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Donation News

The Weeknd Donates $1 Million to Ethiopia

The world’s journalists haven’t been allowed into Tigray, a large region in the north of Ethiopia, in years. Most of the world wouldn’t recognize the name. But the area has been under siege by Ethiopia’s military. There have been reports that since a spat of fighting in November between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the military under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, no farming or imports of food have been allowed, stores have been destroyed, and access to water and medical supplies has been denied.

In March, a graphic video surfaced. While the contents are officially unverified, many have identified the area as Mahibere Dego, a town in the mountainous heart of Tigray. In the video, armed soldiers round up a large group of young unarmed men on a rocky ledge, execute them with gunfire, and then fling them off the hillside. The soldiers can be heard laughing at their grim duty and cheering each other on. It is just one of several reported massacres in the area, though verification is rare.

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, the Canadian songwriter, record producer, and son of Ethiopian parents–known most widely as The Weeknd– announced on Sunday, April 4, that he would be donating $1 million toward relief efforts for the Tigray region.

“My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia,” he posted on Instagram, “as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are displaced out of fear and destruction. I will be donating $1 million to provide 2 million meals through the United Nations World Food Programme and encourage those who can to please give as well.”

The Weeknd is no stranger to philanthropy. Since March 2020, he has also donated $1 million to COVID-19 relief, $500,000 to Black Lives Matter, and $300,000 to Global Aid for Lebanon after the explosion in Beirut.

Editorial credit: Phil Pasquini / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Ben Navarro Donates $1.25 Million to the College of Charleston

Ben Navarro turned a well-connected family and a bachelor’s degree in finance into a $3 billion nest egg in just over 30 years. Formerly a vice president of Citigroup, he left the investment bank to found his own, Sherman Financial Group, which currently owns Credit One Bank. Ben Navarro also owns two tennis clubs, and tried to purchase the Carolina Panthers, North Carolina’s NFL team, but lost it in auction. Today, he and his family live in Charleston, South Carolina.

As a philanthropist, Navarro’s priorities are plain – healthy, well-educated minds. In recent years, he has founded a small string of private schools, a scholarship fund for low-income Charleston County high school students, and a mental health wellness center targeting anxiety and depression.

On March 15, College of Charleston President Andrew Hsu announced that a large donation from Navarro was being given to the college’s teacher education program for the purpose of educating more teachers to work in underserved communities.

“The gift really recognizes our commitment to excellence in public education at all levels,” Hsu said. “It will help us create and support a national signature program.

“As a public institution, we have the responsibility of helping the state to narrow the educational gap,” he continued. “It is our duty to help the underserved communities, or help prepare teachers for the underserved communities.”

South Carolina is currently weathering a heavy teacher shortage, one exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. As of February, five months into the school year, the state was still short more than 500 teachers in all grades. The College of Charleston is working on a plan to attract more students passionate about education, and Ben Navarro’s generous donation will help them recruit those students.

“We already have a lot of strength in terms of faculty and programmatic offerings around teacher education for students coming from underrepresented populations,” said Suzanne Austin, provost and executive vice president of student affairs. “So we already do that work but we’re excited about doing more.”

Editorial credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

NFL Rookie’s Fans Donate to Hunger Relief After Torn ACL in First Game

Perhaps this year more than most, the NFL means something personal to a great many of its fans. They all have their own team that feels like a part of their community, maybe even a particular player who may as well be family. 

Joe Burrow, a rookie quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals became that player for a lot of people on Sunday November 22, when he went down on the field with a torn ACL. It’s his first pro season, and for him, it’s already over. You can’t help but have empathy for the young player.

In that spirit, Bengals fans started to show their solidarity almost instantly by donating $9 each (9, for his jersey number) to the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund, a fundraising effort he began last year to support the Athens County Pantry. The pantry, which is 40 years old this year, provides supplemental and emergency food provisions to people in need in Athens County, where Burrow is from. He began the fund with a $350,000 donation after putting out a call for generosity to his fans during his acceptance of the 2019 Heisman Trophy, and it was matched with another $350,000 from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, a philanthropic group.

Burrow, who grew up in a food-insecure household, has made it a personal focus of his career in football to bring the true scale of American poverty to light and to help feed those growing up as he did. The support shown for his injury on Sunday raised nearly $30,000 more for the pantry in just a few hours. His Bengals teammates were outspoken on Twitter with gratitude for the donations on his behalf.

“Thanks for all the love,” Burrows tweeted himself, following his injury. “Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year.”

Source: CBS Sports

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Adorable, Amateur Pet Portraits Go Viral, Raising Thousands for Charity

It was a joke, when Phil Heckels, 38, posted a silly picture of his dog to Facebook with a £299 price tag in the caption. He’d only drawn it because he was trying to get his little boy to draw with him and make a thank you card.

It didn’t sell. “It was pretty crap,” Heckles says of it with self-deprecating humor. But it did make a bunch of his Facebook friends laugh. The marker-drawing of his black lab Narla was unpolished and cartoony, but expressive. By the end of the first day, he had seven commissions from friends wanting pet portraaits. And those requests kept coming in.

Heckels, who has a full time job in commercial real estate, soon gave in to peer pressure and set up a dedicated Facebook page as the artist “Hercule Van Wolfwinkle,” offering goofy pet portraits with googly eyes, giant heads, and Picasso’s grasp of where facial features go.

Then the internet did its strange thing, and his work went viral.

“I’m just having a laugh with it,” Heckels said. “People seem to be enjoying it and I’m certainly enjoying it.” He does his best to take each commission seriously, but not too seriously.

“I genuinely try quite hard to to try and draw them.”

As the commissions backed up and money kept coming in, Heckels decided to do something good with his strange flash of popularity – he set up a fundraiser for Turning Tides, a homelessness charity his family has always supported. With his art as backer’s gifts, the fundraiser has so far raised over £14,000 for the charity, or enough to provide over 280 nights of shelter.

If you want to get your own portrait, go ahead and contact his Facebook page, but there’s bound to be a wait. Acclaimed artist (his words) Hercule Van Wolfwinkle has more than 1000 pets in his queue already. But he’ll get to you as soon as he can.

Source: NBC 2

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Creators, Cast Donate to Protester Bail Funds

During the protests over police brutality in the United States after the death on video of George Floyd, the police arrested over 10,000 protesters across the country in just the first two weeks, and they haven’t stopped. Some of the arrests for looting and violence, but others have been plainly unjust, such as the arrest of Evan Hreha, who was arrested for “unlawfully discharging a laser” by a mob of cops while walking his dog a week after his footage of a 7-year-old child screaming in pain after police pepper sprayed him directly in the face went viral.

Hreha was released without bail after 43 hours, but many have not been so lucky. A variety of charities have been launched to provide bail funds for the hundreds of protesters who are still awaiting charges or trial. For many, waiting in a cell is life-ruining. Every hour they remain inside, they risk losing a job, custody of their children, or their apartment, and they’re made less able to participate in their own defense.

The cast of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” a comedy show which satirizes the police and has an excellent track record of not shrinking away from the either issues of police corruption or the risks they face, has been vocally on the side of the protesters since this began.

“The cast and showrunner of ‘Brooklyn 99’ condemn the murder of George Floyd and support the many people who are protesting police brutality nationally,” tweeted Dan Goor, the show’s co-creator. “Together we have made a $100,000 donation to The National Bail Fund Network. We encourage you to look up your local bail fund: the National Bail Fund Network is an organization that can lead you to them. #blacklivesmatter.”

Stephanie Beatriz, one of the show’s lead actors, also made a personal donation of $11,000 to support bail funds, and said she regards it as her moral responsibility.

“I’m an actor who plays a detective on tv,” Beatriz tweeted. “If you currently play a cop? If you make tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in residuals from playing a cop? I’ll let you do the math.”

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine donations is just the latest in a series of large donations to Black Lives Matter and related causes. K-pop group BTS and its fans donated millions, and Bank of America pledged $1 billion to address racial inequality.

Photo: A June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Washington, D.C.

Credit: Kalen Martin-Gross / Shutterstock.com

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Donation News The Power of Giving

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour Sells Valuable Guitars for Climate Causes

David Gilmour has been on the world stage since he joined Pink Floyd in 1968, just a few months after they released “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and made the charts. In ’85, he took over leadership of the band after Roger Waters departed. It’s in no small part to him that as of 2012, Pink Floyd was one of the best-selling bands of all time, with over 250 million sales worldwide. The music world recognized that, inducting him into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, the U.K. Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and a CBE in 2003.

Gilmour’s net worth is estimated between 115 and 180 million pounds, and he has poured much of that into various charities over the years, going so far as to sell his own home to English nobility and donate every cent of the proceeds, over 3.6 million pounds, to Crisis, a U.K. charity which supports the homeless with housing, employment, and health care.

In 2019, Gilmour found himself touched by the vehement activism of Greta Thunberg, the young voice for the environment whose message swept the world. And he put his life on the stage to the service of that message, auctioning off several of his most famous guitars for charity.

“The global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face,” tweeted Gilmour. “We need a civilized world that goes on for all our grandchildren and beyond in which these guitars can be played and songs can be sung.”

He donated the black Fender Stratocaster which he plays in “Dark Side of the Moon,” Pink Floyd’s most legendary album, as well as “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” and also a 12-string Martin he played in “Wish You Were Here.” The black strat sold for nearly $4 million, making it the most expensive guitar ever sold. These two, along with three others he sold, raised $21.5 million, all of which he donated to ClientEarth, an international environmentalist charity which uses its funds to ensure companies are held accountable for their pollution footprint.

Source: Mother Jones

Editorial credit: Quique Ortega / Shutterstock.com

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Donation Organizations The Power of Giving

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Donates $13.6M to Antibody Testing

In 2015 on the birthday of their daughter, pediatrician Priscilla Chan and her husband, Mark Zuckerberg, set up the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub to fight disease worldwide. In the past 5 years, most of their activities have been towards securing funding beyond the $1 billion in yearly funds coming from Facebook shares, but now they are taking a step forward.

On Wednesday, April 29th, Zuckerberg announced that the Initiative would be donating $13.6 million towards COVID-19 antibody testing in San Franscisco, and coordinating with Stanford University and the University of California to conduct antibody studies in the Bay Area.

There will be two studies, one of which has already begun. The first will test 4,000 Bay Area volunteers monthly for both active COVID-19 and for the antibodies which will indicate they’ve encountered the disease before. That one will run from April into December, and be used to track where new cases emerge, helping to guide a safe return to normal.

The second study will be localized to frontline health care workers. 3,500 doctors, nurses, and EMTs will be tested weekly to determine how heavily and quickly the medical community can be hit. It will also work on determining if prior infection means future immunity, which is so far an unknown factor. Many important things hinge on whether or not you can re-catch the disease, and no one really knows yet.

Both studies are intended to be used as guideposts in reopening business and normal life in and around San Franscisco, but their data will have world-wide applications. The Chan Zuckerberg donation is the largest single share of funding coming into this vital project.

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg also mentioned combining the data from both studies with the self-report symptom surveys that Facebook has been running for a Carnegie Mellon research group, which could provide even more information.

Source: The Week

Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

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News

Report: Fewer Americans Are Donating to Charity

A new report released by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Vanguard Charitable shows that the number of Americans who donate to charity has dramatically decreased in recent years.

The report, titled “Changes to the Giving Landscape,” reveals that 53% of Americans gave to charity in 2016, down from 66% in 2000. Put another way, approximately 20 million fewer households are donating to charity than they did 20 years ago.

“This shift is due to lower-income and lower-wealth Americans experiencing the slowest economic recovery since the Great Recession, during years when the cost of other items such as food, education, and healthcare have increased,” said Vanguard Charitable President Jane Greenfield. “This has led to a decrease in the share of income available to give to charity.”

The authors of the report noted that millennials in particular are less likely to give to charity than older generations, which is likely due to having “the misfortune of entering the workforce during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

Data shows that baby boomers and those belonging to Generation X, for example, gave more to charity over time as their income increased. However, the same did not hold true for millennials.

“There’s a general trajectory that as you get older your income grows and your giving grows,” said Una Osili, co-author of the report and associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly School. “With millennials we haven’t seen that same pattern.”

But that’s not the only reason Americans are giving less. The other big factor is religion.

Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center show 26% of Americans now identify as atheists, agnostics, or “nothing in particular,” compared to 17% in 2009. Why does that matter? Because researchers at Baylor University found that religious people are more likely to give to charity.

“Religious organizations have traditionally gotten the lion’s share of Americans’ charitable dollars,” MarketWatch notes.

Click here to read the full report.

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News

Meghan Markle Pays Visit to South African Charity

Meghan Markle is in the news again, but this time it’s not about her chic style or royal status—it’s about her kind heart.

On Wednesday, the Duchess of Sussex paid a visit to mothers2mothers charity, a nonprofit organization based in South Africa that trains and employs HIV positive women as community health workers.

During her visit, Markle donated two large bags of “loved but outgrown” children’s clothes. Some of the items belonged to her five-month-old son, Archie; the rest were provided by family friends.

According to People Magazine, Markle also donated pens, books, and other gifts. She spent much of her visit sitting on the floor with the other mothers while the children played.

“She sat down and within a few moments, she saw that the babies were all being held by their mothers,” said Frank Beadle de Palomo, president and CEO of mothers2mothers charity. “She saw the play mat, she said, ‘Let’s get these babies on the ground.’ She sat on the ground with us. She pulled us down and she just engaged with the children.”

Limpho Nteko, a 29-year-old mother of two who works for the charity, shared her personal story with Markle. Nteko, who came to mothers2mothers in 2013, had already lost one child to HIV. However, she has since had two more who were born HIV negative.

“She was amazing,” Nteko said. “She mentioned that she is a mom as well. She enjoyed playing and at the same time she was paying attention to what the mothers were saying and picking up on what important points they mentioned. That was actually quite amazing.

“I totally forgot she was a duchess. Even though I was nervous, when she entered the room everything was so normal! She’s an incredible person. She makes everyone feel welcomed. She warmed up the place.”

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News

Amazon to Donate Unsold Items to Charity

On Wednesday, Amazon introduced a new program in which unsold items will be donated to charity.

“This program will reduce the number of products sent to landfills and instead help those in need,” Amazon wrote in an email to sellers announcing the launch of the new program.

As the largest e-commerce company in the world, it only makes sense that Amazon would donate these items instead of dumping them in the trash—but that wasn’t always the case. A recently aired TV documentary, for example, uncovered that Amazon destroyed three million unsold items in France last year.

Infuriating as it may be, the exposé actually led to a positive outcome. For example, it paved the way for Fulfillment by Amazon Donations, the new program that allows third-party sellers that store their merchandise in Amazon warehouses to donate their unsold items to charity.

The program will become default on September 1, though sellers will have the ability to opt out. However, according to CNBC, the program makes it more cost-effective for sellers to donate their unwanted inventory.

“We know getting products into the hands of those who need them transforms lives and strengthens local communities,” said Alice Shobe, Director of Amazon in the Community. “We are delighted to extend this program to sellers who use our fulfillment services.”

As reported by Newsweek, Amazon has partnered with several organizations to help allocate the donated items. Virginia-based nonprofit Good360 will be in charge of distributing the donated items to various charities across the U.S. In the U.K., Amazon has pledged to give directly to individual charities like the Salvation Army, Barnardo’s, and Newlife.

In an emailed statement to CNBC, Amazon said that they are “working hard” to reduce the number of destroyed products to zero.

“At Amazon, the vast majority of returned products are resold to other customers or liquidators, returned to suppliers, or donated to charitable organizations, depending on their condition,” Amazon said.