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Posts Tagged ‘New Philanthropy’

Jeff Skoll, the first President of Ebay, has given $100 million dollars to start a new foundation called the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund.  According to a NY Times article yesterday, the organization will address urgent crises such as water shortages, pandemics and the Middle East conflict.  The Urgent Threats Fund will be led by former Google philanthropy guru Larry Brilliant (see our blog post here), and is intended to leverage the work done by the rest of the Skoll Foundation in supporting and celebrating social entrepreneurs.

“What I’ve been aiming at all these years is to try and address these big social issues in the world,” Mr. Skoll said, “but in the last five years or so, certain issues have emerged very clearly that, if we don’t get ahead of them soon, all of the other things we’re trying to do, whether improving the lives of women or preservation of species or girls’ education, won’t really matter.”

Mr. Skoll is making a name for himself in pioneering new means of using philanthropy for social good, and we hope his innovation inspires further creativity.

Watch Jeff Skoll speak at last year’s GPF here, and listen to Larry Brilliant’s GPF remarks here.

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The Philanthropy News Digest spoke with Jane Wales, the co-founder of the Global Philanthropy Forum and president and CEO of the World Affairs Council about the world’s poor, the global economic crisis, its effect on philanthropy, and the Obama administration’s interest in social innovation.

Read the full interview: Jane Wales, President and Co-Founder, Global Philanthropy Forum: Philanthropy and Social Innovation.

The last four Newsmakers recognized by the Philanthropy News Digest will be speaking at the Global Philanthropy Forum’s 2009 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., April 22-24. See all the articles here.

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An article today on Bloomberg.com explores one of the biggest forces in today’s global philanthropy: hedge fund leaders.  The authors emphasize the weight these hedge fund philanthropists place on results: “If a hedge fund manager is going to give money, we want them to give based on the effectiveness of the charity,” says Martin Brookes, chief executive officer of NPC and a former international economist at Goldman. “There is much more focus on what the money achieves.”

The article details some pretty inspiring results from the work of leaders in the field, including Chris Cooper-Hohn of The Children’s Investment Fund LLP or TCI, and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, or CIFF, run by his Harvard-educated wife, Jamie Cooper-Hohn.  One example highlighted is that of a 3.7 million pound grant in 2005 from CIFF to the Clinton Foundation which enabled the Clinton Foundation – together with a coalition of government and nonprofit agencies – to reduce the price of a year’s dosage of antiretroviral drugs to $180 from $1,500.

These hedge fund leaders vow that they will continue their philanthropy in these difficult times, even though their investments may suffer.  Let’s hope they mean it.

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On Thursday, Wall Street financier Bernard L. Madoff was arrested on charges of fraud totaling losses of $50 billion.   A former head of the Nasdaq stock market, Madoff was a prominent leader in the New York Jewish community and served as Chairmen of the School of Business at Yeshiva University. His fund, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, supported several large Jewish organizations,  advised wealthy members in the Jewish community, and managed funds for two major European banks. One Jewish charity, The Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation, has already closed down and let go of its staff, having lost all of the money needed to fund its programs with the collapse of Madoff’s fund.  And just this morning, The JEHT Foundation, a charity that supports reform of the criminal and juvenile justice systems, announced that it will close its doors next month because its donors, Jeanne and Kenneth Levy-Church, were investors in Madoff’s firm. There are fears that other prominent charities funded by Madoff will soon collapse as well – see the list of those involved here.

Madoff confessed to running a Ponzi-scheme, where early investors were paid with money collected from later investors.  The NY Times says Madoff’s scheme likely succeeded for as long as it did because  “Madoff sent detailed brokerage statements to investors whose money he managed, sometimes reporting hundreds of individual stock trades per month. Investors who asked for their money back could have it returned within days. And while typical Ponzi schemes promise very high returns, Mr. Madoff’s promised returns were relatively realistic — about 10 percent a year — though they were unrealistically steady.”

While it is still unclear what lasting effects this scandal may have on Jewish philanthropy in the long term, it could open the door for  ‘new philanthropists’ to  pick up the financial slack left by more traditional foundations that had their assets managed by Madoff that are now struggling, if not collapsing.  We may see a shift away from large, traditional foundation investments in the Jewish community, to smaller, more strategic gifts with much more active donor involvement.

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Philanthropist and billionaire Bill Gates spoke in Washington DC yesterday encouraging President-Elect Obama to increase spending. Even in the midst of this financial crisis, Gates urged us not to lose sight of our future and not to sacrifice our long-term goals for short-term gain. He encouraged Obama to follow through on his campaign commitment to double U.S. foreign aid to $50 billion in his first year.

An article covering the speech in today’s Washington Post paints Gates as a new philanthropist: someone who “is pioneering a new approach to philanthropy, applying the risk-taking and results-based philosophy of an entrepreneur to solving some of the world’s most chronic problems.” This is the very same approach applied by members of our Global Philanthropy Forum – a community of donors and social investors that seek to inform, enable, and enhance the strategic nature of their giving and social investing. It’s good to see major media venues talking about this ‘new philanthropy’, and we hope it helps elevate broader understanding of what it means to be strategic in one’s giving.

Watch Gates’ speech here. And read the Global Philanthropy Forum online debate on new philanthropy, or ‘philanthrocapitalism‘ – the practice of applying business metrics to philanthropy – here.

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