Charity CHAMPs – get involved with microphilanthropy now!

10 great ways to be charitable this holiday season by sylvng
November 29, 2011, 6:17 pm
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Posted by Today’s Parent: 10 great charitable gifts for the holidays. Check it out!


Great Article on Microvolunteering by sylvng
November 24, 2010, 10:56 pm
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Mike Bright, founder of Help From Home, was interviewed this week by the Mumbai newspaper MidDay. The article is a great read if you’re looking for some fresh ideas on how to do good online in your spare time. Thanks Mike for sharing!

Final countdown – we need your votes!! by sylvng
December 16, 2009, 1:07 pm
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12 more hours of voting on the Aviva Community Fund! A scant 290 votes are keeping us in the top 25, even with our strongest day yet in voting yesterday. WE NEED YOUR HELP BADLY.  We estimate that we need a surge of 500 votes to carry us through.

Tis the season to be generous, so if there’s ever a time to ask for a few seconds of help, now is it.

Don’t just ask a few people stand up, we challenge you to ask a group, a class, a team, a club, a department, a neighbourhood, or a family to help bring to light an innovative new idea that will someday touch hundreds of thousands of people.

One teacher said it best: “I spend my days teaching kids, and almost every class I teach revolves around information we find on-line or material we put there. During their free time, my kids spend hours a day on-line. This has to be one of the most significant changes in the way kids currently spend their free time and how they gather information. This is new in the past decade. This Charity Champs idea is directly connected to both where kids are and how kids gather information. It has almost a guaranteed chance of being successful.”


It’ll only take a few minutes, and the instructions are here:

And the usual vote for the spirit of giving!

1. Go to the voting page here:
2. Click on Vote and leave a COMMENT.
3. Update your facebook status or email a friend reminding them to do the same!

Globosocial Adventures Full of Social Innovation Goodness by sylvng
November 20, 2009, 9:09 pm
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With all the voting hubbub going on for Charity CHAMPS voting on ACF I have met lots of people interested in microphilanathropy, and have been in some very stimulating conversations about social innovation.  One great place to visit for social innovation information is the Globosocial Adventures Blog, written by Rizwan Tayabali. Rizwan is a management and social enterprise consultant who has a job that I envy – he’s currently traveling around the world working with social enterprises in different cultures and economies, trying to understand how we can design better global support systems for social start-ups and small social enterprises.

If you read his blog you’ll get a mix of cultural experience stories and notes about his meetings with social entrepreneurs around the world, such as the Ashoka Mexico team. He’s been kind enough to offer his support for Charity CHAMPS, and has an open call to anybody out there involved with social enterprise – if you think he can help at all with what you’re doing, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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“Does microlending fight poverty?” – Wrong Question To Ask by sylvng

On this blog I’ve written two previous posts on microfinance (also known as microcredit or microlending) and its effects. Well the debate regarding whether microlending solves poverty still rages on, and this month, the Boston Globe published a fairly extensive article containing much supporting material that concludes microfinance doesn’t actually do much to alleviate poverty. If you’re interested in the subject I would definitely recommend you read the article; while it doesn’t include ideas that are entirely new, it does quote findings from MIT research yet to be published, and offers a good summary into arguments being made on both sides.

So what exactly are some arguments against microlending being effective for alleviating poverty? Well..

  • Studies are showing that microlending doesn’t lift household spending (an indicator that shows financial well-being)
  • Borrowers often do not use the borrowed money for business but instead spend on household items like TVs
  • New research underlies the fact that developing countries will not lift themselves out of poverty through fueling entreprenurship – already developing countries are overindexed on entreprenurs, and what the countries need is large corporations to provide jobs that steadily increase pay annually
  • Economies of scale work, and microlending doesn’t tap that potential; as the article says, “Forty workers at a textile plant are going to be much more productive than 40 microentrepreneur weavers each working by themselves”

Of course, on the flip side, there are also arguments to be made:

  • If nothing else, microlending is allowing borrowers to disengage from high-interest lending that can result in physical punishment if loans are not repaid
  • Studies that have been conducted so far only measure the impact of microcredit on the short term and don’t take into account effects over 2 years long
  • The growth and sustainability of microlending (Grameen Bank, has disbursed more than $8 billion in unsecured loans) suggests that borrowers are finding value in the loans, even if the effects cannot be immediately measured

My take? So yes, maybe microlending won’t solve the world’s poverty problems. But it still may be making lives better, and what method of aid isn’t under attack for lack of effectiveness? I think the question here might not be whether microlending solves poverty or not, but whether it does better at solving poverty (however little impact it may be) than other instruments available to the average donor like me. Straight handouts to the poor certainly aren’t good. In-kind donations probably aren’t good either if they steal away business from local shops.  Short of volunteering in the third world countries, microlending is one way that I can attempt to do good.


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A bad day for Toronto city planners. by Kevin Wong
September 27, 2009, 2:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s a bad day to be a person of Chinese person Toronto, particularly if you like to read, and run.  You had to choose between the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon, the Word on the Street book fair, and the celebration parade of China’s birthday.  If you are a person in Toronto who likes to be stuck in traffic all day downtown, it’s a fantastic day, but since there aren’t very many of those, it was a bad day for Toronto city planners.

In addition to running Charity CHAMPS, I’ve been fairly involved in running a national conference (CUTC) for the last 10 years, and we are very careful to try to time our event so that it doesn’t conflict with other events.

By contrast for the last 3 years, the Scotiabank Marathon and the Word on the Street festival are always scheduled on the same day in September.  And this year, perhaps thanks to the lunar calendar, there was also the Chinese parade.  I think our all-news radio station 680 News put it best saying “effectively all streets downtown are closed.”

Seriously, Yonge, Bay, and University were all brought to a halt, as were Queen and Dundas, Lakeshore and Queen’s Quay.  I think there were issues with Richmond and Adelaide too.  The resulting overflow onto College, Spadina, Bathurst, King and Wellington, were so gross that it was absolutely infuriating for anyone who had to do something downtown that couldn’t be done on foot or on the subway exclusively.  It would be excruciating just getting out of the downtown if you wanted to escape!  I carefully looked at the flyer I received about the Scotiabank marathon road closures so I could avoid them with my plans today, but was given no warning about Word on the Street, nor the Chinese parade.

While I think these events are great, is there no one in the municipal government who can someone bring about some coordination between these groups—particularly since they requested the closure of public road resources?

Why not have the book fair right along side the marathon route?  What better way for people to bide their time for their friends and family to run by than browsing through some books?  And what better way to get some extra eyeballs on your proud Chinese banners than by walking along the same path set aside for the marathon already?

Call me crazy for thinking groups can work together like this when everyone benefits, but it seems like we could do a lot better job than the disaster that was downtown today.  I heard one guy shout “I HATE downtown!” so loudly from his car I could hear him from across the street.  A little bit more planning could eliminate one more reason people flee to the suburbs, paving more nature for urban sprawl.

This is just the thing our city planners are probably trying to combat.  I think they are probably a pretty strategic group creating Green Belts, working with the TTC, and encouraging dense downtown development.  I encourage you to be a bit “tactical” as well, and think about day-to-day things like this as well—because days as frustrating as this would make anyone think about staying the heck out of downtown whenever possible.

I hope everything is cleared up by the time I have to get to St. Clair and Bathurst for to see my father’s Art Walk festival in mid-town…

Using charity donations to entice users by sylvng
September 22, 2009, 9:58 pm
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Nowadays every company is trying to be a good corporate citizen. There are several corporate charity campaigns that I’ve talked about on this blog or on the Charity CHAMPS twitter account (@charitychamps) – Cadbury’s campaign to send bicycles to Africa, Dawn giving $1 back per bottle of dish detergent sold to environmental causes, Moxie’s giving a $1 to Breakfast For Learning for every dessert trio ordered. But I’m seeing many more campaigns that I have not blogged about. In fact, I’m seeing these campaigns everywhere, which is a good thing, but the concept of giving back product revenues to charity is becoming slightly over-done in my mind.

So it refreshing when I found this email from SAS the other day:

Dear SAS User:
SAS is committed to your satisfaction! We are interested in learning about your opinions and experiences with SAS and SAS software. Your valuable feedback will be used to develop and improve SAS products and services we offer.

Please allow approximately 10 minutes to complete this survey. In appreciation of your time and effort, SAS will make a donation to your choice among three non-profit charitable organizations if you complete this survey ….

SAS Market Research

Of course, this email has been sitting in my inbox for some time now, so it’s not really new (my inbox is just really backlogged), but it’s definitely the first time I’ve been enticed to complete a survey for charity. And I get to choose out of 3 non-profits? Pretty good! Too bad I’m so late to the game – the survey’s now closed and now I’ll never know what the donation amount offered was.

I don’t necessarily think that this campaign is doing more good than other ones just because it’s different, but I do like seeing new ideas in action. Donor fatigue is a huge problem, and innovation never hurt anybody.

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