Why #CharityTuesday is Important

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a huge love for technology, and in today’s world, we are surrounded by tech. While some see technology as a nuisance, I see it as a vast opportunity for our society to become as advanced and efficient as possible. The advancement of technology has given birth to another equally admired and hated sector of society: social media. And even though social media has seen its fair share of detractors, it has, much like technology itself, paved the way for some tremendous advancements and causes. One such cause is #CharityTuesday.

What is #CharityTuesday?

#CharityTuesday was started by LoveBox, a voluntary organization. Apparently, on a Monday afternoon, LoveBox’s founder wanted to create a worldwide awareness for charities of all kinds and so, the idea for #CharityTuesday was born. In the world of social media, hashtags (#) are a way of organizing keywords and topics in order to ease search queries. Once the hashtag #CharityTuesday began, it became something of an instant hit. Currently, several hundred charities use the hashtag on popular social media networks in order to promote awareness for their particular cause.

Why is it Important?
#CharityTuesday is important because it changes the way that charitable organizations and institutions can fundraise. It takes less pressure off of individuals and increases the odds of volunteers and contributions. For example, most charities, in order to raise funds, awareness or attract volunteers, make phone calls or stand outside of businesses and buildings, often directly asking citizens for help. This can create a sense of pressure on people, thus making them more reluctant. However, by utilizing social media profiles and using hashtags and calls to action, there is far less pressure, and people are far more likely to contribute to the cause, whatever it may be.

And all of this is possible through social media. In most cases, hashtags in social media consist of trending celebrities and world news; however, with #CharityTuesday, once the hashtag is picked up by Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, it can reach a worldwide audience in a matter of minutes, thus creating the ultimate awareness level. It’s incredibly important to continue to utilize technology in methods such as these.

Since today is Tuesday, why not get on social media and see what charities you can give to today?

Marketing Philanthropy: (RED)’s Strategy to Success


It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog, and so, I wanted to return with something a bit more lighthearted. I recently came across a commercial for (RED), the worldwide organization dedicated to eradicating AIDS. And since this website is dedicated to promoting philanthropic and charitable efforts and organizations, I figured I could do a light analysis of the commercial.

Firstly, I would like to point out that the video is almost two years old, and that it is based around the holiday season. Regardless of its age, it is still a clever video.

As for the video itself, it begins with Barry Manilow answering a phone call from Jimmy Kimmel. It is no surprise that commercials use celebrities as spokespeople, however, (RED) is famous for its specific use of celebrities in almost all of its ad campaigns. It is clear that this commercial is aiming for a comedic theme as Barry Manilow, legendary singer and songwriter, answers the phone by stating his record of writing songs that, “make the whole world sing.” Kimmel, confused by Manilow’s answer, pushes forward with the call, asking for Manilow’s assistance in writing a jingle for (RED)’s Holiday Shopathon, to which Manilow obliges. As Manilow goes to write the song, it cuts to actress Scarlett Johansson singing the jingle that Manilow has created. Johansson, wearing a (RED)-branded t-shirt, dances and sings the jingle in tandem with Manilow. The jingle’s lyrics invite shoppers to purchase (RED) products in order to help stop AIDS. Fitting in with the comedic tone of the video, Johansson’s gestures are all exaggerated and cartoonish, and once the song is finished, Johansson breaks the fourth wall by asking the camera crew who wrote the song. It’s an incredibly catchy song and a very clever video that entices viewers to purchase products during the holidays through (RED).

If the (RED) brand name sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written about it before in a previous blog. You’ve also probably purchased or seen Product (RED) items before. The organization, co-founded by U2 frontman Bono, partners with large, worldwide brands to create Product (RED) goods and services for purchase. Up to 50% of the proceeds then go to fighting (AIDS) around the world.

Through the use of catchy songwriting, self-awareness and a light hearted tone, the (RED) Shopathon commercial is memorable and important. And (RED)-branded items are not solely sold during the holiday season; there are Product (RED) goods sold year round through various companies and brands, including Apple, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

AIDS is a terrible disease that has afflicted millions throughout the world; by purchasing (RED)-branded items, you can easily and affordably help make a difference.

The Dawn of Smart Contacts

Living with diabetes is difficult. 29.1 million Americans have to deal with the reality of the disease every day. One of the most difficult aspects of the disease is the constant need to monitor blood sugar levels. Currently, the most effective, and common, way of monitoring one’s blood sugar is by drawing blood from a finger, and placing the sample into a monitor. Recently, however, scientists and researchers have been developing newer and less intrusive methods of blood sugar monitoring. From fully automated pancreases to implantable glucose monitoring chips, the race to find a better way to monitor glucose levels is heating up. And the most unobtrusive method may be coming soon: smart contact lenses.

 

According to Gizmodo, researchers from Oregon State University have created a transparent biosensor that can be implanted into contact lenses which can detect sudden changes in blood sugar levels, among other health issues. According to the Gizmodo article, the lead scientist behind the project, Gregory Herman, was looking for a far safer and more practical method of monitoring blood glucose levels, as the current means can be painful and inconvenient.

 

The project came to be after Herman and his colleagues developed a semiconductor made out of gallium zinc oxide; this would be the foundation of the smart contact lenses. In short, the biosensor is engineered in such a way that when it comes in contact with glucose, it oxidizes blood sugar, which allows for noticeable changes in the body. While the technology is still new, Herman hopes that it can be developed to measure any number of diseases.

 

“There is a fair amount of information that can be monitored in a teardrop,” Herman stated in an interview with Gizmodo. “Of course, there is glucose, but also lactate, dopamine, urea, and proteins. Our goal is to expand from a single sensor to multiple sensors.”
If Herman and his group can hone the technology and mass produce it, they could potentially change the way that diabetics live their lives. Hopefully, the lenses will not only take off, but become a standard in blood sugar monitoring and even help detect other diseases.

A GO Kart in Every Hospital

Video games are a large part of my life. And when anybody takes video games and uses them to make the world a better place, that’s a banner day in my opinion. And that’s exactly what the Gamers Outreach Foundation is setting out to accomplish.

The Gamers Outreach Foundation was founded in 2007 after Saline High School student Zach Wigal’s local video game tournament was canceled by a police officer who believed that video games were corrupting America’s youth. Wigal, determined to prove that gamers can do good, created the Gamers For Giving charity event in 2008, in which gamers get together to play video games for charity. The event still goes on to this day, with this year’s tournament taking place on April 1st and 2nd.

Then, in 2009, Gamers Outreach approached C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital to collaborate by offering the sick children video games to play. The tremendous positive impact that the video games had on the hospital morale was quickly evident. And, within 6 months, GO created their first “GO Kart.” The GO Kart is a specially designed portable, medical-grade gaming center created specifically to bring video games to children who could not leave their hospital bed. The GO Kart Project, along with the Gamers For Giving events, is the foundation’s main point of focus, looking to get the karts in as many hospitals as possible.

And while some may not exactly see how the GO Kart can help, the benefits are certainly quantifiable. Not only do the karts help make the hospital a less lonely and scary experience for the children, but they can actually have positive physical effects on the children. For example, an article from Engadget describes a young boy who would need multiple nurses to hold him down in order to change the dressings on his arm due to the pain. However, once he was introduced to the Go Kart, the young boy was able to focus on the video game, playing with one hand while nurses tended to his arm. The process went from an hour long ordeal to a 20 minute process because of the GO Kart.

The organization has grown since its humble beginnings, earning media attention from news outlets and even industry executives, such as Xbox’s Head of Marketing, Aaron Greenberg. With Greenberg’s help, GO was able to raise several tens of thousands of dollars to fund the creation of more GO Karts.

Again, I personally appreciate seeing an industry that I’m so attached to do good for the community. Hopefully GO can continue to thrive and get a GO Kart in every children’s hospital in the country.

UK’s Tech Startups Giving Back

Tech startups have taken the world by storm over the past few years. It stands to reason seeing as how the world is in the midst of a technological revolution. It seems as if all of the major aspects of our lives are getting smarter each day with phones, houses and cars receiving major tech upgrades. The UK in particular has seen a major uptick in tech companies, with a 92% increase in startups over the past three years. Tech companies also employ 1.56 million people in the UK.

These new companies come with the standard and expected benefit of creating new and exciting jobs. They also provide new technology that several other industries can use and benefit from, such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

These new tech startups are also contributing to an unexpected industry in an extremely positive way. Startups have an intense passion for philanthropic work. More than 50 companies have joined the Pledge 1% movement in the UK, which sees businesses allocate 1% of time, product and equity to charitable contributions. And most of those businesses are related to the tech industry.

So why do UK’s tech startups want to give back so much? One reason has to do with the millennial mentality. Millennial’s are focused on using technology and making the world a better place. After conducting a survey, research company Achieve found that 84% of millennials donate to charity and 70% volunteer.

Millennials are also very picky about their job choices. According to a millennial survey conducted by Deloitte last year, the factors ‘a sense of meaning from my work’ and ‘the impact it has on society’ were the highest ranking factors for millennials when deciding on job offers.

And technology, for the most part, is synonymous with improving or helping the lives of human beings, so it makes sense that those working with technology enjoy charity.

It’s great to see these tech startups with the mindset of helping out your fellow man. Hopefully other industries will take notice and begin to implement philanthropic efforts into their business models.

How the Cloud is Helping In the Fight Against AIDS

Most people view the Cloud as a mysterious entity that knows all, but nobody can truly understand. Several tech companies (like Google, Apple and Microsoft) all have their own version of the Cloud. And while the Cloud may be a bit confusing to many (and incredibly complex), it is actually being used for a tremendous cause: the fight against AIDS.

Since its discovery in 1981, AIDS has affected 1.2 million U.S. citizens, 18,000 of which were diagnosed just last year. It is an extremely sensitive and serious issue that has claimed the lives of an estimated 35 million people worldwide since its discovery.

One of the world’s leading organizations dead set on fighting to end AIDS is (RED). In a recent report from Fox Business, Deb Dugan, CEO of (RED), mentioned that she believes that the Cloud can be used with great effect in their efforts, saying, “the Cloud has made us smarter and more efficient. It’s a game changer.” The Cloud’s biggest contribution is its ability to pinpoint exactly where companies like (RED) are most effective. What’s most impressive is that it manages to do this in real time, giving extremely accurate and up-to-date statistics. Another one of the Cloud’s features is that it simplifies the process of delivering and storing documents and files, allowing for easy access to important information.

Founded in 2006 by U2 lead singer Bono and philanthropist Bobby Shriver, (RED) is dedicated to eradicating AIDS in Africa. To this day, (RED) has earned over $360 million dollars for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

After the Cloud-based customer relationship management software company Salesforce helped to install the Cloud-based programs that (RED) currently uses, (RED) is now able to seamlessly manage several aspects of their organization with ease. Some of the services provided through (RED)’s Cloud software include: analytics, sales and marketing.

The implementation of the Cloud in (RED)’s services has impacted the company tremendously. By using the Cloud, staff at (RED) can now access information at any time, in any place, giving them much more freedom of travel. They can also share their real time statistics with their large corporate partners, in order to show them just how important their work is in places that need it.

(RED) is also very active on social media, and has used the Cloud to their benefit. “We use the marketing cloud loudly and feverishly,” says Dugan. “We want to deepen our relationships and reach our engaged community and share information.”

With the rapid acceptance of technology and Cloud computing, (RED) is hoping to end mother-child transmission of AIDS by 2020, and to completely eradicate the syndrome by 2030.

If you are interested in helping stop AIDS in Africa, visit (RED)’s website by clicking here and donating.

Project Fi’s New Referral Program

Nearly everyone now has a cell phone in the United States. For most people, those cell phones are smartphones, allowing them to access the internet at a moment’s notice through mobile data. Ever since the rise in popularity of the smartphone, people with these types of phones, especially families or those on a tight budget, are looking for ways to reduce the amount of money they pay to their carrier, where costs can often accumulate to hundreds of dollars in a single month, without sacrificing the technology. Because of this issue, many are looking for alternate carriers who offer more affordable options. This is where Google’s new service provider, Project Fi, comes into play. Luckily, Project Fi is gaining popularity and could very well be an alternative to traditional carriers, and a solution to the “sacrificing technology for a lower cost” dilemma.

What is Project Fi?

Project Fi is a cell phone service carrier that Google has recently developed that allows users to use three different networks: Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular, while also subscribing through Google. The cost is $20 a month, and an additional $10 for each gigabyte of data used. It’s a prepaid service, but Google will refund you for any data not used and if you go over, you’re just charged the flat $10 rate for each extra gig of data.

One of the program’s downsides is the lack of phone choice, since users can only choose from some of Google’s new phones or three different types of Nexus phones. Luckily, switching over to the carrier is relatively easy; it only takes porting your number onto the phone and downloading some basic software that transfers your information and adds the apps and features you’ll need to use Project Fi.

Referral Program

Google has recently started pushing a referral program in order to get new users to join Project Fi. They’re running the campaign for a month, offering current users a $20 credit for every person who signs up using their referral code. Another perk is that the person who signs up gets a $20 credit as well, which essentially waives the basic monthly fee. This bonus is only available until January 17th, 2017, so if you’re a current user of Project Fi, take advantage of this opportunity while you can! Unfortunately, you can only benefit from ten uses of your referral code, but that’s probably enough for a couple months of free service, if you can find enough people to use all ten.

Scientific Philanthropy

West coast philanthropies are setting their sights on science. After budget cuts slashed available scientific funding, many charitable and philanthropic organizations stepped up to fill in the gaps. Like other recent tech trends, most of these philanthropies are established on the West Coast, making it the go-to location

Doug MacFaddin Scientific Philanthropyfor researchers looking for funding.

In an article for Nature, staff writer Erika Check Hayden profiles the situation of Marc Kastner. A physicist, Kaster realized that that 16 of the top-50 philanthropies in the country were based on the West coast. By comparison there were 6 in the entire New York tri-state area. So he struck out west, and formed the Science Philanthropy Alliance. The Palo Alto group is a union of philanthropic organizations with a focus on funding research. They also teach new groups how to go about their own funding, too. Kastner watched brilliant young graduates from top schools struggle to get the funding necessary to start a career in science and medicine, and that was what encouraged him to try to make a difference for the better.

The effort attracted the attention of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Their foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is pledging 3 billion dollars with the hope of eliminating the worst of human disease by the year 2100. And at a recent gala for the group, the social media titan urged other philanthropists to seek out Kastner for advice.

The Science Philanthropy Alliance also takes care to not dictate what kind of research is done. Instead, they focus on building the best tools and infrastructure necessary for curious minds to find solutions to the problem at hand. Private meetings are also held to determine where and how to direct funds to these projects and the individuals behind them.

 

The Chief Equality Officer

It’s no secret that diversity remains one of the tech industry’s biggest internal problems. Salesforce seems to have taken the message to heart, as they just hired Tony Prophet as their first Chief Equality Officer, reports Business Insider. In this role, Prophet will be responsible for the development of initiatives that pursue a more diverse workforce and equal pay.

Many tech companies acknowledge that diversity is “good”, yet few actually act accordingly. Diversity isn’t just a luxury, it has been shown that more diverse teams build better products. A homogenous group might build something fantastic, but it’s only solving problems that similar minds are thinking of. When people of many different backgrounds come together, however, problems can be approached from multiple angles. The result? Something appealing to a wider group of people.Doug MacFaddin Doug MacFaddin Cash Out to Charity

Prophet was formerly a Vice President at Microsoft. As VP of education marketing, Prophet led the charge to get Microsoft in front of more students. That knack for outreach will clearly do him well in his new role with the cloud computing company. Notably, Prophet was one of the first executives to come on board after Satya Nadella was made current CEO in 2014.

Prophet will be reporting to close friend and CEO Marc Benioff. Prophet has supported Benioff’s charitable initiatives in the past, specifically San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s hospital.

Business Insider notes that this is a bit of an interesting hire given the rivalry between the two companies. Prophet and Benioff’s friendship aside, Microsoft and Salesforce have jockeyed for cloud computing supremacy. Many thought the competitive fired was waning after Microsoft integrated Salesforce into its signature Office Suite. But Benioff wants to leave no room for ambiguity and has indicated the rivalry is back.

 

Cash Out to Charity

Credit card rewards programs can be tricky things. Sure, they look good on paper— earn cash back! Get more miles!— but how often do you really stay on top of them? If your answer was “not very often”, you’re not alone. A good deal of us aren’t. In fact, $16 billion in rewards went unused back in 2010. Those numbers may have changed in the half decade that has followed, but even if it were a minor improvement of 10-20%, that’s still a solid chunk of change that’s gone to waste.

One credit card company though, is looking to change that by allowing card holders to donate unused rewards to charity.

Rewards go unused for a number of reasons. If there’s a reward you can get by redeeming points, often times you need to have spent a lot in the process. After all, no one is thrilled by redeeming their paltry earnings for something like a keychain. For other users, especially those with a smaller credit line, the thought of redeeming points to shave a few dollars off of the bill also may not be at the front of the mind. The point is, a model like the one used by Charity Charge ensures that what would be otherwise gone and forgotten is donated to useful causes.

Charity Charge isn’t the first company to forward rewards to charities, but it is redefining how we give. Bank of America, for instance, offers a card that donates cash back rewards to breast cancer research, but the amount itself is tiny— .08% of each purchase. Another snag with donating to charity is the total of processing fees. Many donations go towards salary, utilities, and other overhead costs. But charity charge underwrites these fees, so the donations go straight to the cause itself.