Young people are increasingly taking a leading role in non-profits. Take Charitable Innovations, a micro-finance corporation based in Greater Cincinnati, for example. Like many such organisations it has a board of directors with considerable experience in finance, marketing, events-management, IT, and a myriad of other topics. The big difference is that they are all teenagers. This new non-profit – which started earlier this year – makes small loans to needy entrepreneurs in developing countries, through Kiva: so far, these loans run to just a few thousand dollars, but already they are helping people support their families through small businesses. Currently around 70 loans are being repaid. The way Charitable Innovations works is by partnering with student charitable fundraisers and investing the proceeds of their events into the micro-loans – when these are repaid (which is usually in a matter of just a few months) the target charity then receives 100% of the original sum that was destined for it. The charity therefore benefits, as intended, but in the meantime the capital has been used to help fledgling overseas businesses get underway. A very neat solution. And this new USA-based venture is already attracting support from other countries, including the UK and China.
Born This Way
Photo Credit: Louie Angelo, WENN.com
Another, slightly different example concerns Lady GaGa’s charity, the Born This Way Foundation, which was set up last year to “foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated”. Run by Lady GaGa and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, the non-profit aims to empower young people, and to “build a kinder, braver world” where they can feel safe. The Foundation, which recently launched its Born Brave Nation movement, to help young people deal with challenges such as bullying and homosexuality, has now set up a Youth Advisory Board, consisting of 24 young people between the ages of 17 and 23, to represent the opinions and views of the modern generation, and “provide insight on the issues that are most important to them”. Cynthia Germanotta says she hopes that it will “reflect and magnify the strength, determination, creativity, and capacity” of today’s youth.
And in the business world, too, young people are taking a strong lead. In an inspiring article on “Young Social Entrepreneurs Making a Difference” the website Under 30 CEO recently featured 13 young people (technically 14, as SaveUP consists of two entrepreneurs) who are already successfully managing their own social enterprises:
Santiago Halty – Senda Athletics
Jenny Buccos – ProjectExplorer
Slava Rubin – IndieGoGo
Tammy Tibbetts – She’s the First
John Simon – GreenLight Fund
Cynthia Koenig – Wello
Priya Haji and Sammy Shreibati – SaveUp
Blake Mycoskie – TOMS Shoes
Alex Budak – StartSomeGood
Shanley Knox – Nakate Project
Neil Blumenthal – Warby Parker
Rachael Chong – Catchafire
Dale Stephenes – UnCollege
With a new generation like this, our future seems in pretty safe hands!
Three interlinked threads to today’s post:
- Recognition of a grandfather’s excellent blog;
- Information on a very worthy microfinance initiative;
- News of a young graduate’s selfless overseas service.
1. Peter Lewis
Councillor Peter Lewis was recently elected as Chairman of Leicestershire County Council, and I was drawn today to his blog, which is current and entertaining. As a retired lecturer (English and drama) he brings a professional, very readable approach to his website, which is regularly updated. A few days ago he produced an excellent piece on ‘Inspiring young people’ – which was what particularly caught my attention. And that article led me to the other two threads, via a link he gave to a Press Release on the University of Leicester website, which spoke of a microfinance scheme, and of a young graduate who has been working with it.
Lendwithcare.org is a new and innovative way of helping those living in poverty overseas. Individuals in the UK can visit the website – www.lendwithcare.org – to view the profiles of entrepreneurs from across the developing world and choose which business they would like to support.
Lenders can invest towards the total needed, from £15 up to the full amount, and will be able to follow the progress of the entrepreneur’s growing business, to see how their new source of income is helping to improve many aspects of their lives. The loan is repaid to the lender over an agreed repayment schedule (usually a period of six to twelve months) and when the repaid loan is credited to the lender’s account, they can choose to withdraw the money, donate it to CARE, or recycle it into another loan. Thousands of loans have already been made to entrepreneurs via the website and The Co-operative and CARE have set a joint target to leverage £1.5m of loans by the end of 2012.
The Co-operative’s support for lendwithcare.org builds upon its existing Tackling Global Poverty programme, which benefits over a million people each year including through its leadership on Fairtrade, support for overseas co-operatives and large-scale clean water, sanitation and green energy projects.
Lendwithcare.org is an initiative from CARE International UK – one of the world’s leading aid and development organisations. CARE International UK believes in realising everyone’s potential to work their way out of poverty. CARE has decades of experience in breaking down barriers to opportunity and giving people the chance to make a decent, dignified living.
For more information, or high res images of lendwithcare.org entrepreneurs please contact: Kathryn Richards, Senior Press Officer at CARE International UK on 02070916047 or email Richards@careinternational.org
3. Emma Howard
Photo Credit: CARE/Emma Howard
Which finally brings us to the young person who inspired the original blog – 24-year-old University of Leicester graduate Emma Howard.
Emma, who plans to become a journalist, has just returned to her home in Derby, after a CARE internship in Benin, West Africa. While there she helped local people pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, with the aid of microfinance loans, and she has now invested some of her own money through the charity.
Here’s what she had to say about the experience:
“It was a truly humbling experience meeting entrepreneurs in Benin. The people I met have experienced poverty that we cannot imagine, but they now have hopes and plans for the future that they can believe in. With access to just a small amount of money they are able to develop small businesses and save money to create a better future for their children. Their determination to lift themselves and their families out of poverty was awe inspiring…Lendwithcare is a truly different way to help those living in poverty. Not only can you choose exactly who you want to help, you can follow the progress of their business and get your money back at the end – everyone is a winner! It shows how we are connected to people all around the world and gives us a way to help them to help themselves and become financially independent.”
Microfinance, which we have considered previously, is an excellent way in which we can all be a part of the solution to the problems faced by aspiring but poverty-stricken entrepreneurs. For the price of a takeaway meal, here in the West, we can make all the difference to someone else’s world, allowing them to lift themselves out of poverty and dependence on hand-outs, giving them self-respect and the opportunity to themselves make a difference in the world. Truly a case, once again, of paying it forward.
Earlier today we reported on the findings of the Halifax’s ‘Giving Monitor’. Not to let our American cousins feel left out, we now turn to the results of the 2012 report on U.S. philanthropy, from Giving USA. The full report can be purchased from the Giving Institute’s website, or the Executive Summary can be downloaded free.
The main finding of the report is that despite the state of the economy charitable giving in the USA increased by 4% last year, to a total of $298.42 billion, of which almost three-quarters came from individual contributors. Corporate donations accounted for just $14.67 billion.
According to the National Philanthropic Trust this shows that charitable giving is still a priority for American families: according to the Trust, giving remained fairly constant even during the worst of the recession. But they make the same point that we did earlier – that despite the positive outlook for charities and non-profit organisations, this shouldn’t lull them into a false sense of security. They must continue, it says, “to work hard to make their case for support”.
The Halifax Building Society has just announced the first results of its experimental ‘Giving Monitor’. The report (produced for the bank by ICM Research, using data from HMRC, the Office for National Statistics and various other sources) shows that over the last 10 years charitable giving in the UK has almost doubled, even after allowing for inflation. Donations – as measured by Gift Aid – now total nearly £4billion, with around 17 million people (approximately one third of the adult population) contributing to good causes. The average UK donor now gives £223 to charity every year.
According to the research, health charities are the most popular, with personal connection being the biggest single factor in people’s decision to give. International charities come out badly in terms of popularity – international humanitarian causes attract the support of just under a fifth of givers, while international animal charities fare even worse, at 1 in 10. Celebrity endorsement is apparently three times more likely to persuade men to give than women. Age is a big factor, too: two-thirds of retired people give regularly – double the ratio in the 18-34 age group.
Cash donations to collectors still represent the most popular form of giving, but internet giving has increased dramatically during the last few years: the charitable donation platform JustGiving alone has raised more than £1billion.
So, what effect (if any) has the recession had on all of this? Anthony Warrington – director of current accounts at the Halifax – says that giving has slowed down over the last few years, and cautions that it may “be susceptible to an adverse change in household finances”. Nearly three-quarters of people questioned said they would stop donating to charity if they felt they could no longer afford it, and 2 out of 5 current donors said that they would be unwilling to give anything up in order continue their charitable support. Clearly, no room for complacency.
A businessman from Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky, USA has hit the headlines this week for an amazing act of spontaneous generosity.
Rankin Paynter, who runs a jewellery exchange was shopping at his local K-Mart, which was about to close for good. He asked a cashier what would happen to the unsold stock and was told that ‘power buyers’ would take it all. (Power buyers are wholesalers who purchase large amounts of bankrupt stock to sell on to others.) He immediately signed up to be one, and six and a half hours later had purchased $200,000 worth of clothing and other goods (the store’s remaining stock), which he then gave away to a non-profit that helps families facing crisis situations – Clark County Community Services.
Mr Paynter was reported to have said that, having seen so many needy people coming into his store to sell their jewellery, he felt it was time to give something back to the community.
A spokesperson for the charity said this was the biggest individual donation they had ever received, and that it would mean for the first time next winter they would have enough coats, hats and gloves to provide for all the children they serve.
Really restores your faith in human nature, doesn’t it?