Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I have a laundry list of things to blog about, since I wasn't able to blog from Fargo (low-speed internet does not make good blogging). But I will leave you this year with a story about generosity from my birthplace: Bismarck, ND.
Listen to the PostSecret Christmas story here.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
However, the Chronicle's report on Ben Affleck's latest involvement with relief efforts for the Democratic Republic of Congo are catching my eye, and perhaps encouraging Damon lovers everywhere to switch teams for a hot minute.
Ben and Mick Jagger teamed up to create a short film shot in the DRC called "Gimme Shelter," which they hope will raise $23 million in relief for displaced persons and refugees as a result of the fighting currently taking place there. The disputes are offshoots of early 1990's fighting between Rwaandan ethnic battles. The UN estimates that the fighting has claimed as many as 4.5 million lives in the past decade. Insanity.
Thank goodness more efforts towards awareness and humanitarian relief are being backed by the Jagg-meister and Benny boy. Hopefully, their video will aid in the UN's relief efforts and open the eyes of many an ignorant citizen.
So for now, Ben has taken the lead. Maybe Matt's attempts to win back my heart could be to dump his current wife and whisk me away to the war-torn Congo to shuffle these refugees to safety?!? And then he will be my lover AND favorite celebrity philanthropist.
[Shoot...I've watched Beyond Borders waaaayyy too many times.]
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
However, I propose that we continue blogging. Because even though our academic calendar for fall semester has ended, that doesn't mean that our dedication to seeking out philanthropy in pop culture should.
Plus, I love this font. And don't ever want to stop typing in it.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I can certainly think of, oh, maybe just a few better, more meaningful and philanthropic ways to spend $80 million supposedly charitable dollars!! This is a moral disgrace.
I can't wait for my Rolling Stone magazine to show up tomorrow. I don't really know how or why I get it. I certainly didn't subscribe. I haven't been billed. My husband swears he had nothing to do with it. But it does have great articles (like the recent spread on The Big Lebowski -- one of my favorite movies ever -- but I digress) and tomorrow's should not disappoint. Brad Pitt is on the cover, and according to this report, he defends his and Angie's decision to sell their children's photos for charity.
Proceeds earned from the sale of exclusive photographs of their natural-born children -- Shiloh and twins Viv and Knox -- to pop culture magazines like Hello! and People have netted the Jolie-Pitt Foundation tens of millions of charitable dollars over the past few years. And all because of the public's insatiable thirst for celebrities! I'm guessing that's the reasoning behind the decision. Or at least one of them.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
It's appropriate on this day, the DVD release of Batman: The Dark Knight, that we discuss misanthropy for the first time on this blog. We'll have to save the discussion of Batman as philanthropist for another time.
[May I just say before going any further how amazing the film looks on Blu-Ray, especially those scenes shot with the IMAX film technology!]
As Batman's nemesis, the Joker is the ultimate misanthrope. He is not your usual villain: he has no friends, he's not motivated by money or revenge, he is not reasonable or plays by any rules, and there is nothing to threaten him with. As Alfred Pennyworth said, "some men just want to see the world burn." Indeed, this seems to be just what the Joker wants.
Among his worst acts:
- He uses knives to kill people instead of guns. Guns are to quick; with knives you can savor the emotion of seeing who someone really is in the last moments of their life. Do you want to know who was a coward?
- The Joker appears pleased, as if he is having fun, at each new heist he completes. He relishes the fight Batman puts forward, believing that things would be boring if Batman didn't exist.
- Among the hundreds of innocent people he kills are numerous police officers, the police commissioner, a judge, and, of course, Rachel Dawes. Oh, and don't forget the he also blew up a hospital.
- Finally, in an attempt to prove that even someone good can turn evil, he ultimately targets Harvey Dent, Gotham's District attorney. The Joker pits Rachel against Harvey; only one can live, and when Batman saves Harvey, Rachel dies. Harvey is left with half his face burned ... as Two Face, Harvey Dent gives in to the dark side.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
With the holiday season upon us, Starbucks has released their ever popular holiday drinks. I LOVE the holiday drinks, and have a special soft spot for the Gingerbread Latte, as it was my inagural Starbucks drink and the drink that started my love affair with caffeine. As if they could get any better, this year the holiday drinks have an added bonus. Starbucks has partnered with (Project) Red in order to brighten the holiday season. (Starbucks) Red has decided to donate 5 cents to Project Red -- an organization that helps provide AIDS relief in Africa and has Bono as a front man -- for every holiday drink bought this season.
While 5 cents doesn't sound like a lot, there are three drinks to choose from at millions of locations across the US.
(Starbucks) Red is bringing a whole new meaning to the "warm glow" the holiday drinks bring every year.
Here's the story of actor Jet Li, who is teaching compassion and civic duty in a modern, Westernized China. Li's One Foundation is a partnership with the Red Cross Society of China. At the core of the foundation's philosophy is: “1 person + 1 dollar/yuan + 1 month = 1 big family”. The actor hasn't made many movies lately, as the article reports, to reprise the "major themes of his life — self-sacrifice, service and discipline."
Knowing we have a few Chinese students at the Center on Philanthropy and another fellow blogger who's also an Asia studies scholar, I'm interested to know what others think.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I'll be tweeting thanks for a long & productive weekend!
Follow me on Twitter!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Is the notion of giving a simple gift, no strings attached, becoming more and more passe? The NY Times reports on the growing phenomenon of "gifts with benefits" special events fundraising and charity auctions, where portions of every purchase are "donated" to charity. Is this creative fundraising -- a win-win for consumers and charities alike -- or dilution of philanthropy as an ethical and moral value?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
In line with Laura's post below, there are upsides and downsides to Celeb Philanthropy. The upside, as previously mentioned, is an increase of awareness for a cause, leverage of increased funds, and proximity to pretty people with lots of money. While I am all for George Clooney (Hello, gorgeous.), the article points out how these celebs' organizations have not been the most careful in accounting for all of their funds or spending more on operating costs than actually on grants or their mission. George Clooney's foundation hadn't even turned in forms to the IRS!
Even though these celebs elevate the causes, are they above the legalities of nonprofit and foundation work?
I say absolutely not!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Although from an issue in the Chronicle a month ago, the effect of Corporate Social Responsibility has peaked my interest. This article appeared around the same time that Target started running it's new (and super cute) commercial ad, touting the fact that 5% of every purchase goes towards Target's mission of community awareness and their community outreach program. They give money to education, arts and culture, and social services in the community, donating roughly $3 million a week. CSR is an admirable way for companies to funnel some of their profits back into the community that supports them.
However, the October article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy cited a Forbes article which asks, does CSR really pay off? Does knowledge of Target's 'giving back' really incline consumers to shop there instead of WalMart? Hass claims that convenience, price, and quality rather than ethical reasons motivate consumers to buy certain products, or in this case, shop at a certain store.
After an in-depth and elaborate consumer poll (consisting of Laura, my mom, and I...HEY! We are born shoppers), I concluded that it does indeed make a difference.
But perhaps we are predisposed. I mean, I AM blogging for the first time in my life on the issue of philanthropy.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Who can resist helping victims of office robberies, even if there is no Wikipedia entry for office robbery statistics?
Mostly, I couldn't resist blogging about last night's episode of The Office in which Michael organizes a charity auction to help his colleagues who have been victims of an office robbery. According to Michael, "It's like Farm Aid, but instead of farmers fighting against AIDS, it will be us fighting against our own poverty." Never mind that the victims will actually have to spend more money bidding on their own goods and services (like Bob Vance's $1000 purchase of a hug from his wife!).
C.R.I.M.E A.I.D stands for "Crime Reduces Innocence Makes Everyone Angry I declare." Only Michael Scott can could up with something so ridiculous.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I'm preparing to leave for Fargo on Tuesday and thinking about those pioneer women I'll be interviewing, so I can't help but give a little shout out to my Fargo Lions.
In our Philanthropic Studies curriculum that's dominated by the charitable nonprofits [501(c)3], the mutual benefit organizations that are service clubs are often overlooked [501(c)4]. That's one of the many reasons I'm investigating a Lions Club for my thesis research. For the two years that I lived in Fargo I was also an active member of the Fargo Lions (I'm still a member of this club although I'm inactive living in Indy). When it comes to building social capital, mobilizing volunteers and raising funds for local charities no one does it better then the Fargo Lions.
Lion John Dobbs is one of my Lions mentors and now a dear friend. Our friendship is an example of how service clubs bring generations together among members and among the community (what could be better than bridging AND bonding social capital?!). John will always have a special little place in my heart - - he was my dad's insurance agent and he insured me when I was a babe. Indeed, we're quite sure John held me as a baby at more then one office visit ... now, 30 years later, we're friends!
That's me & John at the Fargo Lions 2007 Take the Cake auction - ROAR!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
As I think about Aristotle's 5 criteria for giving, or RAMBAM's Ladder, I'm just not sure that either really qualify as the best kind of giving. And, to invoke Payton/Moody, if either is to be philanthropic, it must be done thoughtfully and with careful study. What does this or any other tour/travel provide to ensure that it is? Pehrpas everyone should be required to read Understanding Philanthropy first!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Of course I checked out their Twitter page which led me to the organization's website. I'm more then a little befuddled reading philanthropic travel described as "exquisite" and "luxurious." The home page even invokes the ever-popular serial reciprocity: "Philanthropic Travelers create a chain reaction of 'pay it forward,' goodwill that unlocks powerful community development and gratitude."
I'm curious to hear what others think: is philanthropic travel (a.k.a "voluntourism") really "a catalyst for a Peaceful, Prosperous, and Friendly World"? And if so, how would you even begin to measure that??
P.S. if I had thought about it a year ago, I should have proposed to go on one of these tours for "thesis research" to invterview participants and create some kind of metrics for measuring impact. Ah, too late now. To Fargo instead. :)
Monday, September 29, 2008
I really enjoyed NPR's story on Mr. Newman, which I listened to while driving from DC to Baltimore on Saturday.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
In addition to biking, one of my other great loves is wine. Everything I learned about wine I learned from Gary Vaynrchuk via his video blog Wine Library TV. Well, tonight I was watching Batman Begins (which you'll hear more about in upcoming posts) but all his talk about Bruce Wayne continuing his family's legacy (or when he was younger, intentionally disregarding it) made me think of GV. He's a huge internet celebrity - just search for him in google, twitter, facebook, or flickr - who has earned that celebrity because of his business acumen AND enthusiastic passion for good people. Remember Good People Day 2008? That was his idea and it cascaded through the internet like Hurricane Ike. I can't think of anything that's MORE pop culture then this internet sensation.
Anyway, back to legacy. A recent post in Gary's personal blog is "Legacy is Greater Than Currency." It's something he believes in so strongly you can see him wearing it on his shirt above. This mantra reflects his belief that you should make business decisions based on your long term legacy. For him, his long term legacy is building a successful business (which arguably he's done a few times over!), but there's much more behind that then just the money. It's pretty clear that in fact it's not about the "bones" - - he often says he'd rather have a million friends over a hundred million dollars. For me, this is what philanthropy is about: PEOPLE. Gary may not know it, but a concern for people's happiness is at the core of a philanthropic life and Gary is living it.
He sums it up best: "Your social equity is more important than your financial equity."
So, now that I've covered 2 of my 3 favorite activities in this blog, how am I going to relate salsa dancing to philanthropy????
Monday, September 15, 2008
The cover story notes that since last year's issue made the case for national serivce, this year's issue will focus on "21 big and small ideas on how you can service your community, your family, your country." But the over-arching theme of the article will sound familiar to us phil studies students. First, what is the proper role of government when it comes to service? When it comes to the presidential canditates, their backgrounds tell you a lot about their answer to this question: McCain served his country through tradition and honored military service while Obama's work with grassroots community organizing is more unorthodox. (More on this below). The other theme of the article that struck me was that "National service is part of our DNA" in America. Indeed, "service is a key part of the story we tell ourselves about this country."
You can peruse the list of 21 to-do's on your own. Of most interest to me is the candidates' plans for national service - - as I noted above, their respective experiences certainly influence their proposals. Obama's plan centers around investing in grass-roots ideas. He proposes a Social Investment Fund Network to bring together faith-based organization and foundations to expand successful programs. McCain's plan centers around enhancing educational opportunities in service, American history and civics. He also proposes a White House Serivce to America Office to streamline national serivce programs across the federal government.
And finally, if you pick up a hard copy of this magazine, be sure to pay attention to the front cover advertisement from Target. It shows a picture of a young girl at school. The tag line reads "5% Philanthropist". It says to me: the easiest way to be a philanthropist is to shop at Target becuase the company gives 5% of its income to support education, the arts, social service and volunteerism (this according to the ad). But, I don't think this ad really inspires me to be a philanthropist anymore then it inspires me to be a consumer.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
So, the question is: how are the Colts team and/or owner using philanthropy to promote itself within the community? Given the assets of both, is it doing enough philanthropy? Is a $1 million gift really that significant when compared to the players' payroll, for example?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
On Saturday I received a postcard from my alma mater, Concordia College, entitled "The Advancement Office." I'm impressed that the development operation is branching out this year in an attempt to better connect with its youngest alumni by spoofing the television show The Office. The postcard directed me to www.theadvancementoffice.com where I watched 4 homemade videos of the development office staff. The Vice President of Development plays the ineffectual, and un-self aware, leader role. You see him trying to motivate his staff with corn hats (no joke, our schools mascot is the Kernal). You see him scheduling a meeting with a major donor at Mick's Office, the much-beloved but hole-in-the-wall college bar. And my favorite is The Rivalry between Kristin, who strong believes that the age of online giving is here and now, and Andrea who argues that phonathon is king. In the photo below Andrea tries to foil Kristin's online giving plans.
I don't believe the college would have ever done something like this a year age but I love that it's stepping outside of its comfort zone while embracing web 2.0 ... not to mention how it effectively engages alumni. If the postcard made me go online AND make my annual gift, then I hope other young alums will do the same!
Watch The Rivalry (and the other clips) at: http://theadvancementoffice.com/rivalry.php#rivalry
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