Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Google DotOrg

There's nothing more pop culture than that great search engine in the sky (er, internet super highway): GOOGLE. If you've ever checked out its non-traditional philanthropic arm, google.org, as I have, you know they are doing all kinds of interesting things. Things my fellow classmates and professors would probably classify as "social entrepreneurship." They're changing things up again, to align the "DotOrg" in their work with the regular "DotCom" part of their business. Read about it in here, in New York Times.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't Bowl Alone-a-thon 2009

I'm pretty proud that our class has officially made the Don't Bowl Alona-a-thon a tradition. Taking our cue from Robert Putnam, we've organized an event that is the epitome of social capital building. The evening's activity began at the Fountain Square Duck Pin Bowling Alley (seriously, it's like stepping back in time to 1958) and continued at local drinking establishments including a hip new neighborhood bar and Indiana's oldest bar still in operation. This year included a few kids and a super cute baby (at the bowling alley, NOT the bars!), so I know it's just going to get better and better each year!
Here's the group, at its social best:

And here's your favorite blogger who was put in charge of score-keeping. What can I say, I like being in charge!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How do you respond to homelessness?

Listen to this NPR story with Patty Stonesifer (formerly of the Gates Foundation) about how she chooses to address homelessness in her community.

Among the ethical questions the story addresses are (and these should be familiar to my fellow classmates!):

should you give to panhandlers? money? food? or both?
want to do when you are confronted with a panhandler?
how does that differ from what you actually do? or, does it?
is it better to look a panhandler in the eye with respect rather than give them money?

Patty Stonesifer explains that she usually does not give to panhandlers. Rather, she chooses to direct her giving to organizations in her community which address problems of homeless as part of a city-wide plan. Compare her response with her daugher's very different giving choice.

What do you think? And how do you answer the questions above?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's Super Bowl Sunday!

Well, it's Super Bowl Sunday - a major national event for civil society - and I feel obliged to blog about philanthropic themes in today's broadcast. Most apparent, of course, is the NFL's season-long partnership with the United Way to promote fitness among youth - Play 60. I've seen at least one related commercial already tonight promoting Play 60, and tonight's game ball was brought onto the field by a young boy who won the Play 60 contest. Since this kind of partnership is essentially a corporate social responsibility initiative, the cause certainly ties nicely to the mission of the NFL; and, considering the exposure among young people, a place where the NFL can have a positive impact. The website even solicits donations for its four philanthropic causes. I would be interested in seeing some kind of data on the number of kids who've participated this season and how the NFL measures the program's success.

Watch Colts number 21, Bob Sanders, teaching kids the importance of an active lifestyle.

Finally, for my fellow philanthropy geeks, I encourage you to look up the NFL's 990 nonprofit tax return if you haven't already ... but that's really a whole 'nother ball of wax ... we'll save that discussion for another time!

P.S. Did you see the end of that first half?!?! What is UP with that 100 yard touchdown interception? We're rooting for Arizona in this house, but it's not looking good...