Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

July 31, 2013

Indiana nonprofits form partnership to better serve youth

Counselors lead campers in challenging
climbing experiences this summer at
Jameson Camp, which strives to enrich
the lives of Indiana youth by inspiring
them to discover their strengths.
Taylor Brown

When two good causes team up, the results can be phenomenal.

Jameson Camp is a nonprofit establishment located on the west side of Indianapolis. The organization offers a summer camp experience for children who might not, under normal circumstances, be able to attend a summer camp. Not only do campers participate in typical camp activities, but the organization also places an emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle, building character and providing outdoor education.

Indiana Organ Procurement Organization (IOPO) serves as the vital link between people waiting for an organ transplant and potential donors. The organization is dedicated to providing Indiana citizens with the information necessary to make an informed decision about organ donation, and it also helps with the donation registration process. Trained volunteers and staff members offer various educational programs and participate in multiple events throughout the state.

These two nonprofit organizations have formed a partnership, thus enabling them to better serve their communities.

According to Kim Charles, IOPO special events coordinator, IOPO first partnered with Jameson Camp through one of its programs known as the Employee Giving Campaign. Through this initiative, more than 75 percent of IOPO employees donate money from their own pockets to fund community outreach programs.

For some children, this partnership has provided opportunities that once seemed impossible. IOPO worked with IPS 61 to sponsor four children to attend a week-long session at Jameson Camp. “The employees [at IOPO] wanted to assist a school near our offices and make an impact on the lives of children near us,” Charles said.

Through the sponsorship, IOPO provided the children with many of the supplies that are necessary for campers to enjoy a week-long summer camp. The organization’s Employee Giving Committee supplied sleeping bags, pillows and sheets for the sponsored children who needed them. “We really wanted the kids and their families to be able to enjoy the experience and not worry about supplies they might not have,” said Charles.

In addition to sponsoring campers, IOPO also puts on educational programs for Indiana youth. The children who attended Jameson Camp’s “Wellness Week,” a week-long camp session with a special focus on forming and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, experienced one of these programs firsthand.

On July 17, IOPO hosted “Life Is Cool,” a unique hands-on program “designed to teach young people about their bodies, healthy choices, healthy living, tissue donation and transplantation,” Charles said. Campers rotated between various stations and activities, and they were even able to see and touch animal organs while learning about the functions of their own bodies and how to properly care for them.

Though the partnership is still new, Charles sees a bright future and anticipates many opportunities for the two nonprofits to work together in the future.

“We are starting small and hope to grow this relationship in the future,” she said.

Taylor Brown is an intern at Jameson Camp. For information about the program or to sponsor a camper, visit

Labels: , , , , ,

July 29, 2013

Social impact entrepreneurs are transforming family planning

Chris Purdy (in dark shirt) observes transactions for 
family planning products in rural Indonesia.

Special to Philanthropy Journal

Christopher H. Purdy

In Ethiopia in 1999, I managed a social marketing program marketing a wide range of contraceptives, including condoms and family planning pills.  Excited to see our work in action, I decided to get out of the office on a trip to Southern Ethiopia.  There, during a visit with a pharmacist in a rural town, our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of a woman who, unruffled by the presence of a foreigner, marched up to the counter, asked for package of contraceptives, paid her money and went on her way, a satisfied customer.

That moment was an eye-opener for me and showed the value of “social impact enterprises,” organizations that leverage entrepreneurial spirit and business methodologies to drive innovation and improve services in the social realm.

Government, nonprofit and corporate programs that seek to address social needs for lower income populations inevitably involve the idea of charity in providing products or services.  But freebies can be problematic: people don’t value them and often suspect they are of inferior quality.  By contrast, paying even a modest sum for a product or a service turns a “beneficiary” into a “customer.”  Additionally, a purchased product is more likely to be used.   

Such social impact entrepreneurship changes lives and societies just as business entrepreneurs change industries.  It combines a great but "disruptive” idea with the passion and unrelenting focus of an eager entrepreneur.  It assumes zealous execution, focus on performance and results, adaptability, intolerance of bureaucracy, and distaste for meetings and conferences.

Dramatic Results
I’ve seen this up close at DKT International, where our transformative approaches “disrupt” family planning in 18 countries that contain more than 50 percent of the world’s people.   By leveraging the power of the private sector, we market and sell attractive, affordable contraceptive products and services through normal commercial channels.  We educate consumers on the choices that best suit their needs.  We train health providers to provide services that they had previously not offered (such as IUDs and implants). 

We do this in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the per capita income is under $400, as well as Brazil, where incomes are closer to $12,000.   In both places, we charge for our products and services, but in poor countries those charges are very small.  In 2012 our revenue was $200,000 in DRC and $20 million in Brazil.  In DRC, we need donor support; Brazil has itself become a donor to cover costs of programs in African countries like DRC.  Similarly in 2012, Indonesia helped fund a new program in Ghana while DKT Philippines funded a start-up operation in Pakistan.  Operations in India, Mexico and Turkey should begin making contributions in the future.

Our quest for leveraging the efficiencies of the private sector has found us stumbling on a cost-recovery and sustainability model that hints at the promise of long term financial strength and, at the very least, a highly cost effective investment for donors.  Such results illustrate that doing good is not incompatible with earning an adequate financial return.  Indeed, 70 percent of DKT’s program costs are recovered through product/service revenue (the balance came from donors) while providing consumers with something they value.

Business Models that work
As social impact entrepreneurs, our country directors design and manage their programs more as businesses than traditional non-governmental organizations (NGOs), promoting family planning and safe sex messages through revenue generating models tailored to reach communities that were inaccessible 20 years ago.  In countries with higher per capita incomes, this model delivers significant health impact to people of all income levels.  In other countries, DKT’s modest revenue generation and donor funds keep services affordable.

Through cross-subsidization we offer differently priced brands within the same product category to maximize both health impact and cost-recovery.  Subsidized affordable condoms or other products sell alongside profitable premium brands.  Even in poor countries like Mozambique, Sudan and Ethiopia (where revenue funds a significant part of the program), some level of cost recovery is possible.  The result: DKT’s cost per couple year of protection (the amount of contraceptive protection needed for one couple over one year) is a remarkably low $2 per couple.

Overall in 2012, DKT programs prevented an estimated 8.2 million unwanted pregnancies, 2.6 million unsafe abortions, and more than 14,000 maternal deaths.

What’s Needed?
These programs work because DKT’s country-level managers are entrepreneurs within a highly decentralized organization.  Some managers have business degrees or experience.  Others have worked in the nonprofit sector but demonstrated an entrepreneurial spark.  They direct a combined field staff of 1,800 people and have wide autonomy to make marketplace responses quickly.  Our headquarters in Washington has a staff of eight people – providing financial oversight and administrative support without slowing down the enterprises overseas with excessive supervision.

Essential to success: a relentless desire to get the job done, to avoid bureaucratic time-wasting, to solve problems, and, above all, to serve the customer.  It’s only with the wisdom of hindsight that I see that these facts were all brought home to me by that lady buying contraceptive pills in a drugstore in Southern Ethiopia 14 years ago.

Christopher Purdy is the executive vice president of DKT International, a non-profit, family planning social enterprise with offices in 18 countries.

Labels: , , ,

July 24, 2013

How should philanthropy respond to challenges faced by black men and boys?

Shawn Dove

How do we as a nation heal from the open wound caused by the Zimmerman verdict? Words from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, offer guidance: "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now."
Download the complete
39-page report from the
Open Society Foundations.
I've watched President Obama's speech responding to America's Trayvon Martin moment more than 10 times now. And with each viewing, I am increasingly inspired by our president's courageous depiction of the challenges black men and boys face in a society that too often perceives them as criminals and ignores their potential to be productive contributors to this great nation.
Debates about race, gender, the criminal justice system, and states' "stand your ground" laws rattled the country in the week leading up to the president's speech. When he finally spoke, Americans of all races who have devoted their time and resources to improving the life outcomes of black men and boys had divergent reactions – from sighs of relief, to jaw-dropping disbelief, to tears of joy. Others thought the president's message about how America views, values, and invests in black men and boys was off-base, too late, divisive, and lacking a call to action.
Much of what the president said resonated with me, particularly as a black man, the father of young twin boys, and the manager of the Open Society Foundations' Campaign for Black Male Achievement. What was perhaps most compelling was how he helped the country understand the pain black communities were experiencing by weaving explanations of the complex policies that create the disproportionately large population of incarcerated African American men with his personal experiences of being racially profiled.
I am hopeful there will be a concerted effort across various sectors to devise a plan in response to the president's remarks. But today I am grappling with a question for my committed and courageous colleagues in philanthropy. What should philanthropy do?
I would like to offer the following ideas as philanthropy collectively figures out its next steps. Here are five things to ponder and perhaps address by the time the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington rolls around on Aug. 24.
Philanthropy should understand that the president's speech on black men and boys demands a response from the philanthropic community. If, in the coming weeks and months, we keep with the status quo, we will have missed an important opportunity. A good start would be for every foundation president and board member to read Foundations and the Fallacy of a Post-Racial America: African American Men and Civic Engagement, by Dr. Emmett Carson, president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The field should also move quickly to put the pledge to address the issue it made at the Council of Foundations' most recent annual meeting into investment practice.
Philanthropy should understand that it cannot continue to invest in law enforcement and criminal justice strategies while under-investing in family and youth development, community-building and organizing, and educational equity strategies. Where are we headed if we succeed in reducing racial profiling and the implicit bias of law enforcement but still have only 10 percent of black boys reading at grade level by the end of the third grade? Philanthropy needs to embrace the "power of positive deviance," realizing that the answers to the problem lie in the heads, hands, and hearts of young black men and boys in communities across the country, with the support of girls and woman- especially single moms. Let's find ways to tap into those assets.
Philanthropy should ramp up and sustain investments in strengthening the field of black male achievement. Last year, seven foundations partnered to launch the Leadership & Sustainability Institute for Black Male Achievement (LSI), a national membership network designed to ensure the growth, sustainability, and impact of leaders and organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors committed to this work. But LSI is just a drop in the bucket if we are truly going to catalyze change.
Philanthropy should increase investments in strategic communications and messaging efforts. We need an alternative to the narrative that presents black men and boys as liabilities or threats to society. One such effort is led by former Knight Foundation Vice President Trabian Shorters, who recently spun-off Black Male Engagement as a way to organize and support a network of black males who are already demonstrating that they are assets to their communities.
Philanthropy should realize that what America truly needs to adequately respond to the challenge at hand is not another convening but the creation of a Corporation for Black Male Achievement – a catalytic enterprise that could lead the implementation of a Marshall-like Plan that finally changes the paradigm for black men and boys in America. As I shared in the Foundation Center's recent report Where Do We Go From Here? Philanthropic Support for Black Men & Boys, we need an endowed philanthropic social enterprise that can lead us over the decades it will take to successfully address this issue. As Open Society Foundations founder George Soros states in the same report, "this is a generational problem. It demands a long-term commitment."
Shawn Dove (© Jeff Hutchens)
Shawn Dove is manager of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, an initiative of the Open Society Foundations "to create hope and opportunities for black men and boys who are significantly marginalized from U.S. economic, social, and political life." This article first appeared in PhilanTopic, a blog of Philanthropy News Digest.

Labels: , , , ,