From Cell Phones to Shoes:How to Use Your Business To Help Haiti Victims

Every where around there are businesses and organizations pitching in with disaster relief efforts for Haiti. While booking a flight to Europe, I received a message from United Airlines about their matching donations up to a total of $50,00o to relief organizations. In thanks they are offering a one-time bonus of 500 miles to Mileage Plus members,who donate $50.00 or more.

T-Mobile is helping family and friends of Haiti's victims, by doing what they do best, providing cell phone service. Blair Kroeber, a contributor to this blog writes:

In the aftermath of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, T-Mobile has stepped in to spearhead an array of practical and timely relief efforts. As announced on its online forums last week, the upstart cell carrier has donated wireless equipment, such as power generators and cell towers, for rebuilding the wireless infrastructure of their sister networks on the island, Voila and Digicel. More impressively, though, in the immediate fallout of the quake, T-Mobile announced they would temporarily waive international long-distance charges for all customers calling into and out of the devastated island-nation, allowing Haitians in America and elsewhere.

T-Mobile also plans to waive roaming charges within Haiti for earthquake victims and relief workers traveling the country. Both perks apply retroactively, beginning January 12, the day of the earthquake, and extending through the end of this month. Says Robert Dottson, T-Mobile USA President and CEO, "Our company and our employees care deeply for our customers, and we know that many customers have been directly impacted by the disaster in Haiti." In light of this unspeakable emergency, T-Mobile is offering a basic and essential service as only they can: helping victims, friends and families around the world make a connection.

Small businesses are helping too.

Smaller businesses may feel that their contributions to these efforts are a mere pittance. But taking the example from larger businesses, they too can leverage their assets and help support the victims of this disaster. Just as an example there are small businesses in my area are d
oing just that: a health spa is offering a Pilates mat class for Haiti where all proceeds will be donated towards Haiti; a young local singer was selling her CD's at her coffee house performance this weekend, with portions of proceeds going towards a relief organization; a doctor in a medical a practice got everyone in the office and patients involved in a shoe collection for Sole4Soles, an organization that collects and delivers new and used shoes to the children and adults in Haiti; and a local shoe store is a drop off center for shoes that also go to Soles4Shoes. Small businesses all over the world are trying every way they can contribute.

Check out the heart warming
story:"Giving Heart and Soles for Haitian Children" on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

Businesses all over this country and around the world have responded with the desire to help:

A business owner of the British clothing company "missfituk" describes it well in her message on an online business forum in England.

Use your business to help Haiti

Hi everyone,Im sure everyone here is as saddened and affected by news of the Haiti disaster as I am (if I didnt have a child to look after Id be on the first flight over to help) anyway I want to try and use whatever methods I can to help the people of Haiti and so for the next 14 days I am donating ALL profits from online sales to the Haiti appeal (thats at least 50% of each sale).

Is there anything you can do? Can you use your business to help? I would like to urge everyone to think about using your business for a positive cause and to help other people.



eTaxNet, LLC, a tax and business consulting service is donating one hundred percent of net profits generated by tax preparation services for the 2009 tax season to help fund the disaster recovery effort for Haiti. eTaxNet has joined with Life Giving Force to help with aid to orphaned children and the poor.

As was described on their website:“Whether you are an individual, a business, or a non profit, there are ways to get involved and help those in dire need in Haiti,"Explained Sung Cho, co-founder of Life Giving Force. “eTaxNet is a perfect example of company that stepped up to the plate and said we can make a difference.”

So many companies step up to the plate in so mnay different ways and set that example of making a difference. Following their example can make any business become a business that cares.

2-3 Students Needed for Ugandan Asylum Case

Professor Haynes is seeking 2-3 students to work with her and two area lawyers (one an alum and the other with a local NGO) on a Ugandan asylum case. Students would work primarily researching country conditions and helping to prepare the client for her hearing. The bulk of the work need to be completed by the end of February, so interested students should expect to work 15 hours per week until the end of February. If you are interested, please contact Professor Haynes at by Wednesday, Feb. 3rd, highlighting any background with immigration, refugee and asylum law, or Ugandan politics.

16th Annual Rebellious Lawyering Conference

Come to the 16th Annual Rebellious Lawyering Conference!
Yale Law School
February 19-21, 2010

Featuring Keynote Speakers: Bryan Stevenson, Lani Guinier & Gerald Torres

Join us for the 16th Annual Rebellious Lawyering Conference, the weekend of February 19-21, 2010. RebLaw brings together practitioners, law students, and community activists to discuss progressive strategies for social change within and outside the law. We've got a great conference lined up! Find panel and workshop descriptions and more on our website:

Register for RebLaw! Go to and click through to the registration site. You’ll be able to sign up receive FREE HOUSING for the weekend in New Haven on the spare beds, couches and floors of local friendly, rebellious law students. You’ll also be able to order a sweet RebLaw t-shirt or hoodie.

We also invite you to check out our blog, where we’ll be posting information and updates about the conference:

Questions? Please contact

Financial Note: Your school or institution may also provide funding for the registration and travel costs to conferences - inquire with your administration.

Corruption at the UN: Who is watching the watchdog?


By RASNA WARAHPosted Sunday, January 24 2010 at 18:06

WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE world, would like to believe that the money we contribute to the United Nations is used to promote peace and development in poor or strife-torn regions, and to provide humanitarian relief to countries in crisis.

But a recent review of corruption and fraud at the UN by the Associated Press (AP) has found that theft of UN funds is rampant in the neediest countries, and that the organisation is unwilling or unable to bring the culprits to book.

The review, whose findings were published two weeks ago, shows that investigations into cases involving massive fraud, theft and corruption in the UN’s various offices around the world have either been stalled, halted or closed by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, which is tasked with the job of looking into such cases and recommending disciplinary action.

At least five major cases in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa are among the inquiries that have either been shelved or not investigated further.

For instance, the review found that no action had been taken following a taskforce report completed in December 2008 that found $1 million a day being siphoned off from a UN safe in Kabul – funds that were part of an $850 million rebuilding project in Afghanistan.

In Iraq, no action has been taken on a finding that about half of the $350,000 UN funds intended for the launch of a radio station for women in Baghdad was used to pay off personal loans, a mortgage and credit cards.

Another investigation into bid-rigging involving a transport company in Africa found that contracts were being deliberately steered to just one company.

According to the AP review, over the past year, “not a single significant fraud or corruption case has been completed”, and dozens of cases are still languishing un-investigated. The review comes at a time when the UN is losing credibility as an effective watchdog against corruption worldwide.

The UN Convention Against Corruption, which came into force in December 2005, has neither reduced corruption nor resulted in significant asset-recovery in UN member states.

The convention not only introduces a comprehensive set of standards, measures and rules that all countries can apply in order to strengthen their anti-corruption legal and regulatory regimes, but also requires member states to return assets obtained through corruption to the country from which they were stolen.

AT THE TIME OF ITS ADOPTION, then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described corruption as “an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies” noting that the convention “will warn the corrupt that betrayal of public trust will no longer be tolerated”.

It is ironic that a world body that categorically endorses core values such as honesty, integrity, accountability and transparency, has been unable to root out corruption within its own corridors.

This is partly due to the fact that its oversight bodies, including OIOS, the Ethics Office and the Ombudsman’s Office, are manned by people who are themselves employees of the UN. This creates a conflict of interest.

A senior lawyer at a Washington-based watchdog organisation told me that by virtue of being UN employees, OIOS investigators are often under pressure to keep a lid on cases involving fraud or corruption, especially if these cases have the potential to severely mar the reputation of the UN.

Quite often, she added, and especially now when the UN is cutting back on funds for its oversight activities, the OIOS operates like a public relations firm whose job is to put a positive spin on a negative story or to cover up cases of fraud or malpractice.

The revelations highlighted in the AP review may suffer a similar fate. However, it is becoming clear that the halo surrounding the UN has suffered a serious dent in recent years.

In October 2008, One World Trust, a UK-based think tank, published a paper that showed that despite a 2005 whistleblower protection policy, the UN routinely fails to protect them against retaliation, and that the organisation’s self-policing mechanisms remain ineffective.

Watchdog organisations believe that the oversight capabilities of the UN are severely compromised by the fact that investigators lack security of tenure, and are appointed through UN administrative bodies, which may not be too keen to have themselves investigated.

The sad reality is that the world’s taxpayers, who contribute funds to the UN through their governments, remain largely unaware of the fact that millions of dollars are being lost to corruption and fraud by UN officials, instead of being used to promote human rights and development in the world’s poorest nations.

"Hotels That Help" Harnesses the Wayfarer's Generosity

For most, even when traveling, finding a warm bed is as simple as pulling into the nearest Motel 6 or Holiday Inn. But many - particularly in this era of recession and unemployment - find themselves confronted with the anxious, lingering threat of homelessness.

Social entrepreneur Dave Levenson confronted this reality several years ago when he learned of a friend and former client who had lost his home and been forced to take refuge in a local shelter. Reflecting on the challenges of homelessness, Levenson created the Kohala Foundation, conceiving the organization as a philanthropic foundation geared toward partnering community businesses with underserved local nonprofits.

Setting out to “leverage his talent for leveraging,” Levenson quickly procured financing for Kohala’s flagship endeavor, Hotels That Help, a dynamic, low-cost program designed to bring together hoteliers, their staffs and visiting guests to raise funding for nearby charities.

Headed by Jim Abrams, former CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association and a leading expert on hospitality law, Hotels That Help kicked off with a modestly scoped 2007-2009 pilot program involving twenty Bay Area inns, hotels and motels.

Their model is simple, and all the more impactful because of it. As designated businesses join, they start by advertising their involvement around the premises of the hotel with key folders, hotel room tent cards, signs and placards advertising the Hotels That Help logo.

This simple array of promotion is tailored to initiate customer curiosity and inquiry. From there, hotel staff members answer questions, explain the venture and invite guests to add an optional $1 donation to their bill at checkout. Then each month, 100% of the total proceeds are contributed to a local charity chosen by the hotel’s management and staff.

Though Levenson originally envisioned the program as a means of fighting homelessness, its scope has widened to serve a variety of causes. The employees of Berkeley’s famed Hotel Durant, for instance, selected the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, a nearby shelter and soup kitchen, as their charity of choice. But the Petaluma Sheraton chose to devote their donations to the Boys and Girls Club of Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties, while the Hotel Adagio in San Francisco sponsors Art for Life, an arts program for critically ill children. By the nature of the program’s unique selection model, charities have come to run the gamut.

According to Hotels That Help President Jim Abrams, nearly 75% of guests at participating hotels volunteer to chip in. As a result of their generosity, the initial twenty Bay Area hotels raised $25,000 per month during the two-year pilot phase of the venture.

Now Hotels That Help is setting ambitious goals for 2010. In the first half of the year alone, they hope to enroll 1,000 new California hotels to participate in this inventive guest-giving system. By the end of the year, they expect to have brought in an anticipated $10 million of “net new monies” for community non-profits.

Armed with this ambitious vision, Abrams, Levenson and their team foresee a bright future for Hotels That Help, both in the Golden State and beyond. It’s a future in which the reach of charity extends as far the traveler roams.

Family Law Staff Attorney Position

LAKESHORE LEGAL AID seeks applicants for a staff attorney position in its Family Law Assistance Project at Thomas M. Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus. FLAP is a teaching clinic responsible for providing family law legal services in Oakland County. The staff attorney will handle one-half of a domestic violence/family law case load and supervise clinical law students handling family law cases. The staff attorney will keep current on family and domestic violence law and act as a liaison between FLAP and the community. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of five years of litigation experience, preferably in family law, and experience with poverty law and domestic violence.

Interested applicants should submit a resume and cover letter. Send these materials to Ms. Karen Staszel at The Family Law Assistance Project, 2630 Featherstone Road, Auburn Hills, MI 48326 or via email to Please include “FLAP Staff Attorney” in the subject line. Resumes will be accepted through February 1, 2010. This position is to be filled as soon as possible. Lakeshore Legal Aid is an equal opportunity employer.

Blackbaud's Wide Reach

With the afterglow of Martin Luther King Day still bright, one of Dr. King’s trenchant aphorisms reverberates through the cultural air: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Like many of Dr. King’s enduring thoughts, this question rings with a note of urgency, a challenge to action and charitable service.

Of the many companies dedicated at the corporate level to such efforts, perhaps none puts such a premium on the service and philanthropy of its members as Blackbaud. The Charleston, South Carolina-based company, founded in 1981, bills itself as “the leading global provider of software and services designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, enabling them to improve operational efficiency, build strong relationships, and raise more money to support their missions.” And that’s more than just a mouthful of corporate self-promotion - Blackbaud is a major force in the nonprofit world.

A successful, publicly-traded corporation, Blackbaud employs nearly 2,000 service-minded employees across an array of offices in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. In addition to Charleston, the company’s US operations include Cambridge, Massachusetts, Denver, San Diego and Indianapolis.

More impressively, Blackbaud’s client roster represents a who’s who of vital and thriving nonprofits, 22,000 in all, ranging from the American Red Cross to Lincoln Center and the Special Olympics, as well as a wide array of educational institutions like high schools, charter schools, and prestigious colleges such as Dartmouth.

Blackbaud’s services run a wide gamut, too. Though they specialize exclusively in nonprofits, the company offers an array of consulting services, particularly for the identification and acquisition of new donors, the creation of a strong web and social media presence, and the development of lasting organizational growth strategies for their client organizations.

But all that falls within their profit margin. What about the over-and-beyond, the extracurriculars? After all, what good is a corporation dedicated to assisting philanthropic organizations if they don’t engage in robust philanthropy themselves?

Here’s where Blackbaud truly distinguishes itself. First-rate volunteerism is woven into the very fabric of the company.

For starters, Blackbaud takes action on the local level. For the past ten-plus years, the Blackbaud Fund has teamed with the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina to distribute grants to organizations in the Lowcountry region of the state. With an eye toward helping disadvantaged youth, Blackbaud selects small grassroots nonprofits, and relies on the Coastal Community Foundation to manage the subsidies. Despite their efforts around the world, Blackbaud continues to reassert a foremost commitment to charities in its own backyard.

More significantly, Blackbaud multiplies its impact by empowering employees to make service a part of their own lives. The organization offers a popular Volunteer for Vacation program, in which employees earn extra vacation days each year by committing to a volunteer cause of their choice.

Plus, any employee who joins in either corporate philanthropic projects or their own private effort is considered a member of Team Blackbaud, the organization’s vast “corporate volunteer corp.”

Among its many initiatives, Team Blackbaud hosts an annual volunteer fair, in which charitable groups visit Blackbaud headquarters and recruit volunteers from the corporation’s ranks. To similar effect, Team Blackbaud maintains a massive web-based “job bank,” through which employees can research further volunteer opportunities.

Team Blackbaud is governed by a committee of rotating leaders culled from each of the corporation’s offices, collectively known as Team Blackbaud Global. Together this body coordinates events for their specific branches, as well as the corporation at large.

One such regional project, a Blackbaud Cambridge effort, is the Everybody Wins Power Lunch, in which Blackbaud employees visit local underprivileged schools during the lunch hour to serve nutritious meals while assisting students with their reading skills.

The Blackbaud site even features a wide array of blogs featuring various aspects of their services with one in particular, Service to Others, devoted entirely to their corporate philanthropy.

Over and beyoind the corporate structure, though, Blackbaud values and rewards the personal initiative of its employees, too. To that end, the company recently unveiled a program designed to identify charitable groups to potentially receive what are called Employee Volunteer Impact Grants. In essence, Blackbaud invites employees to nominate an organization with which they’ve recently volunteered; then each quarter, the leadership of Team Blackbaud Global selects an array of winners to receive cash grants honoring the Blackbaud employee’s service with that group.

According to the company’s website, recent winners have included a Charleston-based organization, Louie’s Kids, designed to fight childhood obesity. Another grant recipient, a Southern California group called School on Wheels, provides tutoring services, school supplies and one-on-one mentoring for homeless children.

For Blackbaud, the calling to help nonprofits hone their mission isn’t just a corporate one. It’s infused into the culture of the company, and extends down to every single member.

Is Caring About Local Causes More Important?

One of the blogs I follow is Tom Bailey's "Personal Accountability Log". Tom's blog ties together topics about charity, philanthropy, personal responsibility and positivity. And this blog asks questions about these topics in a unique way that gives the readers the opportunity to really question and comment on the motivations behind philanthropy. Thanks to Tom Bailey for the always interesting and provocative blog posts.

I am a great believer in asking questions and more importantly asking the right questions as a way to make decisions and create new directions in organizations. On Oct. 20th, 2009, Tom's question was: "What do you think about localism in charity?" Coincidentally, I had just written a post on Oct. 18th, "Honors for Every Little Drop" where I honored small businesses that supported local community causes. The major points that I hoped to convey is that small businesses are closest to issues that are local which make them better able to assess the need, to have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the charities, and to have a greater impact on those causes.

The comments to Tom's question ranged from bashing celebrities who have adopted global causes ostensibly for self promotion, to comments about the importance of taking care of problems in our backyard, to comments that state it is really an individual choice.

And so it is really is an individual choice for a small business to decide whether to support local or global causes. But it is not always so obvious how to decide.

The best way to start to think about this decision is to take an example to take example from Tom Bailey and that is to ask questions: questions about what your business really cares about, what causes do the business employees care about, where can a business get involved in such a way that has the most impact, how can a business get involved in other ways than giving money?

The definition of "localism" from is: excessive devotion to and promotion of the interests of a particular locality. Tom's post implied the idea of giving locally, but that ain't necessarily so. Even though it is important to make rational decisions about the best way to give back, whatever causes your business chooses to support, whether they are in your backyard or half way around the world, if you are devoted to that cause and you promote it, it is localism.

Help Haiti - Donate Now !

(Click here)

Help us Help in Time: Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)
Your donation is helping the UN to provide rapid response and relief to victims of the Haiti earthquake

Haiti earthquake hotline for UN staff

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and the whole of UNDP is mobilized to bring support and assistance to UNDP staff on the ground.

Staff members trying to get information about family members who were working in Haiti can call the UN hotline at +1 212 963 4139.

16 U.N. workers killed; 150 missing

1/14/2010 3:31 AMAssociated Press

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. chief said 16 U.N. personnel were confirmed dead late Wednesday in the earthquake that decimated Haiti's capital, with 100 to 150 U.N. workers still unaccounted for, including the mission chief and his deputy.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that 11 Brazilian peacekeepers and five international police officers - three from Jordan and one each from Chad and Argentina - were killed in the "horrendous" quake.
U.N. officials said 56 others were injured. Seven who were seriously hurt were evacuated from the country, they said.

"Many continue to be trapped inside U.N. headquarters and other buildings," said Ban, noting that includes the U.N.'s mission chief, Hedi Annabi, and his chief deputy, Luis Carlos da Costa. "Other peacekeepers and civilian staff from many member states remain unaccounted for."

U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said at least 10 people were pulled alive on Wednesday from the lower floors of the five-story headquarters building for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, which collapsed in Tuesday's magnitude 7.0 earthquake quake.

Annabi, a Tunisian diplomat who has worked for the U.N. for 28 years, and da Costa, a Brazilian whose U.N. career spans four decades, were missing. Also unaccounted for was an eight-member police delegation from China that Annabi was meeting in an office on the headquarters' top floor when it collapsed, U.N. officials said.
"It is our estimate that around hundreds of people were still working inside the building," Ban said. "Therefore it will be in the range of 100 to 150 that I'm quite concerned about."

Ban said he was immediately dispatching Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mullet, who was Annabi's predecessor in Haiti, to Port-au-Prince to take over as acting chief of the U.N. mission and direct the world body's emergency response starting Thursday morning.

"Most urgently is the emergency search and rescue: People buried under the rubble are still alive. We must save them, as many as possible, and we must move immediately," Ban said. "To the people of Haiti, I say this: We are with you. We are working quickly, as fast as humanly possible."

Ban said one Chinese and at least two U.S. search and rescue teams should have arrived in Haiti by Wednesday night, with two more U.S. teams expected to arrive today. He said Mullet would try to meet with Haitian President Rene Preval and other government leaders immediately after his arrival. Ban said his office was unable to directly contact Preval.

Ban's former spokeswoman, Michele Montas, a well-known Haitian journalist, was visiting family when the quake struck. In an e-mail received by U.N. staff late Wednesday afternoon, Montas said she was OK but Port-au-Prince "is 80 percent destroyed," said Montas' successor, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky.

"Saw hundreds of bodies in the street this morning and people trying to reach survivors under buildings and carrying the wounded on doors and makeshift stretchers. Most everything above one-story has been leveled," and there have been "more than 30 aftershocks," Montas wrote in an e-mail as read aloud to reporters by Nesirky.

Le Roy said the Villa Prive and the Hotel Montana, where a large number of U.N. staff lived, also were damaged. He said it was not known how many U.N. personnel were in the buildings at the time.
Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Program, said 38 UNDP staff are unaccounted for, including 10 believed to have been in the building adjacent to the agency's main office, which collapsed.

The U.N.'s Haitian mission - spread across the country - includes 7,000 peacekeeping troops, 2,000 international police, 490 international civilian staffers, 1,200 local civilian staffers and 200 U.N. volunteers, he said. The force was brought in after a bloody 2004 rebellion following decades of violence and poverty in the nation.

Le Roy said the 3,000 troops and police in Port-au-Prince are securing the airport and port, patrolling, and helping to clear roads in addition to digging in the rubble of the collapsed headquarters building.

The U.N. is operating out of its logistics base near the airport, which was not seriously damaged, he said.
Susanna Malcorra, the undersecretary-general for the department that staffs and equips U.N. field-based peace operations, said the Brazilian peacekeeping contingent includes an engineering unit which is moving "with a lot of caution" at the toppled headquarters building because they don't have the expertise in dealing with people trapped under rubble nor the specific tools to handle it, including sensors to listen for signs of life.
The engineers are trying "to ensure that they don't produce more damage to the building than has already happened," she said.

"We need guidance from the rescue teams to make sure that we maximize the use of our engineers properly," Malcorra said.

Ban urged the international community "to come to Haiti's aid in this hour of need" and announced that the U.N. would provide $10 million for immediate relief from its emergency fund "to kickstart" the global response.

Late Wednesday, Ban met with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, his special envoy to Haiti, and they then attended a meeting of the General Assembly where many countries announced pledges of aid to the devastated country.

Clinton, who has been focusing on raising money to rebuild Haiti after devastating cyclones in 2008, said "maybe a third of the country" has been affected by the quake. He urged people to send cash - not supplies - to buy food, water, shelter materials and first aid supplies.

He urged member nations to provide Haiti the aid they previously pledged. "We need those commitments," Clinton said.

2010 Business Philanthropy Trends That Get More of a Bang

Reviewing my top picks of tweets and posts from this last year has provided me with an opportunity to observe the exciting themes and trends in business philanthropy that have emerged in 2009 . Paying attention to these trends and seeing how they can be incorporated into a giving plan can help small and medium sized businesses find ways to add value and increase the impact of their philanthropy in this next year, which, I believe, will make an even bigger "bang" in 2010

Matching the philanthropy with the business core objectives
Restaurants and food companies, like the Cheesecake Factory have taken on the cause of fighting hunger, but other industries like Sunoco, have come up with creative ways to match their philanthropy with their core business. Matching the philanthropy with the core business makes a lot of sense. It takes away the burden of an organization going through a process of deciding which kind of charity to support and utilizes the expertise that maximizes the strengths of the business.

Volunteering to supplement donations
This is probably the biggest trend in business philanthropy in the past year. As companies were struggling with the own economic difficulties and were unable maintain the same level of financial support to charities as before, they found that volunteering and pro-bono services could help support charities in more economically feasible ways. Even if the economy improves in 2010 and philanthropic giving has a rebound, companies will continue with their volunteerism. Companies have discovered the many benefits of volunteerism to the morale and satisfaction of company employees and charities have discovered how to better utilize company volunteer teams to their benefit also. This will be a trend that will continue to grow.

Cause marketing. Differentiating cause marketing from philanthropy is becoming increasingly more important. There are many consultants and blogs out there posting definitions of and having debates about the difference between cause marketing and philanthropy. Nevertheless, more and more big companies, see my latest blog post about Pepsi, and small local businesses are choosing this kind of support as a way to help and give back to local and global causes. If the end result of a cause marketing program is that a percentage of the returns are donated towards a worthwhile cause, businesses need to consider this trend as a serious option achieving their philanthropic goals.

Starting a business that gives back a percent. Whether it's giving a shoe for every shoe bought as in Tom's Shoes, or allocating a percent of profits that go back to charity, more and more entrepreneur's are starting businesses where the giving a percentage of profits to charity is baked into the mission and the business plan. I have posted stories about some of these businesses in 2009, Brokers for Charity, Glassybaby and others.

Involving the customer. Teaming up with customers is a great way to both raise money for charity and to raise awareness for a favorite cause. The jar on the counter or the collection bin in the hallway, is still a tried and true way to raise money or goods. Food stores like Whole Foods, has monthly local charities where they ask customers to support by donating spare change and Safeway supermarkets has seasonal fundraisers for breast and prostate cancer asking customers to add a dollar or two to their bill to help fund cancer research. Smaller service businesses have used their tip jars to go towards a local charity of their choice. Hotels That Help give customers the option of adding $1.oo a per night donation to their bill that will go to the hotel's charity of choice.

Social media involvement. The newest form of "involving the customer or consumer" is by using social media. This past year businesses like Microsoft through their "I'm e-mailing for Good Program", have been asking users to vote for their favorite charities that Microsoft will donate to. While this is sometimes part of a cause marketing program like Pepsi's "The Pepsi Refresh Project", in the case of Replyforall, user's choose which cause to support in their online signature. Facebook has gotten into the act too, helping out the Intel "As Sponsors of Tomorrow™" program, where Facebook users can nominate and vote for their favorite non-profit.

Helping Out Haiti's Disaster Victims

I was putting on the final touches for my latest post on business philanthropy, when I first heard of the disaster in Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and is so close, really, to the US. I heard an interview with Haiti's ambassador to the US on the CBS News with Katie Couric. She asked him what will the Haitians need? His reply was "everything".

Several years ago I met a remarkable young women at my son's high school that was engaged in a community service project during her summers in Haiti. This was right around the time I was clearing my son's room of his outgrown toys. As he was a Legomaniac from the age of 3, we had boxes and boxes of assorted Lego pieces. I packed these up in smaller boxes and gave them to her to take on her next trip to Haiti. This is a photo of a little Haitian boy playing with the Legos.

Of course Legos cannot take a priority over food, water, clothing, medical supplies and other urgent needs for the Haitians. But this country will need "everything" as they rebuild in the next few days, months, and even years to come.

When creating a philanthropic business plan it is not not possible to predict when or where there will be the next disaster. But a business can come up with ideas for acting quickly to raise money, send supplies, send extra inventory, partner with relief agencies, and engage customers in helping out. A sign in your window, a collection jar on your counter, a post on your blog, a twitter message, can also help in times of disaster.

For some more specific ways to help the disaster in Haiti right now check out the post at Service Nation

And I can post the story I was working on later.

The Possible End of Wikileaks

As it appeared on All Things Whistleblower, a website on which whistleblowers may anonymously break stories of government and corporate transgressions,
has gone offline and will remain so while it looks for funding. The home page featured a message saying that Wikileaks had received "hundreds of thousands of pages from corrupt banks and other information pertaining to the Iraq war, China, the United Nations” and that it does not currently have the resources to release the documents. Wikileaks has featured thousands of sensitive documents regarding the September 11 attacks, Guantánamo Bay and the Church of Scientology, among others. Neil Gordon of the Project on Government Oversight commented on Wikileaks, saying: "We think there's nothing but good that can come from sites like Wikileaks. It provides places for whistleblowers to provide documents anonymously, which is often the only way you can uncover corruption."

U.S. Ignored U.N. Aid Agency's Fraud and Mismanagement

Monday , January 11, 2010

By George Russell


Between 2004 and 2008, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) showered more than $330 million on an obscure United Nations agency known as UNOPS — United Nations Office for Project Services — to carry out development aid projects in Afghanistan. What happened next wasn’t pretty.

Among other things, USAID apparently overlooked a growing stack of U.N. audits and investigations that pointed to fraud, mismanagement and lack of internal financial controls by UNOPS in Afghanistan, even as the U.S. agency continued to shovel money in UNOPS’s direction. So did other branches of the U.S. government, to the tune of an additional $100 million.

In a stunning number of cases, however, USAID also ignored its own oversight procedures and did not even insist that contracts with UNOPS enshrine the agency’s uncontested right to access financial records that would tell how the U.S. government money was spent. Consequently those records were never examined.

In other cases, it looked like legal loopholes were created to make sure UNOPS got to keep its financial records out of USAID’s reach.

Worse, the oversight disaster may still not be fixed—even as UNOPS, claiming that it has changed its ways, may get a bigger role in Afghanistan, financed with dollops of U.S. money, in the months and years ahead. .

U.S. government inspectors who did a 17-month study of the fiasco, however, have reported that they can’t fully assess whether the problems with UNOPS have been solved — partially due to a continuing lack of full cooperation on the part of UNOPS officials, who refused to let the inspectors question UNOPS managers thoroughly about the operations of the U.N. agency’s financial management system.

Along with refusing to allow the inspectors access to significant information about its financial management system, the study reveals that UNOPS had not even begun investigating some aspects of alleged fraud by its employees that has already been uncovered in Afghanistan, and, more importantly for future operations, still does not systematically review the accuracy of the data on its electronic books.

All of those distressing conclusions, and more, are contained in a dense, 68-page report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an investigative arm of Congress that examines how U.S. federal public funds are spent, and suggests a few remedies for the administrative lapses it uncovers.

Click here to read the entire report

In the case of UNOPS, GAO has been remarkably discreet. Its report was presented on Nov. 19 to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Investigations that originally commissioned it, then kept out of the public eye for another month.

The GAO findings only became public on Dec. 17, just in time to languish without much notice over the Christmas break. They were, however, hailed by UNOPS four days later, as the organization pledged “to continue to implement reforms that strengthen the organization’s management and financial controls.”

Both U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Obama administration have their own reasons to applaud UNOPS’s attitude, however much it may or may not be grounded in fact. Both have big plans for upping U.S. spending in Afghanistan via the U.N., as part of an expanded military and civilian effort that President Obama inaugurated on Dec. 1, with the announcement that 30,000 additional U.S. troops would go to Afghanistan.

Alongside the military buildup, Secretary-General Ban on Dec. 4 began to tout a “civilian surge” in Afghanistan that would include mammoth infusions of additional development aid, under U.N. supervision, which would likely point to an increased role for UNOPS.

As part of that increase the U.N.’s requested spending this year for its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, known as UNAMA, is nearly $242 million, making it one of the fastest-growing — and contentious — big-ticket items in the U.N.’s 2010 budget. The U.S. share of that total would be about $63 million. (The U.S. pays about 22 percent of regular U.N budgets, and about 26 percent of peacekeeping tallies.)

But far more money than that will likely be involved. On Jan. 28, for example, Ban and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will host a major international conference on Afghanistan that will include a significant pitch for more development aid — much of which will likely also be filtered through U.N. agencies, including UNOPS.

All of which could result in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts churning through UNOPS, a little-known U.N. agency based in Copenhagen, which is the world organization’s chief on-the-ground manager for development projects, as well as a provider of procurement, human resources management, and financial management, services both for the U.N. and for other governments and private organizations.

It is also another U.N. organization swathed in diplomatic immunity and secrecy that has been stained in a series of scandals and administrative lapses in past years. The fallout from those lapses is continuing.

Last April, for example, the Inspector General of USAID issued a separate report on $25 million worth of projects sub-contracted to UNOPS between 2003 and 2006 to build small-scale infrastructure projects throughout Afghanistan. It revealed, among other things, that $10 million of the money was spent on UNOPS work in Haiti, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Dubai; that some of the projects actually completed in Afghanistan were built shoddily or to the wrong specifications and were on the verge of falling apart; that UNOPS officials saw at least one of the projects as a “cash cow,” and that UNOPS officials stonewalled when U.S. inspectors tried to find out what happened.

According to the report, UNOPS also drew down $6.7 million worth of U.S. funds from a line of credit months after the project ended, with no apparent justification. One whistleblowing U.N. employee cited in the Inspector General’s report reported that the local director of UNOPS spent about $200,000 of U.S. money on renovating his guesthouse.

At the same time, the agency’s oversight was further hampered by the fact that its 36-nation supervisory Executive Board did not have direct access to the internal audit reports documenting UNOPS’s failings — just as the same Executive Board, which also supervises the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), did not have access to internal audit reports from the same period that pointed to UNDP violations of its own rules in North Korea.

(In September 2008, the GAO report notes, UNOPS rules were altered to give Executive Board members “limited access” to the audits, if formally requested. The same change went into effect for UNDP.)

U.S. prosecutors subsequently were unable to bring civil or criminal charges against anyone involved with misappropriation of funds at UNOPS, because those officials operate under U.N. diplomatic immunity. The USAID Inspector General, however, vowed to set collection agencies on UNOPS to retrieve some of the money. UNOPS has since reported on its own website that it “has reimbursed money owed to its clients as a result of errors or misuse, and will address any new issues if they come to light.”

Click here for the Inspector General's report

The U.S. funds involved in the $25 million scandal are not even part of the bigger ocean of cash examined in the just-released GAO report.

Instead, the document observes in a footnote that UNOPS pulled down $97.8 million in U.S. subcontracting work between 2004 and 2008, over and above the money it received to undertake projects directly.

The litany of management sins uncovered in the U.N.’s own internal audits of UNOPS are the major focus of GAO concern—along with the fact that most of the documentation of those lapses was unavailable to the U.S., even as it funneled huge sums to the U.N. agency.

Since the inception of U.N. peacekeeping in Afghanistan in 2002, the GAO report says, regularly scheduled U.N. internal audits and investigations discovered that UNOPS was spending money it did not have (2002); lacked “valid information” on some of its costs and did not have an “independently validated internal control network” (2004); had “recurring expenditures” beyond its budget, along with inadequate or non-existent supervision by managers (2006), and along with continuing cost overruns, had “deficiencies in managing project budgets and expenditures in the field” (2007)

Some of the undocumented information on costs and spending increased the cost of projects dramatically. The GAO report says that the price-tag on the biggest USAID project in Afghanistan, building secondary roads, increased by a factor of ten through a series of modifications and add-ons—without supporting documentation.

In addition, an external U.N. Board of Auditors report on UNOPS, published in June, 2008, noted “significant weaknesses in the accounting and internal control system,” “inadequate cost control of projects” and other failings. At the same time the auditors declared that UNOPS “has made good progress” in “addressing various weaknesses in its internal control accounting and imprest functions.”

Click here to see a timeline of audit reports against USAID projects carried out by UNOPS

Indeed, during much of that period, UNOPS was in such bad shape that the U.N. comptroller declared in 2005 that the agency was “in a precarious situation,” and it subsequently underwent a substantial management overhaul. On its website, UNOPS claims that the new management (headed by current executive director Jan Mattson) was in the forefront of identifying the organization’s failings.

Significantly, however, the GAO study says that as far as it can determine, UNOPS financial documentation systems are still not up to the task of discovering bad management or wrongdoing. “Without a system in place that can document timely, accurate, and complete information, management’s capacity to ensure effective internal audits is limited.”

The GAO inspectors say that UNOPS’s own director of internal oversight has said that “the accuracy and completeness of data entry remain a concern.” The inspectors added their own important observation that UNOPS management “does not know the extent to which data reliability is a problem because UNOPS has not sought any systematic check on data reliability.”

Nor did UNOPS management apparently want the GAO inspectors to find out certain things on their own. As part of their investigation, the inspectors prepared a questionnaire for UNOPS managers world wide, asking them to assess how well the UNOPS financial management system, known as Atlas, captured data and strengthened internal financial controls.

The report says that UNOPS top management demanded that the inspectors cut out “almost half” of the proposed survey questions, including ones the U.S. officials felt “were important” to discovering the capabilities of Atlas.

The failings found by the inspectors on the part of USAID itself in the UNOPS case are equally grave, starting with the inexplicable lack of concern by the agency in following its own rules regarding oversight.

In dealing with organizations like UNAPS, the report says, USAID can demand a right to audit financial documentation in any contract where it is the sole donor to a project, as it was in five of 11 of the major grants made to UNOPS during the 2004-2008 period. UNAID did not demand the inclusion of that right in the contracts, the report says.

Even when the aid agency is not the sole contributor, it can negotiate for the same rights, and in four cases chose not to. In three of the four cases, the only other contributor turned out to be UNOPS itself, often in token ways, like adding in-kind landscaping services. Top UNOPS officials told the GAO inspectors that the U.N. agency’s actions were “strange,” because UNOPS is not normally a donor to anything it works on.

Says the report: “They told us these in-kind contributions might have been made to avoid USAID’s regulations.”

When it came to recommendations arising from their work, the GAO inspectors confined themselves to generalities, including the tightening up of USAID procedures to demand audits when the agency’s contributions gave it the right to do so, better training of USAID officials in those rights, and creation of some kind of system to check that the audit rights were actually asked for. All of these were apparently embraced by the State Department, of which USAID is a part.

When it came to UNOPS, the inspectors didn’t say much — presumably because the U.N. agency is immune to strong medicine administered from outside its diplomatic immunity envelope.

Instead, the GAO officials vaguely urged that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton work with other member states to “support” UNOPS’s “continued management reforms,” and to “encourage UNOPS management to assess the effectiveness of the reform effort.”

On the first GAO suggestion, UNOPS on its website has said it “takes note of these comments, and is committed to further strengthening data quality, to completing investigative processes and to implementing necessary reforms.”

But then it added, on the point of assessing the effectiveness of its reforms, that “UNOPS believes reforms have already produced tangible results.” Among other things, the agency said, its external auditors had approved its accounts without qualifications, and UNOPS has been able to sign new operating agreements with various U.N. agencies, the European Commission and the World Bank.

As a result, the agencies revenues and new business have “almost doubled,” the agency reported.

With fresh gushers of cash about to pour into Afghanistan in the near future, those revenues could be on a path to skyrocket much further — regardless how much improvement is actually registered with the way that UNOPS handles the money under its care.

George Russell is executive editor of Fox News

More Favorite Tweets of 2009, Includes Pepsi, Cheesecake Factory and Others

Here is Part II of my earlier post: My Favorite Business Philanthropy Tweets of 2009; great examples of business hoping to create a positive change through philanthropy. Once again, the original tweets are in red.

Pepsi Puts More Muscle Into Cause Marketing Than Super Bowl.

Pepsi had been the largest advertiser at the Super Bowl last year. After a 22 year presence at the Super Bowl the company has chosen to use it's advertising dollars for a $20 million dollar cause marketing campaign the"Pepsi Refresh Project" instead. Pepsi will be donating millions of dollars to a variety of community projects that consumers will submit and then vote on. This is Yes, Pepsi is hoping to get a boost through the project, so for Pepsi it falls into the category of cause marketing. But the result is Pepsi's donation to a variety of community causes.

RT @cheesecake1: San Jose tomorrow at 7-10.AM Cheesecake Factory Drive out Hunger Tour. AM

Cheesecake Factory led a Drive Out Hunger campaign all over the United States this past Sept.
Over 321,992 cans were collected from generous Americans.

And their drive to end hunger continues as The Cheesecake Factory will donate 25 cents to Feeding America for every slice of Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™ sold and will donate $1 for every Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™ ordered online.

This beats dragging things to dump! . Another way to get rid of your junk and donate it to charity. This company will come out and haul away junk from any residential or commercial property for a fee. They will donate as much as they can to charities that can use them and send you a a tax donation receipt. See my earlier post: Help Out Charities With Your Excess Stuff and Get a Tax Break.

Sunoco Supports Red Cross With 'Fuel-Up' Partnership Providing 130,000 gallons of gas to Red Cross vehicles

Since 2006, Sunoco has donated 32,751 gallons of gasoline to fuel the Southeast Pennsylvania's Chapter's disaster relief vehicles, Sunoco will now extend this partnership to the 77 vehicles of the Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region. Sunoco's donations have helped the chapter respond to more than 750 disasters spread over all five counties in just the last year. What a great example of matching philanthropy with a business's purpose.

Research Assistant Position

Professor Dina Haynes is seeking a Research Assistant, work study-eligible and available immediately, to assist with cite checking on her forthcoming co-authored book on gender and post conflict reconstruction, 10-15 hours per week. Applicants should have bluebook and cite checking capabilities, be meticulous and be work study eligible (see Financial Aid with any questions in that regard), and be able to begin immediately. Please send a short email cover letter by January 12th to indicating your interest, your experience with cite checking, you work study eligibility and your immediate availability.

My Favorite Business Philanthropy Tweets of 2009-Part I

I love having the opportunity to post tweets about businesses that help the world in some way, since I can't write longer blog posts about all of the interesting stories that come across my desk. But twitter has it limitations in how much information I can pass on within each tweet as well as in its fleeting nature where posts may be easily missed.

There are so many businesses out there that deserve more notice of their worthwhile endeavors, so this first week of 2010 will be dedicated to posting expanded versions of my favorite business philanthropy and cause marketing tweets and retweets. Each of the stories mentioned reflect some key themes and trends in business philanthropy and cause marketing that will continue to be important in this next year and many others to come.

The actual tweets are highlighted in red. For more information please click on the link from the original source.

A rt via @writerpollock: Whole Foods debuts cause-related social marketing

Whole Foods, which I have profiled earlier this year, continues with its innovative ideas for philanthropy. This post describes the Whole Foods in-store and Facebook campaign that goes until the end of January called: "This Is My Year To...". This campaign offers consumers three choices for where they would like to focus their efforts for change and giving. Shoppers can choose to: "Know Where My Food Comes From", where funds will go to a Non-GMO Project; "Choose Organic", with the a project for increasing the market for organic food; or "Share My Plate", which provides sustainable food for needy people. Whole Foods will give $10,000 to each to the three groups, and an additional $10,000 to the group that gets the most votes on the Whole Foods Facebook Page.

RT @brokers4charity: Yumm RT @CAUSECAST , @BakingforGood,Social Entrepreneur Founds Charitable Online Cookie Company.

In this post Olivia Khalili interviews Emily Dubner, the founder of the online cookie company, Baking For Good. Dubner answers questions such as how and why she started the business, why she decided to give 15% profits to charity, the implications for profitability to the company, and how they partner with non-profits. This interview was originally posted on the blog: Intent

In lieu of layoffs in Redlands, CA. Steel employees asked to volunteer at local nonprofits. (The original link to the story is no longer available,- here is another link:

This past year California Steel Industries had asked employees to volunteer for local charities during their work hours. About 200 employees have helped out with a local charity that provides transitional housing for women and children. The company was hoping to stave off layoffs and save money by claiming these volunteer hours as a tax deduction.

Google Gives to Charity, Rather Than Sending Funky Gifts.

This story posted on NewsBlaze, was about Google sending donations to charities in lieu of the usually interesting but sometimes "funky", (as the author described it), holiday gifts to their best customers.

There is a growing personal trend to give charitable gifts for holidays, birthdays, weddings. I would love to know about any more businesses out there that have done the same as Google with their holiday gifts.

Projects in Knowledge is Brightening the Holidays for Many in Need.

Projects in Knowledge a company that develops programs in medical education, has always been involved in charitable giving. In spite of the economy this year they have increased their holiday giving to a variety of programs that serve women and children, hunger and poverty, breast cancer research, humane annual treatment and many others.