2017 Games for Change Festival will include VR for Change Summit

Games for Change, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using digital games for social change, is expanding this year’s Games for Change Festival to include a deeper look at virtual reality and how communities and organizations are using the technology to impact real-world causes.

The VR for Change Summit “aims to expand our understanding of what is possible with virtual reality technology to create positive social change.”

Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change, told Mashable:

"We feel that Games for Change is very well-positioned to help develop this community in the same way that we have in the games community. There are a number of VR events being produced around the world right now — a lot of summits and expos and demos — but none with a specific focus about how VR can be applied to social change across different sectors."

Virtual reality, a powerful storytelling tool for teaching empathy and inclusivity, has the potential to impact nonprofits, journalism, art, education, and health.

Erik Martin, former Policy Advisor at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Obama Administration, is curating the summit.

“The state of VR technologies today presents an opportunity to affect positive social change in radically new ways. The emerging landscape of VR technology, such as new headsets and mobile capabilities, as well as augmented reality, are making new kinds of media content and storytelling techniques possible to engage people with critical issues and causes. We are excited to grow the community and amplify impact with the VR for Change Summit," he said, according to VRFocus.com

The VR for Change summit will include talks, workshops and demos. Developers, artists, storytellers, researchers, activists and policymakers will gather to discuss new initiatives, projects, and developments in the field.

According to the Games for Change website, keynotes of the summit include influential VR pioneer Nonny de la Peña; Megan Smith, the third White House Chief Technology Officer of the United States; Dr. Adam Gazzaley, co-founder and chief science advisor of Akili Interactive Labs, who will shares his vision of how emerging VR technology can be used to achieve meaningful and sustainable cognitive enhancement; Dawn Laguens, the EVP of the Planned Parenthood Federation, who will illustrates Planned Parenthood’s use of virtual reality and innovative apps impacting the way people access reproductive health care and empathy; Gabo Arora, the founder and president of Lightshed, who will give a historical overview of visual media and its uses for empathy and representing others’ pain.

The 14th annual Games for Change Festival will be held July 31 to Aug 2 at the New School in New York City.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit http://www.gamesforchange.org.

 

HarperCollins donates $200,000 to literacy-related charities as part of #WhyIRead campaign

HarperCollins Publishers has launched #WhyIRead, a social media and charity campaign to highlight the importance of literacy and to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the company.

HarperCollins Publishers will donate $200,000 to a collection of literacy-related charities, selected by its employees for promoting education, freedom of expression, and diversity. The donations are made possible by a grant from News Corp, the parent company of HarperCollins. The charities include: First Book, National Coalition Against Censorship, Room to Read, United Through Reading, and We Need Diverse Books.

As part of the initiative, several of the publisher’s authors, including Robyn Carr, Michael Chabon, Donna Hay, and Neil Gaiman, have been asked to share why they read and write and what books influenced them. Their answers can be found on HarperCollins' website. Readers have been asked to join the conversation by using the hashtag #WhyIRead.

“HarperCollins has had a long, storied history supporting authors and the printed word, and we’ve been passionate about supporting literacy and education since the company was founded in 1817,” HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray said in a statement, according to PublishersWeekly.com. “The positive impact on literacy rates during the past two centuries alongside HarperCollins’ innovations and growth lets us know it’s a more-than-worthy cause to continue to support.”

 

 

Donors worldwide invited to take 2017 Global Trends in Giving Survey

Anyone who has donated to a nonprofit within the last year is invited to take the 2017 Global Trends in Giving Survey. According to the website, the data will show how donors around the world prefer to give and engage with nonprofits, NGOs, and charities worldwide. The groundbreaking report is the only annual research project dedicated to studying how and why donors worldwide give to their favorite causes and charitable organizations. For the 2017 survey, the researchers partnered with seven organizations around the globe in order to increase the geographic range of survey respondents.

The survey, which will be published in English, Spanish and French, is being sponsored by the Public Interest Registry and researched by Nonprofit Tech for Good. Their 2017 Global NGO Online Technology Report, which aimed to give a better understanding of how NGOs worldwide use online technology to engage supporters and donors, was released in January of this year.

The 2017 Global Trends in Giving Survey will be live through June 30. The sponsors have a goal of reaching 10,000 donors. The data from the survey will be released on September 4, 2017 in the inaugural edition of the Global Trends in Giving Report.  Those interested in participating can find more information at givingreport.ngo

CARE’s 2017 Walk in Her Shoes Campaign Promotes Awareness for Women and Girls Living in Poverty

Many women and girls living in the world’s poorest countries must walk an average of four miles every day to collect clean water, food, and other necessities that they and their families need in order to survive. This obligation often prevents them from getting an education, a career and income, and independence.

Participants in CARE’s Walk in Her Shoes campaign, running from now until March 14, will walk in solidarity with these women in an effort to raise awareness and funds for women in poverty across the globe. Participants in the virtual campaign, including individual fundraisers and teams, have pledged to walk 10,000 steps for seven consecutive days to raise funds for CARE programs that create new opportunities and support women and girls living in developing countries.

As of this writing, the campaign, which began on March 8, International Women’s Day, has raised $389,242. Participants in the campaign are posting their progress on social media with the hashtag #WALKINHERSHOES.

CARE is humanitarian organization dedicated to ending global poverty. According to the website, the international organization, which operates in 94 countries, delivers emergency relief and works to support more than 1000 poverty-fighting development and humanitarian-aid projects in the poorest countries in the world. CARE particularly focuses on empowering women and girls, and promoting gender equality as a means to fight poverty.

PayPal reports 11 percent growth in charitable giving in 2016

PayPal reported an 11 percent growth in charitable giving for 2016. Last year, the global payment platform processed $7.3 billion in donations.

During the holiday season alone, PayPal users contributed $971 million. From November 27 though the New Year, PayPal tracked holiday giving behavior around the world. Nearly 8 million PayPal users in 181 countries donated$971,213,604 to 282,053 charities. The largest single gift during this period was more than $230,000, while the average contribution was $93. The average contribution for the year was $89.

The top five countries that gave the most were, in order, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.

According to PayPay, more donations were processed on December 31 than on any other day in the year, with contributions to charities totaling $77,896,580 that day. December 30 was the second highest day for donations at $59,625,454. #GivingTuesday, which occurred on November 29th in 2016, ranked as the third highest day, with over $48 million donated. 

Mobile giving also increased in 2016, with 21 percent of users making donations on a mobile device, a 12 percent increase from 2015.

“PayPal’s mission is all about democratizing financial services for citizens across the world. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the power of our global payments platform to create a worldwide network that allows people to support their communities and the causes they’re most passionate about,” said Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal. “We are thankful for the generosity that our PayPal users showed this past holiday season. We look forward to another year of innovation around new services and capabilities so that all of us can continue to make a positive impact in every community around the world that PayPal helps to serve.”

Facebook announces new tools for fundraising, social good efforts

At its first Social Good Forum in New York last Thursday, Facebook unveiled new fundraising tools and community safety updates.

The social media platform announced that it would be expanding its Fundraisers tool to now allow users to raise money for more than 750,000 nonprofits.

The majority of 501(c)(3) organizations in the U.S. will be covered by the expansion with the exception of some small organizations and chapters, although organizations left out of the partnership can still request approval from Facebook, Mashable reports.

Facebook also announced the option to add a donate button to Live videos and posts. The buttons will link to a nonprofit’s Facebook page, where people can learn more about the cause and make a donation.

The social network said that it will be improving Safety Check, which was launched in 2014 and allows Facebook users to let family and friends know they’re okay during a disaster or crises. Instead of being triggered by Facebook, the feature will now be triggered by the community.

In a Newsroom post, Vice president of social good Naomi Gleit wrote:

“Initially, Facebook decided when Safety Check was activated, but our goal has always been to make it more useful for people for more types of incidents. We believe people closest to a disaster should play a bigger role in deciding when Safety Check is most helpful. So today, Safety Check will be turned on by our community instead of Facebook. When a lot of people post about an incident from the affected area, they may be asked if they’re safe. Once marked safe, a person can then invite friends to do the same.”

Community Help, a new feature that will make its debut in 2017, will allow users to seek or offer help, including shelter, food and supplies after a natural disaster.

“In addition to using Facebook to let people know they’re safe after a disaster event, people also use Facebook to get the information and help they need to stay safe and rebuild. This spring we saw this in the aftermath of the fires in Fort McMurray, Canada, when people took to Facebook to help one another find a place to stay. Next year, we’re making these connections even easier with Community Help, a place where people can give and get help for things like shelter, food and supplies. After a natural disaster, someone can check in as safe and also ask for and offer help to those around them.”

Facebook also announced its partnership with two nonprofits during the holiday season.

In honor of the fifth anniversary of #GivingTuesday on November 29, Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will together contribute up to $1 million to Facebook fundraisers. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $500,000 in matching funds, up to $1,000 per Facebook fundraiser, while Facebook will waive standard processing fees on all donations, up to $500,000.

Facebook’s partnership with men’s cancer organization Movember will also continue through the end of November. Individuals can sync their Movember.com and Facebook fundraising efforts, allowing users to collect donations through both.

“Facebook has always been about building community and relationships,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a video. “We’re going to keep finding new ways to empower our community through technology and services in a way that’s effective.”

Fidelity Charitable Ranks No. 1 on 2016 Philanthropy 400 list

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund has topped the list of this year’s Philanthropy 400, The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual ranking of the 400 largest charities. The charities are ranked based on how much is raised from private sources. This is the first time a charity focused on donor-advised funds has taken over the top spot on the list.

The 25-year-old Boston-based charity knocked United Way Worldwide, founded in 1887, from the No.1 spot it has held for all but one year since the list debuted in 1991. (The Salvation Army topped the list in 2006.)

“You never have that kind of a huge vault in the charity world, where a young charity does so well,” Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Fidelity, a nonprofit “spinoff” of Fidelity Investments, collected $4.6 billion in 2015, a 20 percent increase from the year before, while United Way saw a 4 percent drop in donations to $3.7 billion.

Donor-advised funds, which some have likened to a charitable savings account, have become increasingly popular in recent years.

The account is set up at a public charity, like Fidelity Charitable, and while the money can’t be withdrawn, the donor is allowed to retain some control over how the money is invested.

Donors get a tax deduction when they make a contribution; however, there is no deadline for distributing the funds. Donors can even bequeath control of the fund to their children.

Critics of the funds argue that the money would be better put to use more quickly instead of possibly languishing in an account for years. Also, funds often have to pay out fees to wealth management companies, such as Fidelity Investments, for managing the money, reports The Washington Post.

“There is a potential problem with so much money going to donor-advised funds and delaying when it actually reaches charities that are helping families and communities,” said Aaron Dorfman, chief executive of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

Says Boston College law Professor Ray Madoff: “These things afford tremendous tax benefits to donors and financial benefits to the sponsoring organizations. The problem is, this isn’t why we have charitable tax benefits. The reason we have them is to encourage the flow of dollars to organizations engaged in charitable work.”

However, donor-advised funds and even some traditional charities argue that these fund encourage more giving by offering donors greater flexibility. They also point out that the money does eventually go to charity.

Pam Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable, says the popularity of donor-advised funds has increased because they make giving more accessible. She adds that Fidelity Charitable monitors accounts and encourages regular contributions from donors.

According to Norley, Fidelity has strived to make online-giving transaction painless for donors.

"A lot of what [donor-advised funds] have brought to charities and our donors is really technology," she says. "It’s an intermediary between the donor and charity that allows the process of giving to be simpler and more transparent and easier for record-keeping."

Brian Gallagher, president of United Way Worldwide, says his organization has no problem with donor-advised funds; in fact, United Way itself receives some donations via donor-advised funds.

“If it’s a convenient vehicle for individuals to give to charitable causes, and we’re a recipient of that, we’re good with that,” he said of the funds. “We don’t see ourselves as competitive with Fidelity.”

Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer told ABC News that she expects donor-advised funds will continue to expand.

"There is a transformation going on in how donors give," she said. "It means donors have a lot more control over their donations than if they just write a check to United Way."

Feeding America, which supplies most of the country’s food banks, came in third on the list's top five, followed by Schwab Charitable, another donor-advised fund, and Catholic Charities USA.

2016 Social Good Summit to be held September 18-19

The 2016 Social Good Summit will be held on September 18-19 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Confirmed panelists for this year’s conference include comedian Chelsea Handler; Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme; Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; singer/songwriter Cody Simpson; actor and advocate Alec Baldwin; film star and business woman Preity Zinta, currently serving on the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council; actress and UN Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador Connie Britton, and more.

The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference that examines the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world.

The theme for the summit, which is hosted by Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme and the 92nd Street Y, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”

Tickets for the summit can be purchased here.

Fidelity Charitable releases 2016 Giving Report

According to the recently released 2016 Fidelity Charitable Giving Report, last year's nonprofit donors were strongly motivated to give to charities providing relief for world emergencies, such as the earthquake in Nepal and the Syrian refugee crisis, and to charities funding medical research and healthcare.

The report analyzes the giving patterns and impact of Fidelity Charitable’s 132,000 donors. Fidelity Charitable, which is based in Boston, is an independent public charity with one of the largest donor-advised fund programs. It is also the country’s second largest grantmaker after the Gates Foundation. Since its beginnings 25 years ago, the fund has distributed $22 billion to 106,000 nonprofits. Last year, more than 80,000 accounts gave a total $3.1 billion to charities.

Released on June 2, the fourth annual report revealed that donor were motivated primarily by immediate relief efforts; social giving efforts, such as charity walks; and organizations focused on healthcare and medical research. Reflecting the trend to donate to organizations providing direct relief for global crises, UNICEF saws a 38 percent increase in the number of donors supporting them, and Oxfam noticed a 35 percent increase.

The report also examined the difference between philanthropists who use donor-advised funds (DAFs) and those who don’t, showing that DAFs donors offer more support for more charities than those who do not use donor-advised funds.

According to the survey, over 70 percent of Fidelity Charitable donors give more than $10,000 a year compared to 42 percent of similarly affluent donors who do not use DAFs. Also, 85 percent of DAFs philanthropists support six or more nonprofits, compared to 36 percent of donors surveyed who do no use DAFs.

“Fidelity Charitable donors support an extraordinary range of organizations, with more than 106,000 nonprofits receiving grants last year,” says Amy Danforth, president of Fidelity Charitable. “While most who give have organizations and causes that they support year-in and year-out, those who use donor-advised funds have a dedicated account for charitable giving, which enables them not only to provide ongoing support to their favorite charitable causes, but also to more easily and quickly respond to meet new needs as they emerge.”

Other findings show that:

  • Two-thirds of donor contribution dollars to Fidelity Charitable were non-cash assets.
  • 60 percent of their donors contributed appreciated assets to Fidelity Charitable last year.
  • 82 percent of their donors engaged others in the decision-making process around their giving.
  • 62 percent of their retired donors are confident about their ability to give in the future.
  • 92 percent of donations allocated to Giving Accounts at Fidelity Charitable are distributed to charities within 10 years of receipt.

2016 M+R Benchmarks Study Released Today

The 2016 M+R Benchmarks Study, which examines online fundraising, advocacy and organizing for nonprofits, has been released and is ready for free download.

Published by M+R and the Nonprofit Technology Network, the 10th annual report analyzed 105 nonprofits of various sizes and sectors, 2.8 billion emails, and 69.4 million subscribers. 

The study revealed that online revenue grew by 19 percent last year, up from a 12 percent growth in 2014. Monthly giving, which the study shows is growing faster than one-time giving, accounted for 17 percent of all online revenue.

Email open rates, click-through rates and response rates all declined in 2015; however, email fundraising grew 25 percent, accounting for 29 percent of all online revenue for the year. The report says that continuing list growth and volume (more people; more messages) explain the increase in email revenue despite the fall in email engagement. For every 1,000 fundraising email delivered last year, nonprofits received $44 in donations, an average of $0.44 cents for every email. Groups sent an average of 49 messages in 2015.

The study showed that of the $481 million in online donation raised by leading nonprofits last year, 13 percent were made from mobile devices.

And although social media is an important tool for nonprofits, many organizations are not allocating as much of their resources to social strategies as they should. The top 25 organizations with the largest online revenue growth invested $0.12 in digital advertising for every dollar raised online; the rest of the groups invested $0.02.

For every 1,000 email subscribers, the average organization has 355 Facebook fans, 132 Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. The report showed that the nonprofits surveyed saw an average of 29 percent growth of support on Facebook over the year and a 25 percent growth of support on Twitter.

NTEN is holding a free webinar on the report on April 26. Click here for more information.