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Home » Google, Private Philanthropy, Social Entrepreneurship

Live from Google: Now is the Time to Make a Difference

By Tom Watson on April 14, 2007No Comment

We continue our coverage from the finay day of the Global Philanthropy Forum at Google with this report from guest blogger Janice Schoos, senior managing director at our sister company Archimede Philanthropy Partners:

On the final day of the Global Philanthropy Forum, which was hosted this year at Google’s corporate headquarters, Sally Osberg, President and CEO of Skoll Foundation led a panel on “Mobilizing for Action.”  It featured Richard Curtis, Co-Founder and Vice Chair of Comic Relief, who described Red Nose Day, a UK-wide fundraising event organized by Comic Relief.

“On Red Nose Day, everyone in the country is encouraged to throw caution to the wind, cast their inhibitions aside, put on a Red Nose and do something wild to raise money.”

Curtis recognized that the charitable motivations of entertainers are often questioned, but stressed that if done the right way, entertainers and the media can do tremendous good.  He stated that everyone should do what they do best to make a difference, whether it is telling jokes, playing music or writing a check.  Curtis has been instrumental in organizing the 200th episode of American Idol’s, “Idol Gives Back,” that will raise funds and awareness to alleviate extreme poverty in Africa and US, which airs on April 24 and 25.

Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, stacked Oreo cookies to illustrate $60 billion the US government is spending on weapons each year designed to defeat the former Soviet Union – weapons that are useless against today’s threats and terrorism, he said.  Cohen proposed shifting spending from the Pentagon to address issues such as world hunger, education, and energy independence.  By redistributing a few Oreo cookies that each represented $10 billion, the country could make a significant difference in these issues without leaving the United States vulnerable to possible military threats. 

Singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and philanthropist, reminded the audience that people of Africa are the same as you and me. Their voices should be included in any programs or decisions affecting their lives, and they should be treated with dignity.

Bobby Shriver, co-founder and CEO of Product (Red), said the only way to engage corporations in social issues is to demonstrate the value to their core business.  Shriver and Bono created (Red) to team up with American Express, Converse, Gap, Giorgio Armani, Motorola and Apple to raise funds and awareness to help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.  In the last nine months, more than $20 million has been generated for the Global Fund by purchasing (Red) products. 

Former President Bill Clinton, closed the Global Philanthropy Forum by sharing his personal experiences with philanthropy that include his foundation, The William J. Clinton Foundation, and the Clinton Global Initiative.  He echoed the common thread that ran throughout the three-day conference – the need for partnerships between governments, nonprofit organizations, and business.

President Clinton strongly believes the best way to affect social change in the developing world is to organize and expand efficient public goods markets and to empower people.  He went on to describe his foundation’s successful efforts to organize the markets for AIDs medicines by suggesting pharmaceutical companies change their business model.  He proposed they adopt a low margin, high volume model that has a certain payment system.  The corporations agreed, and the cost of treatment for a person with HIV/AIDS dropped from over $500 per year to under $100 per year.

President Clinton said we can do more now to help alleviate poverty than any other time in history.  Americans’ income levels have increased significantly, the internet offers efficient charitable giving tools, and there are many people and NGOs doing good work all over the world.  People of means, as well as those with modest income, need to be made aware of initiatives such as Millennium Villages, project of UNICEF, and philanthropic networks so they can help make a difference.

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