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Jack Dorsey Donates Another $15M to Mayors for a Guaranteed Income

“I’m now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” – Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inspired directly by the words of MLK, and by the struggles of his own youth and community, Mayor Michael D Tubbs of Stockton, California worked with the Economic Security Project to found Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June, 2020. During the first crush of the pandemic, while 10 million Americans were suddenly without income or safety net, 30 mayors from all over the country began working together to establish guaranteed income programs in their cities.

“So many of our constituents were in food lines for Thanksgiving,” said Tubbs.

“Covid-19 has made it very, very clear to build back better we have to make sure everyone has an income floor,” he said. “We’re all taking considerable political risk in doing this, but we understand that the biggest risk is nothing changes.”

For Tubbs, the risk was almost certainly a factor in his defeat this November by Republican opponent Kevin Lincoln. However, leaving the mayoral office in January will not stop his participation in this program or his platform of guaranteed income.

At the debut of the program, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, donated $3 million to help launch its efforts. Now as the program gains structure and momentum, he has donated another $15 million, to be divided evenly among the 30 pilot cities ($500,000 each.) Each city will then decide how to allocate those funds. For instance, Stockton will be providing $500 per month to participants. Dorsey’s donation will cover a thousand of those payments.

“Thank you Mayor [Tubbs] and to all the Mayors of @mayorsforagi for these universal basic income pilots! I hope they inform federal policy in the future,” tweeted Dorsey on Tuesday.

Source: CNBC

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Top Nonprofit Trends of 2019

The nonprofit sector is rapidly evolving. Charities that want to succeed in the coming year will need to stay ahead of the curve by studying the list below, which contains the top nonprofit trends of 2019.

Rejecting Tainted Money

Fundraising ethics became a central concern in 2019 amid several scandals involving high-profile donors. For example, many organizations struggled to distance themselves from philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein after he was charged with child sex trafficking crimes.

Similarly, institutions that received millions of dollars from the Sackler family attempted to cut ties after news reports surfaced of the family’s alleged role in the opioid crisis.

Focusing on Diversity

While a lot of progress has been made in regards to hiring more people of color, data collected from the 100 biggest charities shows that white men still make up the majority of chief executives.

Increasing Wages

Earlier this year, more than 2,500 museum workers disclosed their salaries in a crowdsourced spreadsheet that has since gone viral. The results showed that many of the lowest paid workers do not earn enough to keep up with the cost of living. As a result, many organizations are making it a priority to increase wages.

Mass Exodus of Fundraisers

A survey conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy in conjunction with the Association of Fundraising Professionals revealed that half of fundraisers are looking to leave their jobs due to low wages, too much pressure to reach unrealistic goals, and frustrating organizational structures.

Fundraising with Artificial Intelligence

Advances in technology have made it possible for charities to more efficiently target donors. There are now artificial intelligence programs that can identify donors’ passions and make appeals to them based on their personal interests. While there is excitement regarding the benefits of this new technology, some experts worry that it will result in fewer jobs for real people.

Why do these nonprofit trends matter? Because in the end, it is the organizations that know how to navigate these changes that will thrive in 2020.

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Making It a Little Easier to Investigate Charity Fraud

Image: Shutterstock

Between 2005 and 2016, the number of non-profits in America jumped from around 500,000 to over 1.6 million. Consequently, the number of fraud cases brought against nonprofit has increased as well. There have been a number of scandals in the non-profit field in 2015 and 2016 alone, and they’ve brought to light just how hard it can be to investigate such cases.

The IRS, with which all non-profits have to be registered, is finally helping to make that a little easier by making available digital, or digitized, 990 forms. In so doing, they have made these forms, which are required for non-profits, available for anyone to pursue or to mine for data, in order to find out how many non-profits work on X issue, or have claimed more than Y donations. That will, hypothetically, make it easier for investigators to determine if fraud accusations are truthful.

It’s a process that should have been completed some time ago, a lot closer to when President Obama issued an executive order to make government agencies more transparent. The IRS claimed they didn’t have the resources to do so, but the courts didn’t agree. It’s also not a perfect system. There are still a number of forms missing, from about 40% of groups that didn’t file electronically. Going forward, mandatory electronic filing might be in the works, and would certainly make life easier for investigators. But it’s also not the easiest system to use, and is better suited to broad searches that require a lot of data, than for one person to tack down one organization’s filings.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction. It also brings to light at least one simple thing that non-profits can do to help: file electronically with the IRS. Fraud is bad news for the whole field, so it’s in every non-profit’s interest to make rooting out charity fraud easier.

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These Mysterious “Christmas Tree Lights” in a Charity Hospital are taking over the Internet

Social media certainly lit up during Christmas when photos began circulating of lights coming from an abandoned Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

The picture is the perfect type of image to go viral: it resides in Charity Hospital, which has been shut down since 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina. Given that the location around it has been deserted ever since, there is a palpable lifelessness and eeriness to the entire picture. This contrasts perfectly with the bright shining lights on the “Christmas tree.” Given the time of year, and the high quality and unique qualities of the picture, it was sure to go viral!

“It’s really pretty and a little creepy,” said WWL-TV viewer Mike Arbon, who shared the picture. “It gave me chills when I saw it and, of course, made me think of my brother, who passed away at Charity Hospital.”

Arbon took the picture during his shift at Tulane Medical Center. He says he saw someone else post similar photos and wanted to see for himself. Needless to say, he was not disappointed.

As for the mystery: it turns out that some 2X4s were assembled in the general shape of a Christmas tree and adorned with lights. That’s right, the mysterious tree wasn’t even a tree at all! However, we don’t think anyone much cares for that detail of the story.

The beacon of light in the midst of a gloomy desperation struck a cord with the entire Internet, and it was a pleasant story to follow at the end of an eventful 2015.

We hope you all have a safe New Year’s Eve and a splendid 2016!

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Tennessee Program to Feed Hungry Children Falters due to Fraud, Incompetence

As many as 1 in 4 children living in Tennessee are at risk of hunger, which is why the Department of Human Services has been contracting with various non-profits around the state to help provide those children with meals and snacks. Unfortunately, the process has had significant problems.

Now, Building Futures, one of the non-profits previously contracted, is suing DHS for wrongful termination, after the agency claimed that Building Futures was one of a number of groups that were delivering less food that promised, and pocketing the leftover cash. Lawyers for Building Futures have declined to say anything specific about the case, but have said that they aren’t one of the groups doing that.

According to The Tennessean, a number of the other groups associated with the program have been fraudulent, and some even have fraud convictions in other states. Building Futures is actually based in Arkansas, and due to their termination by DHS, they can’t work with similar programs in either state. Building Futures even went so far as to replay DHS almost $20,000 dollars that the agency claimed the overcharged, all while maintaining that they didn’t overcharge DHS or defraud them.

DHS has it’s own problems as well. They’ve faced criticism over poor management of this and other programs, which doesn’t seem surprising considering how much fraud seems to be happening. Carmen Gentry, former director of DHS, resigned in July. She claimed that DHS has failed to improve their internal processes, and that they don’t have any kind of consistent, computerized tracking of their programs, despite requests from within and without DHS to do exactly that.

Between the internal problems of DHS, and the potential for outright fraud by unscrupulous “charities” that saw the opportunity to rip off the State of Tennessee, it’s not surprising that the program has failed to achieve it’s goals. Of course, the real victims are the hungry children who haven’t been helped because of greed, incompetence, or both.

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Rock Legends Hold Charity Raffle for Private Concert

Eddie Vedder, lead vocalist of Pearl Jam, is teaming up with Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey, guitarist and lead vocalist (respectively) of The Who, to help raise money for two charities. Using the crowdsourcing website Crowdrise, the musicians are selling raffle tickets for $10 each. The winner gets a private concert featuring Townsend, Daltrey, and Vedder, as well as accommodations in Santa Monica. The concert is scheduled for September 12th, so there’s still plenty of time to buy a raffle ticket. And, like most raffles, more money buys exponentially more chances to win. $10 gets one ticket, while $25 gets three, and $50 gets seven.

Earlier this year, Townsend and Vedder donated autographed guitars, unique recordings, and other items to a charity drive for Teen Cancer America. Teen Cancer America helps cancer patients who are making the transition to adulthood. They work with hospitals across the country to help develop specialized centers for teens and young adults who are dealing with cancer. They work to improve collaboration between pediatric and adult-care specialists, and help to provide spaces for teens where they won’t feel so out of place.

The concert raffle will help support Teen Cancer America, but the proceeds are also going to help Foundation To Be Named Later. Foundation To Be Named Later works to help raise money for other charitable groups, specifically those focused on urban youth and families. The name is a reference to the baseball trade term “player to be named later,” and grew out of a desire to harness the goodwill of Boston Red Sox fans after that team won the World Series Championship. Since 2005, the organization has been working with others to raise money, donating over $6 million to other organizations, and sending over 3,200 kids to Red Sox, Cubs, and Celtics games in Boston and Chicago.

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Helping Homeless Families

The common image of homelessness is a man in layers of ragged clothing, begging for change in a big city. This is, however, far from the full picture. Most people don’t think that much about the issue, and so many aspects of homelessness get ignored.

One of those aspects, often overlooked by even the most generous of people, is family homelessness. As the name implies, family homelessness affects whole families, which can find themselves without a home for any number of reasons. Eviction, job loss, fires, medical bills and so on, anything that might drive a single person into the street can put entire families there as well.

Homeless

Safe Haven Family Shelter works to alleviate these problems in the Middle Tennessee region. Centered around a shelter-to-housing program, Safe Haven begins looking for housing for families as soon as they bring them in, with space for up to 10 families in their shelter. Thanks to a variety of community grants, they are able to help 30 families at a time with housing.

In addition to helping families find and attain housing, Safe Haven provides a variety of educational assistance. They offer assistance with financial literacy, job training and job placement, and offer intensive case management. They use evidence-based methods, influenced by such theories as trauma-informed care or Parent Child Interaction Therapy, to ensure that families receive the best, specific help possible.

Safe Haven accepts a variety of aid from donors and supporters. They accept both money and donations of goods which families can use, such as linens, baby goods, and household items. They also offer volunteer opportunities for people who wish to help out more directly.

If you want to help address the problem of family homelessness, but you can’t make it to Tennessee to volunteer or want to help families closer to you, there are a number of other shelters and programs you can support. A simple Internet search for family homelessness and your zip code or city should get you started.

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A Man is Listening to 168 hours of Nickelback for Charity

 

Nickelback

People are willing to do all sorts of crazy things for a good cause; be it dangerous, humiliating or torturous, it’s amazing how far some do-gooders are willing to go for charity. On Monday, podcaster and Relevant magazine contributing editor Jesse Carey began a self-imposed “ultimate test of endurance” which involved listening to Nickelback’s entire discography for an entire week. Essentially, Carey planned to submit himself to a week of listening to Nickelback on repeat, amounting to a total of 168 hours. Why? For charity, of course.

Carey embarked on this test of endurance with the help of the organization charity: water. His goal was to raise $10,000 in partnership with the notable charity to build a well in one of the developing nations supported by the group. The charity had already topped $17,000 by Tuesday. By the time Philanthropic People heard about his charitable antics, Carey had raised $32,825, which will allow as many as 1,094 people to have access to clean water.

On his official fundraising page, Carey calls this “the ultimate test of human endurance” and claims he’s consulted several doctors who advised him that listening to too much Nickelback could “cause irreversible damage to his ears, brain, kidneys and soul.” While Carey states his primary goal is to get the well built, Carey thinks his endeavor may produce other positive side effects. “I want someone who’s going through a hard time next week to be like, ‘Huh, I’m really down and out, life’s really got me down, but right now there’s a guy who’s been listening to Nickelback for days straight,’” he said on the Relevant podcast. He will continue listening to the catalog while in the shower, working, sleeping and while fathering his son.

“There is no adversity that cannot be overcome. I just want to lift the confidence in what a human being is capable of, it’s the feeling I get after I watch a David Blaine special,” Carey told Relevant magazine is a podcast.

Learn more about this offbeat charity initiative by visiting Carey’s campaign page on the charity: water website.

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Good Country Index Reveals Which Countries Are Doing the Most Good

Good Country Index
IMG: via Good Country Index

These days, there are rankings out there for just about everything. Though at times trivial (think biased “best and worst” lists), ranking systems can actually be really beneficial in the world of philanthropy. A new ranking system, the Good Country Index, is a fine resource for anyone who wants to see how countries compare in terms of charity, peace, and other categories.

According to Fast Company’s Ben Schiller, “What’s different about the Good Country Index is that it looks not at conditions or performance within a country, but the effect of that country on the world outside of it.” Good Country Index developer Simon Anholt affirms this sentiment, explaining that the ranking is of what countries “contribute to the ‘global commons,’ and what they take away.” Essentially, it’s a more in-depth, unique way of looking at how different nations give and take.

Anholt also explains, “We’ve given each country a balance-sheet to show at a glace whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.” The Good Country Index contains various categories including “Science and Technology,” “Culture,” “International Peace and Security,” “Planet and Climate,” Prosperity and Equality,” “Health and Wellbeing,” and “World Order.” The last category pertains to charitable giving, humanitarian work, and cooperation with the United Nations. The rankings in this particular section are particularly interesting.

Which country ranks the highest for World Order? Apparently Germany, with its strong mix of charitable giving and signed UN treaties, comes out on top. Following right behind are Austria, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Malta, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Switzerland to round out the top ten. According to the Good Country Index, the United States rank at number 28 for World Order, although the amount of charitable giving that happens in America is slightly more than in other countries that rank higher overall.

For more insights about the overall good (and not so good) that countries are doing, be sure to visit the Good Country Index.

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Philanthropic People: Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift Philanthropy
Taylor Swift IMG: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Wholesome musician Taylor Swift might be known for her status as pop music icon and “America’s Sweetheart,” but did you know that she’s also a dedicated philanthropist? At just 24 years old, Swift has contributed greatly to many international charities, and has used her celebrity status to raise awareness about important causes.

The reason Swift is such a model philanthropist is twofold: she is both generous with her money when it comes to donating to charities and relief efforts, and she is genuinely hands on. Swift has donated personal items to charitable auctions such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, UNICEF, Oxfam International, Feeding America, Donate My Dress, and many others. In 2008, when she was only 18 years old, Swift donated $100,000 to the Red Cross in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to help displaced flood victims. From this point forward, Swift has immersed herself in philanthropic efforts; she is loveable as a pop star and philanthropist because of how genuinely she wants to connect to others in both areas.

Swift does far more for charitable initiatives than simply writing a check. She has performed at many benefit concerts including BBC’s Children in Need concert, which generated thousands of dollars in donations. She has lent her voice to various social justice initiatives, such as PSAs that address hate crimes and discrimination. She even takes time out of her busy touring schedule to spend time with children in hospitals, like on her recent visit to Boston where she sang and danced with 6-year-old Jordan Lee Nickerson. These kinds of efforts to improve the quality of life of people around the world are what make Swift such a model philanthropist.

In the world of philanthropy, Swift’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. She has been recognized by the Do Something Awards, The Giving Back Fund, and the Tennessee Disaster Services for her willingness to help others in need. In 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama presented her with the “Big Help Award” for her dedication to helping those and need and her ability to inspire others through action.

With no signs of slowing in her philanthropic efforts, it seems as though Taylor Swift is committed to both making music, and making the world a better place.