harp-weaver is an independent philanthropic advisory firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teresa Araco Rodgers, the principal, works with individuals and families to gift to issues that matter in a meaningful way.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Women are Essential to Achieving Millennium Development Goals

In September 2000, world leaders came together at United Nations Headquarters to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets - with a deadline of 2015 - these have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.

Five years away from 2015 members of the United Nations met last week in New York for the Millennium Summit. There was an outcome document produced reviewing the adopted promises of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly.

Among the promises is a stronger commitment to women and more specifically to empowering women. They recognize “…that gender equality, the empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of all human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development, including the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals.”

To this end, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kicked off a major concerted worldwide effort to accelerate progress on women's and children's health. With over $40 billion committed over the next five years, the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health has the potential of saving the lives of more than 16 million women and children. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "The 21st century must and will be different for every woman and every child." Read more about this initiative at the UN News Centre.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Philadelphia School Project

I have been meaning to write about a new project in Philadelphia receiving much attention. It is called The Philadelphia School Project. The aim is to raise $100 million with the goal of supporting high-performance schools no matter whether they are public, charter or parochial.

There are some influential Philadelphians backing this initiative chief among them is real estate investor and developer Michael O'Neill. He is calling on other business leaders, foundations, private investors, high quality education operators, and policy advocates to "close the achievement gap by joining forces to create a strong coalition to change education in our city forever.”

Nicholas Torres, now the president of Congreso de Latinos Unidos, has been appointed Executive Director of the Project which was announced in June at an invitation-only presentation. Much of the conversation at that meeting focused on creating some kind of common yardstick to evaluate schools and programs and figure out what is working so they can be replicated.

They have created a nonprofit and have seeded it with $1 million to get things started. Something to watch. If you are interested in reading more, here is an article from The Philadelphia Inquirer. I will write about the Project in the coming weeks as progress is made.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Philanthropic Journey

I just read a wonderful article by Maryann Fernandez in preparation for a conference call on Planning a Philanthropic Trip. Fernandez is Founder & President of Philanthropy Indaba. She poses 6 questions to ask before planning a philanthropic journey. Her view is that most of the press on the topic of combining philanthropy and travel is coming out of the travel industry which often fails to ask some important questions.

Fernandez gives a nice definition for a philanthropic journey, "as one that starts with the intent to visit a project(s) and explore critical issues on the ground, and devotes part of a longer holiday or the entire trip towards that goal. A philanthropic journey is an intensive, focused learning experience on all dimensions of giving. It stimulates a participants needs for uniting the needs of the heart, the head. and the hands."

Here are the six questions she poses to start a more substantive conversation:

1. How complex is my philanthropy and what level of commitment am I looking to make?

Before planning it is important to look inward. Whether the person is thinking about expanding their philanthropy or a specific area of interest, or wanting to expose family members to the grantmaking process; a philanthropic journey can be worthwhile. A good reminder is that when visiting, be respectful of the nonprofit"s time and resources. A visit should be "an expression of their serious concern of the critical issues on the ground."

2. What do I want out of this trip?

Fernandez offers two main reasons why people chose to go on this type of trip: to better understand the dynamics on the ground and to identify and vet organizations.

3. Who should come along?

There are 3 critical questions: who is involved in decision-making? what are the ages of the people attending and are the activitiesage-appropriate? do you have an advisor who can bring expertise?

4. How do I choose the kind of trip I want to take?

Simply there are three basic types of trips: visit a single nonprofit organization; go on a group trip (a good option if you are just beginning); plan a customized trip.

5. How do I find the right service provider or consultant to develop my trip?

The answers to the previous questions will dictate the decision on this question. No matter the direction chosen, you generally get out of it what you put into it. When evaluating a service provider look at her experience, expertise and cost associated with vetting organizations and properly postioning all parties involved in the trip.

6. What kind of activities will help make my trip more meaningful and help guide philanthropic decision-making?

Fernandez gives three suggestions to get the most out of such a trip: guided discussions on the ground - no time like the present to talk about what you have seen and ask questions; bringing and/or distributing supplies - be careful with this one; service opportunities - rolling up your sleeves allows for a deeper level of experience.

Having gone on philanthropic journeys I can tell you they are life-changing. I am really looking forward to the day when my youngest babe is age-appropriate so we can explore the world and issues important to us together!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pierre and Pam Omidyar's Pledge

As I wrote previously, from time to time I will reference the wonderful Pledge Letters from The Giving Pledge project. These letters are full of insight and stories. I believe that successful families know where they came from and to realize this requires storytelling.

This week I have chosen Peirre and Pam Omidyar's letter. It reflects their values and approach to philanthropy.

"In thinking about how we could be most effective, we began our work by reminding ourselves of our core values, including respect for others and a sense of service. We’ve made a conscious effort to remain true to these guiding principles as our efforts grow and evolve. The eBay community also taught us a valuable lesson: people respond to opportunity in inspiring ways. The organizations we’ve created and the time and energy we spend on various causes is rooted in our belief that people are inherently capable but frequently lack opportunity.

Today we believe our philanthropic impact is amplified because our approach uses a wide variety of tools and resources. We don’t just write checks; we engage deeply with the organizations we support to help them reach and improve the lives of millions, not just thousands. We invest in for profit businesses that serve overlooked populations with much-needed products and services. We reach out to like-minded investors and advocates to form coalitions that support issues that will benefit from a unified voice."

Pierre and Pam have truly put into practice these values through the Omidyar Network, the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund, and the Ulupono Initiative. These philanthropic projects are all about creating lasting change through opportunity.

You do not have to have a huge amount of wealth to support projects and people with good ideas. A common idea amongst the letters is about engagement. Specifically, that with engagement comes greater impact. We need to realize that we all have talents and that by applying these talents in addition to money we can contribute to lasting change. As Pierre and Pam write in their letter, "...(it) requires all of us working together..."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Call For Support

Tonight I received an email from my friend, Peggy Dolan, who is Executive Director of the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund. She wrote:

"We received a very sad request yesterday for these parents who had a preemie a year and a half ago – the baby has never been home having spent most of her life in the NICU and then in a long-term care facility. She is being discharged soon however and the parents have nothing. They had moved from one area (leaving jobs behind) so they could be near their daughter. I figure you and your “baby generating” group of friends might have baby stuff to dispose of if there are no further plans for expansion! Could you please get the word out for us?"

Sadly, Peggy's Fund receives these types of requests for support everyday. More information on the Fund may be found at www.dolanfund.org.

I thought I would use today's entry to get the word out. If you have any baby items to donate, I am more than happy to receive and deliver. Thanks for reading this one!