Counteract great Evil with great Good

Like everyone who lost a loved one on 9/11 Steve and Liz Alderman were devastated when their 25-year-old son, Peter, was killed in the World Trade Center attack. Like many, they chose to honor their son's memory by creating a foundation in his name to help victims of terrorism and mass violence round the world.

"Using the money for a good cause was the best revenge," Steve told me. "The only way for us to counteract great evil was with great good."

Today the Peter C. Alderman Foundation, in partnership with Harvard University, builds mental health clinics and provides local doctors with the tools they need to treat the emotional wounds of victims of terrorism and mass violence in places such as Cambodia, Uganda and Rwanda.

When I spoke to the Aldermans about their foundation, I was struck by the fact they, unlike most philanthropists who talk about the grants they have made, talk about the effect they have had. With an annual operating budget of $500,000 they have set out to help people across the globe. Liz and Steve found that, to have the impact they were seeking, they had to identify outstanding partners and find ways to leverage their giving.

The Aldermans represent the vanguard of philanthropy - individuals who have recognized that philanthropy is not defined by the act of giving but by the achievement of impact. They have discovered that the most emotionally satisfying philanthropy is a gift that has impact.

In Cambodia, where the legacy of the genocidal Pol Pot and the brutal Khmer Rouge still grips the populace, the Aldermans have proved they can treat traumatic depression. Importantly, they have shown they can achieve their mission cost effectively; the Cambodia clinic system provides services at a cost of $50 a head.

[Excerpt of an article by Sean Stannard-Stockton, The Financial Times]

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