One of the questions we get asked a lot is ‘Ok, so the super-rich can do great things, but what can ordinary people do to make the world a better place?’ Our answer is ‘lots’.
First of all, consumers have already had a huge influence on corporations. Smart CEOs who believe that their companies can do well by doing good are often responding to the demands of their customers and shareholders – companies offer ethical, environmentally-friendly products because we demand them. Initiatives like the ‘Red’ product range launched by Bono are a way of tapping into that consumer demand by giving tangible impact from our purchasing choices – in this case, the knowledge that by choosing ‘Red’ the customer is making a donation to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
In the chapter on philanthropic intermediaries, we describe how organisations like New Philanthropy Capital provide analysis of the effectiveness charities working in particular sectors. NPC make their reports publicly available, which small as well as large donors can use to give to charities with proven impact. The Clinton Global Initiative meetings may be dominated by captains of industry and heads of state, but Clinton has also launched www.mycommitment.org for anyone to make a pledge to do something for a better world. We also talk about organisations like www.kiva.org that are allowing donors to connect directly to the beneficiaries of their giving or, in this case, microlending.
Finally, we just had a headsup that Tom Watson of www.onphilanthropy.com has a new book coming out in November called Causewired that “reveals how online social networks can leverage their membership and take advantage of their platform to democratize activism, change the political climate, and raise consciousness for local and global causes”.