Links of the Day

October 30, 2009

November 19 is World Toilet Day – A “Big Squat” event is planned to increase awareness for people that lack access to sanitation.

Which manufactured consumer product has the deepest market penetration in rural India? Matches.

Huffington Post: Who are the Ultimate Game Changers in Philanthropy?

A cool experiment about Alex Sobel’s attempt to live solely on the products of community enterprises.  (Full news article here.)


Inspiring Quotes for Activists

October 29, 2009

“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation …  It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man (or woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he (or she) sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
– Bobby Kennedy

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
– Dalai Lama

“There’s always gonna be another mountain.
I’m always gonna wanna make it move.
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes you’re gonna have to lose.
Ain’t about how fast I get there.
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side.
It’s the climb. It’s the climb.”
– Miley Cyrus

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
– Barack Obama

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”

Thoreau [in jail] replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?”

25 Ways to Use $25.

October 28, 2009

Have $25 in your wallet?  Here are a few things that you can get for your money–all under $25:

  1. A $25 Kiva Loan to help entrepreneurs in developing countries
  2. A $25 investment microloan at, which earns interest
  3. 132 packets of Ramen noodles (maybe more)
  4. 2 malaria bednets
  5. Teach 15 Afghan women to read
  6. One session of chemotherapy for a poor patient with eye cancer in India
  7. A Starbucks Project(Red) Water Bottle ($1 goes to Africa)
  8. 2 movie tickets to go see Zombieland
  9. Irrigate a farmer’s land for 2 months
  10. Buy “My Learning Cloth Clown Doll” on (check out the link — lots of social and economic impact from one simple purchase)
  11. Provide a year of primary school education for a girl who has been rescued from virtual slavery
  12. Pay for half of a cataract surgery to cure blindness in Africa at Unite for Sight
  13. Pay for about half of a Yale hoodie
  14. A 4-pack of Tom’s of Maine Cleansing Mouthwash, Spearmint (reviewed at
  15. A cooking stove for displaced women
  16. 2 of 3 life-changing books: Half the Sky, The Blue Sweater, Mountains Beyond Mountains
  17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince DVD (2-disc Limited Edition)
  18. A school meal program for one child.
  19. A disease prevention kit for families after a natural disaster.
  20. The entire Taylor Swift discography (almost).
  21. 0.54 shares of the stock KLD (KLD’s select social index ETF – basically, a group of socially-responsible companies)
  22. About 10 gallons of gasoline.
  23. Two large pizzas.
  24. Provide a classroom blackboard in Zambia.
  25. Provide one day of food for 50 survivors at a disaster relief facility.

There are lots of good ways to spend $25.  To be quite honest, putting this list together will likely make me a little more thoughtful next time I drop $20.

What’s your favorite way to spend $25?

Top 3 Ways to Help the World While Sitting on Your Bum.

October 27, 2009

I’ve become a fan of armchair philanthropy because it gets people engaged in social causes without requiring too much effort.  Here are 3 of the best ways to contribute to great causes without having to leave your computer or even reach for your wallet (we’ll save that for another post):

1) Better the World
At Better the World, you can select a cause that is important to you and then help raise money by doing simple tasks online.  If you sign-up and join the community, make a post on Facebook or twitter, or recruit a few friends, you receive “points” that translate into actual dollars donated to the cause of your choice.Better The World

If you’re really ambitious you can also install a really basic app that adds a frame to the right-side of your browser which shows a few ads for socially responsible companies.  For every ad that comes up, you get more points–basically, you raise money for your cause just by surfing the web.  Already almost $8000 has been raised. Why not quickly sign-up (30 seconds!) and help your cause?

2) Donate your clicks.
A lot of people have probably heard of The Hunger Site.  (If not, check it out).  You go to their homepage, click on a single button and viola: sponsors donate a little bit of money to pay for food to give to the hungry.  Cool idea, huh?

There’s a lot of other similar opportunities to provide clicks that donate to a cause.  It’s not hard to do a Google search for ’em.  If you particularly like animals and/or the environment, you should check out the Click to Donate page on Care2.

3) SocialVibe
I mentioned this in a recent post (I have a SocialVibe banner off to the right of this page) but it’s worth quickly highlighting one more time.  SocialVibe is an application on Facebook, MySpace, and (of course) blogs that allow you to donate to a cause by doing basic online activities or getting readers to click on your ad.  (Go ahead it’s over there!)

It’s really easy and makes a big impact — check the number of gallons already donated because of one single banner on a small month-old blog.  Please feel obligated to help keep the number growing.

Awesome Links.

October 26, 2009

Chewing Gum for malaria (and other innovative ways to save the world).

Learn about every Global Issue in the world.  (Truly amazing site.)

The case for business over charity.

SPOTLIGHT CHARITY: charity:water

October 22, 2009

Sad statistics get really boring after a while.

Half the world lives on less than $2 day. There are 10 new cases of malaria every second.  One in 12 people in the world are malnourished. We hear truly jaw-dropping facts all the time yet few individuals are truly motivated to rally for a cause.

So how can someone make a real difference? Inefficient aid bureaucracies, ubiquitous corruption, and ineffective organizations make sure that every donated dollar gets farther away from making any real impact.

Charity needs a re-branding phase and get ready, it’s starting to take form. The leading pioneer (and recipient of my Spotlight Charity award):  charity:water, an organization that brings clean water to people in developing nations. Charity:water does one thing, and it does it well: it tells a story.

Why charity:water Rocks
1) 100% of every donated dollar directly funds water projects
All administrative costs are already covered by a partnership with top donors (apparently known as “the well”). Every donated penny is directly outsourced to partnered programs that then build the pumps. Therefore, any donor’s qualms about overhead costs are straight-up bogus–you’ll have to come up with a new excuse not to donate.

2) They market like a successful business should.
Check out their website–it’s truly incredible and has some great visuals that get their message across:

They also have AMAZING videos.

New York Times columnist and personal hero, Nicholas Kristof went so far to say, “Any brand of toothpaste is peddled with far more sophistication than the life-saving work of aid groups.” And he’s right. One of the most significant problems of charities is an idea that a social mission absolves their organizations from managerial or marketing skills. It doesn’t!

3) They’re hip.
Charity:water utilizes social networking resources better than an emo high-schooler looking for new friends. The organization raised over $250,000 through the Twitter Twestival event and has well over a million Twitter followers. (In case you haven’t jumped on the Twitter bandwagon yet: that’s a lot of followers. To compare, the American Red Cross has around 26,000, or 2% of C:W).

5) They’re creative.
And not just in their graphic design. Check out their new community page that allows fans to run marathons, grow beards, and give up birthday presents to increase support for their organization. Their September birthday campaign raised over $1 million itself, providing clean water to more than 500,000 people.

4) Donors see the difference.
Every time charity:water funds a new well, the group takes photos and uploads them with GPS coordinates to a Google map so you can see your contribution at work.

Charity:water officially wins the inaugural *Berk Outstanding Achievement Award* for excellent marketing, efficient allocation of donor funds, and providing an effective solution to one of the world’s greatest public health crises. Congratulations to them.

And to readers: check out the SocialVibe banner to the right; watch a sponsor’s commercial and help support the C:W cause.  Any nominees for future award considerations?

Insights from a Blogging Professor

October 19, 2009

One of my old professors (and general Africa expert), Chris Blattman, just posted a blog entry entitled, “Is This My Final Blog Post?” (It marked his two-year “blogiversary,” so he re-evaluated his desire to continue posting.)  He has gathered quite an army of loyal readers over the past couple years and therefore the article title made a lot of couch-potatoes in the economic development community extremely anxious.

Long story short: it is not his final post and he’ll stay a popular guy on others’ blogrolls. While not terminating his blogging reign, the post did offer a lot of insight regarding the question, “Why Blog?” which I really like:

  • It’s fun. True academics like sharing ideas, hearing opposing views and telling their students they have a website.
  • It’s educational.  Writing on a regular basis makes the blogger have to stay up-to-date with other blogs and related news stories.  Furthermore, it requires careful reading, critical analysis, and overutilization of bullet points.
  • It’s a good notebook. A blog helps record all those great links you found on Twitter and insights you found on your Professor’s blog.  Two months later, I can look back on ideas, comments, or old news stories really easily.  Neato.
  • It keeps you accountable.  Blattman refers to readers “pounc[ing] on his logic” when it is weak.  I don’t think I’m at the point where the blog has a critical mass of followers to worry about pouncing.  Just knowing that these posts are publicly available, however, does make me a little more meticulous in getting my ideas down.  It also (hopefully) makes sure I regularly update this thing and therefore constantly develop my ideas on issues.

Hopefully, all these benefits will hold true with “Change for a Dollar.”  Looking forward to a bright blogging future and who knows, maybe a special blogiversary down the road.