and manage teams, all while scaling their work. Grantmakers (both public and private) and grantseekers (nonprofits and charities) have begun to streamline their operations through SaaS solutions, using data and workflow best practices to create more efficient processes and free up time and resources.' For tech companies seeking to work and design solutions for the philanthropic sector, she suggests - Prioritize flexibility and usability in your solutions; Understand that most nonprofits operate on extremely thin financial margins; Recognize the huge variance in the philanthropic space. One-size-fits-all approach doesn't work this space that covers and touches so many industries. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2019
Nonprofit organizations and employees operate in a challenging environment and the human resources issues can be different from the for-profit sector. According to the 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey of 420 nonprofits by nonprofitHR, 28% of nonprofits said the top challenge they faced was hiring qualified staff, and 81% of nonprofits said they can't get the staff they do hire to stay. Moreover, nonprofits are unable to do much to address the human resources problems. According to 2019 Talent Management Priorities for Nonprofits survey of 488 nonprofit leaders and HR professionals by nonprofitHR, three reasons employees give for leaving nonprofits are - dissatisfaction with their career opportunities, compensation and benefits, and workplace culture. Prof. Kim Brimhall of Binghampton University, The State University of New York, explains her research on nonprofit human resources and finds out that when employees feel valued and that their colleagues and bosses appreciate them, talented staff members become more likely to stick around. Lower salaries and compensation in nonprofits are not the only factor that makes it difficult to retain talent. Prof. Brimhall says, 'I recently completed a study regarding how managers at hospitals can improve employee performance through greater inclusivity. Inclusion...is also about helping employees feel appreciated as unique individuals and helping them feel valued as key members of their team.' According to 2018 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey of about 3400 nonprofit leaders by Nonprofit Finance Fund, more than half of all nonprofit jobs are in the health care field and even though nonprofit hospitals generally pay their workers better than other nonprofits, they also have trouble hiring and retaining qualified staff. Prof. Brimhall recommends nonprofits to make their workplace more inclusive and to adopt the following best practices - Engage and involve employees in important work-related decision-making; Appreciate feedback of all employees irrespective of their position; Consider and treat each employee as a unique individual and provide regular training and opportunities to enhance their career; Communicate a shared sense of purpose and inspire a collective vision of the future. Read on...
Making employees feel welcome and valued can pay off - especially for nonprofits
Author: Kim Brimhall
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 | 17 jul 2019
Experts' views are divided on how non-profit hospitals benefit communities. In US, non-profit hospitals received tax-benefits valued at over US$ 24 billion annually in 2011. In exchange for tax exemptions these hospitals provide 'community benefits' like free and subsidized care, investments in public health, community-based health initiatives intended to address the social determinants of health, such as food or housing insecurity. But, many observers argue that hospitals avoid making sustained community investments in favor of counting millions of dollars of 'discounts' to low-income patients as community benefits while aggressively pursuing unpaid bills. Krisda Chaiyachati and Rachel Werner, Senior Fellows at LDI University of Pennsylvania, have recently written two research to add information to this debate. They provide detailed estimates of how much hospitals spend on different types of community benefits, whether community benefits are matched to local need, and what effects community benefits have on health outcomes. Mr. Chaiyachati and Ms. Werner analyzed IRS tax data from over 1600 non-profit hospitals. By law, hospitals report total spending on community benefits, broken out by health care-related spending (e.g. free care), community-directed spending (e.g. anti-smoking initiatives or funds for local community organizations), and research and educational activities. To standardize comparisons, the authors measured all spending as shares of total hospital expenditures. Researchers find out that hospitals still rely on discounted charity care to meet community benefits requirements. In 2014, non-profit hospitals reported that they spent an average of 8.1% (US$ 17 million) of their total expenditures on community benefits, more than 80% of which was health care-related. On average, 6.7% (US$ 11 million) of expenditures were on health care services, compared to 0.7% (US$ 1.2 million) for community-directed contributions. The remainder of community benefits were on educational and research initiatives. The results are disappointing in light of a second study from Ms. Werner and Mr. Chaiyachati, which suggests that community-directed spending could improve health outcomes, specifically, 30-day readmission rates. Readmissions rates are a useful measure of health care quality-capturing in-hospital care, discharge planning, and follow-up. Since the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have been financially penalized for high readmission rates. The evidence from research suggests that increased investment in the social determinants of health, rather than simply writing off free care, has a significant impact on measurable health outcomes. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2019
Bureaucratic environment of large public agencies often becomes a deterrent for nonprofits to develop collaborative alliances. But according to the new research, 'Collaborative Value in Public and Nonprofit Strategic Alliances: Evidence from Transition Coaching (Authors: Jason Coupet of North Carolina State University; Sue Farruggia of University of Illinois at Chicago; Kate Albrecht & Teshanee Williams, Ph.D. students at North Carolina State University), finds that some nonprofits may be able to better serve their constituents by partnering with public institutions in order to navigate the bureaucracy and access services more efficiently. The researchers interviewed 17 nonprofit personnel and 16 university personnel about the degree to which they sought partnerships and why. Prof. Coupet says, 'These nonprofits were focused on helping high school students transition successfully to college...We found that a driving factor for these public-nonprofit partnerships was the nature of institutional bureaucracies - the very thing we thought would keep nonprofits away.' The researchers found that a public-nonprofit partnership gave nonprofits access to contacts that could help them more efficiently navigate bureaucratic channels in order to access services that were already available. Prof. Coupet adds, 'Making the process more efficient is good for the institutions, the nonprofits, and the students that they both serve - because fewer people can spend less time in order to get the desired result. Less time wasted means lower costs for everyone concerned...And while this study focused on the education sector, the finding is likely relevant for any sector in which public agencies provide services, from public health to housing to veterans affairs.' Read on...
NC State University News:
Study Finds Nonprofit Partnerships Can Help Solve Bureaucratic Tangles
Authors: Jason Coupet, Matt Shipman
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 dec 2018
Prof. Dean Karlan of Northwestern University does evidence-based research to evaluate what works and what doesn't when it comes to helping lift people out of poverty. He is the founder of the nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action and advises donors and institutions on the best use of their charitable dollars. Prof. Karlan says, '...in 2002 I started a nonprofit out of my living room, dedicated to creating high-quality randomized evaluations of global anti-poverty programs. Today, Innovations for Poverty Action has a US$ 42 million budget, most of which goes directly into research. We're now in 22 countries, but we've worked in 52 countries. We have some 500 permanent staff and have done almost 800 randomized evaluations of anti-poverty programs and initiatives. We apply rigorous economic theories and research to evaluating which global anti-poverty initiatives are working.' He suggests following tips to evaluate whether your charitable dollars are being used effectively: (1) Don't evaluate a charity based on its overhead. (2) Don't be swayed by marketing materials with moving heart-wrenching photographs. (3) Look for evidence of impact. (4) If you are wondering where your money will have the most impact, it's likely in poorer, developing countries. (5) Don't be afraid to give to large organizations. (6) Email the charity for evidence of cost effectiveness. (7) Consider giving to meta-charities. Read on...
It's the Season of Giving. How to Choose Charities Wisely
Author: Andrea Guthmann
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 sep 2018
People with business education and experience are now getting inclined towards social enterpreneurship and enterprises. They are realizing that business skills and expertise can be utilized to provide solutions to society's challenges. Prof. Patrick Adriel H. Aure of De La Salle University (Philippines) explains the importance of encouraging social entrepreneurship among business students and shares research and programs that he conducts at the university. The program, Lasallian Social Enterprise for Economic Development (LSEED), involves incubating student-led social enterprises that partner with marginalized local communities, while Social Enterprise Research Network (SERN) undertakes research and advocacy activities. Regarding one of the research conducted in relation to business students and social enterprises, Prof. Aure says, 'Our statistical analysis suggested there are two factors that consistently influence business students' intention to engage in social entrepreneurial activities - (1) Their perceived support from friends, family, and other organizations. (2) Their prior experience in socially-oriented activities such as volunteering.' Research findings suggest - Design social enterprise advocacy campaigns to target group participation and not encourage students individually; Schools may want to consider creating a pipeline of activities that enrich students' socially-oriented experiences. Read on...
The Manila Times:
Encouraging social entrepreneurship among business students
Author: Patrick Adriel H. Aure
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 sep 2018
According to the 2011 research study published in The American Journal of Medicine, 'Success in Grateful Patient Philanthropy: Insights from Experienced Physicians' (Authors: Rosalyn Stewart, Leah Wolfe, John Flynn, Joseph Carrese, Scott M. Wright - Johns Hopkins University), 'Facing challenging economic conditions, medical schools and teaching hospitals have turned increasingly to philanthropy as a way to supplement declining clinical revenues and reduced research budgets. One approach to offset these diminished returns is to commit efforts to 'grateful patient' programs that concentrate on satisfying patients and their families, especially families with significant assets. Support from grateful patients is the single most important source for substantive philanthropic gifts in medicine.' According to the latest 2018 research published in the Journal of American Medicine, 'Navigating the Ethical Boundaries of Grateful Patient Fundraising' (Authors: Megan E. Collins, Steven A. Rum, Jeremy Sugarman - Johns Hopkins University), 'Health care institutions in the United States receive more than US$ 10 billion annually in charitable gifts. These gifts, often from grateful patients, benefit physicians, institutions, and other patients through the expansion of clinical and research activities, community-based programs, and educational initiatives.' The topic of 'grateful patient philanthropy' raises some ethical issues in patient-physician relationship. There is general agreement that donation related interaction with patients shouldn't happen during the course of their treatment and should be discussed once patients have fully recovered from their medical condition. The study finds that although physicians consider fundraising as their duty but find it difficult to have a conversation with their patients regarding donations. Read on...
Grateful Patient Philanthropy? Some Fundraising Ethics Shouldn't Need to Be Taught
Author: Ruth McCambridge
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 | 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 | 30 apr 2018
Artificial Intelligence is one of the fields that's getting most attention from technology companies. AI researchers specialize in neural networks, complex algorithms that learn tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data. They are used in everything from digital assistants in smartphones to self-driving cars. Those with AI skills are in high demand. But, the salary data related to AI hires hasn't been in public domain. Now OpenAI, a nonprofit AI research organization, had made the salaries of their AI researchers public as their nonprofit setup requires them to do so. Top OpenAI researchers were paid as follows - Ilya Sutskever (more than US$ 1.9 million in 2016); Ian Goodfellow (more than US$ 800000 after getting hired in March 2016); Prof. Pieter Abbeel of University of California at Berkeley (US$ 425000 after joining in June 2016). OpenAI was founded by Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla) and other well-known names in technology. Element AI, an independent lab in Canada, estimates that 22000 people worldwide have the skills needed to do serious AI research - about double from a year ago. Chris Nicholson, Founder & CEO of AI startup Skymind, says, 'There is a mountain of demand and a trickle of supply.' There is scarcity of AI talent. Governments and universities are also seeking AI researchers, even though they may not match the salaries paid by private enterprises. OpenAI too cannot compensate equivalent to private tech companies as stock options are major attraction there. But OpenAI shares its research with the world, considered a positive approach in responsibile tech development. Mr. Sutskever says, 'I turned down offers for multiple times the dollar amount I accepted at OpenAI. Others did the same.' He expects salaries at OpenAI to increase as the organization pursued its 'mission of ensuring powerful AI benefits all of humanity.' AI specialists with little or no industry experience can make between US$ 300000 and US$ 500000 a year in salary and stock. Wojciech Zaremba, a researcher who joined OpenAI after internships at Google and Facebook, says, 'The amount of money was borderline crazy.' He says that tech companies offered 2 or 3 times what he believed his real market value was. At a London AI lab now owned by Google, costs for 400 employees totaled US$ 138 million in 2016. Top researchers are paid higher. Mr. Nicholson says, 'When you hire a star, you are not just hiring a star. You are hiring everyone they attract. And you are paying for all the publicity they will attract.' Other top researchers at OpenAI included Greg Brockman and Andrej Karpathy. In a growing and competitive tech field like AI it becomes challenging for organizations to retain talent. Read on...
The New York Times:
A.I. Researchers Are Making More Than $1 Million, Even at a Nonprofit
Author: Cade Metz
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 apr 2018
Considering the large number of competing nonprofits in a big town with their limited budgets, it's always challenging for them to reach out and attract donors and manage fundraising effectively. There are more than 2300 nonprofits operating in Philadelphia (USA). According to a research report 'The Financial Health of Philadelphia Area Nonprofits', funded by The Philadelphia Foundation, more than 40% of the nonprofits in the area are working at a loss, operate on margins of zero or less and fewer can be considered financially strong. With more than half the nonprofits operating on slim-to-none budget with limited support staff, fundraising is a challnging task. But Drexel University professor, Neville Vakharia, created an online tool, ImpactView Philadelphia, that uses publicly available data on nonprofit organizations from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in combination with the most recent American Community Survey data released by the U.S. Census Bureau to present an easy-to-access snapshot of Philadelphia's nonprofit ecosystem. The tool intends to help nonprofits streamline their fundraising process. It makes information about nonprofit organizations, and the communities they're striving to help, more accessible to likeminded charities and the philanthropic organizations that seek to fund them. Prof. Neville says, 'Through the location intelligence visualizer, users can immediately find areas of need and potential collaborators. The data are automatically visualized and mapped on-screen, identifying, for example, pockets of high poverty with large populations of children as well as the nonprofit service providers in these areas. Making this data accessible for nonprofits will cut down on time spent seeking information and improve the ability to make data-informed decisions, while also helping with case making and grant applications.' Since the tool is open-source it can be easily replicated in other cities. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 sep 2017
Data can be gold for those who can mine and transform it into a valuable form. Mastercard is giving a new meaning to it and evolving a concept of 'data philanthropy.' Shamina Singh, president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, explains the idea of data philanthropy and how data can be utilized for social good and social impact. She says, 'The initiative first came up through a partnership with DataKind in the United States. They were set up to galvanize data scientists from around the world and plug them into social impact work. And so a number of our Mastercard data scientists signed up to DataKind programs, and this gave us the opportunity to form a much more lasting and strategic partnership between the organizations. It opened a new conversation about data for good, what it could look like, and who was doing what in this space. It was also around this time that we had the United Nations opening up to data and data initiatives, and companies like Microsoft thinking about data for good.' Explaining some of the elements of data philanthropy Mastercard is focused on, she says, 'One is working with actual Mastercard data and trying to figure out if there are uses with anonymized and aggregated data that will not only respect the rules of the road around privacy, but can be used for research. We first opened our data for use by Harvard University, who approached us with a proposal to use the data to understand how economies grow, with a specific focus on tourism data and understanding how tourism dollars move in a country. Using Mastercard transaction data, we were able to provide new insights into this area...The other area of data philanthropy is around data analytics. What we have found is that many social impact organizations or NGOs do not need Mastercard data at all. Instead, they need to understand their own data, but often don't have the capacity or resources to help themselves. In those instances, we provide either a grant to hire a data scientist, fund an expert consultant, or provide our own data scientists to build their capacity and ability to learn. The inspiration for this element of data philanthropy came from our work with an organization called DoSomething...' Providing information on how Mastercard data scientists are internally looking for insights, she says, 'We started something called the charitable donations insight, and that is something that one of our colleagues is doing where she is using Mastercard data and drawing insights to help nonprofits understand charitable giving. We asked what a spending poll would look like for not-for-profits and social impact organizations, and insights is the first attempt at that...What she realized is that a lot of the not-for-profits have to raise their own funds, but there is not a lot of science behind potentially where and how they should be doing this. So she thought if she could unlock some of the data around the charitable contributions that we know of, she could offer insights to assist them. The other thing we did, which was very interesting, was we created a dataset that organizations could pull down if they want to, and mix it with your own data to self-regulate your own work.' Read on...
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