Charity and volunteering: Giving wisely and doing good
Want to give to the charities that spend most of what they take in on the charity program itself, not on fundraising? Me, too. I've linked here to sites that provide the most help figuring out which programs are worth supporting. Other things you can donate: food, blood, organs (kidney, etc.), computers, vehicles, and surplus items (things you don't want or need, hope someone else can use, that might help or save a life). And time. Many combine decluttering with philanthropy, and earn a tax deduction.
Good deeds: Unusual examples of gifting, sharing, or saving goods, time, services, or space
Worst practices in charity world
Tips on charitable giving
Teaching the next generation about giving
Donating your body or body parts
Organ and tissue transplants: the process
Organ and tissue donation and transplant organizations
Problems in the organ transplant world
• Turkish Garbage Collectors Open Library Full of Discarded Books (Thom Peart, For Reading Addicts, 1-18-18)
• High School Cross-Country Team Takes Lonely Shelter Dogs On Their Morning Runs (Nature Knows)
• Solar-Powered Water Wheel Cleans Baltimore Harbor (NBC News, video, 10-30-14) John Kellett’s water wheel has already pulled thousands of pounds of trash out of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and could be the solution for cleaning trash pollution in waterways around the world. See also The Promise of Mr. Trash Wheel (Carolyn Kormann, New Yorker, 11-6-19) and The Interceptor: How It Works (video, Ocean Cleanup) Collecting trash at the mouth of the river, where most trash enters the ocean.
• Bionic Wildlife: 3D Printing Technology Gives Animals a Second Chance (Samantha Hartery, Roaring Earth) Prostheses renew chances for survival for an eagle, a dolphin, an elephant, a sea turtle, a tortoise, a toucan, a goose, a rhino. Check out the photos. See also Meet the Frostbitten Cat That Has Become the First in the World to Receive Four Prosthetic Limbs (The Hearty Soul)
• Washed Ashore creates art to save the sea The Washed Ashore project is based in Bandon, Oregon, where Angela Haseltine Pozzi saw the amount of plastic washing up on the beaches she loved and decided to take action. Since 2010, Washed Ashore has processed tons of plastic pollution from Pacific beaches to create monumental art that is awakening the hearts and minds of viewers to the crisis in global marine debris. See also 15 Brave Organisations Fighting To Save Our Oceans (Marine Insight) and there are others.
• Volunteer teams support Bridges to Posterity efforts to build footbridges over impassible rivers (Business Wire, 2-2-19) With Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), Balfour Beatty recently celebrated the completion of a 430-foot suspended footbridge in the isolated rural Espiritu Santo community near Cochabamba, Bolivia. Planned for months and constructed by BB’s 10-member volunteer team over two weeks, the new footbridge helps support B2P’s dedication to building footbridges over impassible rivers to give isolated communities safe passage to education, healthcare and economic opportunities. In connection with a B2P project in Rwanda, an instructor at the local Y asked for donations of baseball caps to take to the project, because Rwandans love them.
• This amazing village in India plants 111 trees every time a girl is born (Chelsea White, Global Citizen, 5-21-15) As Tex Yost says, "True girl power."
• Man Buys Turtles From the Food Market and Sets Them Free in the Ocean (Timothy Roberts, Family Pet). Turtles are still harvested for their meat and shells in Mexico, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. See Sea Turtle Conservancy for more information about saving sea turtles.
• Little Free Library. The world's largest book-sharing movement (next to public libraries). Build community, spark creativity, share that book you just finished reading. See How to start a Little Free Library. (Our book group set one up in honor of our friend Mary Willy, when she died.)
• Little Free Pantries are like Little Free Libraries — but with food (Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, 6-17-19) "Days with canned soups and canned fish — stuff "you can eat right out of the box" — are great days for Nordon, who is jobless and living out of his car with Tucker and her mother. Days with toothpaste or shampoo are even better." (Hannah, your story got this section started. Thanks!)
• Donkeys and Mules Carry Newborn Lambs Down Hills to Their Mothers Inside Specially Tailored Saddles (Lori Dorn, Laughing Squid, 8-13-19) Nanny donkeys and mules are outfitted with special saddles to carry newborn lambs down the hills of Italian Alps during the annual move from higher pastures to lower plains.
• One man's effort to make D.C.-area rooftops a little greener (Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, 8-21-18) Wanda "Peaches" Dickerson, 58, makes relish from peppers grown in the garden atop her apartment complex in Alexandria, Va. The community plot where she picks her peppers was built by Rooftop Roots, a nonprofit group with a mission of installing gardens on rooftops of affordable housing across the D.C. area. Thomas Schneider established the nonprofit with three goals: to promote social, environmental and economic justice by building gardens in low-income neighborhoods.
• Brewery creates edible six-pack rings that are safe for animals (Why don't you try this? 1-6-17)
• Bus Stops in the Netherlands Are Covered in Flowers to Give Bees a Chance (Annie Kin, ACH News [Awarenss. Cooperation. Health.)
• 'It’s a miracle': Helsinki's radical solution to homelessness (Jon Henley, The Guardian, 6-3-19) Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally. But if Housing First is working in Helsinki, where half the country’s homeless people live, it is also because it is part of a much broader housing policy. See also Lessons from Finland: helping homeless people starts with giving them homes (Juha Kaakinen, The Guardian, 9-14-16) Sounds simple but Finland’s housing first model shows it’s always more cost-effective to try to end homelessness rather than manage it. "To say that the scarcity of funding in any western European country is the reason for lack of affordable social housing is either an understatement or a conscious misunderstanding. It is simply a question of political will."
• The National Archives has billions of handwritten documents. With cursive skills declining, volunteers are transcribing them. (Debra Bruno, Washington Post, 6-17-19) Cursive has gone out of style. For the National Archives, this poses a problem. The archive is “sitting on 15 billion pieces of paper and parchment,” says David Ferriero, archivist of the United States, and as much as 80 percent of it is in cursive. With schools today emphasizing keyboarding over handwriting, numerous documents — from the Constitution to the diary of a Gold Rush traveler — may soon appear as foreign as ancient Sanskrit to most American children. The Archives and other institutions are enlisting an army of “citizen archivists” — via crowdsourcing, transcribe-a-thons and transcription field days — to type out the nation’s mega-trove of handwritten documents for the Web. In 2011, the Archives launched its Citizen Archivist Dashboard, an online portal where 13,645 people have so far performed some transcription. Last fall, the Library of Congress got into the act, rolling out an initiative called By the People, a website where volunteers can transcribe items such as the journals of African American leader Mary Church Terrell or the writings of Civil War veterans who lost limbs in the conflict.
• Couple Spends 20 Years Planting an Entire Forest and Animals Have Returned. (Kelly Richman-Abdou, My Modern Met, 4-23-19) Over several years, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado and his wife Lélia and the Instituto Terra team slowly but surely rebuilt the 1,754-acre forest, transforming it from a barren plot of land to a tropical paradise (and now a Private Natural Heritage Reserve). Hundreds of species of flora and fauna call the former cattle ranch home, many of them endangered.
• Plogging (Wikipedia "Plogging is a combination of jogging with picking up litter inSwedish: plocka upp). It started as an organized activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution. As a workout, it provides variation in body movements by adding bending, squatting and stretching to the main action of running, hiking, or walking."
• This man scours thrift stores and basements for wheelchairs and crutches. Then he gives them to the needy. (Cathy Free, Washington Post, 6-12-19) Project Embrace has collected, cleaned and given away about 500 pieces of used mobility equipment to low-income people in Utah and beyond.
• Hijab-wearing Muslim Americans get haircuts in basements, closets and restrooms. One salon wants to change that. (Hannah Natanson, WaPo, 3-14-19) A new Boston salon just for women offers unusual privacy. Shamso Ahmed, who wears a hijab, opened a women-only salon last month designed for Muslim women whose religious beliefs include not exposing their hair in front of men who are strangers.
• This 90-year-old retired vet gives ailing dogs — and rabbits and chickens — a spring in their step (Hannah Natanson, WaPo, 8-9-18) Lincoln Parkes first invented and patented a cart that allows disabled animals to walk in the early 1960s, and he's still trying to perfect the pet wheelchair.
• Toting power saws and peanut butter sandwiches, teens rehab run-down homes. (Hannah Natanson, WaPo, 6-29-18) Catholic high school students patched up more than 130 homes belonging to some of Virginia's poorest residents.
• Australia’s Oldest Man Knits Tiny Sweaters for Penguins Injured in Oil Spills (Ryan Grenoble, HuffPost, 3-6-14) and you can download a penguin rehabilitation jumper pattern at Knits for Nature (Phillip Island Penguin Foundation).
• German Circus (Circus Rocalli) Uses Holograms Instead of Live Animals for a Cruelty-Free Magical Experience (Educate Inspire Change)
• He is a stylist to Hollywood stars. But his most personal work is giving cuts to the homeless. (Noah Smith, WaPo, 6-5-19 He is a stylist to Hollywood stars. But one day Sascha Breuer pulled out a chair in front a burger chain restaurant in Los Angeles and offered free haircuts to a group of young people experiencing homelessness. On a Skid Row sidewalk in Los Angeles, on another day, he gave a haircut to a man who was hoping to look more presentable for an upcoming court date involving child custody.
Hat tip to Ina Schwartz for sending a link to the Little Free Pantry article, which led to this new section of my website. Let me know of other such articles or websites informing us of ways people have organized to make life easier or better for others.
• Charity Navigator's tip sheets on savvy donating to charity include Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors and 7 Questions To Ask Charities Before Donating, plus a page listing donation processing fees for various online donation processors: Giving Basket (Network for Good), Razoo, Indigogo, Crowdrise, and FirstGiving.
• Robert Smith will pay Morehouse graduates’ student loans. Will there be a tax bill to pay? (Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, 5-21-19) "When you win money, like in a lottery, or an item, like a car, you owe ordinary income taxes on the value of the prize." All those women who got a free car in Oprah Winfrey's giveaway were shocked to have to pay tax (which some couldn't afford). "In the nonsensical tax code, it’s the giver — not the receiver — who might get a tax bill." So for a prize the winner pays the tax bill; with a gift, the giver does. Friday5. For $5 a week (charged to your credit card), you donate to charitable causes through Friday5. See How it picks its causes and an article about the good story: Friday5 makes you look virtuous while it does all the work – and for only a fiver (Michael Carney, PandoDaily, 3-22-13). Through this subscription-based donation model you outsource all the research and check-writing and mailing, while Friday5 does background checks and makes what appear to be good choices on charitable giving. Follow who gets weekly donation on Friday5's Facebook page
• How to stop charitable solicitations by mail (Charity Navigator)
• Three Questions to Ask Before Donating to a Charity (Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn, Cognoscenti, Thinking That Matters, 12-19-14). "Look for a clear story that connects what the organization does to the actual changes in the world that it seeks. The more transparency, the better." For example, Give Directly offers unconditional cash transfers to the poor (see pp. 35-35 of this evaluation of such transfers in a randomized controlled trial of such transfers in rural Kenya).
• Avoid These 7 Charitable Giving Mistakes (Compassion & Choices)
• What to do when a charity calls (Charity Navigator). Among other things: If you determine that the telemarketer is calling you on behalf of a charity that you wish to support, contact the charity and find out how to donate to it directly. That way you avoid having part of your donation taken by a for-profit company.
• Guide to Donating Noncash Items (Charity Navigator)
• Where to donate or recycle books (Writers and Editors site, lots of tips)
• Guide to donating your car (Charity Navigator)
• Tax-Deductible Clothing Donations Are Great, Except Your Used Socks (Ron Lieber, NY Times, 5-15-15) Slideshow: The Good, Bad, and Ugly Guide to Donating Clothing
• Eight Tips for Deducting Charitable Contributions (IRS)
• Tax Benefits of Giving (Charity Navigator)
• When Donating to Charity, Don’t Send A Money Transfer to An Individual (Shelley Bernhardt, Better Business Bureau, 12-3-13)
• The mystery of ‘St. Grand,’ the secret donor dropping bundles of cash into Salvation Army kettles (Sarah Larimer, WaPo, 12-16-16) “Starting in 2011, we were getting donations in our kettles, which were a bundle of 10 crisp, new $100 bills,” says volunteer Julie Borgen “And over the past several years, that tradition has continued.” Volunteers who sort the bills very rarely find $100s, volunteer Kathie Poppen said; it’s mostly just $1s and $20s." The mystery and surprise add to the delight of this group that feeds the hungry and homeless over the holidays.
• Give Well (a very short list of "evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, underfunded organizations")
• Charity Watch, a nonprofit charity watchdog, rates nonprofits with a letter grade (A to Z). Formerly American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP). For a $50 contribution, you can get its Charity Rating Guide & Watchdog Report, which among other things lists salaries paid to fundraisers.
• GuideStar Charity Check (pre-grant due-diligence product that is compliant with all IRS requirements for verifying eligibility to receive grants and payouts)
• GiveDirectly Send money directly to people living in extreme poverty. ProPublica says: "a direct cash transfer charity with a 90 percent program-to-overhead cost ratio that consistently ranks among GiveWell’s top performing nonprofits. GiveDirectly sends donor money straight to the poorest families in Uganda and Kenya through mobile banking."
• GiveWell (evidence-backed short list of good charities, thoroughly vetted and underfunded--principally in developing, often African, countries)
• GreatNonprofits "aggregates crowd-sourced reviews of nonprofits."
• Nonprofit Explorer (ProPublica's tool for researching nonprofits' financial details). See How to Vet Nonprofits Before You Give (Derek Willis and Mike Tigas, ProPublica, 12-1-17) Using ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer and a charity’s own documents, you can make a more informed giving decision.
• Philanthropedia ("GuideStar has experts in the field weigh in on their favorite nonprofits")
• Give.org, BBC Wise Giving Alliance (rates charities as accredited, not meeting standards, etc.) Some charities choose not to disclose financial info.
• Charity Checker (searches the top charity watchdog and review sites and shows you their ratings)
• Top-Rated Charities (Charity Watch, with letter grade)
• Charity Watch's links to other resources for evaluating charities, including the Washington Post's searchable database of nonprofits that have reported a diversion of assets
• Forbes's list of America's 200 Largest Charities. Forbes lists American's largest charities (by donations) and provides data on their efficiency.
• Evaluating Charities Not Currently Rated by Charity Navigator. One helpful tool is the Foundation Center's 990 Finder
• America's Top 50 charities: How well do they rate? (Christian Science Monitor)
• Red Cross Misstates How Donors' Dollars Are Spent (Laura Sullivan, NPR, for All Things Considered, and Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott, for ProPublica, 12-4-14). Same story as reported on ProPublica (and there you'll see links to other stories on the topic.
• A Snopes.com article reports that six veterans-related charitable organizations don't receive very high marks for efficiency (as determined by Charity Navigator, the BBB, or Form 990 information):
American Legion: 55%
Veterans of Foreign Wars: 84%
Disabled American Veterans: 77%
Military Order of Purple Heart Service Foundation: 35%
Vietnam Veterans of America: 25%
Wounded Warrior Project: 58%
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/charities.asp#hgUMepk3opOuqGCy.99
• Armchair Advocates (using social media to advocate on behalf of the causes that matter most). Facebook page. How are companies, organizations & individuals using the web to move people from armchair to action and invest in global causes? Read Are You an Armchair Advocate?" (Charles A. Bentley, Huff Post, 3-17-13)
• Catchafire (matches professionally-skilled volunteers with nonprofits and social enterprises. Read Catchafire CEO: If I Don't Use My Time Well, My Employees Won't Either (Catherine Clifford, Entrepreneur, 1-15-14)
• Create the Good (AARP, search function for finding volunteer activities in your area) Some interesting projects turn up, such as the Lost Ladybug Project: Observers Needed
• Focusing Philanthropy (identifying nonprofit organizations as candidates for personal philanthropy)
• Encore.org, a nonprofit group that is building a movement to tap the skills and experience of people in midlife and beyond to improve communities. Awards the Purpose Prize.
• Global Volunteers
• Grassroots Volunteering (search for highly recommended volunteer opportunities around the world)
• He’s 106. And Knows the Score. (Louie Lazar, NY Times, 11-7-16) John Risher has been recording statistics as a volunteer at Virginia’s home football games since 1963, and he shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
• How to Be a More Effective Volunteer Abroad (Steph Dyson, Go Overseas, 11-6-17) Four Volunteer Organizations Share What They Look For
• Idealist (find volunteer opportunities, nonprofit jobs, internships, and organizations working to change the world) Volunteer, work, intern, organize, hire, and connect.
• The Mission Continues (helps wounded veterans coming home continue being contributing members of their society. Listen to Talk of the Nation radio interview Challenging Assumptions Made About Veterans. "Often, the stories we come across about vets, whatever war they fought in, are stories of difficult transition back to civilian life. Former Navy pilot Ken Harbaugh says actually, most soldiers return just fine."
• Moving Worlds Experteering: Volunteer your real skills abroad, make an impact, and live for free. Apply your skills for social good. "Voluntourism can't solve real problems... That's where Experteers come in." See FAQs for Experteers
• Omprakash (connecting volunteers with grassroots organizations around the world)
• Secret Life of a Search and Rescue Volunteer (Chris Muldoon, Narratively, 2-12-18)
• Volunteer for Crisis Help Line
• Volunteermatch Find a cause that lights you up. Get in touch with a nonprofit that needs you. (Advocacy and human rights. Animals. Arts & culture. Board development.)
• Volunteer Vacations: How to Be Sure You’re Helping (Donna L. Hull, Next Avenue, 2-12-12) Due diligence is essential to ensure that your money — and hard work — truly benefit people
• Voluntourism: Are You Up to the Challenges? (Bart Astor, Next Avenue, 3-12-14) Helping out in an exotic locale can be ideal if you ask key questions first
• How to Get Started With Voluntourism Conversations, Wells Fargo)
• Where Older Workers are Valued and Honored (Kathryn Lance, Next Avenue, 5-28-15). Volunteering as a docent in retirement can deliver generous rewards. Excellent article. Who knew docents needed all that training -- and that learning was one of the chief benefits of volunteering? Google "docent training" and names of your favorite museums, research centers, parks, etc. and see what comes up!
• Social Programs That Work, interventions identified by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy (nonprofit, nonpartisan).
• Where & How to Volunteer Abroad in Hurricane Relief Efforts (Elaina Giolando, Go Overseas, 9-27-17) Volunteering in disaster relief seems especially important right now, as another devastating hurricane season continues. Read more about the organizations you can volunteer with, and how long volunteer support will be needed.
• Lessons You'll Learn by Volunteering in Marine Conservation (Katherine Alex Beaven, Go Overseas, 9-6-17) Volunteering in Marine Conservation is a popular choice for those who want to support nature through volunteer efforts. Here are some of the important lessons you'll learn if you choose to save the oceans on your volunteer experience
• A Day in the Life of a Volunteer Abroad (Danielle Nelson, Go Overseas, 6-15-17). And see more such stories from GoOverseas.com
Let me know of anything important or useful to add here.
always feel as if it costs you nothing." ~ Simone de Beauvoir
• GiveWell's top-rated charities. See also Other Organizations Running Priority Programs Other Organizations Running Priority Programs
• Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. An insider's groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. See The rich want to use money to solve problems, except the problems that made them rich (Ben Paynter, Fast Company, 9-13-18) "When journalist Anand Giridharadas became a Henry Crown fellow at the Aspen Institute several years ago, he was initially excited to rub elbows with some of the world’s emerging philanthropy-minded capitalists. These were successful entrepreneurs ostensibly interested in using their wealth and knowledge to build a better world. “It’s all about taking stock at some midpoint of life and career and thinking about how can you do better,” he says of the fellowship mission. But after couple of years–the group met four times over a two year period for about a week per session–Giridharadas began to notice, and dislike, some contradictions. Much of Aspen’s entire ecosystem of seminars, festivals, retreats, and funding was underwritten by people or companies that seemed to have made huge trade-offs in their path to riches, and might be practicing philanthropy as perception-improving and influence-welding device. (That list includes Charles and David Koch, Monsanto, Pepsi, Goldman Sachs, and the Resnick family, which has made a fortune growing water-intensive almonds in drought-stricken California.)"
• Couple Spends 20 Years Planting an Entire Forest and Animals Have Returned (Kelly Richman-Abdou, My Modern Met, 4-23-19) Over the course of 20 years, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado and his wife Lélia have transformed a barren plot of land into a thriving forest. Now it’s home to all kinds of plants and animals—many of which are endangered. To support this seemingly impossible cause, the couple set up the Instituto Terra, an “environmental organization dedicated to the sustainable development of the Valley of the River Doce,” in 1998.
• How Political Ideology Influences Charitable Giving (Paul Sullivan, NY Times, 11-3-18) "Red counties, which are overwhelmingly Republican, tend to report higher charitable contributions than Democratic-dominated blue counties, according to a new study on giving, although giving in blue counties is often bolstered by a combination of charitable donations and higher taxes. But as red or blue counties become more politically competitive, charitable giving tends to fall. “There’s something about the like-mindedness where perhaps the comfort level rises,” said one of the authors of the study, Robert K. Christensen, associate professor at the George W. Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics at Brigham Young University. “They feel safe redistributing their wealth voluntarily. It also matters for compulsory giving.”...The researchers said this finding fell within the broad political tendencies of traditional Republicans who favor less government intervention and more donations from the private sector to make up for the lack of government assistance.“Their preference is to provide for the collective good through private institutions,” said Professor Nesbit. “But we don’t know what type of institutions they’re giving to.” The study reported on here:The Politics of Donations: Are Red Counties More Donative Than Blue Counties? (Laurie E. Paarlberg, Rebecca Nesbit, Richard M. Clerkin et al., Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Sage, 10-20-18).
• The revolutionary technology helping to fight food waste. (Terrence McCoy, Washington Post, 12-6-15) GW law student Grant Nelson co-founded with Maria Rose Belding a sprawling online network that connects thousands of food pantries in 24 states, allowing them to quickly share surplus food that might have otherwise gone to waste. That network/database: MEANS (Matching Excess and Need for Stability), a database that may "close lapses in communication between pantries and chip away at the country’s colossal problem with chronic waste."
• When a $1,000 Gift Is Better Than $1 Million (Paul Sullivan, NY Times, 8-17-18) In the era of mega-philanthropy, small gifts can get overlooked or dismissed. But if done right, they can have just as great an impact as multimillion-dollar ones. The Gathering Place in Torrington, Conn., helps the homeless in the northwestern part of the state get showers, clean clothes and basic social services. But a few years ago, the organization could not pay its rent or utilities and was on the verge of closing until it received a $4,000 donation....We get handwritten letters saying that your several thousand-dollar gift helps them, which is so different from big philanthropy where your million-dollar gifts get you a letter saying, “Could you add an extra zero to that?’”
• TV station buys $1 million in medical debt forgiveness for viewers (Al Tompkins, Poynter, 2-14-18) And the vehicle for doing so: RIP Medical Debt. ("RIP Medical Debt locates, buys and forgives medical debt across America, the only industrialized nation on earth with personal medical debt. We work on behalf of individual donors, philanthropists and organizations who provide financial relief for people burdened by unpaid and unpayable medical bills." Similarly, The Miracle of Medical Debt Forgiveness on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (RIP Medical Debt) Medical debt pursuit, or more precisely, the endless harassment of patients unable to pay their bills (as opposed to unwilling), has gained increasing prominence as a major social issue. Among the more egregious practices in the collections industry is the sale of old medical debt – for pennies on the dollar – to bill collectors who will then aggressively pursue this debt at full face value for an additional two to 10 more destructive years. Thanks to a June 5 airing of the HBO comedy series, Last Week Tonight Show with John Oliver, far more of us now are privy to this collection industry practice, and the debt treadmill it creates. Oliver and his LWT staff investigated the debt buying industry, and then registered a debt-buying company in Mississippi for $50, calling it Central Asset Recovery Professionals (CARP, like the bottom-feeding fish). They located and bought for about $60,000 a medical debt portfolio worth $14.9 million, which they donated to the RIP Medical Debt charity.
• United Way Searches for Its Place in a World of One-Click Giving (Ron Lieber, Your Money, NY Times, 12-23-16). Interesting story not just about United Way but about Benevolent, an organization through which "donors can search for individuals who have a specific need beyond basic food, clothing or shelter — say tools for a budding machinist or contact lenses for someone with limited eyesight — and then pay for some or all of it on the spot" and can "step into the story." And on Fidelity Charitable's Donor-Advised Funds, "a tax-efficient way for individuals to set up quasi foundations."
• The trouble with charitable billionaires (Carl Rhodes and Peter Bloom, A Long Read, The Guardian, 5-24-18) More and more wealthy CEOs are pledging to give away parts of their fortunes – often to help fix problems their companies caused. Some call this ‘philanthrocapitalism’, but is it just corporate hypocrisy? "[I]nequality is growing, and both corporations and the wealthy find ways to avoid the taxes that the rest of us pay. In the name of generosity, we find a new form of corporate rule, refashioning another dimension of human endeavour in its own interests. Such is a society where CEOs are no longer content to do business; they must control public goods as well. In the end, while the Giving Pledge’s website may feature more and more smiling faces of smug-looking CEOs, the real story is of a world characterised by gross inequality that is getting worse year by year."
• A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support (Joanna Rothkopf, Jezebel, 11-9-16)
• IssueLab, a service of The Foundation Center, is an effort to more effectively gather, index, and share the power of the social sector’s collective intelligence and to encourage open and free access to that intelligence. Sign up for alerts on issues that matter to you.
• A Philanthropist Drills Down to Discover Why Programs Work (Paul Sullivan, Wealth Matters, NY Times, 2-5-16) After examining hundreds of applications, she picked eight organizations to support and encourage to dissect what they were doing and why it had proved successful. Her goal: to find the secret sauce and reveal it to other organizations trying to do similar work -- to explore how agency, resiliency and other skills play a role in preparing youth to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world.
• Nonprofits focused on women and girls receive just 1.6% of all charitable giving (Ben Paynter, Fast Company, 10-7-19) Increasing the funding for women- and girl-focused cause groups is a cause of its own. To assist in that, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute just launched the Women and Girls Index, a public database of the country’s charities dedicated largely to women’s causes or that are female-led collectives trying to make change from their own perspective.
• A Charity That Just Gives Money To Poor People (Jacob Goldstein, Planet Money, NPR, 8-2-11) Give Directly: Send money directly to the extreme poor. "A group of economists is launching a charity with a simple but radical plan: Give money to very poor people, and let them spend it however they want." Read what GiveWell says (pro and con) about this "charity to watch."
• What makes millennials give to charity? (Melissa Schorr, Boston Globe, 10-28-15) Fancy dinners and pleas for checks don’t resonate with younger donors. They want a deeper connection to a cause. Young donors want to be inspired, and they want to be actively involved, whether that means pedaling for a purpose or swinging a hammer. “Millennials like to think of themselves as not just donors, but investors...They don’t give out of obligation. They give out of a sense of mission.”
• Modest Needs (provides short-term financial assistance to individuals and families in temporary crisis who, because they are working and live just above the poverty level, are ineligible for most types of conventional social assistance but who (like many of us) are living one or two lost paychecks away from the kind of financial catastrophe that eventually leads to homelessness). See FAQs.
• Weighing the Best Vehicles For Philanthropic Giving (Paul Sullivan, Wealth Matters, NY Times, 1-28-11) As private foundations attract more IRS scrutiny, some wealthy philanthropists are considering the benefits of donor-advised funds, which are also less costly to manage.
• Deciding How to Slice Your Charitable Pie (Ron Lieber, NY Times, 12-7-12) "To lead a truly ethical life, Peter Singer writes, we should be doing much more to help poor people in faraway places. Our money can go farther there, too, giving us more bang for our charitable buck." Singer compares the ethics of giving to reduce global poverty to giving to educational institutions, giving to houses of worship, giving to cultural institutions
• The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty by Peter Singer. From PW review: “Part plea, part manifesto, part handbook, this short and surprisingly compelling book sets out to answer two difficult questions: why people in affluent countries should donate money to fight global poverty and how much each should give. . . . Singer doesn’t ask readers to choose between asceticism and self-indulgence; his solution can be found in the middle, and it is reasonable and rewarding for all.”
• Rescue Gifts (International Rescue Committee) "Acts of Kindness. Real Impact." Making specific practical gifts visible makes giving more concrete, somehow. You have less fear of your money funding administrative costs.
• Making a Difference in This Season of Giving (Tara Siegel Bernard, NY Times, 12-6-13) “If you are truly driven by altruism, then you don’t care about the color of the person’s skin you are helping or the passport they carry,” said Dean Karlan, an economics professor at Yale University and founder of Innovations for Poverty Action, which uses randomized trials to test what social policies work.
• What Gives: Generosity in America (Backstory, public radio with the American History Guys), a whole hour, in these segments:
---Give it all away (Scholar Isiah Wilner talks about the tradition of Kwakwaka’wakw potlatches -gatherings where you might give not only the shirt off your back, but the roof over your head.) From there you can click on the following links:
--- To Give & Buy in the U.S.A. Expanding on the potlatch, the Guys talk about giving and philanthropy throughout American history, starting with the Big Master giving Christmas gifts to their slaves.
---Democratic Institutions. Historian Johann Neem and host Peter Onuf examine charity in the Early Republic – and why Thomas Jefferson would not have been a fan of large private charitable foundations.
--- Scientific Method. Historian Alice O’Conner and host Ed Ayers talk about the rise of ‘scientific’ giving and modern philanthropy (organized giving as a top-down way of shaping society--e.g., through intermediate institutions such as libraries, as opposed to giving charity to individuals.)
---For Whom the Bell Tolls. The Guys take a call from a listener curious about the tradition of Salvation Army Santas.
---Theater of Giving. Scholar Shelia Moeschen discusses the rise of philanthropy performances, decades before the modern telethon was born.
--Red Crossing a Line. Historian Kevin Rozario discusses the Red Cross at the turn of the 20th century, when the organization realized it must compete with the increasingly sophisticated entertainment industry for the attention of possible donors.
• In Defense of the Personal Crowdfunding Campaign (Ron Lieber, NY Times, 11-20-15) The siblings Luke and Dana Nowakowski started a campaign on GoFundMe to raise $25,000 to help their father pay for the care of their mother, who has dementia and mobility challenges.
• A Better Way to Encourage Charity (Ray D. Madoff, Opinion, NY Times, 10-5-14) "Reducing taxes for all private foundations does nothing to encourage greater payouts. Instead of abandoning the incentives, Congress should make them cleaner and easier to apply....Retain the current 2 percent excise tax for those private foundations that spend 6 percent or less; reduce the rate to 1 percent for those that spend between 6 and 8 percent; and eliminate the tax completely for those that spend 8 percent or more. Each year the foundation could choose its own payout and excise tax rates."
• Finding a Purpose, and Winning a Prize for It (Kerry Hannon, Retiring, NY Times, 11-13-15) Now in its 10th year, the Purpose Prizegranted $100,000 to one winner and $25,000 each to five others this year. In addition, 41 Purpose Prize fellows were honored for their innovative work. The Purpose Prize for Americans 60 and older was created by Encore.org, a nonprofit group that is building a movement to tap the skills and experience of people in midlife and beyond to improve communities.
• Focusing Philanthropy (identifying nonprofit organizations as candidates for personal philanthropy)
• GiveDirectly Send money directly to the extreme poor. (But read: GiveDirectly? Not So Fast (Kevin Starr & Laura Hattendorf, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 3-11-14). Great idea, but does it provide lasting benefits?
• Giving Tuesday: Where Would Your Children Give? ( KJ Dell'Antonia, NY Times, 12-2-14)
• The Holidays: A Bit More Giving, a Bit Less Getting (Ron Lieber, NY Times Motherlode blog, 11-14-13) Wonderful tips for getting children and the whole family involved in charitable giving.
• Donors Choose makes it easy to help classrooms in need. Public school teachers post classroom project requests which range from pencils for poetry to microscopes for mitochondria.
• Duck Tape for Camille (one of several examples of imaginative giving, on Nate Goldman's radio program on KBUR, Kind World).
• Kind World: A Minister's Challenge Church members were given envelopes containing from $5 to $20 and told to give it to someone who might need it, and come back and tell the story. "Somebody had folded up their $5 bill in their wallet, and they said they were walking through their life with a different kind of vision for the need that was around them. It was only $5, but the money helped them grow new antennae for the world around them. For five bucks, that’s a priceless thing."
• Building a Bigger Tent for Effective Philanthropy (Paul Connolly, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 5-26-15) By embracing a more-inclusive outreach approach, effective philanthropy advocates can attract more funders.
• Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant
• The way we think about charity is dead wrong (Dan Pallotta's TED Talk, Mar 2013) Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world. Transcript of talk and Dan Pallotta's reading list (articles about nonprofit finances — and why Pallotta argues we should fight capitalism with capitalism) and his book:Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World
• The Charitable-Industrial Complex (Peter Buffett, Op Ed, NY Times, 7-26-13) "Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine."
• "For what it is worth, we think that there is a new story unfolding, one that has been under way for a few years. It is led, in some ways, by Mr Buffett’s father and his pal, Bill Gates. It stresses the importance of philanthropic money being used as risk capital, and of achieving systemic change. We call it "Philanthrocapitalism."
• The Pros and Cons of Financial Efficiency Standards (Urban Institute). Since nonprofit organizations are not legally obligated to divulge audited financial statements to the public, Form 990 is the only publicly available document that reports on the finances of the majority of nonprofit organizations. These forms are useful but figures can be manipulated. "Watchdogs, regulators, and donors would do well to focus on the question of how well nonprofits deliver their services rather than dwell on the issue of how they choose to spend their money."
• Philanthropic Equity ( George Overholser and Sean Stannard-Stockton, Tactical Philanthropy, 1-21-09)
• Philanthropic Giving: To Be or Not to Be—Some Thoughts on the Life of Family Foundations (John Warnick, Purposeful Planning Institute, Aug-Sept 201) The two leading reasons for deciding to exist in perpetuity are a desire to have a long-term impact on the community and a desire for family engagement across generations. Why do some philanthropists and/or foundation trustees and executives choose to spend down foundation assets?
• Alicia Keys Asks: Why Are We Here? (Nicholas Kristof, NY Times, 9-20-14) The superstar singer "is now starting a We Are Here movement to channel her music and her fans to social justice causes, from stricter gun laws to criminal justice reform, from gay rights to global girls’ education."
• Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment A randomized experiment shows that giving away anti-malaria bednets for free dramatically increases their usage relative to charging a small, nominal fee--implying that charities like the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) that facilitate the direct distribution of bednets can have huge positive effects.
• Global Giving (Connecting donors with community-based projects that need support)
• Nicholas Kristof: Transforming Lives Through Philanthropy (WAMU program, Kojo Nnamdi show, 9-29-14). Americans are among the most generous donors to charity in the world, yet we often know very little about the groups we support. Where does all their money go, and whom does it really help? New York Times columnist and author Nicholas Kristof talks about how to be a high-impact donor and why both journalists and charities often struggle to make people care about far-away hardships.
• A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn ("a sweeping tapestry of people who are making the world a better place and a guide to the ways that we can do the same—whether with a donation of $5 or $5 million, with our time, by capitalizing on our skills as individuals, or by using the resources of our businesses"). Read Paul Collier's piece about the book (NY Times, 10-16-14). By the same authors: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (showing how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad).
• Philanthrocapitalism "For what it is worth, we think that there is a new story unfolding, one that has been under way for a few years. It is led, in some ways, by Mr Buffett’s father and his pal, Bill Gates. It stresses the importance of philanthropic money being used as risk capital, and of achieving systemic change. We call it "Philanthrocapitalism."
• The Pros and Cons of Financial Efficiency Standards (Urban Institute). Since nonprofit organizations are not legally obligated to divulge audited financial statements to the public, Form 990 is the only publicly available document that reports on the finances of the majority of nonprofit organizations. These forms are useful but figures can be manipulated. "Watchdogs, regulators, and donors would do well to focus on the question of how well nonprofits deliver their services rather than dwell on the issue of how they choose to spend their money."
• Six Ways to Give the Gift of Generosity to Children and Teenagers (Ron Lieber, Your Money, NY Times, 12-16-16) Interesting and full of good ideas.
• To Teach Children to Give, Tell Them How Much Your Family Has Been Given (Ron Lieber, Motherlode, NY Times, 10-25-15) At some point, your family was lucky enough to get help. Now, you help others. If you want to teach your children about money, giving them an allowance is a great place to start. They’re going to need a place to put it, which is how the three-jar system came into existence: one for spending, one for saving and one for giving.
• Why Doing Good Is Good for the Do-Gooder (Nicole Karlis, Well, NY Times, 10-26-17) “Research suggests that these community social connections are as important for resilience to disaster is as physical material like disaster kits or medical supplies,” explained Ichiro Kawachi, a professor of social epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Voluntarism is good for the health of people who receive social support, but also good for the health of people who offer their help.”
• Best Charity Sites to Teach Kids About Giving (Emma Johnson, Forbes, 2-26-15) Johnson lists:
---Watsi.org (fund healthcare for people around the world)
---Oxfam Unwrapped America (children and families choose gifts by category--health, education, environment--and then choose specific gifts, such as "a dozen chicks for $45, to help a rural family start for-profit flock, $35 for a school meal program for a child or $100 for a donkey cart"
---David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust online fostering of orphaned and endangered elephants, rhinos and giraffes, especially baby calves, which are orphaned when their parents are killed for their tusks,
• 9 Ways to Teach Your Child About Charity (Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, Parents, originally published on HealthyKids.com, January 2005) By the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose
• Charity Starts at Home: Teaching Kids About Charity (Jennifer Cooper, PBS, 11-18-13) "Kids often operate from a center of self so talk to them about how their actions will affect others. For instance saying, “When we raise money for this charity, the money will go to kids who need medicine so they will get healthy” will have more of an impact than, “because it’s the right thing to do.” Both are true, but one helps frame it in a relatable way."
• Kids and Philanthropy: Teaching Your Children to Be Charitable (Beth Kanter, 12-21-12)
• Build Great Giving Habits: Teach Children to Give (Neesha Rahim, The Osborne Group, 12-13-12). Rahim writes about seven organizations that help bring children into the giving fold--more by volunteering than by raising money--engaging them in ways that resonate with them. She describes and links to Teach for UNICEF, Room to Read, The Global Fund for Children, Fidelco, The New York Blood Center‘s “Little Doctors Program,” Girl Up, and the Friendship Through Education Consortium
BOOKS ON THE SUBJECT:
• Raising Charitable Children by Carol Weisman. She and her husband offered to match the funds her children raised because they both worked for companies that matching gift programs.
• The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber
• Doing Good Together: 101 Easy, Meaningful Service Projects for Families, Schools, and Communities by Jenny Friedman and Jolene Roehlkepartain
• The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving by Ellen Sabin
• The Kid's Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference by Barbara A. Lewis
• Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions Around the World by Garth Sundem (for children 9 to 13)
Organ and tissue transplants: the process
Organ and tissue donation and transplant organizations
Problems in the organ transplant world
Every ten minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. On average, 20 people die each day* while waiting for a transplant. One organ donor can save eight lives. Sign up to be an organ donor.
"One urgent task at the time of death is to donate your loved one's organs, if that was his choice. Practically speaking, with the exception of corneas and willed body programs, organ donation is possible only in a hospital death. The body's organs--heart, kidneys, liver--will be kept viable by machine until transplant personnel arrive (oftentimes the teams are flying in from far away to retrieve organs and transport them to those in need). ~ Miller and Berger, A Beginner's Guide to the End
See list of organ donor and transplant organizations below.
• Body and Organ Donation, A Gift to Science (Funeral Consumers Alliance)
• Make Me a Match (Freakonomics, 1-29-16) Sure, markets generally work well. But for some transactions — like school admissions and organ transplants — money alone can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need a market-design wizard like Nobel Prize winner Al Roth. You’ll hear how Roth and others have revolutionized the organ-donor market; the amazing story of how one particularly selfless woman kicked off a donor chain that gave life to many others; and Ruthanne Leishman, from the United Network For Organ Sharing, talking about the organ-donor algorithm developed by Roth and his colleagues.
• Matching Donors.com MD's Paired Exchange Program
• ‘Rapid Autopsy’ Programs Seek Clues To Cancer Within Hours Of Death (JoNel Aleccia, Kaiser Health Network, 4-26-18) Keith Beck donated his body to a rapid-autopsy research study at the Ohio State University, part of a small but growing effort by more than a dozen medical centers nationwide. The idea is to obtain tumor tissue immediately after death — before it has a chance to degrade. Scientists say such samples are the key to understanding the genetics of cancers that spread through the body, thwarting efforts to cure them....Most programs focus on cancer, but efforts are underway to expand the practice, possibly to shed light on virus reservoirs in HIV patients, for instance....The need for speed is also what makes such autopsies challenging. Families must consent to the procedure, often while freshly grieving their loved one’s death. And the logistics surrounding retrieving a body, conducting an autopsy and then returning the body for a funeral are often complicated."
• Rapid Autopsy (Johns Hopkins, Baltimore) The Legacy Gift Rapid Autopsy program arranges and performs autopsies on an urgent basis to collect tumor and other tissues for researchers in many different areas. Specimens collected at autopsy have been used to grow living cell lines which can be used to evaluate for genetic mutations and test new chemotherapies. Samples can also undergo genetic sequencing and RNA expression analysis, as well as immunohistochemical and proteomic studies.
• Transplant links Baltimore homicide victim to Western Maryland retiree (Tim Prudente, WaPo, 1-2-19) Charles McAtee turned 60 last month, and he hasn’t felt this good in years. Radiation for lung cancer had affected his heart, producing “radiation-induced cardiomyopathy.” Now he’s back to pushing a snowblower around his Western Maryland home and feels half his age. In fact, his heart is. This holiday season, McAtee holds dear a Baltimore County woman responsible for the best gift he ever received: her son’s heart.In three hours and three minutes, that heart went from her son’s chest into McAtee’s. Only three in 1,000 people die in a way that allows for organ donation. The two men matched height, weight and O Positive blood — that’s all. One was 27, one 57; one black, one white; one aspired to be a rapper, one retired from the Internal Revenue Service. Who could have expected the bond that would follow?
• We will all leave a legacy - whether we like it or not (Lyndsay Green, Globe and Mail, 1-12-19) "If we think we’re too young to make a difference, we have only to look at Logan Boulet, the 21-year-old Humbolt Broncos hockey player who was one of the 16 people who died in a horrendous bus crash last year. Only five weeks earlier, on his birthday, Mr. Boulet had signed his organ-donor card. Six people’s lives were changed thanks to his decision. Since the publication of his story, about 100,000 Canadians have signed up to become donors, and the number keeps growing. Given that one organ donor can save up to eight lives, Mr. Boulet is leaving a remarkable legacy. And there’s another person in that legacy chain. Mr. Boulet told his father that he had been inspired by a friend who had donated his organs before he died."
• 20 Americans Die Each Day Waiting for Organs. Can Pigs Save Them? (Tom Clynes, NY Times Magazine, The Tech and Design Issue, 11-16-18) Twenty Americans "die each day waiting for an organ.... Even though 58 percent of adults in the United States have registered as donors, demand still outpaces supply and most likely always will. Thanks to genetically engineered pigs, the donor-organ shortage could soon be a thing of the past....The organs inside this little pig — or perhaps more realistically, those of its progeny — could someday find their way inside me or you or one of our descendants. If so, we will be much the better off for it, even if we cannot say the same for the pig."
• Organ donation statistics (organdonor.gov)
• 29-Year-Old's Leukemia Fight Highlights Hurdles Certain Ethnicities Face In Finding Bone Marrow Match (Jeremy Hobson and Serena McMahon, Here and Now, WBUR, 2-13-19) Liyna Anwar, a podcast producer for The Los Angeles Times who used to work with Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson at the public radio program Marketplace, is of Indian descent. Her ethnic background is proving to be a challenge in finding a transplant donor match. Asians or Pacific Islanders have a 41 percent likelihood of finding a donor match compared to a 77 percent likelihood for Caucasians, according to Be The Match.
• Be The Match Joining the Be The Match Registry means volunteering to be listed as a potential blood stem cell donor, ready to save the life of any patient in need of a transplant. If you are between the ages of 18-44, patients especially need you because research shows that cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants. To make the best use of our resources, individuals ages 45-60 are required to cover their own cost of joining ($100).
• New York Has World-Class Hospitals. Why Is It So Bad for People in Need of Transplants? (Ted Alcorn, NY Times, 7-11-18) New York has the lowest rate of organ donor registration in the country. Thousands languish on wait lists, and hundreds needlessly die every year.
• Using Tweets and Posts to Speed Up Organ Donation (David Bornstein, NY Times, 5-10-16). First of two articles. The second is Finding Organ Donors Concealed in Plain Sight (David Bornstein, NY Times, 5-17-16). Read the story and then the comments.
• A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boy's Gift to Medical Science by Sarah Gray. Her son Thomas lived only a few days, but he had--and continues to have--an impact in helping medical researchers around the world. An inspiring and informative book.
• Can animals ever be organ donors for humans? (Grace Niewijk, National Association of Science Writers blog, 3-9-18) Not yet, but here's what scientists are thinking -- coverage of AAAS meeting.
• Don’t Throw Out Your Organ Donor Card After 65 (Paula Span, Health, NY Times, 8-12-16) "The fact that I’m over 65 doesn’t disqualify me (or you). In fact, it makes us particularly desirable as donors, living or dead, for older recipients, who represent a growing proportion of transplant patients."
• To See for One’s Self (Darin L. Wolfe, American Scientist, March 2010). The case for cutting more people open after they die, so that we can continue benefiting from a medical procedure that has taught us more about the human body than anything else. "In the past, the study of the dead was integral to the education of young physicians and pathologists. It was also the standard for measuring the quality of medical care on an individual and national scale. Can it be that our knowledge has advanced so far that we no longer need to look within ourselves?"
• The Body Trade: Cashing in on the donated dead A Reuters series about how, in the U.S. market for human bodies, anyone can sell the donated dead. "No federal law regulates body brokers like BRC, and no U.S. government agency monitors what happens to cadavers pledged for use in medical education and research."
---In the U.S. market for human bodies, almost anyone can dissect and sell the dead (Brian Grow and John Shiffman, Reuters, 10-24-17) When Americans leave their bodies to science, they are also donating to commerce: Cadavers and body parts, especially those of the poor, are sold in a thriving and largely unregulated market. Grisly abuses abound.
---A Reuters journalist bought human body parts, then learned a donor's heart-wrenching story (Brian Grow and John Shiffman, Reuters, 10-25-17) After a few emails, a body broker sold reporter Brian Grow two heads and a cervical spine. The spine came from a young man whose parents were too poor to bury him – and they say they never knew his body would be sold. The body trade hinges on access to a large supply of free bodies. These often come from the poor.
---How the body of an Arizona great-grandmother ended up as part of a U.S. Army blast test (John Shiffman, Reuters, 12-23-16) Her family hoped Doris Stauffer’s body would be used to study Alzheimer’s. The story of how she became the subject of a Pentagon experiment casts a spotlight on a growing and unregulated industry: human body brokers.
---The Human Tissue Trade: Meet the Body Brokers (Brian Grow, Reuters TV, 10-24-17)
---Special Report: How and Why Reuters Purchased Bodies for Its Investigation (Brian Grow and John Shiffman, Reuters, NY Times, 10-25-17) Reuters spent more than a year examining the workings of a multimillion-dollar industry that dissects, rents and sells the donated dead. Such firms are sometimes called body brokers, but they prefer to be known as non-transplant tissue banks. They acquire, usually for free, bodies that have been donated to science. Then they often cut those bodies into pieces and sell the parts for hundreds or thousands of dollars each. The buyers are typically medical researchers, device makers and groups that train doctors.
• Vincent, Eleanor. Swimming with Maya: A Mother's Story by Eleanor Vincent. How her daughter's fall from a horse ended in organ donations--transforming a mother's grief.
• In death, a promise for the future. As her world diminished, Elizabeth Uyehara signed her body over to researchers to help unravel the mystery of Lou Gehrig's disease. (Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 8-28-10, on the course of Uyehara's ALS and on what happens when organs are donated for science)
• I’d rather be dissected (Brooke Borel, Aeon, 10-4-13)
• The Gift of Life: 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation.
• What to Consider Before Donating. Five questions to ask yourself. (American Transplant Foundation)
• A Struggle To Define 'Death' For Organ Donors (Rob Stein, Morning Edition, 3-28-12). Listen or read online. A new method of obtaining organs for transplantation is raising a host of ethical questions, including whether the donors are technically "dead."
• Organ Donation and the Opioid Epidemic: ‘An Unexpected Life-Saving Legacy’ (Martha Bebinger, WBUR, Kaiser Health News, 10-19-16) So far this year, more than one in four, or 27 percent, of organ donations in New England are from people who died after a drug overdose. Nationally, that rate is 12 percent for the same time period. Alexandra Glazier, president and CEO of the New England Organ Bank said the 12 transplant centers in that region may be more aggressive about finding a match for patients with failing hearts, livers or kidneys. And she said New Englanders tend to be pragmatic about end-of-life decisions.
• The Solvable Problem of Organ Shortages (Jane E. Brody, NY Times, Health, 8-28-07)
• New Procedure Allows Kidney Transplants From Any Donor (Gina Kolata, NY Times, 3-9-16) Clint Smith had a procedure that altered his immune system to allow his body to accept a kidney from an incompatible donor. It “changed my life,” he said. "Although by far the biggest use of desensitization would be for kidney transplants, the process might be suitable for living-donor transplants of livers and lungs, researchers said. The liver is less sensitive to antibodies so there is less need for desensitization."
• What Happens When A Living Kidney Donor Needs A Transplant? (Zhai Yun Tan, Kaiser Health News, 9-1-16) Becoming a living kidney donor can be a heroic act, but it has its downsides: increased risks of health complications and occasionally, diseases that may create the need for the donor to have a kidney transplant later in life. Since 1996, they have been given priority status to shorten their time on the donor waiting list. But they don't always know about their priority status. Here's what to know.
• Marrow: A Love Story by Elizabeth Lesser. The memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.
• ‘She’s pretty special:’ Defying odds, the D.C. area’s first heart transplant patient is still alive 30 years later (Colby Itkowitz, WaPo, 12-27-16) "Meanwhile, Lefrak, then a 43-year-old cardiac surgeon at Fairfax Hospital, had spent the better part of three years learning the techniques of heart transplants. In between his operations, he would slip into the morgue to practice, until the act of removing a heart and replacing it with another became almost second nature."
For children's heart transplants, check out regional heart transplant centers, such as Children's Hospital Boston, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Children's Hospital Denver
• For Living Donors, Many Risks to Weigh (Jane E. Brody, NY Times, 9-4-07)
• A doctor turns to social media for organ donation (Yul Ejnes, Kevin MD, 7-29-16) Turns out it's not that uncommon for patients in renal failure to turn to Facebook to help find a donor. See Insides Trading: What Impact Will Facebook Have on Organ Donations? (Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American, 5-29-12) People are turning to social media to bridge the chasm between those in need of life-saving organs and those who can help. This offers hope but also introduces risks.
• Donor family resources (American Association of Tissue Banks, AATB)
• Read inspiring donor stories. Why organ, eye, and tissue donations? 121,675 people are waiting for an organ; 22 people will die each day waiting for an organ; 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives. Read the stories and the numbers.
• A Medical Dimension to a Religious Debate (Anthony Ramirez, NY Times, 11-18-06) "According to Jewish law, when can an observant Jew donate a loved one’s organs for life-saving transplant operations? More broadly, when does life end and death begin?"
• Religious views on organ donation (Organdonor.gov)
• Anatomical gifts (Empowering Caregivers)
• Finding a Donor (for bone marrow transplants)
• Organ Donation and Organ Transplant Stories (Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network)
• Stories of organ, eye, and tissue donation (Colby Foundation -- stories of loss and of hope)
• Frozen embryo 'open adoption' raises hopes, questions (TODAY Parents, 2-27-12) "Carmen Olalde really wanted children. She went through years of infertility treatment and IVF, then a difficult pregnancy, to have her twins. And as her twins turned four, she realized that two kids were enough. But she still had four frozen embryos from her last IVF cycle....Meet the modern “open adoption” family – at least two hopeful humans and one embryo, brought together by science, trust, complicated legalities and a goodly bit of luck."
• Donor's Death Shatters Family, Stuns Surgeon (Liz Kowalczyk, Boston Globe, 2-2-14) Pure generosity drove Paul Hawks to donate part of his liver to his desperately ill brother-in-law. Then disaster struck, and transplant medicine has had to rethink its rules.
• The Frozen Children: The Rise—and Complications—of Embryo Adoption in the U.S. ( Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, Pacific-Standard, 5-5-14) More efficient than in vitro fertilization and cheaper than traditional adoption, embryo adoption, which also provides parents with the experience of carrying a child, is becoming more popular. But our legislature is still struggling with serious legal issues surrounding the practice.
• Cash for Kidneys: The Case for a Market for Organs (Gary S. Becker and Julio J. Elias, WSJ, 1-18-14) There is a clear remedy for the growing shortage of organ donors.
• Meeting the growing demand for kidney transplantation in older CKD patients (Kidney International, official journal of the International Society of Nephrology). •‘Enlarging the donor pool by accepting expanded-criteria donors: ≥60 years old or ≥50 with any two of the following conditions: history of hypertension, serum creatinine ≥1.5 mg/dl, or death due to cerebrovascular accident. •‘Old for old’: preferentially using kidneys from older living donors for older recipients •Transplanting two marginal kidneys instead of one.
• Inside the growing global market of organ trafficking (PBS NewsHour, 8-17-14) Nearly 4,000 people die every year in the United States waiting for a kidney transplant. And while it's illegal almost everywhere, there is a thriving global market of organ trafficking. Kevin Sack of The New York Times, who’s been investigating the global organ trade, joins Hari Sreenivasan.
• Who owns your body? Legal issues on the ownership of bodily material. L. Skene, Trends Mol Med., 1-9-02, on PubMed) Who owns your body and parts removed from it? Can you legally sell your bodily material--or information derived from it? Can you legally prevent other people gaining access to your excised bodily material, including your blood relatives who might need your tissue or genetic information for their own genetic tests? What legal remedies are there if people take or use your bodily material without your consent? And why are the answers to these questions vitally important for scientists?
• Who Owns Your Body Parts? (Reason.com, 2-7-07) Everyone's making money in the market for body tissue -- except the donors. "Alistair Cooke's body lay cold in the embalming room of an East Harlem funeral home, suspended in the brief limbo between death and cremation. A 'cutter' soon arrived to make a collection. He sliced open Cooke's legs, sawed the bones from the hip, and took them away. Cooke had died on March 30, 2004, the victim of a cancer that spread from lung to bone. He left behind a 95-year-old disease-ridden corpse. Susan Kittredge, Cooke's daughter, was mindful only of the potentially exorbitant funerary expenses and flipped through the yellow pages in search of a good price. She eventually settled on a funeral home with a $595 cremation fee....Alistair Cooke's remains were only the most famous of more than a thousand bodies plundered by Michael Mastromarino, owner of Biomedical Tissue Services (BTS). He had a simple business model: Pay funeral directors for access to bodies and resell bones, heart valves, spines, and other tissues to biotech firms in need of spare parts."
• United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) A nonprofit organization in Richmond Va. UNOS administers the country's only Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which includes the organ transplant waiting list. Essential database for the transplant world.
• The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration)
• The Alliance The mission of the Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance, commonly known as the Alliance, was to expand and extend the work of the Organ Donation National Breakthrough Collaborative to achieve and maintain a national conversion rate of 75% and an organ transplant rate of 3.75 organs per donor. The clickable map allows you to review the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) legislation in each state. These state laws facilitate organ and tissue donation commitments and make transplants happen.
• American Association of Tissue Banks (offer the gift of cells and tissues)
• American Board of Transplant Coordinators
• American Red Cross
• American Society of Transplantation
• American Transplant Foundation
• Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO)
• Home for Donor Families (National Kidney Foundation)
• LifeQuest Anatomical. Donate a body to scientific research and education. "Funerals are expensive. Cremation is free, when you donate a body to science with LifeQuest Anatomical (pending acceptance)." (Even in death we can be rejected!)
• Living Donor Committee (part of Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network)
• Living Kidney Donors Network
• National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) Many organs and tissues not suitable for transplant can be donated for research, giving individuals and families the opportunity to advance medical science and contribute to the development of new treatments and cures. NDRI’s experience in providing anatomical gifts for research is unmatched. Many organ procurement organizations (OPOs) work exclusively with NDRI to manage their organ and tissue research programs. Organs and tissue for research purposes often must come from very specific patient populations -- for example, patients with autism, diabetes, TBI. See the list of organ and tissue types that go to various types of research.
• National Marrow Donor Program ("Be the Match")
• Organize (a place to register as an organ donor)
• Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO). By federal law, all OPOs must be members of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). All OPOs are also members of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations. Find links to state organizations here.
• Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR)
• State Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) (ScienceCare)
• Science Care. Call toll-free: 1.800.417.3747. Whole body donation (Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware. Florida. Illinois, Pennsylvania). See A Comparison Guide: Burial, Cremations and Donation
• Blood Transfusions and Donations (MedlinePlus) The facts.
• Donating Blood Questions and Answers (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
• How You Can Help Medical Research: Donating Your Blood, Tissue, and Other Samples (PDF, National Cancer Institute)
• Blood and Diversity (American Red Cross)
• Hosting a Blood Drive (American Red Cross)
• Blood and bone marrow donation (Mayo Clinic)
• What happens to donated blood? (Red Cross)
• Blood Donation Lines for Las Vegas Shooting Victims Stretch for Blocks (Christine Hauser, NY Times, 10-2-17) The altruism of blood donations.
• Too Old to Donate Blood? (Roni Caryn Rabin, Ask Well, NY Times, 9-23-16) In general you can never be too old to donate blood. Though you can be too young or too thin.
• Blood Screening FAQs: Parasites - American Trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas Disease) (CDC)
• Whistle-Blowing AIDS Doctor Reflects on Roots of Epidemic in China (Luo Siling, NY Times, 12-1-16) "Dr. Gao started her investigations and discovered an unsanitary blood collection and sales network, abetted by local officials, that had spread tainted blood throughout the region. Many residents were selling their blood, which was pooled with blood from other donors." 'A cautionary tale about how greed and ignorance combine to kill people.'
• Is Money Tainting the Plasma Supply? (Andrew Pollack, NY Times, 12-5-09) Hundreds, probably thousands, of Mexicans like Ms. Delgado come to the United States to trade their plasma for dollars. There are about 17 plasma collection centers in border cities from Brownsville, Tex., to Yuma, Ariz. The centers are run by pharmaceutical companies that transform the plasma into life-saving but expensive medicines for diseases like immune deficiencies and hemophilia. They "illustrate the workings of the $12 billion plasma products business, a fast-growing industry that has depended on the blood of people hard up for cash. Based on typical industry yields and prevailing prices, it appears that a single plasma donation, for which a donor might be paid $30, results in pharmaceutical products worth at least $300." “Why in the United States do we have to depend on people who are down and out to donate?” says Dr. Roger Kobayashi, an immunologist in Omaha who uses plasma products to treat many patients....the industry has made a lot of efforts in recent years to shed its skid row image by building some centers in middle-class areas and by promoting altruistic reasons for donating plasma....The United States is one of the few countries that allows plasma donors to be paid." Sidebar:
Drawing Plasma and Scrutiny Along the Border (slide show with captions).
• U.K. Orders New Inquiry Into Contaminated-Blood Scandal (Dan Bilefsky, NY Times, 7-11-17) Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into how contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s resulted in the deaths of at least 2,400 people and infected thousands more, an episode that members of Parliament have called “one of the worst peacetime disasters in Britain’s history.”
• United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) A nonprofit organization in Richmond Va. UNOS administers the country's only Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which includes the organ transplant waiting list.
• The Organ Transplant Process (Organdonor.gov)
• UNOS Transplant Living (2011 data on medical costs of living transplants). Does not include travel costs, etc., and focuses on first year.
• 2014 U.S. organ and tissue transplant cost estimates and discussion (Millman Research Report) Medical costs, primary diagnoses, waiting times and survival rates, 2012 recipient demographics, data about deceased and living donors.
• Here's What Every Organ in the Body Would Cost to Transplant (Nicolas Rapp and Anne VanderMey, Fortune, 9-14-17) Cornea, $30,000; single lung, $862,000; kidney, $415,000; heart, $1.4 million, etc.
• What You Need to Know About Organ Transplants (WebMD) Organ transplants include kidney, pancreas, liver, heart, lung, and intestine. Vascularized composite allografts (VCAs), are now also possible, including face and hand transplantation. Sometimes, "double" transplants are done, such as kidney/pancreas or heart/lung.
• Cost-effectiveness of pediatric heart transplantation. (Dayton JD, Kanter KR, Vincent RN, Mahle WT, J Heart Lung Transplant, 4-2006, on PubMed) "The mean cost of initial hospitalization and organ procurement was $221,897 per patient for primary transplant and $285,296 per patient for re-transplant. Annual follow-up costs were estimated to be $18,141 in the first year (excluding the first 90 days post-transplant) and $18,480 per year thereafter. Under base-case assumptions, costs per QALY gained were $49,679 for primary transplantation and $87,883 for re-transplantation." (Wikipedia: "The quality-adjusted life year or quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) is a generic measure of disease burden, including both the quality and the quantity of life lived. It is used in economic evaluation to assess the value for money of medical interventions. One QALY equates to one year in perfect health.") Conclusion: Costs of primary pediatric heart transplantation are within the accepted range of cost effectiveness. Pediatric heart re-transplantation has higher costs relative to benefits gained owing to shorter graft survival.
• 10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Organ Transplants (Jennifer J. Brown, Everyday Health). Transplanted organs don't last forever. A transplanted organ can carry a hidden disease along with it. The cost of donating an organ as a living donor may be too high for you. Being a living organ donor could cost you your life insurance. Transplant tourism may be risky for your health and unfair for organ donors. And five more, with details.
• Through Organ Donation, A Heart Lives On (Scott Simon, Weekend Edition, WAMU-FM, 8-13-16) When Michael Stepien died, his family decided to donate his organs to help save lives. Michael Stepien's heart was transplanted into Arthur Thomas, a school counselor in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and a father of four who had been diagnosed with a heart disease 16 years before. He was in a hospital, close to death.
• Liver transplant distribution changed after years of debate (Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post, 12-4-17) After years of debate, the organization that oversees the allocation of livers for transplant took steps Monday to address a long-standing geographic disparity in supply of the scarce organs. The policy approved by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network will make more livers available in some places — including cities such as New York and Chicago — where the shortage is more severe than it is in regions such as the southeastern United States. The policy "does not consider liver donation rates, which vary sharply across the country. n Region 9, for example, which includes New York, just 327 livers were donated in 2016, continuing a pattern of meager procurement that goes back decades. In Region 3, which includes the Deep South and Puerto Rico, 1,336 livers were obtained from deceased donors. That is partly because the Deep South is the center of the nation’s “stroke belt,” where higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes lead to fatal strokes, leaving more donors with intact livers. Many Southern states also have above-average death rates from traffic accidents. Overall, however, there are far too few livers available for the people who need them. Last year, 7,841 livers from deceased donors were transplanted in the United States, while 14,000 people remained on the national waiting list. More than a thousand people die on the waiting list every year."
• Some U.S. Hospitals Don’t Put Americans First for Liver Transplants (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, and Lee Zurik, Fox 8 WVUE New Orleans, 11-20-17) At a time when there aren’t enough livers for ailing Americans, wealthy foreigners fly here for transplants. Earlier this fall, a leader of the busiest hospital for organ transplants in New York state — where livers are particularly scarce — pleaded for fairer treatment for ailing New Yorkers. That hospital’s own contribution to the shortage? From 2013 to 2016, it gave 20 livers to foreign nationals who came to the United States solely for a transplant — essentially exporting the organs and removing them from the pool available to New Yorkers.
• People with autism, intellectual disabilities fight bias in transplants (Lenny Bernstein, WaPo, 3-4-17) "Beyond some restrictions imposed by laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, the doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers at 815 U.S. transplant programs are free to take neurocognitive disabilities such as autism into consideration any way they want. As a result, there is wide variation from program to program."
• Understanding the Organ Transplant Process (Diane Rehm Show, 3-29-12) Former Vice President Cheney’s heart transplant drew attention to organ donation. Diane and a panel of experts discuss how recipients are chosen and what potential donors need to know.
• Transplant Process (Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Resources)
• Stories of hope (organ donations) (DonateLife)
• Organ Donation and Organ Transplant Stories. (Gift of Life stories from the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network)
• True Stories About Transplant (American Transplant Foundation)
• Two sisters receive lung transplants from the same donor (AP story, NY Daily News, 1-22-14)
• The Hollywood Exec and the Hand Transplant That Changed His Life (Amy Wallace, Los Angeles Magazine, 3-29-17) This groundbreaking hand transplant would not have been succeeded had not the patient been remarkably healthy before becoming near-fatally damaged by septic shock, and had not various medical institutions and people decided to cooperate fully. Informative and a great read.
• Stories of Hope (The Colby Foundation) Stories of organ, eye, and tissue donation are stories of loss and also of hope.
• Personal Stories About Organ Donation and Transplantation (LifeOnNY)
• Transplant patient stories (Mayo Clinic)
• You Say Repugnant, I Say … Let's Do It! (Freakonomics radio, 12-30-10) Full transcript.
• Human Organs for Sale, Legally, in … Which Country? (Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics, 4-29-08)
• Will China's Organ-Transplant Reforms Really Work? (Yaqiu Wang, The Atlantic, 9-11-13) The medical agency claims it's making policy changes, but recent scandals and a lack of transparency have the public questioning how successful they will be.
• Compatible Pairs (National Kidney Registry) A compatible pair is a donor and patient that are biologically compatible but want to find a better match through a paired exchange swap.
• An Overview of Living Kidney Transplantation (Living Kidney Donors Network)
• Parent-to-child and child-to-parent kidney transplants. Experience with 101 transplants at one centre. (PubMed.gov) 101 first transplants were done in patients with end-stage renal disease using kidneys from parents or offspring....These results, taken in concert with the poor results of cadaver transplantation, the relative safety of donation, the high personal motivation to donate in these groups, and the personal satisfaction derived by the donor, strongly support the policy of informing potential recipients of the benefits of parental or offspring kidney donation.
• First kidney swap at St. Louis Children's Hospital allows two parents to help their children (Michele Munz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1-29-15)
• Organ Donation And The Opioid Epidemic: ‘An Unexpected Life-Saving Legacy’ (Martha Bebinger, WBUR, on KHN, 10-19-16) Chris’s LePage's liver is now working in the body of a 62-year-old pastor. His case is one among the more than nine-fold increase so far in donations from drug users across New England since 2010. So far this year, more than one in four, or 27 percent, of donations in New England are from people who died after a drug overdose.
• Wisconsin reporter explored the science of organ transplants (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, Association of Health Care Journalists, 9-7-16) News features on organ transplants often focus on a specific success story. But there’s far more under the surface when it comes to the issue of organ donation and policies surrounding them.
• Reporting all the angles on organ transplants and improving their odds (David Wahlberg, Association of Health Care Journalists, 9-6-16)
• Life after living organ donation not always bright (David Wahlberg, Wisconsin State Journal, 9-13-15) Living organ donors, who undergo major surgery with no direct benefit to themselves, usually have few if any complications, studies say. But the selfless act of giving away a kidney or part of a liver doesn’t always have a fairy-tale ending.
• Consent for organ donation strengthened through registries (David Wahlberg, Wisconsin State Journal, 7-5-15) When Henry Mackaman got his driver’s license, he registered to be an organ donor.
• Doctors Are Using Diseased Organs To Save Lives. Here’s How (Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, 10-26-17) “Now that hepatitis C is curable, we can use these organs and not worry about an increase in mortality,” says Dr. Rhondalyn McLean, medical director of the hospital’s heart-transplant program. “This offered an opportunity to expand the donor pool.”
• The New Transplant Revolution (Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, 8-25-16) "Penis transplants are estimated to cost $50,000 to $75,000, a uterus transplant is estimated to range from $150,000 to over $500,000, and a face transplant can cost up to $1 million. As of now, hospitals are largely footing the bills--this is research for them, after all--and in some cases, the physicians are volunteering their time. Since the procedures are experimental, they are not yet covered by insurance."
• Interactive: Organ donations after circulatory death (Laura Sparks, Wisconsin State Journal, 7-6-15) The rate of donation after circulatory death, an alternative to the more common donation after brain death, varies around the country. UW Hospital, which ranked sixth last year among 58 donation areas, is considered a leader in the practice.
• Cyclist's Organs Donated to 5 People (Madison.com, 5-15-05)
• When drinkers suffer liver disease, should getting a transplant be so hard? (Alexandra Rockey Fleming, Washington Post,1-29-17)
• Prisoner Organ Harvesting in China (Greg Portz, Investigative Roundup, MedpageToday, 6-26-19) Prisoners from minority populations in Chinese detainment camps are being used as sources for organ harvesting, sometimes when detainees are still alive, an international, nongovernmental tribunal concluded. NBC News reports that detainees of marginalized groups, such as the Falun Gong and possibly Uighur Muslims, are targeted; their organs are fueling an estimated $1-billion transplant industry in China. Allegations of forced organ harvesting first surfaced in 2001....The tribunal stopped short of calling the organ extractions "genocide" because they couldn't conclusively determine the motive.
• Donated organs kept ‘alive’ may ease the transplant shortage (Lenny Bernstein, WaPo, 5-22-16)
• Common Health Problems After an Organ Transplant
• At St. Luke’s in Houston, Patients Suffer as a Renowned Heart Transplant Program Loses Its Luster (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, and Mike Hixenbaugh, Houston Chronicle, 5-16-18) The hospital and its legendary surgeon Denton Cooley performed some of the world’s first heart transplants back in the 1960s. In recent years, though, it has had some of the worst heart transplant outcomes in the country. St. Luke’s heart transplant survival rate, the most important measure of a program’s quality, now ranks near the bottom nationally, according to the most recently published data.
• Heart Failure (Mike Hixenbaugh, Houston Chronicle, and Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, 5-22-18) At St. Luke’s in Houston: A heart transplant, a medical mishap and a drawn-out death
• As Houston Methodist’s Lung Program Grew, So Did Its Rate of Failed Transplants (Mike Hixenbaugh, Houston Chronicle and ProPublica, 11-30-18) After becoming the nation’s busiest lung transplant program six years ago, the hospital scaled back the number and difficulty of transplants it performed. For some patients, that meant having to look elsewhere for treatment.
• The Devastating Allure of Medical Miracles (David Dobbs, Wired, 2-18-19) Excellent piece on the specific difficulty of hand transplants: of "the 31 known US hand transplant patients, at least 12 have had serious setbacks." "The body has a fierce need to protect itself. It does so by turning its immune system against any foreign body—an obvious obstacle to accepting another person’s organ....Managing immunosuppressive drugs, says Yale transplant nephrologist Richard Formica, is a delicate art. You want to give enough medication to restrain the immune system from attacking the transplanted organ, but not so much that it harms the kidneys or other organs. In some patients, you find this sweet spot easily; in others, you find it elusive."...a 27-page consent form includes "a warning about the drug’s possible 'toxicity to the nervous system (brain, nerves), kidneys, or liver.' An appendix further warned of side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, abdominal pain, and 'kidney injury.'”
• Trump Administration Proposes Weakening Rules Governing Organ Transplant Centers (Mike Hixenbaugh, Houston Chronicle, and Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, 9-21-18) The revised rules, proposed this week as part of the agency’s efforts to reduce “burdensome” federal regulations, would no longer penalize hospitals if too many of their patients die following transplants. St. Luke’s in Houston recently lost its Medicare funding for heart transplants for that very reason.
• Some U.S. Hospitals Don’t Put Americans First for Liver Transplants (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, and Lee Zurik, Fox 8 WVUE New Orleans, 11-20-17) At a time when there aren’t enough livers for ailing Americans, wealthy foreigners fly here for transplants. Some hospitals even seek out foreign patients in need of a transplant. A Saudi Arabian company, Ansaq Medical Co., whose stated aim is to “facilitate the procedures and mechanisms of ‘medical tourism,’” said it signed an agreement with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans in 2015. Dr. Sander Florman, director of the transplant institute at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said he struggles with “in essence, selling the organs we do have to foreign nationals with bushels of money.”
• Some U.S. Hospitals Don’t Put Americans First for Liver Transplants (Charles Ornstein, Pro Publica, and Lee Zurik, Fox 8, WVUE, 11-20-17) At a time when there aren’t enough livers for ailing Americans, wealthy foreigners fly here for transplants.
"Charity refers to the direct relief of suffering and social problems. Philanthropy systematically seeks out root causes of these issues and endeavors to find a solution. As John Rockefeller said, "The best philanthropy is constantly in search of the finalities—a search for a cause, an attempt to cure evils at their source." ~ Karen Goetz, "Philanthropy vs. Charity- What's the difference?" Richard Shineman Foundation
• The Philanthropy Workshop. Read the TPW blog.
• Charity Finds Success in Work With At-Risk Children, but It’s Costly (Paul Sullivan, NY Times, 1-25-19) Friends of the Children began in Portland and is now in 15 cities. It's core model is to help the most at-risk or most vulnerable children--the most troubled, challenging children--with paid mentors, who provide consistent, continuous help. Finding mentors who value education and can connect with children is important--consistency with one positive adult can make a difference. The charity draws donors on both sides of the political spectrum.
• The Chronicle of Philanthropy
• Pity Meghan Markle: How our divided world is making any celebrity philanthropy political (Ainsley Harris, Fast Company, 11-22-19) As more and more issues become associated with politics, celebrities who want to give back have an ever-narrowing list of causes they can get behind without alienating large swaths of their fans. Recent history suggests that even the most anodyne of philanthropic causes is not immune. The trend is a boon for organizations with a clear identity associated with the right or left, like the National Rifle Association or Planned Parenthood. But is it "left-leaning" to call out serial rapists or save women from death in childbirth?
• What’s Inspiring Anti-Trump Charity Donations? Hope, Not Anger ( Ben Paynter, Fast Company, 4-26-18)The term “rage philanthropy” was coined after the 2016 election, describing the surge in charitable giving to causes that seemed threatened by the president’s isolationist and ethnocentric viewpoint. But calling it “rage philanthropy” isn’t exactly accurate. "After hope and empowerment, which well over half of all respondents reported feeling (the averages were 63% and 58%, respectively) other key drivers appear to be sadness and joy. Anger ranks fifth overall, with only about of a quarter of those giving citing it as a primary motivation, just ahead of anxiety."
• Our Climate Change And Health “Moment”: How Philanthropy Can Help (Matt James, Health Affairs, 3-30-17) Very informative, with helpful links to organizations and articles on the subject. Points out where the most funding/research/work is needed.
• ‘James Bond of Philanthropy’ Gives Away the Last of His Fortune (Jim Dwyer, NY Times, 1-5-17) At 81, Charles F. Feeney, who had started and funded a group of charities under the name Atlantic Philanthropies, and who aspired to "giving while living," decided to give away most of the $1.5 billion left in his philanthropy fund within 5 years (by 2016). Starting in 1982, he gave away most of his wealth in secrecy. He helped support Belfast embracing electoral politics and "paid to create a public health system in Vietnam, and to provide access to antiretroviral treatment for AIDS in southern Africa," among other admirable choices. Insisting on anonymity "was also a way to leverage more donations — some other individual might contribute to get the naming rights.” (The anti-Trump)
• Foundation Source provides comprehensive support services for private foundations
• The Elevator Pitch (Stanford Magazine, Jan.Feb 2017) Inside the Business School's ambitious venture to lift people out of poverty. 'Devout Christians, the Kings are deeply troubled by the increasing worldwide disparity between the haves and have-nots. They are also firm believers in the power of free markets and capitalism to transform society.... When Seed approaches small business people in Africa and says, You can be a regional leader. You can be a global leader. You can employ large numbers of people and help eradicate poverty. You just need to scale up, to transform, “this does not make everyone jump up,” Kitcher says. But for those for whom the message resonates, it seems to do so on a life-changing frequency." O.T. Aderinwale, CEO of Justrite, a Nigerian chain of big-box discount stores, says that after an STP module on design thinking, “My brain just opened . . . I became a changed person.” It had taken her 11 years to open her second store. In the past three years, she’s opened four more and plans to open another 34 by 2021. [By contrast:] Since 1960, Ghana and Nigeria—the two countries where Seed has been most active—have received the equivalent of more than $90 billion in foreign assistance, much of it to little enduring effect. Former Seed coach Hans Nilsson, MBA ’83, says handouts and Western-style democracy have been “a bad combination.” The development money floods in and “evaporates.”
• Private Equity-Like Fund Aims to Speed Up Diabetes Research (Paul Sullivan, Wealth Matters, NY Times, 7-28-17) The goal of the T1D Fund, which received $32 million in seed funding from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, is to speed new products to market.
• How Mark Zuckerberg is giving away his billions (David McCabe, Axios, 7-28-17) Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, physician Priscilla Chan, are staking out positions as philanthropists in education, affordable housing, science, and criminal justice, according to an Axios analysis of public disclosures, press reports, and statements provided by grantees of their Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
• Is Charity Bad? Is Philanthropy Better? (PDF, David P. King, Insights, Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, part 1 of 2, Sept. 2016). Is philanthropy's job to move people beyond charity ("emotional responses to a need" which make giver feel good) to philanthropy, and more strategic approaches to long-term problem-solving, works to do away with the causes that necessitate charity"?
• Effective Altruism: A Primer (Christine Emba, Washington Post, 9-8-15) "Is it wrong to help your neighbor rather than a needier stranger in Bangladesh? Should we value art museums as much as we do homeless shelters? How should you give? How can you do the most good? For those seeking better ways to answer those questions, a new philosophy for giving is gaining traction — especially among younger and more quantitatively-driven potential philanthropists. 'Effective altruism'... leans on utilitarian principles to say that it is a moral responsibility not only to give to charity but also to optimize your charitable donations to ensure that they are as “high-impact” as possible."
• Paul Allen’s Philanthropy Mirrors His Passions and Business Approach (Quentin Hardy, NY Times, 11-2-15) Like many of his ultrarich peers in tech, Mr. Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, has allocated much of his giving to efforts seeking big breakthroughs that will transform society. Unlike refineries and steel plants, the software and biological businesses of the information age arise from small teams of gifted individuals who don’t require a lot of infrastructure to get rich. Their products get big fast. This has led to a mentality of shock and awe, or so-called venture philanthropy, which seeds with relatively small amounts of money projects that seem as if they could make an outsize difference.
• Give Well, in-depth charity research to find evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, underfunded charities
• Giving it away: philanthropy and medicine (Common Sense Family Doctor, 7-25-16) "Hospitals and health care organizations are similar to institutions of higher education in that both have skyrocketing costs, little transparency, and few objective measures of quality. They are also alike in that they rely on philanthropy to supplement the income they receive from patients/students and insurers/lenders.
• Food Fight (Malcolm Gladwell, Revisionist History podcast, Bowdoin College in Maine and Vassar College in upstate New York are roughly the same size. They compete for the same students. Both have long traditions of academic excellence. But one of those schools is trying hard to close the gap between rich and poor in American society—and paying a high price for its effort. The other is making that problem worse—and reaping rewards as a result. “Food Fight,” the second of the three-part miniseries on opening up college to poor kids, focuses on a seemingly unlikely target: how the food each school serves in its cafeteria can improve or distort the educational system. In this segment, food students are served at one college is far more delicious than food served at the other, but the endowment devoted to financial aid is greater at the school with mediocre meals for students. Gladwell argues that if you want to advance social justice, choose the school that values supporting education for poor students over serving rich meals.
• For Guidance, Would-Be Philanthropists Turn to Peers (Paul Sullivan, Wealth Matters, NY Times, 11-13-15) Many struggle with the arcana of setting up a foundation, and with questions on risk: Giving to big institutions is safe; social change is difficult.
• Traditional charity fosters love. Effective altruism doesn’t. (Jeremy Beer, Washington Post, 9-11=15) Jeremy Beer is author of The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity . "In this marvelous history of American charitable giving, Jeremy Beer helps us see what we have lost in the triumph of outcomes-focused and "scientific" philanthropy. He argues for the recovery of an older face-to-face charity that humanizes both giver and recipient."~ R.R. Reno, editor of First Things
• When Family Members Run Foundations, Scrutiny Never Ends (Paul Sullivan, Wealth Matters, NY Times, 9-11-15) The penalties for spending a private foundation’s money inappropriately are severe. Family giving is serious work.
• Wealthy Donors Don’t Get Giving Advice They Want (Doug Donovan, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 10-9-13) Provide more than tax advice, please; understand a client's charitable passions and what may be holding them back.
• Most Americans aren’t “efficient” philanthropists. That’s a good thing. (William Schambra, Washington Post, 9-9-15)
• Billionaire Pledges to Pay All Student Loan Debts for This College’s Entire Graduating Class (Sara Barnes, My Modern Met, 5-20-19) Robert F. Smith received his honorary doctorate from Morehouse College and gave the 2019 commencement address--surprising the 400 members of the graduating class by pledging to wipe out their student debt.
• Donations: The gift that keeps on giving for donors (Shelly Schwartz, special to CNBC.com, 7-16-15). Philanthropy is a catalyst for positive change, but it can also be a powerful estate-planning tool. By leaving money to charities, donors get to align their personal values and interests with their financial goals—ensuring a portion of their wealth is used to support causes they care about even after they are gone.
• A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explore how altruism affects us, the markers for success, and how to avoid the pitfalls.
• How Three U.S. Mini-farms Are Sowing the Seeds of Global Food Security (Bob Cooper, Civil Eats, 8-26-16). A different type of legacy. Tiny, biointensive operations show smallholder farmers from around the world how they can grow far more food than conventional approaches. See Resources (Civil Eats)
• Wealthy Donors Don’t Get Giving Advice They Want
• Major Foundations, Eager for Big Change, Aim High (David Gelles, Giving, NY Times, 10-31-15) Some of America’s biggest private foundations are focusing on major issues like climate change, a broken criminal justice system, and income inequality with an eye toward rapid results.
• Giving with Confidence by Colburn Wilbur (former CEO of the Packard Foundation) with Fred Setterberg
• Inspired Philanthropy: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan and Leaving a Legacy by Tracy Gary with Nancy Adess
• The Seven Faces of Philanthropy: A New Approach to Cultivating Major Donors by by Russ Alan Prince (Author), Karen Maru File (Author)
• Toward a new gospel of wealth (Darren Walker, Ford Foundation, 10-1-15) A widely read, thoughtful look at how to address income inequality. Now is the time for philanthropy to reimagine a "gospel of giving."
"Good people treat others as they would like to be treated.
"Generous people treat others better than they would like to be treated.
"Wise people do not indulge in being either good or generous. Instead, they treat people as they need to be treated" – Sufi Proverb found on Seedlings, John A. Warnick's blog post about The Pillars of Purposeful Philanthropy
• When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good. Strategies for effective poverty alleviation catalyze the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out.
• Bad news for charities: those calendars and address labels don’t pay off (Jonathan Meer, MarketWatch, 12-21-18) Charities may get more donations, but the extra money doesn’t cover the cost of even a cheap plastic luggage tag.
• Bad Charity: Is foreign aid bad for Africa? (Nick Wadhams, Time, 5-12-10) People looking to help the poor often think so-called goods-in-kind donations are a way to help, but flooding African countries with second-hand tee shirts makes it harder for domestically produced clothing to find a market. "A vast body of research shows that foreign aid has done little to spur economic growth in Africa — and may have actually slowed it down. 'The long-term solution is not aid. It may seem cruel that aid should stop, but really it should,' says Rasna Warah, a Kenyan newspaper columnist and editor of the anthology Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits, a call to arms against aid."
• Drug Charity May Shutter After U.S. Faults Pharma Influence ( Robert Langreth and Benjamin Elgin, Bloomberg, 11-29-17) "For the last decade, Caring Voice Coalition has been one of the biggest patient assistance charities in the U.S. The Mechanicsville, Virginia-based foundation helps patients afford expensive drugs by funding health insurance co-payments that can otherwise total more than $10,000 a year. Without the charity, which is funded almost entirely by drugmakers, many patients might not be able to afford life-saving medicine." The practice "provided drugmakers with data that could help them see if their contributions were helping their own customers, potentially giving the companies 'greater ability to raise the prices of their drugs while insulating patients from the immediate out-of-pocket effects,' and letting Medicare pay for the cost increases, according to the OIG’s letter, which was posted on the HHS website....Under federal law, drug companies can’t give direct co-pay help to patients covered by Medicare -- which would be considered an illegal kickback because it could steer patients to one drug or another. Instead, they’re permitted to donate to independent charities that help Medicare patients, provided the companies don’t exert sway over how the nonprofits operate....According to the OIG letter, Caring Voice “allowed donors to directly or indirectly influence the identification or delineation” of its disease categories, contradicting assurances that it wouldn’t..."
• Trump Foundation Will Dissolve, Accused of ‘Shocking Pattern of Illegality’ (Shane Goldmacher, NY Times, 12-18-18) 'The Donald J. Trump Foundation, once billed as the charitable arm of the president’s financial empire, agreed to dissolve on Tuesday and give away all its remaining assets under court supervision as part of an ongoing investigation and lawsuit by the New York attorney general. The foundation was accused by the attorney general, Barbara Underwood, of “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” and of engaging in “a shocking pattern of illegality” that included unlawfully coordinating with Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign....Mr. Trump has long claimed that all the foundation’s money went to “wonderful charities” that had legitimate purposes."
• The thrift store chain that dressed up like a charity and got sued (Francesca Lyman with Robert McClure, Investigate West, 10-28-15) Lyman investigated Value Village thrift store (part of Savers, Inc.). Behind many a great deal at Value Village is a pretty meager good deed. Behind others there appears to be none. In 2001 partner charity Big Brothers, Big Sisters of East Bay, in Oakland, received .02 percent of the revenue raised from donations on its behalf. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office criticized Savers for misleading donors, resulting in their “claiming tax deductions for donated goods for which the charities receive no payment.”
• Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse It Robert D. Lupton. How to start serving needy and impoverished members of our communities in a way that will lead to lasting, real-world change.
• America's Worst Charities (Kris Hundley, Tampa Bay Times, and Kendall Taggart, Center for Investigative Reporting, June 2013, joined later by CNN)
• Charity Officials Are Increasingly Receiving Million-Dollar Paydays (Andrea Fuller, Morningstar/Dow Jones, 3-5-17; also in WSJ) Analysis shows tax-exempt organizations ("spared from taxation because of their stated missions related to public service') providing million-dollar compensation to roughly 2,700 employees in 2014--including many hospitals and colleges, traditional charities like United Way, a Texas couple that runs an online evangelical ministry ($4 million). About three-fourths of the charities that provided million-dollar compensation packages in 2014 were involved in health care ($17.6 million to prez of Ascension). About 10% were private colleges.
• How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money (David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 9-10-16) Since 2008, all of the donations to the Trump Foundation have been other people’s money — an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation. "Trump then takes that money and generally does with it as he pleases. In many cases, he passes it on to other charities, which often are under the impression that it is Trump’s own money....Trump’s foundation appears to have repeatedly broken IRS rules, which require nonprofit groups to file accurate paperwork. In five cases, the Trump Foundation told the IRS that it had given a gift to a charity whose leaders told The Post that they had never received it. In two other cases, companies listed as donors to the Trump Foundation told The Post that those listings were incorrect." Follow-up story: What we know about 5 phantom Trump Foundation donations. (WaPo, 9-12-16) Tax filings described giving a specific amount of money to a specific charity. But when The Post called, the charities listed said they had never received anything from Donald Trump or his foundation.
• The 50 worst, ranked by money blown on soliciting costs (Matt McCleskey hosting, Kojo Nnamdi show, 5-26-15). Interviewed: Stacy Palmer Editor, "Chronicle of Philanthropy" and Jacob Harold President and CEO, GuideStar. "Last week the Federal Trade Commission announced that, along with all 50 states and the District of Columbia, it was taking legal action against four “sham” cancer charities. Allegations that the groups deceived donors to the tune of $187 million have rippled through the nonprofit world. We consider what red flags donors should be on the lookout for and how data can — and can’t — help us decide who’s a good actor." The four charities: Cancer Fund of America, Inc., Cancer Support Services Inc., Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc., and The Breast Cancer Society Inc. Here's the NY Times story 4 Cancer Charities Are Accused of Fraud (Rebecca R. Ruiz, 5-19-15).
• The party's over for Charity Works (Roxanne Roberts, Washington Post, 9-7-16) The fabulous CharityWorks galas raised millions for good causes over the years. Then something changed. What happens when fundraising efforts are not transparent.
• Planet Aid's "Recycling" Program, Debunked! (Charity Watch, 1-18-16). See also Behind the Bins: Former Planet Aid Employees Describe 'Cult-like' Experience (Tisha Thompson, Rick Yarborough, Matt Smith, Amy Walters, Steve Jones and Jeff Piper, NBC4, 5-25-16). In a joint international investigation with Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting, the News4 I-Team found Planet Aid is connected to a controversial Danish organization called Tvind, also known as the Teachers Group. Danish court records obtained by the I-Team and Reveal say the group was founded about 1970 by Mogens Amdi Petersen, who required his members to live communally, give over control of their money, their time and decisions like "the right to start a family." ... Here in the United States, Planet Aid continues to receive non-profit status, meaning it doesn't pay any taxes.
• Charity Watch articles. When you're serious about investigating wrongdoers in the charity world, these links to Charity Watch articles are a good place to start.
• The Afterlife Of American Clothes (podcast, Gregory Warner and David Kestenbaum, Planet Money's T-Shirt Project, All Things Considered, 12-2-13)
• The Trouble with Second-Hand Clothes (Tansy Hopkins, OpEd, Business of Fashion, 11-10-13) As the Christmas season approaches, millions of Westerners will flock to charity shops to donate their second-hand clothes. But the multi-billion dollar global market for used clothing is not what it seems, posing difficult questions for those hoping to do good by donating.
• Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached? (Jacob Goldstein, NY Times Magazine, 8-13-13)
• Money for Nothing and Your Cows for Free. (Podcast, This American Life, WBEZ, 8-16-13). Planet Money reporters David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein went to Kenya to see the work of a charity called GiveDirectly in action. Instead of funding schools or wells or livestock, GiveDirectly has decided to just give money directly to the poor people who need it, and let them decide how to spend it. David and Jacob explain whether this method of charity works, and why some people think it's a terrible idea. (28 minutes)
• Bogus Cancer Charities Are Harmful To Patients: How To Give Wisely (Elaine Schattner, Forbes, 5-20-15)
• Money Well Spent?: Navigating Charitable Giving
• A printable list of CIR's 50 worst
--Part 1: Dirty secrets of the worst charities (6-6-13)
• Part 2: A failure of regulation (6-7-13)
• Part 3: How one family turned your goodwill into their livelihood (6-13-13)
• Disabled workers paid just pennies an hour – and it's legal (Anna Schechter, NBC News Investigations, 6-25-13) One of the nation's best-known charities, Goodwill industries, is paying disabled workers as little as 22 cents an hour, thanks to a 75-year-old legal loophole that critics say needs to be closed. "If they really do pay the CEO of Goodwill three-quarters of a million dollars, they certainly can pay me more than they're paying," said Harold Leigland, who is legally blind and hangs clothes at a Goodwill in Great Falls, Montana for less than minimum wage.
• The worst charities: Get information before you make a donation
• America's 50 Worst Charities (Leslie Salzillo, Daily Kos, 8-20-13)
• Professional Fundraiser Is Ring Leader of Triple Charity Scheme (from Charity Rating Guide & Watchdog Report, Charity Watch, Summer 2014)
• MinistryWatch.com (consumer reporting website of faith based charities)
• Perfectly legal: Charities kept most cash for themselves (Robert Anglen's excellent exposé, The Arizona Republic, 5-3-09). A yearlong investigation into a network of charities tied to the Don Stewart Association televangelism ministry in Phoenix revealed that 22 charities used legal but controversial accounting methods to take credit for donating supplies that they never physically collected, handled or warehoused.