Photo Courtesy of Fadra Nally
I try not to mix in too much of what I am working on over at Charitable Influence here on TCP – but there is room for crossover on the occasion when something big is brewing.
Today I wanted to share something very important to me that we are working on – a new quarterly online Book Club – featuring books that will challenge your thoughts, and help you to grow!
We just launched our very first selection, The Blue Sweater, by Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz. I wrote about this book, the authors autobiography, back in October and have dropped her name numerous times on this blog. I cannot stress enough how much this book changed my life.
On the philanthropy side, it changed the way I look at global poverty and world issues and challenged the thoughts I had about traditional charity and humanitarian work. It gave me new sense of hope – realistic hope – for the future.
On the “human” side, it displayed the yin and yang of humankind, and tugged on every emotion I carry with me. Most importantly it brought forth a whole new level of compassion that exists not on sympathy, but on an understanding that we are deeply interconnected. And for that I cannot thank the author enough.
This book isn’t just for would-be philanthropists or those working in the nonprofit sector – it is for anyone that seeking to understand humankind in a new light.
Book Club is for CI members only, however, if you are not a blogger please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss joining the group!
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a holiday that dates as far back as the Roman Empire (though it looked much different back then), and is meant to celebrate love. In my lifetime I have watched this day spark both love and the exact opposite in people. Many believe that Valentine’s Day has turned into a money making extravaganza designed to make chocolate manufacturers and greeting card companies rich.
I’ve come across people who love every little detail about celebrating the holiday and relish in the festivities – and I have come across an equal number, if not more, who don’t seem to think it is an important day and agree with the idea that it is a “man-made” holiday.
Luckily there is another option out there for both those who enjoy that warm feeling of love that Valentine’s Day can bring, and for those who could take it or leave it – tomorrow has been “rebooted” and is now Generosity Day!
What is Generosity Day? According to the group’s page on Causes.com, Generosity Day is: “…one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying ‘Yes.’”
I have heard numerous spiritual teachers and read studies which prove that when you do something kind for another, it automatically makes you feel amazing as well. So why not spend Tuesday, February 14, 2012 being generous with your love, and anything else you can afford to give.
I signed up and am taking the Generosity Day pledge – will you join in?
(Note: It was of no surprise to me to learn that Generosity Day was created by Acumen Fund‘s Chief Innovation Officer Sasha Dichter, and a group of his friends. I have written about Acumen Fund in the past, and its founder Jacqueline Novogratz – I frequently pick up her book The Blue Sweater for both inspiration and encouragement. I’ll say it again – if you are interesting in making a change in the world, you will not regret reading this autobiography)
Living in a country with a total population of 35 million people, it’s hard to imagine what 1 billion looks like. Even the United States doesn’t come close to 1 billion with just over 312 million residents. Most of us already know that much of the worlds population reside in either the small country of India (1.2 billion), or China (1.3 billion), which is about three times the size of India.
Experts predicted that we would hit the 7 billionth inhabitant mark by 2015, but it appears we are a bit ahead of course. Today the world welcomed it’s 7 billionth resident, and according to reports, she was was born in Northern India. This birth represents many things to many different people.
Some feel that the birth of a girl specifically as the 7 billionth resident is important, as it brings the subject of the imbalance between genders into light, specifically in China and India where there is well-documented proof of forced abortions for women expecting daughters. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad stated, “We must take all necessary steps – political, social, economic and scientific – to end the discrimination against the girl child.”
Discussing how the global number effects us on a smaller scale yesterday, CBC pointed out some of the ramifications of having such a populous planet, which included climate change and the havoc we are wreaking on our natural resources by developing so much of our land. The article states, “In the last 50 years alone, the oceans have become (30 per cent) more acidic, the atmosphere (four per cent) wetter and the earth’s surface warmer (by almost one degree C).”
On a symbolic level, the ‘celebration’ of the 7 billionth inhabitant reminds me of the concept of ‘Global Citizenship’. Though there is no precise definition, I would define a global citizen as one who realizes the interconnectedness of the world, and whose actions and behavior reflect this.
In the memoir The Blue Sweater, Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz touches on this concept quite a bit. Her words describe so well the potential for a world of global citizens, “…each of us can contribute something by thinking – and acting – like a true global citizen. We have only one world for all of us on earth, and the future really is ours to create, in a world we dare to imagine together.”
Though it may seem far fetched to believe that we can all look at each other and see no differences, it is clear that there is some change in thinking happening worldwide, the Occupy Movement and fall of Gaddafi’s 41-year regime are examples. 2011 has brought with it many challenges and changes, and perhaps the concept of a world filled with global citizens is not far off.
Recently I shared an Organization Spotlight focused on Acumen Fund, a global venture fund that seeks out local entrepreneurs who are providing long-term solutions to major problems within undeveloped countries.
I first heard of Acumen Fund CEO Jacqueline Novogratz giving a speech over at TED. I was so intrigued I bought a copy of her memoir, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich And Poor in an Interconnected World. This book truly inspired me and allowed me to see the world of philanthropy in a much different light.
The Blue Sweater is part memoir and part practical guide for those looking to enter the world of philanthropy, or for those seeking to make a difference in the world. Novogratz reveals the details of her career switch from a Chase Manhattan employee on Wall Street, to a doe-eyed Non-profit employee working in Rwanda helping small businesses grow.
The trial and errors that Novogratz experienced throughout the years serve as a compelling story, but most important, they lay out the groundwork for Charities and would-be philanthropists, presenting feasible ideas on where to begin to tackling world poverty issues.
Novogratz proves throughout the book that she is an extremely strong woman, her experiences in Africa in particular attest to this. She spent much time in Rwanda helping a small bakery owned by women blossom and grow, and paints a beautiful picture of how the group worked together to thrive.
Recently, I came across a great talk that was given by Jacqueline Novogratz called, Inspiring A Life of Immersion. This TED talk was the very first time I had heard of Novogratz or her work with Acumen Fund, a self-described “non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty.”
Her talk was indeed inspiring, and it opened up my eyes to a different way of viewing philanthropy. I was so intrigued that I got myself a copy of her autobiography, The Blue Sweater. The name of the book was inspired by a very significant blue sweater that Novogratz owned. It’s an amazing story which she describes in the video above.
In the book she details her experiences from Wall Street to Africa, and reveals the many steps taken to start up her own organization. Her in-depth experience working in Rwanda and other impoverished countries led her to create a different kind of system. This year, Acumen Fund is in it’s tenth year of operation.
The basics of the operation are as follows: Acumen Fund finds philanthropists to donate money. Next they find local businesses in developing countries that are providing long term solutions to water, food, energy and other issues, and provide the companies with a loan. The loan gets paid back, and the money is reinvested into another company. Novogratz calls this “patient capital,” though my description is simplified.
I love what Acumen Fund is doing. While there is definitely a need for various degrees of charitable organizations, it is important that there are people out there putting emphasis of sustainable practices that will last as well.