The Importance of Philanthropy

The Importance of Philanthropy

Philanthropy etymologically means “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing “what it is to be human” on both the benefactors’ (by identifying and exercising their values in giving and volunteering) and beneficiaries’ (by benefiting) parts. – via Wikipedia

More and more, José and I are looking at how we move from charity to philanthropy to make a real and lasting difference. We’ve been doing some research on this and I thought I’d share it with you.

All across the world we see the importance of philanthropy because it focuses on solving social problems, not simply alleviating them for the short term. Charity helps in emergencies for the short-term and is also an important part of relieving problems, but as Robert Rosenkranz explains, philanthropy provides long-term benefits through education, leadership effectiveness programs, revitalizing communities and public health impacting the present and the future.

Philanthropy Works When Government Doesn’t

We know how governments and politicians function! It’s not just about money and resources being siphoned off. It also depends on the political philosophy and agence. When political parties disagree on budget deals, the social programs that are intended to help people improve their lives may be reduced. Philanthropic giving is not affected by this and can function through private citizens and donations that continue to benefit society.

How Does One Determine The Success Of Philanthropic Efforts?

Each philanthropist must have a personal definition of success. However, there are several criteria that may be used by everyone.

• The program reflects the beliefs and values of the philanthropist.
• The philanthropist has a clear strategy of what they will do and not do.
• The strategy allows for progress to be measured.

The philanthropist must conduct focused research to determine where there is a need that conforms to his or her beliefs and values. For example, if they are interested in literacy for children under 15 years, they may need to research the geographical areas where literacy is failing and find the reasons. They must also decide what they can personally do towards raising the literacy rate for children. This may be funding schools, employing more teachers, creating after-school programs or lobbying local politicians/ legislature.

Success Is Not Stagnant

Once a philanthropist begins serious work in his or her chosen field, other opportunities may present themselves. It’s important for any program to be flexible enough to encompass the unexpected. For example, while researching literacy, the philanthropist may encounter extreme poverty or lack of opportunity for some children to attend school. These problems may require a different approach, and the success of the original endeavor will depend on also addressing these problems. If one program tries to help every aspect of life that surrounds illiteracy, its resources may become too thin and not give enough help in any area to be successful. This is where several programs may join. For example, one may be for reducing poverty and another for promoting school attendance.

Here are some guidelines that I think must be adhered to

• Learn about the culture and geography of the area in which you will work.
• Learn about the successes and failures of others trying to help in the same area.
• Ask if the people you aim to help ready and willing to be helped in your specific area.
• Ask if there are other philanthropists addressing the same issue.
• Ask if there are programs that are working and some that are not working.
• Determine a time-frame where your area becomes self-sufficient and no longer requires your help?

Philanthropy goes a long way to solving many social problems that governments may not be able to reach. Private individuals who have gained wealth may want to give back to society and help others get a firm foundation for the rest of their lives.

Do you have any experience, ideas or suggestions on philanthoropic projects?

April 30 is Pay it Forward Day

April 30 is Pay it Forward Day

Pay It Forward. I love that phrase! April 30 is Pay It Forward Day – a chance for you to spread kindness in your corner of the world.

Pay it forward is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old, but the phrase may have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight. – Wikipedia

Better explained here –

How do I thank Mr. Jonas, he wondered, for what he’s done? How do I thank him, how pay him back? No way, no way at all. You just can’t pay. What then? What? Pass it on somehow, he thought, pass it on to someone else. Keep the chain moving. Look around, find someone, and pass it on. That was the only way…. – Ray Bradbury, in Dandelion Wine

The phrase gained popularity in recent times when Catherine Ryan Hyde’s play by the same name was turned into a motion picture in which a young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.

Check the Pay It Forward Organisation website for ideas on how we take this movement forward. Volunteer. Spread the word.

And here are 50 easy Pay It Foward Day Kindness Ideas for us to try on April 30 and thereafter.
Pay it Forward Day

Let’s spread kindness – every day!


I’m undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Kindness Wins #1000Speak #FridayReflections

Kindness Wins #1000Speak #FridayReflections

Remember, on the 20th of February, a wonderful initiative called #1000Speak kicked off? It was during this that I reconnected with Galit Breen, a wonderful blogger. In her post for last month’s #1000Speak, Galit mentioned her experience with being bullied online and how indirectly it resulted in her writing a book. I had read about Galit’s terrible experience earlier and admired her approach and the equanimity with which she dealt with the situation.

When I heard that the theme for #1000Speak this month is ‘Building From Bullying‘, I knew I had to interview Galit and share my review of her book.

Kindness Wins

Expected publication: April 7th 2015 by Booktrope Publishing

Book Description

If kindness wins, accountability rules. The need for this mantra is never clearer than when scrolling through posts and comments left online.

Approximately four out of ten kids (42 percent) have experienced cyberbullying. When we were young, our bullies weren’t usually strangers. They were the kids who passed mean notes about us in class, the ones who didn’t let us sit at their table during lunch, and the ones who tripped us in the hallway or embarrassed us in gym class. Cyberbullying isn’t all that different from the bullying of our youth and nightmares. But with social media, our bullies have nonstop access to us–and our kids. In fact, we’re often “friends” with our bullies online.

When freelance writer Galit Breen’s kids hinted that they’d like to post, tweet, and share photos on Instagram, Breen took a look at social media as a mom and as a teacher quickly realized that there’s a ridiculous amount of kindness terrain to teach and explain to kids –and some adults– before letting them loose online. So she took to her pen and wrote a how-to book for parents who are tackling this issue with their kids.

Kindness Wins covers 10 habits to directly teach kids as they’re learning how to be kind online. Each section is written in Breen’s trademark parent-to-parent-over-coffee style and concludes with resources for further reading, discussion starters, and bulleted takeaways. She concludes the book with two contracts –one to share with peers and one to share with kids. Just like we needed to teach our children how to walk, swim, and throw a ball, we need to teach them how to maneuver kindly online. This book will help you do just that.

Interview With Galit Breen

galit breen and family

Galit Breen and her lovely family

What genre is your book? Is this your favorite genre?

Kindness Wins is a non-fiction how-to focused on parenting, tweens, and social media. I read more fiction and YA than I do non-fiction, but I love every single one of the genres and topics that Kindness Wins falls under.

Does this have relevance in your personal life?

Yes. I had a post go viral this fall about comments I received about my weight on an article I wrote about marriage. Not too long after that, my daughter and her friends began asking to be on social media platforms like Instagram. When I looked through some of the kids’ profiles , I realized there’s a lot of kindness terrain to cover. After my experience with unkind comments and fat shaming, I knew I wanted to do something about cyberbyulling. This book is my “something.”

Why did you write Kindness Wins?

I wrote this book to create a guide for parents, teachers, youth groups, etc. to use for teaching our kids how to be kind online. I think this can and should be taught. I used my work in social media to inform what needs to be taught and I used my background in teaching (I have an MA in education and I was a classroom and reading teacher for 10 years) to guide the how-to portion of the book.

My Review

We’ve read enough of real-life stories of children being cyberbullied. And it’s awful. But what of the bullies? They are somebody’s children too. Perhaps their parents don’t realize that their children are bullies. Perhaps these bullies were not taught online behaviour and don’t realize the consequences of what seems to be harmless and sometimes anonymous activities.

This is where Kindness Wins offers a solution. Galit Breen has created a most necessary guide for parents to teach their children digital kindness. In a very practical and gentle manner, using real-life examples, and some great graphics, Kindness Wins can help parents to discuss healthy online behaviour with their children and teach them how to be polite, kind and considerate in the digital world.

I would recommend this book to all parents whose children are starting to use social media.


Reflections From Me

I’m also linking into #FridayReflections hosted by Janine Ripper and Mackenzie Glanville. I’m so glad to be connected to them!

Gender Inequality and HIV/AIDS #rocktheredpump

Hers is another of those faces I can’t forget. A woman, in her late 20s, somewhat educated, an HIV/AIDS patient. A disease she contracted because of her husband’s promiscuity. He died of the illness. She was thrown out of her marital home and disinherited by her inlaws. Left to make her own way with her little girl. The child, also a victim of the disease, contracted at birth. But did this woman give up? No. She found help. She made sure that she and her daughter got their medication. How did I meet her? She was a resource person for an HIV/AIDS call centre. Working for women with HIV/AIDS, spreading awareness, empowering other women with her example!

She was a woman to be admired, no doubt. But why did she have to go through so much? Because she was a woman!

Gender Inequality and HIV/AIDS is a subject that needs attention because every minute a young woman is newly infected with HIV.

Some of the aspects of gender inequality and HIV/AIDS are:

  • Women are not allowed to voice their opinions with regard to practising safe sex.
  • Violence against women increases their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
  • Lack of education and economic independence makes them opt for survival strategies that increase their chances of contracting the disease.
  • Women and children in emergency situations – war, famine, floods – lead to transactional sex and thus increase their vulnerability.
  • Lack of access to information, medical services in many countries.
  • Gender norms about masculinity. For example, homophobia which stigmatizes men having sex with men, and therefore putting their wives/female partners at risk.

(Click to expand)

Today, is National Women and Girl’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the US. One organization that is doing great work in this area is  The Red Pump Project®. This  is a nonprofit organization raising awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. The idea is to empower, educate, and motivate action by boldly driving conversation online and offline around HIV prevention and issues related to sexual and reproductive health. The Red Pump serves as a symbol of empowerment representing the strength and courage of women affected by HIV/AIDS.

Here’s how you can get involved in this project –

Become a sponsor

Donate to the project

Submit your story

Buy a t-shirt.

Let’s #rocktheredpump today!

Perfect Reject

Perfect Reject

You know how proud I am to proclaim that I’m imperfect. Yes, over the years, I’ve come to own my imperfections and get more and more comfortable with who I am. This is why I’m thrilled to be introducing you to a wonderful project and asking your support for it.

Perfect Reject

Perfect Reject was invented by artist Nina Salerno when she rescued an abandoned toy and recreated it to reveal a surprisingly poignant vulnerability. From that unexpected insight came the understanding that what we think of as imperfection can actually be a source of strength and joy. This vision, which aligns with Nina’s artistic study of impermanence, has propelled her efforts to create unique sculptural pieces that blur the distinction between art and toy. Since launching PERFECT REJECT®, she has gained recognition through sales to private collectors as well as outlets such as the MOCA Store, l.a. Eyeworks, and Fallen Fruit.

“I always like to say that imperfect means that I’m perfect, you’re perfect just the way we are,” says Nina. “With Wonder the Vegan Wolf, I wanted to create a character that seems like a contradiction, but really reflects the need to be ourselves even when we have to stand apart from the pack. And from that conviction, we can come together by accepting rather than rejecting our differences.”

What inspired this project?

“One day I found a box of discarded plush toys thrown out from an estate sale. The toys looked so vulnerable, rejected and abandoned. Something motivated me to take them home to my studio and turn them into something else. It struck me that they still had value, even if someone else had failed to see it.

I created my first toy and loved the final result – by being a little odd and different, it was distinct, not flawed. I called it a “Perfect Reject,” and it was that particular creation that started my journey of compassion and empathy through play. When I shared it with some friends, they loved the idea too. I received requests to make more, which I did. Pretty soon I was making dozens of Perfect Rejects, and I realized that what I liked about them was really resonating with others too, so I decided to turn the idea into a business.”

What do you hope to communicate?

“As humans, we often react to diversity by labeling the things that make us distinct as “imperfections.” They’re not, and when we celebrate our diversity rather than condemning it, we foster joy, strength and empowerment.

As I work to expand Perfect Reject from one-of-a-kind art pieces to a line of fun and affordable toys, I’m building on this idea. My first mass-produced toy, Wonder the Vegan Wolf, is (as the name implies) both a wolf and a vegan. That’s pretty different. And he’s a little odd-looking. He’s unusual, but the world is a better place because of it.

My hope is that this principle of belonging will inspire compassion, courage and empathy – things that we can all use more of. And as I’ve worked to expand Perfect Reject, I’ve myself been inspired by others. Many have written me about how a Perfect Reject brightened their day, even when their circumstances weren’t very hopeful. Some of these letters are shared on the our website, and it’s experiences like these that I hope to continue making possible with my toys.”


Wonder the Vegan Wolf – A Perfect Reject

A Kickstarter campaign launched on February 16, 2015 will raise funds to take PERFECT REJECT out of museum stores and into the retail market, while engaging vital social causes. The retail collection will begin with Wonder the Vegan Wolf, a new character designed to raise awareness about wolf welfare and vegan advocacy while embodying the PERFECT REJECT® philosophy of compassion and diversity. Funds raised will support manufacturing in large enough quantities to offer Wonder at retail rather than collector prices. (Collectible art pieces can sell for as much as $450.) With 10% of every plush toy sold donated to Wolves Offered Life & Friendship (W.O.L.F.), a wolf sanctuary and educational non-profit, the new PERFECT REJECT® retail collection will make it easy and fun to support a great cause.

Celebrate imperfection and difference as a source of joy, strength and empowerment.
Imperfect means I’m perfect/you’re perfect – just the way we are.

nina r salerno

Nina Salerno the creator of Perfect Reject

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Back the Perfect Reject Kickstarter Campaign now!
Connect with Nina

#1000Speak For Compassion

#1000Speak For Compassion

Today I join hands with bloggers around the world to take part in a fantastic initiative.

#1000Speak For Compassion

It all started with a post by Lizzi Rogers, entitled ‘We All Need The Village’. This was taken up by Yvonne Spence and turned into this wonderful project.

Today, 20th February, bloggers are doing this:


What does Compassion mean to me?

For me, whenever I hear the word compassion, I recall Henri Nouwen’s provocative essay on the subject. I realized then what a powerful virtue true compassion is. Compassion is not merely kindness. No, it’s putting ourselves in the place of another. Walking in her shoes. Feeling his pain. Looking beyond on the obvious. Reaching out of our comfort zone, to truly ‘be’ with another.

Compassion is hard to practice. But without it, we can no longer be truly human.

Today, I am reminded of one of my childhood heroes, Father Damien, who came to be known as ‘The Apostle of the Lepers’*, and was later canonized to be a saint. Born in Belgium, he became a Catholic priest and was sent to Honolulu, Hawaii. When volunteers were called for to go on a short-term trip to minister to people who had contracted Hansen’s Disease (formerly referred to as ‘leprosy’) and were exiled on the small island of Molokai, Fr Damien signed up.

As you must be aware, leprosy was a most dreaded disease and people were shunned and ostracised. Damien was sent with this warning from his Bishop:You must avoid any form of contagion. If they pass around a pipe [a common cultural occurrence] you must refuse it. Above all, you must not join in meals and eat from the communal pot with your fingers, as others do. Even the saddle that a leper has sat upon must be taboo to you, and I forbid you to sleep in the hut of a ‘leper.’*

Father Damien was deeply moved by the plight of these people, who were literally cast upon this island, abandonded and in dire need of medical, psychological and spiritual attention. He decided to stay on in Molokai. There he ministered to the needs of the people, including empowering them to build houses for themselves and the community. Finally, he himself contracted and died from the effects of leprosy.

This to me embodies true compassion.


Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human – Henri Nouwen

#1000Speak For Compassion

The plain fact is that the planet does not need
more successful people.
But it does desperately needs
more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers,
and lovers of every kind.
David Orr

*We no longer refer to people as lepers, but as suffering from Hansen’s Disease.


What you can do:
Join the initiative. Blog, link and share about compassion.
If you’d like to blog about this and need a prompt, you will find inspiration here.
Go visit this #1000Speak link to find and links to posts of all the voices speaking for compassion today.
Like #1000Speak on Facebook
If you’re not a blogger, please read, comment and share as many links as you can on social media with the hashtag #1000Speak.

Giving To Make A Difference

Giving To Make A Difference

For various reasons, I’ve been away from this blog for almost two weeks. Each time I mean to get a post out, something happens. Life is good, there’s no doubt about that. But it sometimes keeps you busy and occupied with things that you don’t really want to spend your energy on. All I can say is that the last few weeks have been a good learning experience for me. I’m still processing things and will be ready to share soon, I hope.

We’re having a #GivingTuesday Blog Hop – although it’s way past December 2, the idea is to keep the focus on giving. I’ve been thinking about the value of giving and would like to share my thoughts with you and look forward to reading your thoughts too.

We cannot fool ourselves. Giving makes us feel good. But is that a good enough reason to give?  While there is no doubting that one of the outcomes of generosity is that it makes the giver a better person, it’s not the most important reason to give. Giving should be all about the recepient and not about us, shouldn’t it?

I believe that we should give to others mindfully and respectfully and most of all to make a real difference to their lives.

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Giving To Make A Difference

There are a few ‘rules’ about giving that I’ve made for myself :

1. Never give because you feel pressured to do so either because you’re being asked by someone or it seems like the ‘right thing to do’. Examine your motives for giving and sharing.

2. It’s always better to give to indiviuals with a need than to a large organisation where your money might go towards their administration costs.

3.  If you want to help a charitable organisation find other ways of giving – spending time, lending your skills, etc.

4. The best gift you can give is the gift of education and/or training. Paying for the education of children, preferably those you have some contact with, is a great investment in an individual child and a family struggling with poverty.

5. Paying towards unplanned hospitalization fees,  regular health check ups and/or health insurance is another great way to make a difference.

6. When approached by a child in the street for money, I prefer to buy them something to eat. This ensures that the money is not going to fund an addicted parent or worse a begging mafia.

7. It upsets me when people give stale food to their maids or other workers. If you want to help – buy a little extra when you’re shopping for yourself. Fresh fruit and vegetables are always a welcome addition to a poor person’s table.


giving to make a difference

What are your views on giving? I would love to hear about them in the comments here and better still via a blog post (the link of which you could add to our blog hop over at Write Tribe).


I’m taking part in Sarah Arrow’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge – 30 Days and you’ll be a better blogger.

Stop That!  #EndViolence

Stop That! #EndViolence

Today, 19 November is World Day For Prevention of Abuse and Violence Against Children.

The sad reality of abuse and violence against children is that it’s prevalent all the world over. Sometimes closer than we think…in our own homes even.

Last year, I wrote about someone I knew who was a victim and I could give you countless cases of people I’ve met who have been victims either of sexual abuse or physical violence as children. The stories go on. The violence goes on……. The positive thing is that we’ve started to sit up and take notice.  Victims are daring to speak.

I believe the more we talk, read and write about this terrible evil, the more we are aware, the better we are equipped to act.

It’s time for us to say stop that! #EndViolence

Now for some facts via UNICEF.

What is physical violence?
Physical violence against children includes all corporal punishment and all other forms of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as well as physical bullying and hazing by adults or by other children. ‘Corporal’ (or ‘physical’) punishment is defined as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. Most involves hitting (‘smacking’, ‘slapping’, ‘spanking’) children with the hand or with an implement – a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. But it can also involve, for example, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, caning, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion.

What do you mean by sexual violence?

Sexual violence comprises any sexual activities imposed by an adult on a child against which the child is entitled to protection by criminal law. This includes: (a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful or psychologically harmful sexual activity; (b) The use of children in commercial sexual exploitation; (c) The use of children in audio or visual images of child sexual abuse; and (d) Child prostitution, sexual slavery, sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation (within and between countries), sale of children for sexual purposes and forced marriage. Sexual activities are also considered as abuse when committed against a child by another child if the offender is significantly older than the victim or uses power, threat or other means of pressure. Consensual sexual activities between children are not considered as sexual abuse if the children are older than the age limit defined by the State Party.


Signs to watch out for in children:

Aggression – does the child display extreme, unexplained anger and aggression over everything?

Bruises – Does the child display marks or bruises from hurt that looks unlikely to be caused by play?

Conduct – Behavioral changes – reduced attention span, hyperactivity, self-harm etc

Depression – Does the child lack enthusiasm and seem depressed and refuses to talk about what’s troubling her?

Experimenting – Have you noticed or been informed about the child experimenting sexual behaviour with other children, younger siblings or toys?

Fear – Does the child demonstrate fear of certain people, darkness, certain places?

Guilt – Does the child display extreme feelings of guilt or shame?

Watch this slide show to see what you can do:



UNICEF’s #ENDviolence #ItStartsWithMe campaign aims at raising awareness about different forms of violence, including physical, emotional, sexual and child marriage.

Join hands and take a step to #ENDviolence against children. I can #ENDviolence because #ItStartsWithMe

stop child abuse

via deviant art