Home » blog

World AIDS Day Observances Around the Globe

Raising Awareness of an Epidemic of Epic Proportions

Every year on the 1st of December, government organizations, health officials, NGOs, and people all over the world observe World Aids Day by raising awareness of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). AIDS is a pandemic disease caused by an infection called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). According to data supplied by UNAIDS, around 770,000 people around the world died of AIDS-related illnesses during 2018. It is estimated that 37.9 million people across the globe are infected with HIV.

World AIDS Day 2013: Getting to Zero

Brief History

Originally founded by the UN in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day. In 1995, the president of the United States declared that World AIDS Day would be officially recognized, after which several other countries across the world began observing it. Over the years, the day has become one of the most recognized global health days, and several major events have been arranged.

In 2018, the theme was Know Your Status, and the celebrations had two main goals: to urge people to know their infection status by getting tested and to compel governments to advocate a Health for All agenda for HIV as well as other health services. This year, it will be the 30th World AIDS Day and it will be observed across the world with the theme Communities Make the Difference.

A Week of Observance

During the week of World AIDS Day, various activities take place to increase awareness of AIDS and to share the message of the year’s theme. These include:

  • Local communities and organizations getting together to arrange activities that may take place at hospitals, clinics, schools, AIDS advocacy groups, or social service agencies.
  • Single events or a series of events are arranged and may include health fairs, community events, rallies, parades, faith services, and block parties. Events are generally determined by speakers or exhibitors based on what would create more awareness.
  • Red ribbons are distributed and worn to signify hope. Social media outlets may also distribute electronic ribbons.
  • Activities such as seminars on AIDS prevention and DVD screenings are arranged at schools, businesses, health care organizations, and local agencies.
  • A candlelight vigil may be held at a local park where musicians, storytellers, dancers, and poets could spread the message of AIDS prevention.
  • Religious leaders speak about AIDS tolerance.
  • Services that provide meals, companionship, shelter, and transportation to people with AIDS are launched at events.


world aids day

World Aids Day Objectives

Every year, UN member states are supported in building up new and increasingly effective policies and programs to improve health systems to better deal with AIDS through various objectives such as:

  • Improving guidance of member states for increasing prevention and control of HIV/AIDS across the globe.
  • Providing technical assistance to member states to implement plans for preventing and treating AIDS. These include testing and counseling, antiretroviral therapy, and STI control.
  • Creating awareness of antiretroviral medication and other therapies that may help with the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
  • Involving peer groups in campaigning for the most effective results
  • Encouraging university and school students to contribute in competitions arranged to create awareness of AIDS
  • To decrease and control the number of people infected by HIV/AIDS and to encourage the use of condoms

World AIDS Day in Rwanda

This year, the World Health Organization will join forces with the Rwandan government in Kigali to celebrate the day. The focus is to highlight the role that local communities are playing in eradicating the AIDS epidemic. Leaders across the globe recognized this essential role in the UN declaration on universal health coverage and the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All, which was approved by the UN Member States in September this year. The campaign on World AIDS Day in Rwanda will lead to Africa’s 20th International Conference on AIDS and STIs (ICASA 2019), which will take place in Kigali from December 2-7.

Observances in the United States

The AIDS Service Foundation of Greater Kansas City has been actively working to eradicate the spread, suffering, and stigma of HIV/AIDS in their community. During the week of World AIDS Day, the foundation rallies with the goal of an AIDS-free world. This year, the foundation is presenting two events: the World AIDS Day Community Luncheon and the World AIDS Day Patrons Reception. The events will feature keynote speakers and pay special attention to colored communities.

Other events around the United States held include:

  • The 2019 Triple Threat Conference in Minnesota
  • Applying 35 Years of HIV Work to the Substance Use Epidemic in Massachusetts
  • The 2019 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) Clinical Care Conference
  • The Ninth International Workshop on HIV Persistence, Reservoirs and Eradication Strategies Conference in Florida

Martin Richard Foundation Donates $1 Million to Project 351

A Partnership Inspired by Peace

Martin Richard Foundation logo

The Martin Richard Foundation has made a commitment to donate $1 million to Project 351, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that promotes youth leadership throughout Massachusetts. The generous grant is a reflection of the Martin Richard Foundation’s focus on youth development through community projects that promote civic engagement. The announcement was made a few days before the foundation’s final service event and it has been the single biggest donation made by the foundation thus far.

A Special Friendship Is Born

The two organizations may have originated in different ways, but for both, giving back is at the heart of what they do and that is not all they have in common. Five years ago, Project 351 named the youngest victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing as one of its service heroes. The Martin Richard Foundation was founded by the Richard family in honor of that same boy, who happened to be their son. Because of the mutual belief in a message of peace and the shared objective of arranging projects that promote inclusivity and community engagement, a beautiful friendship was born and the two organizations joined forces.


Dedicated to Promoting Education and Sports in the Community

Launched in 2014, the Martin Richard Foundation is a charitable organization that helps young people to grow, learn, and lead through various community-driven p

rojects. The foundation is particularly focused on advancing peace, kindness, inclusion and sportsmanship. Since its inception, the Martin Richard Foundation has raised funds through Team MR8, their charity team that consists of volunteer runners who run the annual Boston Marathon. The money raised by the team is used to invest in projects like community clean-ups, various sports programs for local youths, a leisure park project, and financial assistance for a club that organizes athletics programs for children with disabilities. The foundation has three main programs:

  • The Martin Richard Service Learning Program
  • The Martin Richard Bridge Builder Program
  • The Martin Richard Challenger Sports Program

Memorial Boston Marathon Bombing

In addition to the alliance with Project 351, the Martin Richard Foundation has also teamed up with various community partners such as YES, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Dorchester Educational Enrichment Program, College Bound Dorchester, and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.

Leading with Values: Project 351

Project 351 is a nonprofit started in 2011 when a former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, decided to celebrate his second inauguration by focusing on making a positive change in the lives of young people in his community. The concept of the organization was developed by its founder, Carolyn Casey, and reflected the governor’s belief in the unlimited potential of young people in a supportive community. Eighth graders in all cities and towns of Massachusetts were invited to become ambassadors of Project 351 and that is how an independent youth leadership organization began. With kindness, compassion, gratitude, and humility at heart, Project 351 aims to strengthen society through the development of a new generation of service leaders. The organization believes that every young person can be a brave and bold leader who dreams of a better world.

Kindness Has a Ripple Effect

One of the special initiatives undertaken by The Martin Richard Foundation alongside Project 351 was a peace and unity walk organized in Martin’s name. According to Project 351 founder Caroline Casey, the members of the foundation have become part of the family and since then, a legacy of peace has inspired scores of young ambassadors to take note of the tremendous difference the actions of a single person can make, simply by being kind. Casey believes that young ambassadors are motivated by making small differences in their local neighborhoods and that when they join together with a bigger organization, they will see how their input can make a positive difference on a much larger scale.

The Power of a Collective Purpose

The foundation believes so deeply in what can be achieved through unity that it has decided to provide Project 351 with considerable financial backing. Martin’s aunt, Erin O’Brien, who is also a board member of the foundation, said that the vote to make the donation was accepted unanimously by all board members. According to O’Brien, working with Project 351 is a way in which the foundation’s message to branch out to a variety of diverse populations in communities outside of Boston can be carried forward. The organization hopes to empower the students in these communities through various initiatives funded by the generous grant.

UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund Announced

Is This the Future of Philanthropy?

The United Nation’s charity for children, UNICEF, has announced that it would be accepting donations in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. According to the announcement, the non-profit will store donations received in this format in a newly launched Crypto Fund before distributing it in the same format. The United Nations, which receives as much as $15 billion in donations every year, sees this as a way to show financial innovation. It believes that the digital evolution of finance could lead to improved transparency and may even lead to an increase in donations.

UNICEF has already received a commitment for a donation from the Ethereum Foundation and plans to use this as funding for the Innovation Fund, which is used to connect schools around the globe to the internet. The UN Innovation Network (UNIN) was established in 2015 by UNICEF and other UN organizations to research the potential benefits and drawbacks of emerging technologies such as blockchain and digital currencies.

UNICEF France Division Starts Accepting Cryptocurrency Donations in GameChaingers Campaign

Geared for Digital Innovation

According to Christina Lomazzo, UNICEF’s head of blockchain, this shift in trajectory is part of the organization’s plans to get ready for a digital future in which digital assets are used, whether it is bitcoin, ether, or a government-backed digital currency. The UNICEF Crypto Fund initiative was launched to help the organization prepare to onboard digital assets. UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore stated in a press release: “If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer.”

Thus far, UNICEF in four countries have signed agreements with the Switzerland-based Ethereum Foundation: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and France. Of these countries, France is the most mature when it comes to cryptocurrency. The country already began exploring it as a new way to accept donations in January 2018.

Ethereum Hackathon ETHDenver Partners With UNICEF on Blockchain Bounty System

Crypto Is Not a New Trend in the Charity Sphere

UNICEF is not the only pro-innovation organization to begin accepting cryptocurrency donations. The United Kingdom Royal National Lifeboat Institution was arguably the first major charity to accept cryptocurrency when they began welcoming crypto donations in 2014. Fidelity Charitable in the US began accepting crypto donations in 2015 and has raised over $100 million in digital currencies.

Is Crypto the Currency of the Future?

In recent years, cryptocurrencies have exploded across the globe, even Facebook has its own version known as the Libra. Charitable organizations have shown great interest in them, and currencies tailored to philanthropy like Pinkcoin and AidCoin have been launched. But despite the hype, cryptocurrencies are decentralized and are not regulated by government authorities. This has caused worldwide criticism that has been fueled by cryptocurrency’s notoriously volatile pricing and reputation for being linked to criminal activity. As bitcoin continues to struggle to change its reputation from being a currency for criminals to something more reputable, UNICEF and other organizations are taking a giant leap of faith. Only time will tell whether their efforts will be met with success.

Celebrating the Day of the Girl with Malala Fund

Focusing on Girl Power

International Day of the Girl was created with the aim of having a day dedicated to acknowledging gender inequality around the world and highlighting the unique challenges faced by females so that action can be taken to improve the imbalance. Celebrated every year on the 11th of October, the day serves as an inspiration to women and girls everywhere to take control of their own futures and break all boundaries preventing them from thriving.

Every year, around 12 million girls younger than 18 are married, and approximately 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 have been forced into having sex against their will. As many as 130 million girls are not attending school. These statistics are staggering and it is no wonder that girls and women around the world have had enough.

The Beginning of an Unstoppable Force

Nearly 25 years ago, around 30,000 women and men from close to 200 different countries made their way to Beijing to attend the Fourth World Conference on Women. These individuals were determined to acknowledge the rights of females as being basic human rights. As the conference drew to a close, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted. This turned out to be a comprehensive policy agenda with female empowerment as the ultimate goal.

International Day of the Girl - Liverpool Women's

In the years to follow, women across the globe continued to advocate for this agenda. This led to international movements on a wide range of challenges faced by females everywhere, including inequality in the workplace as well as a lack of reproductive health and sexual rights. Movements like these have now spread everywhere, and issues like inequality in education, gender-based violence, child marriage, and so much more are now being tackled. The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl was “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable” and one of its campaigns was #WatchHerShine.


As part of the International Day of the Girl celebrations, Malala Fund launched the #WatchHerShine campaign. Malala Fund is a non-profit organization that was launched by Malala, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and female rights activist who was shot for speaking about her beliefs.

The goal behind the campaign was to bring inspirational female YouTube moviemakers from across the globe together to encourage audiences to learn more about the challenges faced by girls and women and to raise awareness of these issues. The subscription target was 15.5 million subscribers and the fundraising goal was $50,000 from donations through the Donate button on the YouTube channel. The #WatchHerShine campaign ran until the 21st of October and by the 11th, the campaign had already received more than $25,000 in donations.

Breaking Boundaries

Since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted, campaigns like this have helped women and girls to break barriers imposed by exclusion and typecasting, and not only when it comes to gender bias. So many achievements have been made on behalf of disabled children and people living in marginalized communities. Girls are becoming innovators and entrepreneurs and are initiating international movements that are paving the way for a better future world.

Businessmen God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev Building Unique Museum in Azerbaijan

In Krasnaya Sloboda, God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev Are Financing the World’s First Museum Dedicated to the History and Culture of Mountain Jews

The first museum in the world dedicated to the history and culture of Mountain Jews will soon open in Krasnaya Sloboda (Quba District, Republic of Azerbaijan). The visionaries and sponsors of the project are Moscow businessmen God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev and the STMEGI charitable foundation. The businessmen themselves are immigrants from Azerbaijan and natives of Krasnaya Sloboda, where members of the Mountain Jewish community have lived since ancient times.

Jerusalem of the Caucasus

The traditions of the Mountain Jews date back many centuries. Up to 1926, the settlement was even called Jewish Sloboda, but over time, the people inhabiting this area assimilated quite a bit. The Mountain Jews live like typical Caucasian people but differ from them in their religious rites and traditional crafts, particularly their beautifully weaved carpets. Some historians argue that Mountain Jews were the ones who taught Azerbaijanis the art of weaving in ancient times, which they themselves had adopted from Persians.

Synagogue, Bukhara

The museum, initiated by Nisanov and Iliev (whose Kievskaya Ploschad group of companies is one of the largest real-estate developers in Russia), will preserve for future generations the traditions and unique language still spoken there. The inhabitants of Krasnaya Sloboda, despite being fluent in both Azerbaijani and Russian, talk to each other in Juhuri. Juhuri is very closely related to Farsi and has borrowed certain features from Semitic and Turkic languages. The descendants of the powerful Persian Jews who were conquered by the Assyrians in the seventh century BCE had spoken this language before settling in highland villages in the Caucasus Mountains. Fatali Khan, the ruler of the Quba Khanate, allowed Jews to live in the area located 168 kilometers from Baku on the banks of the Qudiyalçay River.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the “Jerusalem of the Caucasus,” as the village was sometimes called, had a population of 15,000 people. However, in the beginning of the chaotic 1990s, most of the Mountain Jews were forced to leave their place of birth and move to Russia, Israel, Canada, and elsewhere. Krasnaya Sloboda now has 3,500 residents at most, and many are simply registered there in the village while they live in other cities and return in the summer or for important religious holidays.

Keepers of Tradition

Everyone from Krasnaya Sloboda, even those who have permanently moved to other countries, deeply respects their religion, traditions, and culture and tries to contribute to the preservation of their place of birth. Nisanov has restored and modernized the Gubinsky cannery. It now employs more than 200 residents of the Mountain Jewish community. Together with his colleague and long-time friend Zarakh Iliev, the businessman not only financially supports his fellow countrymen who remained in Azerbaijan, but he has also restored a synagogue destroyed during the Soviet era and opened a Talmud college as well as a center for studying Torah. There will now be a museum dedicated to the history of this unique people.


The sponsors chose an old synagogue for the location, called Karhogskaya, which had been shut down in the Soviet era. This rather tall building was restored according to the original blueprints and using the same materials with which it was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The building’s original arched windows and dome were also restored, but two new floors were added inside the building to house the numerous exhibits. On the ground floor of the former synagogue, there is a conference hall, a library, and exhibits from the museum’s storerooms.

God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev

God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev – via Vestnik Kavkaza.

Now, with the support of the STMEGI Foundation (the largest organization uniting Mountain Jews), exhibits for the museum are being collected not only throughout the Caucasus, but also around the world. People have donated clothes, jewelry, ritual and religious items, manuscripts, books, and antiques.

One of the crown jewels of the museum exhibit will be a 19th-century tallit with red tassels. This modification of the prayer vestments made it possible to use them, for example, as a wedding canopy (chuppah). Horse-drawn carriages from the 19th century will also be on display in addition to utensils, household items, national clothes, unique documents, ketubah ritual marriage contracts and other artifacts showing how Mountain Jews lived.

Pride in Their Roots

Much attention is being focused on dictionaries and books in Juhuri. It is believed that the museum will house the world’s largest library of publications in this ancient language. Nisanov and Iliev are certain that this will help ensure that the language, spoken by no more than 100,000 people around the world, will not become extinct, and that it will encourage linguists to continue researching it.

The organizers of the museum are incredibly proud of another exhibit—the so-called “slashed book,” which is a copy of the Torah with a curious story. According to legend, this sacred text saved the lives of the residents of Jewish Sloboda. The story goes that long ago, a Muslim military leader tried to stab and kill a local rabbi, but his blade got stuck in the Torah instead. This deeply religious military man was horrified by what he had done and in order to avoid the wrath of the Almighty, he then left the Mountain Jews alone and allowed them to live as neighbors with the Muslims.

Krasnaya Sloboda, Quba, November 2012

The original Torah carrying the mark of the blade, purchased for a very large amount, is now stored in a private collection, and the museum holds an exact copy. However, at the grand opening of the museum, visitors will be able to see the original. Nisanov and Iliev promise that the ceremony will be held very soon, and the museum’s administration has been preparing guides to greet the throngs of visitors.

Mountain Jews, scattered throughout the world today by the winds of fate, are looking forward to the day when they can come to Krasnaya Sloboda and see the museum’s exclusive exhibits with their own eyes. In turn, local residents and philanthropists believe that the appearance of a one-of-a kind large-scale exhibit in Krasnaya Sloboda will further strengthen their sense of pride in their roots and will forever ensure the connection between the different generations and eras.

Krasnaya Sloboda

Five Tips for How to Find the Right Charity to Support

How to Pick the Right Charity

Supporting a charity can be a rewarding way to give back. But before you start making donations, it is important to choose a charity that is in line with your objectives. There are so many different charitable organizations around these days, and some are not entirely honest about how donations are used. Sadly, there are also a lot of scams out there. While it’s not always easy to make an informed decision, these guidelines may prove helpful.

1. Choose Your Cause

Some of us feel passionate about a specific cause, like preserving the environment, helping underprivileged children, or funding research about a disease that has affected someone we love. If you don’t already have a cause that is close to your heart, start by investigating the options out there, such as the fields of medicine, education, art and culture, military veterans, and the environment. Eventually, something should resonate and you’ll realize what’s right for you.

2. Do Your Homework

Many causes have several specialized charities dedicated to them. Once you have chosen a cause that you believe in, start researching charities that support it. Unfortunately, some of the charities out there may not be legitimate. Once you have a short list of charities you are considering, do a search of each charity’s name. If any red flags come up, it may be best to avoid that particular organization. You can also use sites like GuideStar, CharityWatch, or Charity Navigator to help research the charities before committing to donations.

3. Check with the Charity Personally

The only way you will know for certain that the charity’s work is in line with your objectives is by checking in personally. Visit them, ask for a tour, call, or email them and ask important questions like:

  • Exactly how are donations used?
  • How is the effectiveness of your work evaluated?
  • What progress are you making towards your goals?
  • How is this measured?
  • What is your privacy policy?

4. Decide What to Give

Although it is probably the most common method of support, donating money is not the only option when it comes to supporting a charity. Time is valuable, too.

5. Give

  • Money – If you decide to donate money, consider setting up a regular donation you can afford. Remember that donations are often tax deductible. Make sure you check your bank account to make sure that you are only charged what you have agreed to donate and keep a record of all donations.
  • Time – Many charities need volunteers as much as they need donations. Let them know what you do for a living and what other skills you have. It can be extremely rewarding to donate your time, especially if you can provide a service at which you are particularly skilled.
  • Blood or hair – Donating blood requires just a few minutes of your time and can really help save a life. Human hair wigs can be costly so donating hair can help to drastically improve the life of somebody suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.

Philanthropy Startups: Pitfalls and Progress

Newly minted millionaires and billionaires looking to start foundations need to be aware of the many challenges that they will face when setting up a non-profit organization or foundation. According to Giving USA, philanthropic giving from foundations increased by 6% in 2017, and corporate giving by 8%. New foundations often headed and founded by startup founders and entrepreneurs need to make sure that they don’t become mired in the process of setting up a foundation and focus instead on making sure that funds reach the organizations where they can do the most good.

Keeping It Simple – The Process of Philanthropy

Far too often, new foundations make things more complex than they should be. Complicated systems do little to ensure adequate stewardship and instead become increasingly chaotic and marred by the process instead of looking for ways to decrease the path to effective donations. Instead, newly founded organizations need to look for systems and processes that benefit the organization instead of doing things the way they have always been done. The role of a foundation board is to lead, not to manage the process. With a clear vision and succinct goals, a foundation’s board should be able to drive the vision of the foundation forward and not get stuck in managing the functions of the foundation.

Lean Operations: Use Your Resources

There is much criticism levelled at charitable organizations that utilize a large portion of donations towards the running of the non-profit. This, of course, is unacceptable, but so too is the idea that foundations can run with no investment in employees, training, technology and development. Trying to do good with no support to be able to expand and actually ‘do good’ is one of the reasons that new foundations flounder.

Keep Learning – Keep Growing

One of the biggest mistakes made by foundations, especially boards of directors, is the inability or capacity to continue learning about the areas in which they operate. Often, once the foundation vision is set, the board does little to enhance their knowledge within key areas. Continual learning is key to growing robust and effective non-profit organizations. The board of a foundation often wields a great amount of power over communities that it serves. This can make for a strained power dynamic at times. Foundation leaders need to ‘keep it real’, examine their own decisions and ensure that they are doing work that serves a greater good.

Learn from the Community

Along with institutional learning, a new foundation must take counsel from the communities and areas in which they work. This is especially important when dealing with at-risk communities and working in regions of the world that are not immediately culturally like one’s own. Something as simple as ongoing feedback from both the ‘boots on the ground’ employees and the end-recipient of a foundation’s donation.

Every new foundation or non-profit will go through a learning curve before they become successful and more importantly, relevant. With forethought and humility as well as a constant reminder of why foundations are crucial in the world these problems can be resolved.

‘Next-Gen’ Donors – How the Profile of Donors is Shifting

The current group of new donors comes from the Generation X and Millennials who are introducing disruptive new technology and strategies for philanthropy in the same way that they have introduced the new technology and companies that have made them trillions. Around $60 trillion to be precise.

The Profile of a ‘Next Gen’ Donor

Always looking for new ways to improve old systems and for innovative solutions to systemic issues, the profile of a ‘next-gen’ donor is much the same. The new power-donors are the CEOs of some of the most disruptive and innovative companies on the planet and they are using their massive monetary value to transform and innovate philanthropy by tackling some of the largest and longest-standing social challenges facing the world.
Not content to just give locally, though that is still a significant trend when it comes to donations in education in the US, the current crop of philanthropists are showing that they want to focus on evidence-based programs while introducing new experimental foundations and projects that are driven by metrics and results. This change in the profile of donors could signal the next-gen trend in the impact of large-scale giving.
The profile of a ‘next-gen’ donor is also markedly different from other traditional types of philanthropists in that they are extremely hands-on and involved in shaping the foundations and programs to which they donate. Some pundits are hailing this the ‘Impact Revolution’ in philanthropy and it will shape the profile of donors and donations for future generations. Though the profile of issue areas has not shifted for the ‘next-gen’ donors (education and basic needs still top the list across all generations) the way that donations are given is completely different. The emerging trend of charities pursuing profitability has had several detractors and critics, but it is part and parcel of the way that ‘next-gen’ donors are able to align their charitable giving with their personal values.

The Golden Age of Giving – Who is Changing the World of Philanthropy?

One of the most impactful ‘next-gen’ philanthropists are Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan <> with the development of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, not as a traditionally styled foundation, but as a charitable LLC. This simple innovation allows them to invest in businesses that are socially active as well as political ventures in addition to being able to make donations to traditional charitable programs and projects. Alexander Soros, while following in his father’s footsteps on the board of the Open Society Foundations, has made sure that his own philanthropy is focused on seeing the direct impact of investments in social programs on a large scale. Lukas Walton, Dustin Moskovitz, Huiyan Yang and Nathan Blecharczyk from AirBnB are just a few of the ‘next-gen’ donors that are changing the way that philanthropy operates, and their efforts will shape the course of philanthropy for future generations.
They’re determined to make an impact and address issues on a global scale and see that change in their own lifetimes.

What is ‘Evidence-Based’ Philanthropy?

Evidence-based philanthropy means that donations are made to programs and projects based on the evidence of their effectiveness. It is commonly used by large scale donors to evaluate where their funds will be beat utilized, and by policymakers and politicians to evaluate what type of programs should be implemented on both national and state level. What evidence really matters? This is a question that is hard to answer.

Observation Philanthropy?

Evidence literally means, ‘observation’, so the success of an evidence-based program could be observed by the people who implement a program at a grass root level. It could also be the observed results of randomized controlled studies that either verify or negate the success and therefore the chance of funding for programs. There are three types of evidence that can be assessed when deciding about which programs are effective:

  1.  Field Experience: This is the ‘hands-on’, practical knowledge and experience of program leaders and the people who are involved in the implementation of programs. They have the most evidence of ‘how’ to implement programs to ensure the highest levels of success.
  2. Research/Scientific Evidence: This type of evidence includes the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) as well as data analysis and statistics to provide evidence to show cause and effect.
  3. Informed Opinion: This is usually the opinion of stakeholders and policymakers who can provide context for scientific evidence and field experience.Each evidentiary area needs to be taken in context.

For example, an RCT may definitively prove that using a bed net helps in the prevention of malaria, but it may be the caseworker ‘on-the-ground’ that is able to show that people are using the provided bed nets for fishing nets. In this case, the evidence needs to be evaluated carefully before making any decision about the success or failure or a program. All the information and observations gathered must be examined in context and simultaneously when reporting on the relative benefits or not.

Evidence Based Philanthropy Finding Reliable Data – Bloomberg Philanthropies

Many philanthropists will only donate to evidence-based programs, but many are now taking policymakers and governmental organizations to task about their lack of initiative in understanding what works and what doesn’t. Mike Bloomberg was particularly scathing of the lack of understanding by politicians of what is happening on-the-ground. In the Blomberg Philanthropies annual report, he noted than many policymakers and politicians are bogged down by a mass of data and refuse to recognize reliable data through the quagmire. Bloomberg also announced a $42 million investment in the ‘What Works Cities’ program which is the USA’s most extensive effort yet to enhance and build on city data to help evaluate and define challenges and opportunities in key areas such as homelessness, health and educations.

This work builds on the 2017 Bloomberg Philanthropies launch of the $200 million Bloomberg American Cities Initiative which gives city councils and mayors the tools to better evaluate programs based on holistic reliable data. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies invested over $702 million in 480 cities in over 120 countries around the world.

Who Gives More – The USA or The UK?

Philanthropy in the United States tends to operate within different parameters than philanthropy in Europe and the United Kingdom specifically. Key trends in philanthropy in 2018 show that there are some key similarities that affect charitable giving on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Value of Giving – Social Welfare

Charitable giving in the UK accounts for just 1% of the GDP compared to 5.5% of the GDP of the United States. In monetary terms, charitable giving from individuals in the UK is valued at around £15 billion compared to £145 billion in the USA. Other countries in Europe like Germany, come in at around £11 billion annually. One of the reasons for this is the role of European governments in actively providing social welfare programs in the UK and Europe. There are fewer tax incentives to encourage large donors and philanthropic giving in Europe and the UK whereas private philanthropy plays a far more prominent role in the USA. There are just 162,000 active charitable groups in the UK compared to nearly 1,5 million tax-exempt organizations and charities in the US. Nearly 10% of the total workforce in the UK is employed by non-profits which is in stark comparison to the UK with only 2,6% of the workforce employed by charities.

Philanthropy in the USA – It’s a ‘Thing’

One of the reasons for increased philanthropy in the United States is the institutionalized aspect. In the US, many wealthy individuals consider it a civic responsibility to give to charity and over 10% of the country’s wealthiest individuals account for over half of all individual donations. In the UK, this figure is reduced to around one-fifth. This is slowly changing in the UK and Europe as more and more wealthy individuals increase their annual giving. Current trends suggest that individuals of comparable wealth in both the US and the UK give comparable amounts.
Household donations though fall far short in the UK with only around 2% of households earning over $200, 000 annually giving to charity, compared to nearly 8% in the United States.

Philanthropic Causes in the US vs the UK

One of the reasons that the UK seemingly lags behind the US in philanthropic donations is due to the large amounts of money that are donated to religious organization in the United States. Over 35% of all charitable giving in the US is to religious programs and causes. The figure is only around 17% in the United Kingdom. Education is the next highest in the US at 13% whereas in the UK the second highest is medial research and hospitals at 15%. In the US it has been found that the total amount of donations increases as tax rates increase due to the tax-relief benefits applied to the ‘cost’ of giving. The UK does not have a sophisticated charitable deduction system in place, which may account for lowered donations by wealthy individuals.
The USA has a unique system in place for donations, and the promotion of philanthropy, Europe and the UK are starting to follow suit with big-name and celebrity donors encouraging more people to give to charity each year.