Maverick Philanthropists - How to be one.

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Postby BarbaraSher » Tue Mar 28, 2000 10:28 pm

Is he cool or what? Thanks again, Jacque. Jeff, that quote at the end of your message is breathtaking. Who is Paul Va? [This message has been edited by BarbaraSher (edited March 29, 2000).]
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Postby Jacque » Wed Mar 29, 2000 10:08 am

Jeff is, in my not particularly humble opinion, generally fascinating and exceedingly cool.
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Postby BarbaraSher » Wed Mar 29, 2000 5:11 pm

I have sometimes imagined 2 rather odd kinds of businesses (tell me if you've seen this somewhere else, so I can read about it).

One, (which I can't do) which a person who is wealthy and wants to do good in the world could create, is a business which is set up with some serious funds in the bank, and is designed to go out of business very very slowly.

Now why would anyone want such a business? Well, it would be a great business school for the people involved, for one thing. And you could do those things good business owners would like to do, but can't because they don't make the most profit possible. (Just think back to any good ideas you've had for a product or service that would be so great for the community or the customer, but "the numbers don't add up.")

These go-out-of-business-very-very-slowly type enterprises could do an enormous amount of good by the time they went out of business. It would be a new way for philanthropies to give. As of now, they're designed to seed projects that must become self-supporting as soon as possible. Or they give money to a growing enterprise that has already proven its worth. Or they do cruel and stupid things like say "You must get your first money from someone else, and then you will be eligible for some of ours," throwing their weight around and making people jump through very small, high hoops.

I bet there are people with money who hate doing that but don't know what else to do.

Then there's a second odd kind of business, (and I think I'll do this one) and this is a "no-profit" business. It isn't designed to go out of business, it's designed to sustain itself so it can provide jobs that pay as much as possible and train people in skills that they can use to better their lives in some way (say English, or computers, or weaving kilims). But it stays small and never makes a profit because salaries and operating expenses and materials etc. are supposed to use up all the money coming in. That means no one has to kill themselves to haul in the dough. They don't have to shave corners and make inferior products or underpay workers or screw vendors.

And if such a business does make a profit, more than is required to be sure the electric bill will get paid for a few extra months, then the profit is distributed to the people who work there in some way. Or it's put into one of those kitties that they can draw on when they need it for something -- such as creating spinoffs so this business doesn't have to grow larger.

I can see the advisors at SCORE, or bankers, or your Dad losing their minds and I think how much fun it would be to give them *this* business plan. Maybe I should make the kilim school a no-profit business like the one I just described. I don't think anyone's going to give me money anyway, and if they do, they can call it an investment and write it off, because they'll surely never see their money again.

There isn't anyone like that? Sure there is. Me, for instance. That's what I'm doing with this project if I sit back and think of it. Why? Because this whole project is such a great thing to do with my money! It's more fun (for me, anyway) than expensive clothes and it's more fun than playing the stock market or going to some resort to stare at the ocean.

Now I don't have a huge amount of disposable income, and I imagine I could use it up this way, but so what? I have my rent covered. It's just a very jolly way to spend money. I can see someone else starting a tiny theater and putting on plays, or setting up a little cooking school and creating their own tv show on a webpage or setting up a small design house and only taking on projects they love. How would they pay their rent? The same way they're paying it now, whatever that is.

Just look at the kind of generosity I'm getting from the people here. I love this so much better than either the non-profit, bureaucratic supercilious model or the mindless, driven, out-of-control greed model. It's nice to pay little more for something sometimes, to help some small business in the neighborhood stay alive instead of always fighting to bring the price down to its rock bottom, as if it were some kind of religious commandment to always pay the least you can get away with, even if you've got money.

Ah, I go on and on and wax both wroth and sentimental. Maybe I've just been awake too long, and should grab a nap.
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Postby Nubby » Wed Mar 29, 2000 6:33 pm

Barbara - I think you would have really like Betty Noyce who passed away 3-4 years ago. She created something called the Libra Foundation and she believed in economic philanthropy. I took this from the Foundation's web site "Like many charitable individuals, she (Betty Noyce) gave regularly to hundreds of causes every year in the form of grants. But, almost as effortlessly, she revolutionized the art of charitable giving by investing in businesses and job stimulation projects in Maine. Experts coined phrases like catalytic and economic in attempts to describe her particular brand of philanthropy. Although some critics tried to denounce it for its lack of purtiy, she never wavered and never lost faith in the benefits of her unique approach to giving. " Because of her, Portland Maine has a stunning public market and the Foundation continues to undertake projects that no one else will touch. They only do Maine projects but I think the philosophy is consistent with yours. www.librafoundation.org for more info and click on Betty's Legacy. Nubby
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Postby topatate16 » Wed Mar 29, 2000 8:24 pm

This is not about a business, but it is a testament to what one person can do. Saw a story on NBC nightly news on Tuesday, March 28, about Gloria Weichand of Oak Ridge, NJ. Three years ago she came across a message on the internet from a father of a seriously ill child in China. Weichand's son had been born with a similar problem. On her own and with some corporate contributions, she brought the child to the US for surgery. She has since helped 33 children with 1,000 on her waiting list. She was a stay-at-home mom (her children are now grown) and her husband is a teacher. According to the NBC story, she is funded by private and business donations. She has set up her own non-profit foundation, "Gloria's Place of Hope" (see www.gloriasplaceofhope.org) and works out of the basement of her home. She coordinates the arrival of the families (mostly from China), meets them at the airport, sets them up in a hotel, and meets them at the hospital. Surgeries are performed at New York University Medical Center. Dr. Stephen Colvin has performed 11 of the surgeries and calls Weichand "sort of an angel". [This message has been edited by topatate16 (edited March 29, 2000).] [This message has been edited by topatate16 (edited March 29, 2000).]
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Postby BarbaraSher » Thu Mar 30, 2000 9:27 pm

Nubby, thanks for the story about Betty Noyce. She's a perfect person for me to know about. "revolutionized the art of charitable giving by investing in businesses...critics tried to denounce it for its lack of purity..." Now there's an insight I never had before. Purity. Boy, you learn something new about the world of philanthropy every day. I'm off to her website. Thanks again, Nub.
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Postby BarbaraSher » Thu Mar 30, 2000 9:48 pm

Topatate, thanks for the story of Gloria Weichand. I bet someone who saw the show has thought about her waiting list of 1000 and been moved to help just as she did when she saw note about the sick child on the internet. The libra foundation site is nice, but it's too bad Betty Noyce is gone, because I think I see an absence of the kind of giving she did to help small businesses. Sounds like a special vision like hers is hard to maintain. I'm sure it's a goodhearted place, but more typical philanthropists probably have a very hard time avoiding the "purity" she didn't care about.
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Postby BarbaraSher » Fri Mar 31, 2000 11:28 pm

This thread has gotten long -- but wonderful. I'm planning to start writing about my progress and the events that occur in the newsletter from kilimwomen.com, so if you'd like to be on the list, I'd sure love to have you there. Just go to www.kilimwomen.com and click on Mailing List and follow the instructions. Hope to have the first report ready before I go to Turkey, and to continue it there.
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Postby DebraG » Wed May 31, 2000 8:34 am

Barbara, just another round of cheerleading for you. You do SO inspire. I loved the photos of the girls learning the computer and what a wonder technology is! Please keep us informed. I think this is wonderful... who'd've guessed?! Debra Goodman
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Postby Brian S » Fri Jul 07, 2000 8:38 pm

<h1>Hi Barb,</h1> This is an interesting one I heard at work today. It is Call Geek Corpe, like the peace corpe What they do is send techie kids to 3rd world countries to teach computers. Just like the peace corpe except for computers. He said they were looking to assign people to Guana. They have a web site but I do not know it. Brian S Burlington, VT
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Postby spiritwomyn » Sun Apr 28, 2002 10:55 am

Barbara, I think supporting third world women and children is great and I wish I could do more myself. I am a mother of five here and I have been trying to get a grant or philanthropic gift to get my business going better so I can do more. However I am not a non-profit I am just an individual and so I donot not qualify. I have been doing it on shoestring but my ex cut most of it off when he stopped paying child support. Now I am drowning and I still find no help out there, unless I want to be on welfare, a program that keeps you forever down. Even raising money for a once in a lifetime trip for my son, for his future,I am told no we only give to groups or non profits. It appears the INDIVIDUAL in America is screwed. I will keep looking as I know God will provide and one day I will have money and give only to individuals, whether for debt, or education, even home schooling, or health even alternative, trips for children and help women finish schooling or start a business so she can be home with her children. This has become a long term goal for me. Right now I need to get myself on even keel. I will be out of a home soon and am working to get a RV so at least we have a roof. If any one is interested in helping start such a group that really helps others regardless of what country they are in please feel free to email me. [This message has been edited by spiritwomyn (edited April 28, 2002).]
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Postby MDG » Mon Apr 29, 2002 4:18 am

Hmmm. Maverick philanthropy... Now there's something worth sinking my teeth into. That's where you create your own 'circle of warmth', out of what you find at hand...then you share. Yup. I like it. I could do that. Very soul-satisfying. Image
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Postby Robyne » Mon Apr 29, 2002 4:12 pm

Hi there from Australia Last night I watched the most apalling program on the TV about the problem being caused by Hi Tech garbage...they dont know what to do with it. It seems that this is the big problem of the future! Well when they were interviewing people about it they said that quite often these computers are not that old at all but it is easier to dump them than do anything else with them.... it started me thinking that if we could start up something here that acted as a "filter" project and I could convince some of the enthusiastic computer science students from the local universities that we may be able to extract the "usable" from the discards and get a project happening that supplies computers to those who need them. I am sure that there is a grant in there!!! ( That's the other thing I do for my living is to find grants for people!) I will keep you informed of my progress!!
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Postby Robyne » Mon Apr 29, 2002 4:16 pm

Hi there from Australia Last night I watched the most apalling program on the TV about the problem being caused by Hi Tech garbage...they dont know what to do with it. It seems that this is the big problem of the future! Well when they were interviewing people about it they said that quite often these computers are not that old at all but it is easier to dump them than do anything else with them.... it started me thinking that if we could start up something here that acted as a "filter" project and I could convince some of the enthusiastic computer science students from the local universities that we may be able to extract the "usable" from the discards and get a project happening that supplies computers to those who need them. I am sure that there is a grant in there!!! ( That's the other thing I do for my living is to find grants for people!) I will keep you informed of my progress!!
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Postby JazzMuse » Mon Jun 10, 2002 12:48 pm

Hi Barbara - I love you and your books! Thank you! Reading Wishcraft definitely changed my life. I've had some extra time to look at your website lately and I noticed that your www.kilimwomen.com doesn't have a secure online payment system. Here's an established, low-cost one you may want to look into that will take international payments from 38 countries (don't know if Turkey is one of them). http://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/sell/index-outside NOTE: People can also make online donations with PayPal! In case you're more interested in creating a shopping cart, here's a low-cost, highly-reviewed (5/5) web host with free shopping cart technology: http://www.ipowerweb.com/products/index.html Hope all this helps! jazzmuse PS I created a list called "Resources for Socially-Conscious People with Low or No Income" I think many of your visitors would like. It's posted online at: www.justview.org/arts2.html#ResourceHeader as a .pdf Acrobat Reader document. Anyone can feel free to make as many copies as they want. Note: Some info is specific to the Minneapolis area. [This message has been edited by JazzMuse (edited June 10, 2002).] [This message has been edited by JazzMuse (edited November 16, 2002).]
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