The Promising Ireland Campaign

The Ireland Funds have launched an ambitious campaign to raise 100 million dollars by 2013.

The campaign will help charitable and non-profit organizations across the island of Ireland and Irish communities abroad meet the challenge of increased demand for their services at a time of major reductions in resources. Anticipating growing need, the Funds began a quiet phase in 2009 and have successfully raised over $40 million towards the $100 million goal. Today’s announcement represents the beginning of the public phase of the Promising Ireland Campaign.

Speaking on behalf of the twelve Ireland Funds around the world, President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, Kieran McLoughlin said, “Irish charities are facing a difficult period along with increased demands on their services, yet they are doing so with great innovation and focus. This campaign is a response to that intensified need and our donors have indicated they are ready to meet the challenge. The name of the campaign, Promising Ireland, reflects both our pledge to Ireland and our belief in her future.”

Chairman of The American Ireland Fund, Loretta Brennan Glucksman said, “This campaign is our call to action and reinforces our abiding commitment to the island of Ireland as a place and a people that hold great promise for the future. Needs are greater today and so the benchmark of our response must also be greater. The Worldwide Ireland Funds have represented the generosity and goodwill of the Irish diaspora and the Irish themselves. This campaign translates that goodwill into action that will truly help those most in need and funds will be distributed as they are raised over the course of the campaign.”


World’s Richest Man Says: “Charity Doesn’t Solve Anything”

Source: Good: Business, Oct 17th 2010

Carlos Slim is the Mexican billionaire listed by Forbes as the world’s richest man. Although he has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to his own charities and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, his signature has not appeared on Gates and Warren Buffett’s  “Giving Pledge,” in which billionaires promise to donate half their fortunes to charity.

As the Wall Street Journalreports, while Slim was speaking at a conference in Sydney last month, he offered the following sentiment:

The only way to fight poverty is with employment. Trillions of dollars have been given to charity in the last 50 years, and they don’t solve anything. … To give 50 percent, 40 percent, that does nothing. There is a saying that we should leave a better country to our children. But it’s more important to leave better children to our country.Slim’s sentiments echo those of the Dead Aid author and economist Dambisa Moyo, who argues that the half century or so of foreign aid to African nations has failed to address root problems. Although neither Moyo nor Slim believe aid should be eliminated altogether, they both suggest prioritizing job creation over throwing money at problems.


Want to Help Developing Countries? Sell Them Good Stuff

A friend of mine David Wolman wrote this really interesting piece in Wired (he has also written a book on left-handedness…i kid you not!)

Source: Wired Sept 27th 2010

The Tata Group, India’s version of Acme and maker of the supercheap Nano automobile, recently introduced a $22 water purifier that works without electricity or running water. (Every few months it needs a new $6 filter.) A big-hearted, philanthropic, and important effort? You bet—cue the somber stats about preventable waterborne diseases. But check out the size of the market for a product like that: Some 900 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, 200 million of them in India alone. Tata is saving lives and making a killing.

That’s why, at next year’s G-whatever meeting in France, world leaders would do well to rip up those big checks to tin-pot autocrats and channel the cash to startup companies instead. Help those companies make cheap, useful products to sell to the world’s poor, who will use them to become less poor, and everybody wins. Management guru C. K. Prahalad advocated this very idea six years ago in The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, and now a few companies like Tata are putting it into action.

D.Light Design is a case in point. After witnessing the inefficiencies and harmful health effects of kerosene lamps as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, Sam Goldman returned to the US to earn an MBA and pursue a very specific agenda: Replace kerosene lighting, everywhere, with inexpensive solar-powered LED lamps. Three years ago, he launched D.light to produce such lamps and has already sold 250,000* to customers throughout the developing world at an average price of $20 apiece. The company hopes to light the homes of 50 million people by 2015.

Another example: Forty percent of humanity gets by on less than $2 a day, and most of those people are rural farmers. Efficient drip irrigation systems could triple or quadruple their yields while reducing their costs, but manufacturers haven’t bothered making drip systems for tiny farms. In 2004, a company called Global Easy Water Product began selling a setup that can be used for small plots. The price: $32.50 per quarter acre. In just two years as a for-profit venture, it has sold more than 250,000 units in India.

“Conventional development economics was always about increasing per capita income to a certain level before people become consumers,” says Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. The new view flips that logic on its head: Providing access to modern technologies by creating supercheap products may, in fact, be the best way to improve economic well-being. For entrepreneurs, the race is on to tap that massive population of penny-wielding consumers-in-waiting. Put another way, if Coke and Marlboro can sell to the world’s poor, companies whose products are actually useful should be able to do it, too.

But selling to subsistence farmers takes some reshuffled thinking. To simplify a bit, companies in traditional markets design a product, figure out what it costs to make, and then select a profit-maximizing price. That approach assumes, of course, that your market exists in the first place. When doing business in Burundi, you’re trying to conjure buyers out of thin air. To do that, you start by committing to a price as close as possible to nothing. The task, then, is to design a product that costs even less to make. Only with what Govindarajan calls “frugal engineering” can companies gain access to the masses at the bottom of the pyramid.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially for big firms that are already hardwired for other priorities (Tata is the exception here). But nimble startups can have a real advantage in this new environment because they aren’t trying to satisfy the tastes of existing first-world customers.

The trick is balancing affordability and quality. In a Harvard Business Review article last year, Govindarajan, together with Tuck colleague Chris Trimble and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, wrote that people in emerging markets “are more than happy with high-tech solutions that deliver decent performance at an ultralow cost—a 50 percent solution at a 15 percent price.” That’s not a green light for lame products, though. As in any market, what’s being sold has to fill an unmet need. The poor may be poor, but they’re not stupid.


€1m anonymous Donation

The Irish Times reported yesterday that

A mysterious benefactor has lodged €1 million into the bank account of a foundation planning to build a hospice in Co Wicklow.

The identity of the benefactor is known to the Wicklow Hospice Foundation but is being kept a closely guarded secret. No information, not even the gender of the person involved, their nationality or their link with Wicklow is being revealed.

This is fantastic news for the Wicklow Hospice Foundation and well done to the team there that secured the donation. It is however somewhat of a shame that the donation is anonymous. And in saying that I am certainly not being critical of the donor in any way.

I understand that charities need (and want to) protect their donors and naturally respect their wishes. So why I say its a shame is because if this person felt they were able to speak openly and freely about their donation, their motivations, their belief in the hospice, it could possibly encourage others, with the ability to make large gifts (not necessarily this large) do so.

My guess is this person wants to keep their name out of the papers because they dont want to be bombarded with requests from other charities. They probably also don’t want people to say “S/He only did it to look good”.

Unfortunately those two scenarios are realities in Ireland and until we change the overall perception of Philanthropy in the country we will continue to be in this position. I hope that in the coming years we can build a culture of giving in Ireland that applauds people for their donations, however major they are (lets face it we all dont have 1 million, but a % of that could be a major gift to someone else). I would love to see a time when we can see philanthropists at all levels talk about their work in a way that encourages others to give.

What do you think?

Why so negative about Zuckerberg’s donation?

I came across a few negative comments and articles about Mark Zuckerberg‘s $100 million donation to the Newark public school system yesterday, and to be honest Im pretty baffled by it. Ok so there is a film coming out about facebook in the coming weeks that, apparently, doesnt show him in a great light, so people are saying he is only making this donation to look good.

Seriously? 100 million to look good? Im sure there are a lot of other things he could have done to look good. And really who cares, the end result is a $100 million donation to the Newark public school system…and it probably wont stop there, this guy is obviously smart and he wants to make sure kids in the US  get a great education.

Its disappointing that the first thing peope do is knock something like this, it certainly cant help encourage others to do something similar (which is what we need). It was equally disappointing to see the silence from not for profits, leaders should have been out there saying how great it was that he was doing this.

So from me (for whatever its worth)…well done Mark Zuckerberg.

(nice piece from cnn here)

The Giving Pledge

The Giving Pledge is a real case of peer to peer fundraising. And it seems to be working as this information from Sky News demonstrates (via a link to Yahoo from Jason Potts)

Microsoft founder Gates and investor Buffett, who are worth a combined $90bn (£56.6bn), have persuaded 38 of their fellow billionaires to sign up.
The friends and philanthropists started The Giving Pledge last month.

Its aim is to persuade fellow billionaires to pledge the money to charity, either in their lifetime or after they die.
Buffett said: “We’ve really just started, but already we’ve had a terrific response.

“At its core, the Giving Pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used.”
He added: “We’re delighted that so many people are doing just that – and that so many have decided to not only take this pledge but also to commit to sums far greater than the 50% minimum level.”

Those who sign the pledge are also invited to publish a letter explaining their decision.

Among the latest batch to have signed up is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is worth $18bn (£11.3bn).

In his letter Bloomberg wrote: “Making a difference in people’s lives – and seeing it with your own eyes – is perhaps the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do. If you want to fully enjoy life – give.

“And if you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them, the single best thing – by far – is to support organisations that will create a better world for them and their children.”

Joining him is Star Wars Director George Lucas.Lucas wrote: “My pledge is to the process; as long as I have the resources at my disposal, I will seek to raise the bar for future generations of students of all ages.”

Others on the list include entertainment executive Barry Diller ($1.2bn, £775m), Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison ($28bn, £17.6bn), energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens ($1.1bn, £692m), media mogul Ted Turner ($4.8bn, £3bn), banker David Rockefeller ($2.2bn, £1.3bn) and investor Ronald Perelman ($11bn, £6.9bn).They join Eli Broad, who made his money in property, venture capitalist John Doerr, media entrepreneur Gerry Lenfest and former Cisco Systems Chairman John Morgridge in supporting the effort.

The US has 403 billionaires, the most of any country, and all together they have a combined fortune of $1.3 trillion.
Mr Buffett himself pledged to give 99% of his wealth to good causes in 2006.
Gates and Buffet will now wine and dine other billionaires in an attempt to persuade them to follow suit.

Australian Major Donors Tell Why They Give

I have just read this report from Relate Partners and it provides a useful (if not earth-shatteringly new) insight into the motivations of Major Donors. Relate have spoken to 14 major donors in Australia and offer a summary of what motivates them to give, and some things that frustrate them about their work with non profits. This report, as is to be expected, aims to promote the work of Relate Partners (testimonials on the back page), but still it’s not a bad read . If you dont have time (it is quite short) Pro Bono Australia offers this overview

Australia’s major donors give because they believe they have vital contribution to make, but feel underutilised by charities who only want their money, according to a new report. The report found that the most inspiring environment for giving by major donors is with charities who engage them in a well contextualised relationship, shaped by candid conversation.

From the face to face discussions, the group of major donors say they give most to causes that impact people in need, to charities that can leverage their giving, and when personally asked by a well informed representative in an appropriate way.

Director of Relate Partners, Steve Gleeson, says major donors typically ask the very basic question, “How can I best contribute to help address this need?”.

Major donors say they are sceptical and tired of direct mail and do not respond with their biggest gifts to this solicitation method. Whilst they all prefer to be asked clearly, directly and personally for their major gifts, they don’t expect it to be the CEO. These high capacity donors say they generally need contact with someone who knows the work, can inform them well, be clear about what they want and is prepared to ask for it.

Allowing major donors to inform the method of engagement and communication, by hearing directly from them, is a real positive towards expectations being met, and their giving being maximised.

Nic Capp, founder and director of Relate Partners, says as they spoke one-on-one with these major donors, it was clear that they were buoyed by talking about how to improve their giving experience.  Capp says they want to be better engaged because they want to help as best they can.

Major donors acknowledge they have disproportionate capacity to resource charities and they often want to give more than money. Typically highly skilled, vastly experienced and well networked, major donors say they feel underutilised by charities who only want their money.

The report says when these high calibre people ‘buy in’ to a purposeful endeavour, they want to contribute well and often are willing to contribute beyond financial donations. Their life and business skills and experience can not only be invaluable to a NFP in an advisory or board function, but when utilised they can be extremely motivating to the major donors in their resourcing capacity.

Relate Partners specialise in major donor personal engagement and had conversations with 14 major donors who agreed to respond to a range of questions, in order to help inform the fundraising practice of Australian Not for Profit organisations.

(Original Content Credit: Pro Bono Australia)

The full report can be viewed at

I came across all of this information via Jay Frost