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Head to The NonProfit Times’ website for the full version of this article on Giving Tuesday

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DoSomething in New York City sent an email to its mostly youthful
members and supporters asking that they get their parents or anyone
older than age 25 to take a five-question test. The penalty for each
wrong answer is a $10 donation to DoSomething or a nonprofit of the
test-takers choice.

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” the charitable
sector’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Approximately 2,200
organizations – both nonprofits and their for-profit supporters – are
pushing Americans to kick-off the holiday season with a donation of cash
or time. Much like store having promotions tied to their brands on
Black Friday, it is up to each participating organization to determine
how they’ll promote the event.

The event’s Twitter hashtag,
#GivingTuesday, was already trending before the close of the business
day on Monday. “We know this is going to be the first day of the giving
season, and we’re excited to see what happens,” said Sol Adler,
executive director of the 92nd Street Y (92Y) in New York City, where
the idea for the day was hatched. “There are two days for spending
(Black Friday and Cyber Monday), so the whole idea is, why not have a
day of giving,” said Melanie Mathos of Charleston, S.C., software firm
Blackbaud, one of the founding partners. “It’s a way to kick off the
giving season, and the timing is great to raise awareness. It embodies
the spirit of the holiday season and will bring greater awareness to
nonprofits.”
Blackbaud will begin tracking giving on the
Tuesday after Thanksgiving year-over-year, starting with this year
compared to last year. Mathos said Blackbaud’s results should be ready
tomorrow.

Though no one organization controls Giving Tuesday, a
mass message of support from about 800,000 people will go out on
Twitter via the Thunderclap platform at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Thunderclap
allows for a large number of social media users to write a message and
share it at the same time.

“One of the interesting things about
Giving Tuesday is it’s an opportunity for experimenting,” said Henry
Timms, 92Y’s deputy executive director of innovation, content and
strategy. “Thunderclap is a chance for people to come together to share
one message.” The 92Y experimented with Google Hangouts, and enlisted
about 800 social media ambassadors to help spread the word between
September and Giving Tuesday.

The 92Y is also driving donations
and volunteering opportunities to itself, according to Adler. “We
secured $150,000 worth of matching grants (for Giving Tuesday donations)
from our board of directors and the general community,” he said. “We’re
also doing a lot of opportunities for volunteering. We’ll have young
kids doing greeting cards for soldiers and homebound elderly, and if you
come down to the 92nd Street Y, a lot of it will be happening in front
of you.”

No one is quite sure how Giving Tuesday will shake
out, since this is the first event and there are a large number of
variables. “This is the first year that a group of retailers and
nonprofits and other folks in social media have pulled together to
encourage the public to give,” said Anne Marie Borrego, director of
media relations for the American Red Cross (ARC), another founding
partner of Giving Tuesday. “We have Black Friday, Small Business
Saturday, Cyber Monday and now Giving Tuesday. It will shine a light on
the importance of giving in the holiday season.”

Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of the popular home improvement retailer Home Depot, was awarded the 2012 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership on October 11.

The William E. Simon Prize has been awarded every year since 2007 to business leaders who exemplify the principles of philanthropy. Recipients are given $25,000 which is donated to the charity of the winner’s choice. Marcus, who co-founded the Home Depot in 1979, chose to give his earnings to the Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The award is given by the Philanthropy Roundtable, the country’s leading network of charitable donors, at the request of the William E. Simon Foundation.

“William E. Simon Sr. was a legendary, caring philanthropist, and it is heartwarming that his family continues this great legacy,” said Marcus in a statement. “I have never done philanthropy with the objective of qualifying for awards, and it was a surprising and humbling experience to find out I had won this prestigious honor.”

Marcus’s business accomplishments are impressive, as he helped grow the Home Depot from a single store in Atlanta to a successful enterprise across the country until his retirement in 2002. His philanthropic deeds are also lengthy, including being the main force behind the funding for the Georgia Aquarium, and providing major contributions to medical research in the areas of autism and brain surgery.

“Bernie is strategic, effective and has high expectations for his for-profit and nonprofit investments,” said William E. Simon Jr., co-chairman of the William E. Simon Foundation, in a press release. “Like our father, Bernie sets high standards and settles for nothing less. We are thrilled Bernie is the recipient of the 2012 William E. Simon Prize.”

Recipients of the William E. Simon Prize must possess the ideals and principles which guides the award’s namesake, William E. Simon Sr., the late philanthropist and Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Those ideals include personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, faith, and helping people to help themselves.

Previous winners of the Prize are Philip and Nancy Anschutz, Ben Carson, S. Truett Cathy, Raymond G. Chambers, Richard and Helen DeVos, Frank J. Hanna III, Roger Hertog, Charles G. Koch, David Robinson, the late John M. Templeton, and the late John T. Walton.

Amazon.com, one of the largest and most popular online retailers, was originally conceived in downtown Seattle, Wash. Yet while other organizations born in the Emerald City have been very active in their hometown’s philanthropy, Amazon has been noticeably absent.

According to a report in The Seattle Times, the online retail giant has been a minor player in Seattle’s philanthropic scene.  The United Way of King County which, as The NonProfit Times reported, received a record $117,390,119 last year. Microsoft made a corporate donation of $4 million in 2011.

The list of Amazon’s no-shows for its hometown is quite extensive. The Times reported that many nonprofit officials find it difficult to find someone at the company who will talk to them, and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos didn’t attend a January 2011 luncheon meant to honor him as “Executive of the Year.” Even more important for the city, Amazon has made no significant donations for Seattle-area causes.

Major companies  are usually found on lists of major donors for local nonprofits, but that’s not the case for Amazon. The Seattle Times found no record of Amazon donations to Seattle-based nonprofits like the Seattle Symphony, Washington’s Special Olympics, or YMCA of Greater Seattle. Most of its financial support has gone to writers’ groups. Since 2009, Amazon has supported 80 writers’ groups in the U.S., including 19 in the Seattle area, with grants of about $25,000. It also gave the University of Washington $51,000 over a three-year period.

Bezos has defended his company by saying that its most important contributions come in the form of its core business activities. He also expressed skepticism, in a 2010 interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose, that philanthropy was the best way to solve problems. He noted that the Kindle, the company’s e-reader, could be seen as a low-cost way to distribute books to the needy.

Yet that is really the extent of Amazon’s philanthropic activity in the area. What do you think of this story? Can you think of any reason why Amazon would be reluctant to engage in philanthropy in Seattle? Make sure to read the full story in The Seattle Times.

News broke this weekend that six-time Grammy Award winner Whitney Houston died at the age of 48.  Last night’s Grammy Award Show featured many moving tributes to the late singer, whose cause of death is not yet known.  Although she is best known for her great voice and personal troubles, Houston also leaves behind a philanthropic legacy.

Ecorazzi, a pop-culture blog, wrote about Houston’s charitable work on Saturday and it showed that as her musical career grew, so did her efforts to help the less fortunate.  Like other celebrities, Houston created her own foundation, the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, a nonprofit that helped kids with cancer and AIDS all over the world.  The foundation was founded in 1989 and was awarded an honor by VH1 in June 1995 for its charitable work.

Houston also worked to raise money for other charitable causes.  She has worked with a wide variety of nonprofits including the United Negro College Fund, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.  Her performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” hit #1 on the charts in 1991, and all the proceeds from that record went to the Red Cross.  More recently, according to the site Look To The Stars, Houston and her sister created a line of scented candles, with a portion of the proceeds going to Teen Summit, a nonprofit that helps turn around the lives of young adults.

You can read more about Houston’s philanthropy in Ecorazzi.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably have at least heard of the online auction site eBay.  Maybe you’ve even won a few collectable items from it.  But if you were asked how the name Pierre Omidyar connected to the site, would you have an answer?

Pierre Omidyar is the founder of the successful auction site and he has lived a fairly quiet life.  Prior to a big profile recently published in USA Today Omidyar, 44, avoided the spotlight.  He gave an occasional interview now and then, but he spent the majority of time working with his wife Pam on his real passion: Philanthropy.

Pierre and Pam have given over $1 billion to hundreds of causes both through individual giving and four organizations they created: Omidyar Network, Humanity United, HopeLab, and Ulupono (which is Hawaiian for “doing the right thing”) Initiative.

Yet the Omidyars don’t just throw their money around without a plan.  More often than not, their donations go to charities that have solid business plans that allow them to produce the needed funds to keep its programs running.  Think of it as a venture-capitalists’ approach to philanthropy: They want their money to go to organizations that have the best chance to create social change.  And that all starts with having a solid business strategy.

What do you think about the Omidyar’s approach to philanthropy?  Do you think we will start seeing more philanthropists take this venture-capital-like approach?

Make sure to read the full story in USA Today.

With many states across the country having success with the Gives Day movement, Alabama has decided to join the fun for the first time.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported Sunday that the first annual Alabama Gives Day will begin on Thursday, Feb. 2.  Beginning at 12:01 a.m., Alabamians will be able to donate to charities via an online portal alabamagivesday.org.  More than 800 nonprofits within 12 categories are registered to participate in the event.  Among the participating nonprofits are the Hospice of Montgomery, the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, and the Montgomery Area Food Bank.

The Gives Day movement has been very popular since its inception in Minnesota in 2009.  Its purpose was to increase philanthropy and increase donor acquisition for nonprofits.  The concept has had plenty of success stories, like Colorado Gives Day, which recently had 52,000 donations totaling $12 million.  There is no monetary goal set for Alabama Gives Day; organizers simply want as many nonprofits as possible to participate.

If the Gives Days of the last few years are any indication, Alabama Gives Day should be a great source of funding for local nonprofits.  Read more about the event in The Montgomery Advertiser.

The World Economic Forum, one of the largest gathering of business and political types, began last week in Davos, Switzerland.  Where there is talk of money, philanthropy will naturally become a central topic.

The New York Times wrote a blog post last Friday about a panel discussion at the forum on the role technology plays in philanthropy.  Hosted by the Victor Pinchuck Foundation, the program began with a discussion about “e-philanthropy,” specifically mobile payments.  This technology has allowed donors to give small amounts of money to causes.  A good example of its importance was seen in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Alec Ross, a senior advisor on innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, shared his experiences with mobile giving to the panel.  He said that the government put together a mobile giving program in the aftermath of the earthquake.  The program allowed donors to text the word “Haiti” to a specific number, which would send a $10 donation to relief efforts.  The program ended up raising $35 million in two weeks, completely shattering their expectations.

Although this program was successful, all the panelists agreed that one of the main problems with philanthropy is transparency; people want to have a better idea of where their money is going.  Sean Parker, founder of Napster and former president of Facebook, cited a nonprofit that he helped finance as an example of good transparency.  Charity Water, a nonprofit organization that advocates for clean drinking water around the world, developed online tools for their website that show donors how their money is being used.  Parker said that this kind of online fundraising should be adapted by all nonprofits to give donors a better sense of security.

Read more about this topic in The New York Times.

These are tough economic times we live in, but philanthropic organizations are still willing to give big money to causes that improve the lives of people in need.

That was the key message that Bill Gates sent when his organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, committed $750 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  The major gift came in the form of a promissory note, a new funding mechanism that allows an organization to distribute funds based on immediate needs, which leads to greater impact.

The Gates Foundation has always placed a high priority on deadly diseases with its philanthropic efforts.  The organization has already contributed $650 million to the Global Fund since its inception 10 years ago at the World Economic Forum, which is a gathering of the world’s top business and political leaders.  In addition, the foundation has a Global Health Program that uses advances in technology to help save lives in poor nations.  Most of this work is done through grants to partner organizations.

Since 2002, investments to the Global Fund have helped develop innovative treatments for AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in developing countries around the world.  The organization has provided antiretroviral treatment to 3.3 million people, detected and treated 8.2 million people with tuberculosis, and provided 230 million bed nets to families to prevent malaria.  These efforts and more have helped save 100,000 lives every month.

You can read more about this story in The NonProfit Times.

Kodak, one of America’s oldest film companies, recently filed for bankruptcy.  It’s unclear what’s to come in the company’s future, but one thing was made clear: Some difficult choices are in the cards for the company’s philanthropic efforts.

Channel 13 WHAM in the Rochester area reported yesterday that because of the bankruptcy, Kodak was likely to scale down their corporate philanthropy.  The company had written on its website that “in the near term … it is likely that we will have to make difficult choices about our philanthropic investments and activities.”

Although Kodak’s philanthropy has significantly dwindled since 1990, the company and its employees have still funded many groups.  For example, the United Way of Greater Rochester has seen millions of dollars come into the organization from Kodak.  In addition, Kodak founder George Eastman has financed some of Rochester’s greatest institutions, such as the Eastman School of Music, the home of Kodak Hall (which the company recently helped renovate with a $10 million donation).

It’s still possible for Kodak to continue donating money during the bankruptcy process, but it will more than likely have to scale back on a major scale while they deal with creditors.  You can read more about this story on WHAM’s website.

Who knew that you could make a great rap about donors?

If you are subscribed to our Instant Fundraising newsletter, you probably read about Bowling Green State University’s rap tribute to the donors to its new athletic facility, The Stroh Center.  Here are some of the highlights from the rap, which proves that you can make decent rhymes in the name of philanthropy:

In the case of Miles, he “gave cash in piles/Sportin Charles Taylors, rockin’ argyles/He knows the game ya’ll, he ain’t no amateur/back in the 50s he was the student manager.”

Frack “made cash in stacks – snap – he’s given some back/2 cold million. Mad Falcon support!/He’s laying it down for the Bill Frack Court.”

If you are like me, you probably wondered what the rap sounded like.  It’s one thing to read the lyrics, it’s another to hear them in action.  Well luckily for you, the video was posted on YouTube.  We now present it to you in all its glory.  Enjoy!