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Philanthropy

STUDY: ‘Conscientious Consumption’ on the Rise While Donations Decline

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Two recent and seemingly contradictory studies paint a complicated picture of the corporate CSR and non-profit sectors.

First comes Havas PR’s report on conscientious consumers, titled “BeCause It Matters.

The agency surveyed more than 6,600 Americans for the project. Its basic conclusion holds that the public — and especially young people — are more concerned than ever before about the ethics and CSR initiatives of the companies whose products they buy. Another unrelated study, however, complicates the picture on the philanthropy side by showing us that traditional sources of donations for non-profit organizations are giving less than they have in the past.

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Rockefellers, Heirs to Oil Fortune, Announce Divestment from Fossil Fuels

640x400rbf-logo_color_left__largeWe can’t imagine John D. Rockefeller ever thought his heirs would be releasing a statement like this one.

On the heels of the largest-ever climate change protest that occurred in NYC this past weekend, and just before multiple countries are set to meet at the UN to discuss a climate change treaty, the Rockefellers — heirs to the Standard Oil fortune — have announced that their $860 million charitable foundation, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), plans to completely divest in fossil fuels.

The statement reads in part:

“Given the RBF’s deep commitment to combating climate change, the Fund is now committing to a two-step process to address its desire to divest from investments in fossil fuels. Our immediate focus will be on coal and tar sands, two of the most intensive sources of carbon emissions. We are working to eliminate the Fund’s exposure to these energy sources as quickly as possible…As we take the steps to divest from coal and tar sands investments, we are also undertaking a comprehensive analysis of our exposure to any remaining fossil fuel investments and will work with the RBF Investment Committee and board of trustees to determine an appropriate strategy for further divestment over the next few years.”

This move represents a trend in philanthropic planning toward treating endowments and investments themselves as tools for social change; over the past few years, college endowments, churches, pension funds and city governments alike have pledged to sell a total of $50 billion in investments in oil, coal and gas companies. Read more

A Few Reasons Why the Ice Bucket Challenge Has Been So Popular with CEOs

jeff bezos ice bucketEvery time you turn on the internet, someone’s dumping a bucket of cold H2O over their heads. It’s the the ALS ice bucket challenge and it’s for a good cause so go right ahead. A million times yes. As of Sunday, the challenge has raised $70.2 million.

Lots of ordinary folk are doing it. Of course, celebrities are getting in on the action. But surprisingly, a ton of CEOs are also doing it. From Mark Zuckerberg to Jeff Bezos, top executives from some big companies are getting in on the viral philanthropy action. This isn’t normal. So what gives?

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Target Is Using Philanthropy to Make Back-To-School Better Than the Holiday Season

targetThe holiday shopping season certainly wasn’t good to Target. Perhaps a little too eager to put that in the past, the retailer is already focusing on the back-to-school season. Not even a week after the 4th of July.

To get its mojo back post-data breach, Target is launching a campaign focused on social responsibility — Buy One, Give One — that will give one of Target’s brand of up & up school supply items to a student in need for every purchase made between July 13 and August 2. Items like crayons and paper will be included, more than 300 products in total. The goal is to donate $25 million worth of things to Kids in Need.

“If we reach that goal, this will be the largest cause campaign donation Target has ever made to a single organization; an important milestone on our way to giving $1 billion for education by the end of 2015,” reads the press release about the program.

This is great. The company points out that parents are spending an average of $600 on back-to-school shopping each year, a steep price for many people. But it doesn’t really address the whole data-breach, digital-security thing. Read more

UPDATED: ‘The Oatmeal’ Cartoonist Leverages Love of Tesla Motors to Support Nikola Tesla Museum

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I’m a longtime fan of The Oatmeal, and particularly appreciate how cartoonist Matt Inman exuberantly describes and animates his unbridled passion for the things he loves — his dog, grammar, the fiendishly-terrifying Mantis Shrimp, etc.

As it turns out, Inman also happens to love Tesla — both the legendary inventor and the car company — and is attempting to leverage his love and endorsement of the latter to support a museum honoring the former.

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‘Spider-Man’ Spins a Web of Feel Good to Go With Your Summer Movie Blockbuster

spider man be amazingThe latest installment in The Amazing Spider-Man franchise is opening in the US in a few days. So of course the cast has been traveling around the world promoting the summer blockbuster, appearing on TV talk shows and red carpets across the globe. In addition to the traditional movie promo stuff, there’s the “Be Amazing” campaign where the cast — Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx — travel to various locations doing volunteer work and taking snapshots with young fans.

The film’s “Be Amazing” Pinterest board is filled with photos of the cast hanging out with kids, drawing murals and generally having a good time. Then you get this sort of publicity – a world famous actor photographed with children who love the superhero character he plays, getting a chance to dress in a cute costume and live out a little fantasy.

It all makes you wonder why more of the summer popcorn movies haven’t tried to add a philanthropic component to the premiere world tour. Or maybe they have and we just haven’t heard too much about it? If it’s the latter that’s both a shame and a missed opportunity.

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Can Mike Bloomberg Really Take on the NRA?

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has a lot of money and he’s very passionate about gun control.

This is nothing new.

His advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety is, however–and this week the group launched its first campaign:

It’s a powerful PSA, though the fact that comments on the YouTube clip have been disabled hints at the considerable communications challenges ahead.

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‘Miracle Machine’ That Turns Water into Wine Isn’t Real: Actually Elaborate Stunt for Nonprofit

Wine To Water | MiracleIf you were one of the many thousands who were super stoked about the Miracle Machine that can turn water into fine wine in just a few days, we hate to burst your bubble, but that feat will have to be left to the big guy upstairs after all — the machine was a hoax, but before you get too upset, you were fooled for a really good cause (and you can still get some wine out of the deal).

A video released a few weeks ago featured an elaborate story and presentation of the Miracle Machine, which would supposedly allow you to make high quality wine at home in just three days. The video went viral and has been viewed more than 200,000 times. All this attention has created the perfect environment for the people behind the video–the nonprofit Wine to Water–to release their punch line: the gadget doesn’t exist, but there’s a major world issue that does.

“While we can’t turn water into wine,” admits the big-reveal video (below), “we can turn wine into water.” For ten years, Wine to Water has been using wine-related events like tastings and wine sales as fundraisers to help get clean drinking water to people who need it most. To date, the organization has provided clean water and sanitation to over 250,000 people in 17 countries. Read more

Aussie Charity Really Does Want You to Knit Sweaters for Penguins

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Don’t lose faith, Internet skeptics: today’s adorably viral story is real.

There really is an Australian charity called The Penguin Foundation, created to help protect our favorite flightless birds. They really do need to raise funds. And they really do want you to send them sweaters knitted for penguins as long as you pay the considerable shipping fees. They provided the picture in this post, in fact.

Still not sure? The Oregonian has a helpful true/false guide.

  • Some wildlife groups do actually use sweaters to protect penguins who’ve been exposed to oil spills
  • Yes, there was another, eerily similar viral story in 2011. In that case, the charity got too many sweaters!
  • TPF does offer a “penguin jumper” pattern for knitters (in PDF form!)
  • However, the group will almost certainly not use your sweaters on real penguins. They will, in most cases, dress the toys the group sells to raise money or find use in “educational programs”

Got it? And in case you’re not a knitter, you could always just adopt a penguin.

This has been today’s lesson in playing off an old, too-crazy-to-be-true viral story to create your own viral story. And raise money in the process.

STUDY: Even the Most Successful Charities Struggle to Raise Money Online

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You’d think that most non-profit organizations would have great mobile-friendly tools to help supporters donate as quickly and easily as possible—but according to a study performed by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that’s not the case. The key point:

“The groups take too long to ask for money, and they make it too hard to give online.”

That sentence flips the main problem faced by e-commerce marketing on its head—and there’s more.

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