Category Archives: Philanthropy

10 Ways to Start a Fund for Social Good Online

Mashable/Social Media: Fundraising is a key component for most social good campaigns and projects. Thanks to the the Internet and the social web, raising money for a non-profit, community project or charitable organization or relief effort is easier than ever before…

If you have an idea or a cause that you want to bring awareness to and raise funds around, there are lots of great online tools to help get you started… Read more

Research suggests generosity is in the genes

The BBC reports that an Israeli study involving 203 people revealed those who had certain variants of a gene called AVPR1a were on average nearly 50% more likely to give money away in an online task.

Lead researcher Dr Ariel Knafo said: “The experiment provided the first evidence, to my knowledge, for a relationship between DNA variability and real human altruism.”

The gene AVPR1a plays a key role in allowing a hormone called arginine vasopressin to act on brain cells. Vasopressin, in turn, has been implicated in social bonding.

New York New York

New YorkI’m off to New York today to run the New York half marathon and will be back on the 14th. I might even try and blog whileI’m there to get some US perspectives.

I’m running in aid of the Poppy Project which is run by Eaves Housing and is one of the charities that the South West London Humanists are supporting this year.

Poppy provides high quality supported accommodation across London for women who have been trafficked into prostitution. Poppy combines direct services, support and advocacy with research, development and lobbying. This allows the project to bridge the gaps between theory, practice and the need to influence strategy.

If you’re feelign generous you can even sponsor me at Donating through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to sponsor me: Eaves will receive your money faster and, if you are a UK taxpayer, an extra 28% in tax will be added to your gift at no cost to you.

Vatican urges end to Amnesty aid

Amnesty International logoThe BBC reports that “the Vatican has urged all Catholics to stop donating money to Amnesty International, accusing the human rights group of promoting abortion. The Vatican, which regards life as sacred from the moment of conception, said it was an “inevitable consequence” of the group’s policy change.

Amnesty said it was not promoting abortion as a universal right.

But the group said that women had a right to choose, particularly in cases of rape or incest.

“No more financing of Amnesty International after the organisation’s pro-abortion about-turn,” said a statement from the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The Church’s request covers funding from Catholic groups, non-governmental organisations, parishes, schools and individuals. “

American atheists appear to be less likely to vote and volunteer and give less to charity

The Stars and StripesA new study by American Christian research organisation the Barna Group has found that nine percent of Americans (20 million people) openly identified themselves as an atheist, an agnostic, or specifically said they have “no faith” – a proportion that has grown over the last decade amongst all age groups.

Only about 5 million adults unequivocally use the label “atheist” and staunchly reject the existence of God. The rest have doubts of God’s existence but do not outright reject a supreme being.

Most atheists and agnostics (56 percent) agree with the idea that radical Christianity is just as threatening in America as is radical Islam. Two-thirds of active-faith Americans (63 percent) perceive that the nation is becoming more hostile and negative toward Christianity.

Atheists and agnostics were found to be largely more disengaged in many areas of life than believers. They are less likely to be registered to vote (78 percent) than active-faith Americans (89 percent); to volunteer to help a non-church-related non-profit (20 percent vs. 30 percent); to describe themselves as “active in the community” (41 percent vs. 68 percent); and to personally help or serve a homeless or poor person (41 percent vs. 61 percent).

Additionally, when the no-faith group does donate to charitable causes, their donation amount pales in comparison to those active in faith. In 2006, atheists and agnostics donated just $200 while believers contributed $1,500. The amount is still two times higher among believers when subtracting church-based giving.

The no-faith group is also more likely to be focused on living a comfortable, balanced lifestyle (12 percent) while only 4 percent of Christians say the same. And no-faith adults are also more focused on acquiring wealth (10 percent) than believers (2 percent). One-quarter of Christians identified their faith as the primary focus of their life.

Still, one-quarter of atheists and agnostics said “deeply spiritual” accurately describes them and three-quarters of them said they are clear about the meaning and purpose of their life.

When it came to being “at peace,” however, researchers saw a significant gap with 67 percent of no-faith adults saying they felt “at peace” compared to 90 percent of believers. Atheists and agnostics are also less likely to say they are convinced they are right about things in life (38 percent vs. 55 percent) and more likely to feel stressed out (37 percent vs. 26 percent).

According to study results, 81 percent of the no-faith group say they adapt easily to change compared to 66 percent of active-faith Americans. “It is important for Christians to understand the environment and the perspectives of people who are different from them, especially among young generations whose culture is moving rapidly away from Christianity,” said David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group. “Believers have the options of ignoring, rejecting or dealing with the aggressiveness of atheists and those hostile to the Christian faith. By their own admission, Christians have difficulty handling change, admitting when they are uncertain of something, and responding effectively to divergent perspectives. These characteristics make the new challenges facing Christianity even more daunting.”

Hat tip:

Atheist Gives $22.5 Million for Catholic Fund

Robert Wilson, left, with Cardinal Egan at Immaculate Conception School on East 14th St.“Philanthropist and retired hedge-fund manager Robert W. Wilson said he is giving $22.5 million to the Archdiocese of New York to fund a scholarship program for needy inner-city students attending Roman Catholic schools. Wilson, 80, said…that although he is an atheist, he has no problem donating money to a fund linked to Catholic schools.

`Let’s face it, without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Western civilization,” Wilson said. “Shunning religious organizations would be abhorrent. Keep in mind, I’m helping to pay tuition. The money isn’t going directly to the schools.”

Wilson’s donation is the largest the archdiocese has ever received. The money will be used to fund the Cardinal’s Scholarship Program, which was started in 2005 to give disadvantaged students attending the archdiocese’s inner-city schools partial or full tuition grants” Read article on

Religious conservatives give more than secular liberals to charity – is that a good thing?

Who Really CaresArthur C. Brooks’s new book Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism concludes that religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income. He cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives, from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services, make conservatives more generous than liberals.
The book’s basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone’s tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don’t provide them with enough money.

This chimes with recent UK Government research that found that people who actively practice a religions are more like to give to charity and to give more (see posting June 27 2006), although it is not clear how significant religion alone is in Brooks’s research.


Nevertheless we should be cautious that the findings paint a negative picture of secular liberals. High levels of philanthropy and resistance to government redistribution has given us the most unequal developed country in the world, whereas high taxation characterises the most equal states like


Digging into our pockets might make us feel good but it runs the risk of maintaining power inequalities and directing money only to those that we approve of, further disadvantaging the most excluded. Properly established redistribution on the other hand appeals to principles of justice and makes sure that the poor are not at the mercy of the rich.Also covered by Jewish Atheist Blog

Subsequent comment received: There are few key things to recognize with this work. #1 He plainly says that he doesn’t go into the details of any of his findings, which basically means that he isn’t clarifying the data and is taking liberty with his interpretations. #2 “Liberals” /Leftists have long been pointing out the fact that the poor give a larger portion of their income to charity than the wealthy. This is for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they are asked to give more often, they are closer to donation centers, and they are more familiar with the need for charity and more likely to personally know the recipients. There is also an important fact here though, the poor are vastly more religious than the wealthy, thus all of his statistics are explained by this fact, since in America I would *guess* that religiosity is about 98% among the poor, and about 60% among the wealthy.

The fact that the poor give more to charity is not a good thing, and one of the major reasons WHY we need a graduated income tax and things like the estate tax to encourage more giving and contribution among the wealthy, who, in reality are the primary free riders.