Break Open the Bubbly! Best of 2010 Awards for Philanthropic, Benevolent, Purpose Driven Businesses

Benjamin Franklin's adage: "Do Well by Doing Good " has never proven to be so true as this past year. While this has been a tough economic year for many companies, businesses that have been founded on the principle of blending philanthropy and a purpose with good business have been thriving. And receiving recognition for doing so has become an exciting trend in 2010.

This past fall nearly every major city or region has held business philanthropy awards with categories for both large corporations and small businesses and we noted some of these award ceremonies in November. Yet more and more philanthropic businesses and their founders have been receiving  awards or accolades from their industry peers not only for their outstanding commitments and contributions to their communities through volunteering and philanthropy but also, and more remarkably, for their success in building and growing businesses with quality products. These achievements are especially notable as they prove that businesses that do good can indeed do well in spite of the difficult economic times.

The following businesses have been profiled here, and we are proud to have discovered them early on!
Lauren Bush of FEED, was honored to accept the Humanitarian of the Year award at The Accessories Council Excellence (ACE) Awards
Next week I am excited to go hear the founder of the FEED, Lauren Bush speak at my daughter's alma mater, a local girl's private high school in the area. What excites me is that last July we profiled the FEED project, a company that sells FEED bags, handbags and now also other fashion accessories that help support programs that are eradicating hunger. Since then, this philanthropic venture has not only expanded their product line, captured general acclaim for their humanitarianism, but has also garnered awards and recognitions from the fashion accessories industry as well.

Ecojot: has won the Bronze at the 2010 Canadian Design Exchange Award. The category was Visual Communications Brand & Identity.
Last June, we profiled Ecojot, makers of 100% post-consumer recycled paper products which donates school supplies to kids in need around the world through their corporate giving model  "Buy one, we give one". What was special about this award to Ecojot was the acclaim they received for the design quality of their products from the industry, while having their philanthropic purpose acknowledged at the ceremony.

Mission Street Chinese: 2010 winner of the Eater Awards for " Empire Builder of the Year, San Francisco" from
Well I don't know exactly what "Empire Builder" means, but it sounds great and perhaps refers to the amazing transformation that this business has gone through. Mission Street Chinese/Restaurant along with its sister restaurant Commonwealth, began as a food truck and then became Mission Street Food -where they rented the space of a Chinese restaurant two nights a week and donated a portion of their proceeds to local causes. Their story launched and inspired our blog , as they have been a "benevolent business" (as they call themselves) from their very beginnings and continue to do so. I like the idea of benevolent business empires!

Give Something Back: San Francisco Business Times’ Community Change & Impact Award; U.S. Small Business Administration Business of the Year; Newman's Own/George Award; E-Achievement Award; San Francisco Business Times Top Corporate Philanthropists Awards; Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 100 and Inc. 500” (8 out of 9 years); Classy Awards finalist for Philanthropic Business of the Year
We profiled the company Give Something Back, an office products company in a three part interview with founder Mike Hannigan. Since then, Give Something Back has been receiving awards and acclaim for both their philanthropic business model and their achievement in business growth  from so many organizations and institutions.

Sweets Truck: Classy Awards finalist for Small Philanthropic Business of the Year;named 2010 Los Angeles Small Philanthropic Business of the Year
When we first wrote about Sweets Truck and their commitment to support their community, we found the idea very sweet and charming, not to mention yummy. Then later we were very excited about their nomination for Classy Awards an awards competition recognizing the top philanthropic achievements by charities, businesses, and individuals in eight major cities nationwide.

e-Cycle: Inc. magazine has named e-Cycle number 763 in its 2010 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing, privately-held, for-profit companies in the U.S.
Perhaps the most telling of all the awards and acclaim are the ones that come from industry leaders acknowledging the success of a business. e-Cycle has proven to be a leader amongst philanthropic and green companies achieving business success not in spite of their purpose, but most likely as a result. We were thrilled to interview their co-founder, Tonia Irion about the philanthropic side of their business.

Congratulations to all of these business for their achievements and for their inspiration to others.I look forward to seeing this trend of recognizing philanthropic businesses to build even more in 2011. It is going to be a great year with more and more businesses becoming philanthropic and more and more public acclaim for their mission to "do well by doing good".

In Sudan, Disarmament Irregularities Freeze UN Program in Referendum Run Up

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 29 -- Mismanagement and corruption in the UN system, hardly rare, sometimes comes to light at a particularly bad time. Such is the case in Sudan with irrregularity in the disarmament programs run by the UN Development Program.

Less than a month before the Southern Sudan secession referendum which many predict may give rise to a renewed civil war, UNDP confirmed in response to questions from Inner City Press that it has suspended seeking funding for its disarmament programs.

This is the answer provided to Inner City Press by the UN's Spokesman's Office:

From: UN Spokesperson unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
Subject: Answers to your questions
To: Inner City Press
Date: Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 7:42 PM

SUDAN Please provide the UN system's response..

Our colleagues at UNDP provided the following: “The UN’s DDR programme in South Sudan is facing challenges. The UN’s team in Sudan was concerned that the total number of former combatants, and women associated with the armed forces, that have been reintegrated has been low. That is why we commissioned an independent review and why an internal audit is currently on going. UNDP management expects that the review will enable us to improve the focus of the programme, assess the objective conditions for its implementation and take a critical look at the project and local capacities on the ground. It will also help us in terms of the redesign of the programme and only then will we seek future funding.

We take audits and evaluations very seriously so as to improve our performance on the ground. The issues you highlight in your questions are being critically examined. Once the review has been thoroughly studied and the audit completed, it is vital that corrective measures be taken rapidly and in consultation with all parties involved.

In Southern Sudan, registration, disarmament not shown

The overall political context under which this programme operates is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). As you know, some of the planning assumptions in the CPA have not yet materialized on the ground, increasing the complexities and challenges of implementing the programme.

More broadly, this programme is operating in a state that is recovering from a long civil war. That has a very significant impact on the results of reintegration --whether it is the abject poverty in many rural areas, the lack of opportunities or the almost non-existent infrastructure.

That being said we owe it to the people of South Sudan and our donors to make this programme as successful as possible despite all of the difficulties. We are always looking for ways to improve it and make the intra-UN cooperation more effective.”

While the investigation and suspension of requests for more funding is all to rare in the UN system in response to unveiled irregularities, it comes at a very bad time. Some call it inexcusable. Watch this site.

Summer 2011 Internship at Children's Law Center of Massachusetts

Job Type: Internship, unpaid
Application Deadline: 02/15/2011
Practice Areas: Children/Education/Juvenile Issues, Family Law

Job Description
The Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts (, with offices in Lynn and Lawrence, accepts 3-4 law student interns each summer. These internships provide students a great opportunity to assist in advocacy on behalf of young clients in critical legal matters.

The Children’s Law Center (CLCM) is a private, non-profit legal services agency with 501(c)(3) status. CLCM provides direct representation to indigent children and youth in child welfare, CHINS, delinquency, mental health, and educational matters. During the twelve-week summer program, student interns concentrate on one or two of the five substantive practice areas. Each student is assigned to a specific mentoring attorney who they accompany to court and/or education meetings and hearings and provide case support. Students have direct client contact and assist in client interviewing, investigation, and preparation of motions and memoranda. In addition, CLCM provides appellate advocacy in delinquency and child abuse and neglect cases. If a case is pending during the summer months, a student may be asked to assist in research and writing of appellate briefs.

Law student interns contribute a great deal to our mission – we have high expectations of our interns and we look for law students who want a challenging and diverse internship experience.
Applicants with Spanish language skills encouraged to apply.

Application Instructions:
To apply, please e-mail a cover letter, completed application form (click here for application form), resume, law school transcript and writing sample to the e-mail contact below.

Applications must be received no later than February 15, 2011 and are accepted on a rolling basis.

Contact Information:
Jessica Berry, Children's Law Center of Massachusetts
P.O. Box 710
298 Union Street
Lynn, MA 01903

Summer Funding Resources

The following list contains numerous summer funding resources for public service positions :

Are You Or Your Business Deluged With End Of Year Requests From Charities?

Have you noticed how more and more of your  friends are starting charities? How more and more friends are on boards and committees of non-profits and so more and more of them are helping raise money for a good cause? Just this week, I have received four newsletters, one phone call, two e-mail requests, one letter and one phone call -all from friends. They all say the same thing: charities have been hard hit, this is a really worthy cause, won't you give, give again, or give more?

Personally, what I find frustrating are the ambivalent feelings rising up in me. Yes, they are all worthy causes and yes, I want to help my friends as I have been there too helping raise money for a cause. I am finding it tougher and tougher to fend these requests off while at the same time feeling guilty that I have to do so.The trap that I am in, and I am sure this applies to many people, is that as these requests increase so has my total giving while at the same time individual donations to my favorite charities have decreased from previous years. It is hard to say to them: "I am giving to you less this year, because I am now also giving to, (for example) an orphanage in Africa.

Is this experience any different if you are small business, or large one for that matter?  You may have already have a favorite community cause or causes that you employees care about that you have been sponsoring all along, If you have a giving plan, you may already budgeted your charitable contributions for the year, Yet, you too are probably deluged with solicitations from local charities and you would like to help-you really would.. Add to all of this the fact businesses this past year have had even less to give than before.

Here is an example from a local business owner in Lane County, Eugene Oregon, where businesses have seen pleas for help from local charities climb as the economy has declined in the past three years.

“There’s so many probably deserving groups that it’s really hard — you can’t even take all the calls,” said Rob Bennett, owner of Bennett Management Company and the Downtown Athletic Club. Plus, he added, “We have relatively less (to give) than what we did three years ago. We’re holding our own, but the decisions are harder and the amount we can contribute is down from earlier years.”

Last year, we posted: "How To Say No (and Yes) To Charity Requests, which gave suggestions on how to cope with this increase in requests for donations.

What I think this holiday scramble really points to is that private giving (not at the Bill Gates' billionaires level) is being tapped out and charities need to turn to seek support from businesses both during the holidays and all year in order to survive. Even if a business cannot give much in cash donations there are so many ways that a business can do to help that private individuals cannot.

Here are some ideas:

  • Create an employee giving program where employees choose which organizations they would like support.
  • Matching grants for private donations( which have proven to be enormously successful) .
  • Engaging customers for a cause-even a jar on the counter asking for spare change to help a worthy cause, can add up to a lot. Check out how Whole Foods and Safeway do this.
  • Donate products, services, expertise.
  • Volunteer, have employees volunteer in teams.
  • Cause marketing promotion, attracting customers to purchase with a portion of the sales going to a cause.
  • Set out collection bins for food, toys, clothing, even cell phones. 
So now- because as a single supporter  I have fewer of these options, I have to go off and write some checks before the end of the year hoping that these will help my favorite causes.

Macy's Newest Cause Marketing Miracle on 34th St.

Not since the movie " A Miracle On 34th St" a 1947 movie where the existence of a Macy's Santa was proven by the submission in court of  50,000  letters to Santa, and "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa" 1897 editorial , has there been better proof that there is someone out there that will grant children's wishes.

For every letter to Santa delivered Macy's has given $1.00 to Make A Wish Foundation an organization that grants wishes to children who are face life threatening illnesses.

Macy's has set up a Believe post office like stations at all their stores nationwide, as well as a website where letters can be written and decorated to be printed up and brought to stations.   

Now practical parents,Scrooges, Grinches and cause marketing cynics as well, must be cringing at this strategy of taking advantage and even furthering childrens' beliefs in Santa as a ploy to bring in customers.

But I am sucker for such causes like Make A Wish Foundation; and for myths like tooth fairies and Santas, and I always cry when I watch movies "The Miracle on 34th Street". As a mom I know the pain and heartbreak of having a child injured or sick, as well as the joys and delight of children at Christmas time.

To date Macy's has received 1,001,002  letters. This campaign has translated to Macy's delivering a $1,000,000.00 check to Make A Wish Foundation, with an additional $500,000.00 from their facebook promotion- proving once again that kids' letters to Santa must mean that somewhere out there he does exist -and so does charitable giving tied in with some brilliant cause marketing.

If Macy's can help me "believe" that that there is "someone out there" that can give some joy and hope to children with life threatening illnesses, then I truly hope that Macy's wish for profitable season has been granted too.

RibbonBook Founder Finds His Mission

What motivates business innovators? Is it their strengths and goals, or also their turmoil? This was the question I asked in my post on Tuesday, citing business strategist Rosabeth Moss Kanter and her theory that personal obstacles, losses and challenges can often be a powerful driver in the creation of businesses and social ventures. It's been a recurring topic on this blog, going back to businesses such as InspireNotes, and one seemingly answered by Scott Kurland and his venture, RibbonBook.

Scott conceived his service based on a simple principle: how to streamline the process of stamping, mailing greeting cards to all your family and friends? Most importantly, how to keep from forgetting important dates and occasions? With these questions in mind, he set about creating RibbonBook, a site that will allow users to prearrange the delivery of cards for a variety of events like holidays and birthdays. Currently, the Beta version of the site allows visitors to send free greeting cards via Facebook.

Once the site fully launches in early 2011, the $3.79 card price will include a $1 contribution to one of the "RibbonBook funds," philanthropic causes selected by Scott and his users.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the service, though, is its genesis. Recently, facing a variety of personal challenges, Scott struggled to find renewed meaning in his life. As he told me, "The loss of my father in 2005 was a real wake-up call. I was married the same year to my beautiful wife and have had two children since. In early 2009, I began to experience a series of failures that led to some difficult financial times and bankruptcy. After spending over a year struggling unsuccessfully with both job interviews and get-rich-quick start-up ideas, I burned out and found myself depressed and directionless."

After reflecting on his goals and passions, Scott found a renewed sense of purpose and mission in helping others, then combined it with his unique and inventive business concept. Now this self-described "serial entrepreneur" hopes to recruit customers to the cause with RibbonBook. We'll check in with Scott again in 2011; for now, he and his business provide a reminder of how helping others can often provide a guiding light in challenging times.

Interface: Rolling the red carpet for Ray

To all of our Readers:
If there’s any one company that exudes all that this website stands for, then it’s Interface (IFSIA).  Interface is to the corporate soul like the late Ray Charles was, and still is, to music.
Despite its risks (and there are always risks) I like this company, I like what it stands for, its vivacity and inventiveness.
Interface is not the kind of company one imagines as being Socially Responsible.  It’s kind of small, scrappy and its products (modular carpet tiles) were made with chemicals – many of which were toxic.   However…something happened one day when founder (and author) Ray Anderson received an inspirational “ah-ha” moment from a customer.
As Ray describes, it was a dramatic wake up call, analogous to “a spear in his chest.”  He then challenged his employees...
“to head the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrialized world what sustainability is in all dimensions: people, process, product, place and profits – and in doing so, become restorative through the power of influence.”
But rather than letting me explain, I’ll hand over the microphone to Mr. Anderson.  Later, our website will follow-up with an in-depth analysis.  You know, a wise man once said that, “we think with our heads when we should be thinking with our souls.”  Well, my friends, this is one of those times!

Yourself, Improved: Innovation as a Vehicle for Personal Growth

With Oscar night right around the corner, the film that seems to have caught everyone's attention this year is The Social Network, the story of restless Facebook wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg and how he carried off his coup of web innovation. Depending on who you believe, the film involves as much fiction as fact. On a pure narrative level, though, it raises some fascinating questions about the nature of motivation, creativity, leadership. Did Mark Zuckerberg's vision for Facebook arise from shortcomings in his own social life?

Last month, acclaimed business strategist and Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter addressed some of the film's core issues in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review. In it, she asks, are misery and personal weakness prime motivators for successful entrepreneurs?

In her own words:

Entrepreneurs always have something to prove - the viability of their ideas, for one thing. They must make good on their promises that they can create something new or live up to the claims on their business plans or project proposals. But are they also, consciously or unconsciously, seeking to prove that they can transcend a personal deficit through their venture? And does this increase the motivation to throw themselves fully into the venture? Does psychic compensation fuel the passion to succeed? Is inner misery a motivation?

Surely, negative motivators can be just as persuasive and powerful as positive ones, and drive is a necessary key to launching any venture on the scale of a business. As Moss Kanter continues:

Restless dissatisfaction - that feeling that something isn't quite right - propels entrepreneurship and innovation. Sometimes the motivation is straightforward and doesn't require pop Freudian analysis. Get annoyed about something that isn't working, and invent a gizmo to fix it. See your mother suffer from cancer, and become a scientist seeking a cure. Get angry about the sorry state of urban education, and start an organization to tackle it. Personal stories lie behind many successful social or business ventures.

As Moss Kanter goes on to suggest, this sort of compensation can have real-world applications. Perhaps managers, in motivating staff, should look not only at each individual's strengths, but also at what deficits they hope to overcome.

In this, then, the inwardly driven, improvement-minded entrepreneur shares much with leaders from among the ranks of any philanthropy or social venture. Later on this week, I will continue to explore this concept, profiling small-business innovators who found inspiration in overcoming personal obstacles by turning toward giving.

Maurice Strong advising United Nations in China on Carbon Offset Trading

Buying carbon offsets for China ?

No problem - UNDP China Office is hiring the best - Maurice Strong, so he can provide qualitative advice on how to offset China's pollution with "UN's Carbon Certificates".

Update on Socially Responsible Investing TRENDS

Gee, right after we finished writing our 5-part series on SRI Trends, released its latest survey on the subject.  I read the report to determine if there were any changes worth talking (actually more like writing) about.
The biggest change, or more like surprise, was the continued growth in SRI assets, despite the troubling waters of capital markets.  In fact, SRI has not only become increasingly popular, but Hip!  From the start of 2007 to the beginning of 2010, SRI assets increased more than 13%.  Total AUM was $3.1 trillion excluding the effects of overlapping strategies.  (See table).  This compares with anemic growth of 1% for overall professionally managed assets.  Demand for Socially Responsible Investments has come from the “grass-roots” efforts of investors, and not from the institutions (or their portfolio managers) themselves.
The fastest growth of what’s categorized as ESG investing vehicles was what is called Alternative Investment Funds.  The Social Investment Forum Foundation identified 177 of these vehicles with AUM of $37.8Bn.  Alternative investments vehicles include ones I’ve focused on in my 5-part Series such as Hedge Funds (mostly quant funds) as well as private equity.  Can private equity really do good, or is this an oxymoron?
The number of alternative investment vehicles incorporating ESG criteria increased 285% since 2007, while AUM grew an even faster 6x.  Surprisingly, leading investment criteria were clean technology versus what I had expected would be quantitative funds that screen.
On the U.S. Registered side of SRI, there were 281 mutual funds with $320.3Bn under management.  Most of this was to the ever familiar mutual funds.  The smallest share was to Closed-end funds (just a bit over $200MM).  However, the fastest growth was in Exchange-Traded-Funds (“ETFs”) growing 225% since 2007, to $4Bn.  While still a relatively small AUM, we expect ETFs to continue leading the way in SRI.  As mentioned previously, we like the growth being witnessed here, but are disturbed by the disassociation of the individual investor from the ETF’s investments, and the tendency of ETFs to become like casinos.  (Please review Part V of our SRI Trend series for additional information.)
Going forward, I continue to expect ETFs to grow quickly as well as Social Venture Capital and Private Equity.  As you know, I’m no fan of ETFs or of Private Equity.   However, Social Venture Capital (and Social Enterprise) are areas I believe SRI can really make a difference in society.
The question is:  Would you rather help society, or make a quick-buck investing in an ETF ?

CSR FOR HR or HR FOR CSR- a Win Win For Everybody

Reading CSR FOR HR by Elaine Cohen has successfully answered some key questions that have I been chewing over in my head.  The book follows the very engaging format of a fictionalized character, Sharon an HR executive, guided by another fictional character named Arena, who initiates her into the world of CSR. As the main character meets and learns from other CSR practitioners, that serve as her teachers and guides, the various functions of CSR within corporate organizations, she also learns what role and responsibility  HR can take in changing corporate culture by integrating a CSR perspective into all of the its functions.

As though I was initiated too, this book was an eye opener for me to view what I have considered to be primarily HR functions as a form of Social Responsibility. Some of the traditional HR responsibilities this book addresses include: responsible workplace, work life  balance, employee development and engagement ,employee rights and diversity,  rewards and recognition, health and safety, recruitment and retention, training and development, corporate culture, values and ethics.

Having worked as an organizational development consultant, facilitator and trainer I have seen how the role of corporate culture change often falls on the shoulders of HR. Now CSR practitioners are also change agents banging on the doors of the traditional corporate mindset to become more aware of their responsibility to bring about the kind of social benefits that affect their companies, the employees, and now the world.  An alliance of these two change agencies may be just the line of attack to bring down the some of the barriers to change that many companies still hold up.

Elaine makes a strong argument in this book for tying these HR objectives with CSR objectives. In her first sentence in the Introduction she says:  “This book is about a wake-up call for the human resources HR profession and a toolkit written to help members of the profession to act.” And while “the intended audience is anyone practising, teaching, learning, aspiring to be in the HR function”, I see value in expanded the audience to include anyone practicing, or aspiring to be in the CSR function as well.

Sometimes when I participate in a gathering that brings together CSR, Community Relations, Corporate Volunteering and Corporate Philanthropy folks, where the discussion centers around employee programs, I wonder: “where is HR?”. For although, stuck in thinking about its traditional roles, HR may be not only unaware of the potential of partnering with CSR, as yet CSR endeavors in organizations sometimes seems dissociated from the HR department.  For example, Just look at the list of CSR and Corporate Citizenship titles of the attendees at BCCCC’s annual conference,where only one HR position had been named amidst the dozens of CSR domain positions.

Or, as another example, a  terrific study, which we reported here before, by Manulife a Canadian-based financial services company operating in 22 countries and territories worldwide, carried out by the community relations department, reported the many  benefits of their employee volunteer program to the company in hiring, retention and employee satisfaction, normally areas that are the purvey of HR. This would have, could have, should have, been big news for the HR department too-hopefully it was. 

Thankfully, this book helps bring this issue to the forefront. My favorite chapter, Employee Volunteering in the Community, co-written by Elaine Cohen, Chris Jarvis and Angel Parker of Realized Worth (two of my favorite CSR people)  addresses  employee volunteering within the rightful  context of HR concerns such as employee job satisfaction, recruitment,  employee career development, team building and leadership training.Elaine Cohen makes a strong argument for the integration of these domains, as doing so would create  value for the companies and the employees as well.  HR’s partnership with corporate philanthropy and employee volunteer programs makes a lot of sense. Why duplicate the allocation of resources to address employee satisfaction, training, and employee relations, when these types of community volunteer programs are of benefit not only those causes that they serve but to the entire company as well?

Yes, Elaine Cook’s book is a must read for anyone in HR function of any sized organization, and let’s not forget for CSR  practitioners too. For much more great stuff from Elaine about CSR and HR check out her blog: csr-reporting.

UNDP is seating on $317 Million unspent Dollars destined to Iraqis

UNDP's Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Iraq

These funds are seating in UNDP Bank accounts earning 2-3% APR, while Iraqis die every day.

The Catchafire Concept

Any nonprofit or social enterprise ought to utilize the available skills and resources in the most effective manner. On the flip side, too, high-skilled volunteers don't want to see their energy and expertise squandered on the wrong sort of work. That's the impetus behind Catchafire, a New York-based for-profit business that specializes in matching skilled volunteers with nonprofit organizations that need their specific sort of help.

Founder Rachael Chong, a former investment banker, stumbled on the idea for Catchafire after joining a volunteer project offered by her firm. Helping to build a house in the Bronx, she found herself hauling lumber in an effort that wasn't exactly putting her financial and organizing expertise to optimal use. When she sought out a more effective volunteer opportunity, she found few offerings, and immediately sensed a niche to be filled.

Catchafire, which describes itself as "an eHarmony for skilled volunteers and social mission organizations," specializes in making exactly that sort of love connection. The site solicits small-scale, achievable projects in the areas of marketing, public relations, social media, strategy and finance, then matches the projects with volunteers eager to use their professional skills on a flexible pro bono basis, charging only a fraction of typical market rates for the services provided.

You can hear some success stories right here, or peruse a list of organizations Catchafire has assisted, including the Go Project, a group that provides academic support to low-income students, the African Rainforest Conservancy, the Tibet Fund and the Business Council for Peace.

But the true strength of Catchafire, it would seem, lies in the simplicity of its concept. Properly matching skilled volunteers with causes where they can make a difference in a manageable amount of time makes for the most fulfilling type of win-win. Imagine if every business took a page from the Catchafire playbook, relying on built-in capabilities and leveraging them to benefit a cause for good.

De fenomenologische instelling in de filosofie van Jean-Luc Marion

Over Jean-Luc Marion. Zie voor meer info hier
Waar : Antwerpen, fac. Filosofie, Rodestraat, lokaal D 424
Wanneer: woensdag 9 februari
14.00 tot 17.30


Current challenges and measures to address them

2. For the 2006-2007 biennium the Board of Auditors had issued a modified audit opinion, in which, among other concerns, there were three matters of emphasis, namely, the unreconciled inter-fund account mainly with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), deferred revenue and non-expendable assets. The financial situation of the organization has improved significantly over the course of the last three biennia. This has occurred despite the fact that in the last five years, in addition to a number of significant write-offs, UNOPS made exceptionally high bad-debt provisions, covering sizeable losses from prior periods, and made full accrual for all end-of-service liabilities, including after-service health insurance. As at December 2009, UNOPS reserves were fully replenished at $42.7 million, representing an addition of some $38.4 million since December 2005.

Issues to watch and risks to mitigate

In paragraph 45, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s reiterated prior recommendation to review its accounting policies regarding revenue recognition, as part of its preparation for IPSAS implementation.

1. UNOPS has established an IPSAS project board to drive the organization-wide

transition from UNSAS to IPSAS by January 2012. UNOPS is presently reviewing

and drafting its revenue recognition policy for project revenue. The policy will be

based on the percentage completion method.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In progress

Priority: High

Target date: December 2010

In paragraph 48, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to establish procedures to review the reasonableness of the interest income received from the UNDP Treasury.

2. UNOPS has conceptualized a methodology to review the interest received

from the UNDP Treasury for reasonableness on a quarterly basis.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In progress

Priority: High

Target date: December 2010

In paragraph 51, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to regularly monitor administrative budgets on a line-by-line basis to ensure that budgets are not exceeded.

3. UNOPS follows a rigorous half-yearly budget review process of administrative

expenditures throughout its country offices, regional offices and headquarters.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In progress

Priority: Medium

Target date: December 2010

In paragraph 57, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to address instances of obligations raised that are not supported with valid and appropriate obligating documents.

4. UNOPS retired the imprest modality in April 2010, and further occurrences of

the instances noted by the Board have been prevented. UNOPS monitors purchase

orders on its financial dashboard, and random purchase orders are selected for

review at headquarters. In addition, quarterly certification of obligating documents

is requested from regional directors.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: Completed

Priority: High

Target date: Fully implemented

In paragraph 64, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to implement controls and reports to accurately differentiate between project receivable and payable balances and project balances that represent over-expenditure.

5. UNOPS has implemented a quarterly project quality assurance review process

for all projects. Any project over-expenditure is highlighted for action through the

quality assurance process. Furthermore, reports will be prepared for the next audit to

clearly differentiate project receivable and project payable balances.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In progress

Priority: High

Target date: December 2010 & April 2011

In paragraph 65, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s further recommendation to improve its system controls to prevent and detect any classification errors in financial reporting in a timely manner.

6. UNOPS will implement monitoring and review controls to detect

misclassifications in a timely manner and prior to financial reporting.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In Progress

Priority: High

Target date: December 2010

In paragraph 69, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to account for the funds received in advance from donors as a liability upon receipt of the funds and not as a credit entry within the accounts receivable accounts.

7. UNOPS will implement an annual review process to identify credit balances in

accounts receivable and to reclassify these as accounts payable.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In Progress

Priority: Medium

In paragraph 72, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to (a) follow-up and clear the credit balances in the accounts receivable, and (b) reclassify credit balances in accounts receivable and account for them as payable.

8. UNOPS will implement an annual review process to identify credit balances in

accounts receivable and to reclassify these as accounts payable.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In Progress

Priority: Medium

Target date: December 2010

In paragraph 83, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to resolve the disputed inter-fund differences in its accounts with UNDP.

9. Resolution of the historic UNOPS-UNDP inter-fund differences is sought and

is currently under discussion at the Executive Director level. These negotiations are

expected to be finalized by the end of 2010.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In progress

Priority: High

Target date: December 2010

In paragraph 86, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to (a) follow-up the rejected project expenditures and make appropriate accounting entries, (b) improve the validation of information captured on its system to ensure that the incidents of rejections are minimized, and (c) consider alternate arrangements with UNDP to further improve the acceptance rate.

10. UNOPS continues to submit project expenditures to UNDP on a quarterly

basis. In late 2009, UNOPS developed a project expenditure validation system to

detect possible rejections and correction of data prior to submission to UNDP.

Overall, the validation process has reduced the rate of rejections to below 1 per cent

for the 2009 year. In addition, UNOPS is also in the process of implementing new

controls to prevent incorrect posting of project expenditures to the chart of accounts.

Department responsible : Finance

Status : In Progress

Priority : High

Target date : December 2010

In paragraph 91, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to (a) continue to follow-up on the unreconciled inter-fund differences in its accounts, and (b) engage with the relevant United Nations agencies in order to resolve the old inter-fund differences.

11. As part of the UNOPS project closure phase 2 initiative, meetings will be set

up with the relevant UN agencies to negotiate a resolution of the old inter-fund


Department responsible: Finance

Status: In Progress

Priority: High

Target date: March 2011

In paragraph 111, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to consider a revision of its policy for the valuation of the annual leave liability in its implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

12. UNOPS selection of policies for the valuation of the annual leave liability is

based on decisions made for the entire United Nations system. At the United

Nations IPSAS task force meeting, which was held in late August through early

September 2010, further guidance on the accounting and disclosure of all end-ofservice-

liabilities in compliance with IPSAS was requested.

Department responsible: Finance

Status: In progress

Priority: High

Target date: December 2010

In paragraph 116, UNOPS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to take appropriate measures to ensure the validity, accuracy and completeness of the data used in the computation of all post-retirement and end-of-service liabilities in future financial periods by ensuring that the information pertains to the correct reporting period.

13. UNOPS selection of policies for the valuation of all end-of-service liabilities is

based on decisions made for the entire United Nations system. An expected outcome

of the aforementioned UN IPSAS task force meeting has been further guidance on

the accounting and disclosure of all end-of-service-liabilities in compliance with


Department responsible: Finance

Status: In progress

Priority: Medium

Target date: December 2010

Facebook Causes

Since its founding in 2007, Facebook Causes has become an indispensable resource for many nonprofits. The pioneering social media application, created by Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake in the movie) and Joe Green, allows any Facebook user to create a profile for an issue or organization of their choosing, network with other groups, then solicit friends and family to join and even donate.

The fundraising stats have grown gradually since the app's creation. So far only two groups have broken the $100,000 threshold: The Nature Conservancy and Students for a Free Tibet. According to Susan Gordon, Nonprofit Coordinator for Causes, the Nature Conservancy is Causes' largest fundraiser to date with $262,984 in donations.

But there's a catch here and there, ones which any participant might want to heed. There are the usual privacy concerns, of course. Also, as with much of the user-created content on Facebook, the site itself reserves the right to re-purpose your organization's logos, copy, graphics, photos and miscellaneous content. What's more, 4.75% of all donations are tithed by Causes' donation distribution partner, Network for Good, in order to cover their operating expenses. While none of that money benefits Causes directly, the application is a for-profit enterprise that earns revenue through advertising.

Many in the media have been sharply critical of Causes. According to the Wall Street Journal, social media in general and Causes in specific are among the most ineffective means of nonprofit fundraising.

As their article points out:

Only a tiny fraction of the 179,000 nonprofits that have turned to Causes as an inexpensive and green way to seek donations have brought in even $1,000, according to data available on the Causes developers' site.

Research shows that the Internet and email are generally considered the least successful nonprofit fundraising techniques, according to a report by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

"The prevalent fantasy among nonprofits during the early days of the Web was that a random person would come to your Web site, see that they could donate, and donate a million dollars," said Aaron Hurst, chief executive of a California nonprofit, who has blogged about the ineffectiveness of Causes. "But that wasn't true then and it isn't true on social networks."

Just this past October, too, Malcolm Gladwell took on social media activism in a controversial article for The New Yorker. While I disagree with many of Gladwell's conclusions about the organizing potential of Internet platforms like Causes, the piece makes for a thought-provoking read.

In it, Gladwell contrasts Facebook and Twitter networking with the highly organized, centralized, disciplined and passionate techniques of the civil rights movement. Gladwell asserts that social media cause support requires comparatively little of web-users, often entailing nothing more than the clicking of that "Like" button. It demands little material or physical sacrifice, largely because Internet-based networks are loose-knit communities, counterproductive to strong activism, as opposed to "strong tie" organizations with a centralized strategy and deep, lasting, value-based social bonds.

Once you've read Gladwell's piece, hop over here for a spirited response from Facebook Causes' Susan Gordon.

Indeed, while Gladwell raises some legitimate points, the bright future for many nonprofits lies along a middle path, combining the capabilities of traditional activism and cause marketing with the unparalleled information dissemination and fundraising potential of social media. To that end, Facebook Causes, like Facebook itself, makes for a valuable marketing platform. It has its downsides, and every user would do well to read the fine print of the user agreement, but ultimately makes for a powerful source of increased awareness.

B1G1 – Global Giving Partnering Businesses With Charities

Buy One Give One (BOGO) is the home of transaction-based giving.

STOP. Take a breath. And imagine you were part of a world where every single transaction made a difference.

Imagine, for a moment, you purchased a television, and automatically a cataract-blind person got the gift of sight. Automatically. Or imagine if today you purchased a cup of coffee and someone in Africa got access to clean, pure drinking water as a direct result. Again automatically.

It’s all happening right now. Already Buy1GIVE1 (Buy1/Give1) has become a true global giving ‘village’, bringing together businesses, their customers and worthy causes in a way that’s never been done before.

It’s happening globally, every second, every day and in every way with a staggering 556 projects already underway and making a difference.

That’s because in the Buy1GIVE1 world, every single sales transaction, be it buying a cup of coffee in Cape Town or renting a car in Reno (and everything in between) gives back in a well-defined, resonant and measurable way.

In this present economy, when both corporations and charities have seen a decrease in profits and donations, cause-related marketing appears to really be catching on. Cause-related marketing is a business scheme involving a partnership between a company with a product to sell and a charity with a cause to advance. As opposed to “corporate philanthropy,” which simply involves a company making a tax-deductible charitable donation, cause-related marketing benefits both the company (by helping to increase sales, and thus, profits), and the charity (by giving contributions and calling attention to the cause.)

You buy a book, a tree gets planted. You dine out, a child is fed. Buy One Give One – simple. The list is endless and the giving simply happens automatically, every second, every day and in every way.

And it is beautifully simple. Buy1GIVE1 is now becoming a global movement as more and more businesses jump on board and enjoy the incredible benefits of transaction based giving.

In Buy1GIVE1, they made sure that in all cases, the consumers are not only involved in CSR initiatives on a daily basis. Buy1-Give1 generates answers to that and it does it every second, every day and in every way.

Discover more about how Buy1GIVE1 (BOGO) can transform your business using Cause Marketing.

This article, B1G1 – Global Giving Partnering Businesses With Charities has free reprint rights.

Article From Articles Cafe

Helen Clark orders Frederick S. Tipson to attack Republicans and Heritage Foundation


30 September 2010
A response to the Heritage Foundation

The Real UN Development System:
A Response to the Heritage Foundation

The United Nations needs all the constructive criticism it can get. As the Washington representative of the UN Development Programme, I can attest that those who work for UN agencies are more focused than anyone else on identifying our shortcomings and working for continuous improvement. So we welcome informed, fair criticism that highlights significant issues—especially when it includes realistic proposals for improving our performance.

The Heritage Foundation has produced constructive critiques of this kind over the years. Brett Schaeffer’s ConUNdrum volume in 2009 contained a number of strong chapters that address key areas of the UN system where performance falls short. But the chapter by former U.S. Ambassador to ECOSOC, Terry Miller, on “The United Nations and Development” is of a different sort. Miller is an experienced former official who was once responsible for overseeing U.S. contributions to UN agencies. He is concerned about the proliferation of agencies and the inconsistencies of donors, and he seeks more accountability and transparency from all actors. His views warrant consideration. But his frustrations with perceived deficiencies in the “UN development system” in general, and UNDP in particular, do not add up to a cogent critique. His chapter is a rambling, dogmatic indictment of all aspects of development assistance, yet he offers only an odd assortment of half-baked ideas to fix the problems. Unfortunately, his chapter was given new life last week during the UN Millennium Summit as a Heritage Special Report (SR-86). Heritage added a further broadside at UN development assistance with a “WebMemo” (#3020) by James Roberts subtitled “Foreign Aid v. Economic Freedom.” Sifting through this barrage of criticism from Heritage, I would like to address three of their major points: reporting results, promoting capitalism, and reforming the system.

Over-Promising and Under-Delivering Results. Miller starts his chapter by mocking the annual reports of UNDP as “filled with beautiful pictures of happy and prosperous people…touting the UN agency’s positive role in their lives.” He takes UNDP to task for a lack of rigorous analysis to explain the linkage between agency programs and the “developmental results” that would justify these smiling faces. He contrasts the “rationalists” (including himself) with the “emotionalists” (UN agencies).

Leaving aside his cynical tone, Miller makes a fair point in challenging development agencies to better demonstrate the impact of their programs, not just to sum up intentions and expenditures. Indeed, as he indicates, measuring results and determining “what works” is the perennial challenge of all development agencies—particularly in terms of the size, significance and sustainability of results. Donors constantly press for cost/benefit justifications for programs so that they can best judge the relative value of their contributions—among types of programs, across sectors of an economy, or even among countries and regions—the “opportunity costs” of one choice or another, as Miller puts it. Unfortunately, Miller appears either stuck in the past or is just plain uninformed. Over the past few years, UNDP has placed strong emphasis on improving the methods and discipline we apply in assessing and documenting the impacts of our efforts. UNDP Country Offices report annual results at the “outcome” level and link inputs, outputs, outcomes and strategic goals, which are then integrated by headquarters into a global report. Comprehensive information about our programs and funding is also available on a country-by-country basis on the Web. Since Miller served in government, the organization has also strengthened its capabilities for independent audits and program evaluations, in close consultation with the U.S. State Department and other major donors regarding both functions. Each of these steps has been noted favorably by these officials and by other independent analysts.

However, the demand for precision in gauging impacts can also drive agencies toward false choices between what can be measured and what actually contributes to human and institutional development in an actual location over time. Improving the conditions of life for a brief period is not the same outcome as assisting in the development of capacities and skills in people and organizations that result in sustainable capabilities and lasting change. Conveying the latter impacts is often better accomplished with illustrative accounts of individual achievements or summaries that capture the nature of progress of this kind. The building of political stability, administrative effectiveness or competitive efficiency is notoriously difficult to measure in a reliable manner, even though these capabilities can be the most important and lasting contributions to a country’s development. Miller himself acknowledges that: “development effects, positive or negative, are difficult to isolate in complex systems in which many inputs and factors combine to produce a result.” Precisely. Which is why experience and judgment based on local understanding and long-term presence are so valuable in organizations such as UNDP or USAID. Resisting the temptation to over-promise change and over-hype impact to impress donors and local officials is a necessary attribute of development professionals.

Ironically, the pitfalls of excessive claims about development impacts are best illustrated by the some of the recent critics of development assistance, who exaggerate the negative consequences of “foreign aid.” A case in point is the Heritage “WebMemo” cited above. James Roberts argues that development assistance (“foreign aid”) promotes corruption, does not foster growth, and does little to create positive change, whether economic competition or democratic governance. He takes the twelve African nations with the largest share of GDP deriving from foreign assistance and correlates that assistance with low levels of economic freedom and high levels of corruption--concluding that aid perpetuates rather than improves both conditions. In so doing, he asserts a direct causal relationship between these evils and the levels of outside assistance that is every bit as exaggerated and misleading as any of the positive claims he and Miller ascribe to aid agencies. Gross correlations such as these ignore the structural and cultural features that result in corrupt behaviors and undeveloped economies, and which outside assistance (technical as well as financial) is often seeking to change or overcome, not reinforce or reward. Such factors as weak governance, gross economic inequalities, criminal syndicates, and external diplomatic agendas have far more to do with encouraging corruption than official development assistance—particularly in the modest amounts and targeted focus of UNDP’s programs. To be sure, history is full of examples where funds ostensibly given for “development” of a country were provided in the wrong ways to the wrong people—indeed, during the Cold War, aid was intended as much to win loyalty as to promote development—but this is not a valid criticism of multilateral assistance in 2010.

And it is also a misleading conclusion to draw about all the countries on Roberts’ list. Half of them have been plagued by, or are still recovering from, crippling conflicts: Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Mauretania, Burundi, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Some have strong governments, others very weak or fragile ones. Some have economies distorted by oil revenues or impacted by climate changes which make balanced growth far more difficult; others are so poor and politically stressed that both insiders and outsiders are more preoccupied with the prevention of civil violence than the nurturing of entrepreneurs. Even so, if growth is his test of success, the recent growth rates of most of these countries look remarkably good (between 3% and 11% over the last few years), despite global economic conditions. Yet the reasons for these successes vary significantly, from strong centralized management (Rwanda), to reasonable democratic stability (Mozambique) to large and growing oil revenues (Guinea Bissau). Or they simply reflect a very low GDP at the start of the measured time frame or a high level of outside assistance in the short-term. The important point is that it is necessary to understand the particular history and features that account for the differences among them—differences that also indicate the best opportunities for progress as well. Misinformed diagnoses from 60,000 feet (or 3,000 miles away) are largely useless or even counter-productive.

Of course development agencies need improved methods for conveying the impact of their work. Miller is apparently not persuaded by the value of pictures or human stories in doing so. But to suggest, as he does, that this is all UNDP’s reports consist of, or that it is not possible to find out where its funds go or what kinds of impacts they have, is simply not fair. Perhaps the best observation is one made recently by the head of USAID under President George W. Bush, Andrew Natsios, who argues that development efforts are plagued by demands for false precision and short-term impacts. As he puts it: “those development programs that are most precisely and easily measured are the least transformational, and those programs that are most transformational are the least measurable.”

“Socialist Leanings (or socialist/Marxist fantasies).” Miller repeatedly suggests that UN agencies have an institutional bias against “capitalism” and a “sixty-year fascination with socialism” that impedes economic growth and stifles entrepreneurs. He says that UNDP and other UN agencies have a “state-centric” philosophy and believe that “the state has a primary role in promoting or directing development.” The United Nations, he argues, “eschews the proven development strategies of classic liberal economics for aid-focused plans that almost certainly do more harm than good because they emphasize and enhance the role of government and central planning.” He then goes on to advocate the importance of private property and the rule of law as essential underpinnings of economic growth.

Apparently as a State Department official in 2002, Miller had at least one bad experience trying to lecture a large diplomatic gathering on the virtues of capitalism: “I spoke of the need for developing countries to embrace capitalism wholeheartedly,” only to find that “the room erupted in a clamor at my mere use of the word.” Or perhaps later, as Ambassador to ECOSOC, he had to spend too many hours in large UN conference rooms listening to diplomats with no involvement in development criticize developed countries for their pre-occupation with private property and capital investment. Again Miller is misinformed or stuck in the past. Across the UN system there is now a clear appreciation that the business community has to be an essential partner in development. Miller should spend more time talking to UNDP Country Directors or Resident Representatives of the UN about their efforts to foster the enabling environments that make private sector development flourish. And with the exception of the small, but strategically-leveraged UN Capital Development Fund, Miller seems unaware of the significant efforts made by UNDP to foster foreign investment and private sector development. This emphasis is best captured in the reports on two widely-acclaimed initiatives: “Growing Sustainable Business” (focused on large corporate initiatives) and “Growing Inclusive Markets” (focused on local private sector development). What these reports record is a multiplicity of initiatives at the country level to promote private sector activity that generates jobs and growth. As for property and legal rights, he might consult the initiatives captured in the report on “Legal Empowerment of the Poor,” produced by a panel co-chaired by Hernando de Soto, the advocate for property rights and the rule of law whom Miller greatly admires.

Even more importantly, Miller greatly oversimplifies the issues relating to economic freedom and “capitalism,” and consequently misconstrues the vital relationship between effective governance and private sector development. Capitalism is not simply an economic choice that officials or citizens adopt like a breakfast cereal. It is a political-economic system which depends for its flourishing on the protection and regulation of governments, and it takes effective political development to accomplish this. As Miller himself notes, markets need political/legal infrastructure: property rights, contract enforcement, courts to resolve disputes—all government-based institutions that most developing countries need more of, not less. How does Miller suppose that such “capitalism” can be fostered and protected, if not by government institutions? If programs for political development are too “state-centric” for him, then so be it. But countries will not have capitalism without effective governments.

To be sure, many kinds of government intervention--running large businesses, setting prices, picking winners and losers, awarding licenses to cronies or bribe-payers--is bad governance, and it is important to recognize the difference and the various types of capitalism that result from these different behaviors. That is the point of a recent study by William Baumol and his colleagues titled Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, which posits four different types of capitalist political-economic systems: State-guided, Big Firm, Oligarchic, and Entrepreneurial—the latter being the most productive and innovative. Unfortunately, many countries (both developing and developed) have one of the other kinds—and seem to prefer them--so to transition economies toward the more open and entrepreneurial varieties is a political challenge—not just an economic or philosophical choice--of the first order.

When capitalism functions effectively—markets are efficient and transparent, investment flows to those who can apply it most productively, growth is even and well-distributed—it is a marvel of human ingenuity. But this achievement takes a balance of entrepreneurs, enterprises, legal institutions, regulatory overseers, and effective law-makers. When that balance is out of whack, capitalism can produce bubbles, swings in investment, insufficient tax revenues, fraud and graft that results in horrendous dislocation and real human suffering. If Miller thought “capitalism” in the abstract was a hard sell in large international gatherings in 2002, just imagine the response he would get following the recent global financial crisis and the imbalances and hardship it has caused.

“A U.N. development system that functions like a giant bazaar.” Finally, Miller is dead set against efforts to improve the effectiveness of multilateral agencies and the UN system as a whole. He suggests that the multilateral development system needs more competition, not more consolidation and coherence, because that would only make it more appealing to donors and perpetuate the shortcomings and dysfunctions he ascribes to the agencies involved.

Here again, Miller is way off the mark. What the world needs now is a lot more collaboration and specialization, not less. The pattern of development assistance in many countries is a confusing patchwork of bilateral aid agencies, IGOs, NGOs, IFIs, Foundations, and Corporate philanthropies who often resist coordination, even by the host governments themselves (who, when all is said and done, provide the lion’s share of money and effort on their own behalf.) Donors and host governments have repeatedly sought to address these issues through a set of agreements on “aid effectiveness” which move collaboration in the right direction. But more initiatives of this kind are called for. The UN system is actually one of the better performing actors in this regard, working through a system of Resident Representatives and Country Teams to promote in more-and-more countries a “Delivering as One” approach by multilateral agencies. Yet this is a long way from the kind of centralized, lock-step control that Miller seems to fear—a prospect that is so far from reality it is pointless to worry over.

I conclude where I started. UN agencies and development programs need strong oversight and informed criticism. The Heritage Foundation has sometimes played this role and should continue to try to do so. But its recent papers on the UN development system, timed for the Millennium Summit, fall well short of that standard.

Frederick S. Tipson
Director, Washington Liaison Office
U.N. Development Programme