On Giving: Inherited wealth more often than not is horded

Scholars of philanthropy have noticed some interesting patterns about super-philanthropists in the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet league.

Inherited wealth more often stays horded. "People who make their own money, entrepreneurs, are the most generous," says Leslie Lenkowsky, a professor at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy.

Another phenomenon that can't be missed about the super generous is the predominance of Americans. 10 of the 14 who have given $ 1 Billion or more are from the U.S., even though only 45% of the world's billionaires reside there.

Says Peter Fuchs, head of a Swiss foundation that works to better lives in South America, "One of the big advantages of the U.S. is its great philanthropists. Latin America does not have the institutions to support philanthropic giving. It is very difficult to change mindsets."

While we hear of extremely generous and wealthy individuals in China (Li Ka-shing), Mexico (Carlos Slim HelĂș), philanthropy has yet to really catch on amongst the wealthy in many countries.

Says Hong Kong's Li who has been outspoken on the topic: "In Asia, our traditional values encourage and even demand that wealth and means pass through lineage ... I urge and hope to persuade you that if we are in a position to do so, that we transcend this traditional belief," Li said in a 2006 speech, "Even if our government structure is not yet geared towards supporting a culture of giving, we must in our hearts see building society as a duty in line with supporting our children."


16-year-old headmaster of the poor

Around the world millions of children do not get an education because their families are too poor to afford to send them to school. In India, one schoolboy is trying to change that. At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He's a teenager who is in charge of teaching hundreds of students in his family's backyard, where he runs classes for poor children from his village.

The story of this young man from Murshidabad in West Bengal is a remarkable tale of the desire to learn amid the direst poverty. Babar Ali's day starts early. He wakes, pitches in with the household chores, then jumps on an auto-rickshaw which takes him part of the 10km (six mile) ride to the school he attends. Babar Ali is the first member of his family ever to get a proper education. His family has to find around 1,800 rupees a year ($40) to send him to school. In this part of West Bengal that is a lot of money.

The minute his lessons are over at school, Babar Ali doesn't stop to play, he heads off to share what he's learnt with other children from his village. At four o'clock every afternoon a bell summons children to his house. They flood through the gate into the yard behind his house, where Babar Ali now acts as headmaster of his own, unofficial school.

Babar Ali gives lessons just the way he has heard them from his teachers. Some children are seated in the mud, others on rickety benches under a rough, homemade shelter. The family chickens scratch around nearby. In every corner of the yard are groups of children studying hard.

His afternoon school has 800 students, all from poor families, all taught for free. Most of the girls come here after working as domestic helps in the village, and the boys after they have finished their day's work laboring in the fields.

Including Babar Ali there are now 10 teachers at the school, all, like him are students at school or college, who give their time voluntarily. Babar Ali doesn't charge for anything, even books and food are given free, funded by donations. It means even the poorest can come here.

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Pro Bono Volunteer Challenges

There is nothing inherently new about volunteers donating professional expertise to “strengthen the management capacity” of nonprofits. It can be enormously helpful for a nonprofit to have access to the donated time of experts in everything from the law to marketing to purchasing. On the surface, this all seems ideal and simple. In practice, however, it takes some work to assure success.

To veterans of the nonprofit world, the obvious premise of the push to facilitate pro bono volunteering is the age-old assumption that agencies are best managed when “operating like a business.” This attitude comes along with the assumption that the do-gooder types in nonprofits obviously lack business skills and so anyone from a corporation -- by definition -- can put an agency on the right track. Leaving aside the reasonable observation that the current economic woes came largely from poorly-led big business, this debate continues.

Accepting that the corporate volunteers seeking to donate their time and talent do indeed have skills valuable to a nonprofit, there remain a number of other assumptions to confront, among them:

* That business expertise can automatically be transferred to the nonprofit environment.

* That all people in business know how to consult, as opposed to do or direct.

* That businesses and nonprofits speak the same language. David Warshaw, founder of Vistas Volunteer Management Solutions has crystallized this problem as “Companies Are from Mars; Nonprofits Are from Venus.” Both have a world-view that might not be shared by the other, or even approved or wanted.

Non-Profit Times


Rich Nations Cut Food Aid Funding

Tens of millions of the world's poor will have their food rations cut or cancelled in the next few weeks because rich countries have slashed aid funding.

The result, says Josette Sheeran, head of the UN's World Food Program (WFP), could be the "loss of a generation" of children to malnutrition, food riots and political destabilization. We are facing a silent tsunami."

New data seen show that food aid is now at its lowest in 20 years. If nothing more is given, 2009 will be its lowest contribution since 2001.

World food supplies are under increased strain this year following a succession of droughts, typhoons, floods and earthquakes that have destroyed crops in Africa and south-east Asia. But human needs are also greater because the financial crisis has led to widespread unemployment. In addition, the remittances from foreign nationals living in rich countries to their families at home are 20% lower than last year.

Says Sheeran. "Many of our funders do not feel that they need to give on the level of last year. They think the world food crisis is over, but in 80% of countries food prices are actually higher than one year ago."

Says Fred Mousseau, Oxfam's humanitarian policy adviser: "This will translate into more child deaths, with more than 16,000 children already dying from hunger-related causes every day."

The Guardian


A Heart for Refugees

Juliet Stevenson, Michael Palin and the Archbishop of Canterbury were among the first of thousands across Britain to put time aside for refugees as part of a campaign to acknowledge their contribution to the country.

A group of charities – including Refugee Action and the Red Cross – encouraged the public to carry out one of 20 "simple acts". From inviting a refugee for tea, to cooking a foreign dish or learning another language, authors, comedians and actors have helped to complete more than 2,000 acts already, with thousands more expected.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who undertook one of the simple acts by spreading the word about the concept of refuge, said: "Receiving refugees is not a matter of somebody signing papers in some remote office. It's a matter of making friends with new neighbors; it's a matter of turning strangers into a part of the community, and that's done most just by treating them normally, as part of a fabric of the life of this country, this community."

According to the most recent figures, there are just under 300,000 refugees living in the UK. Sandy Buchan, chief executive of Refugee Action, said: "The Simple Acts campaign is all about people taking one or two small, easy actions that will make a world of difference to the lives of refugees in the UK."