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the extraordinary concept of Kiva.org. Now I came across an interview with Bill Clinton that explains the mission very accurately…as well as this film by PBS.

Another great site is GiveMeaning.com by Vancouver-based Tom Williams.
Tom started his career in Product Marketing at Apple Computer when he was just 14 years old. In his own words:

My dream for GiveMeaning is that we inspire people to take action. I believe that most every
person cares deeply about something, but I’m equally

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sure that many of us find ourselves doing
little for the causes that matter most to us — not because of a lack of desire, but a lack
of confidence. My plan is for GiveMeaning to change all this by being able to take any cause or issue and
identify a small, but tangible, piece of the problem to fix. I once heard a story where the moral
was: “if you want to move mountains, buy a shovel.” Giving Groups are like online shovels that
make small steps towards addressing big issues. This is my hope for GiveMeaning; people connecting with friends, and strangers, united by a desire to achieve a common
goal.

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1 Comment

Comment by Tom Newman
2008-01-20 23:35:58

Excerpt of article in The Vancouver Sun newspaper of January 19, 2008:

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=b76ff000-c8e8-4789-9ed8-806df2c2945a

During the year ending Sept. 30, 2006, GiveMeaning received $234,643 in donations for which it gave tax receipts, according to a financial statement filed with Canada Revenue Agency. Tom Williams said these are largely donations from individuals.

It received another $730,350 from other registered charities. Williams said these donations were made specifically to pay GiveMeaning’s overhead.

He refused to identify any of these donors. I found this strange: My sense is that, while some donors request anonymity, most registered charities or foundations publicly report where they are placing their money, not so much for recognition as for transparency.

More generally, I do not understand why certain undisclosed charities would give money to pay overhead for what is essentially a charitable conduit.

In the case of GiveMeaning, that overhead is disproportionately large. Of the $982,705 in total donations it received (and issued tax receipts for), GiveMeaning spent $666,070, or 68 per cent, on administrative expenses.

Those expenses included $199,043 for professional and consulting fees; $153,646 for salaries, wages and benefits; $28,433 for advertising and promotion; and $24,019 for travel.

I asked Williams whether he receives a salary. Well, yes, $90,000 per year. And his wife, country singer Jessie Farrell, who works part-time for the foundation “when she can,” gets $30,000. So together they collect $120,000 per year, plus expenses.

After subtracting overhead costs, just over $300,000 was available for charitable purposes in 2006, but only $172,000 was actually given to charities (the remainder is still on the foundation’s books). That $172,000 represents just 17.5 per cent of total donations.

But that’s not the end of it. Many of the charities that receive money have their own overhead. So the net amount available for true charitable purposes is even less.

Williams insists that, whenever a person gives money for a particular charity, 100 per of that money gets to the named beneficiary. That may be true, but it does not mitigate the fact that the vast majority of the overall money collected during 2006 went to administration.

Williams says this was due largely to start-up costs: “Yes, we have spent more than we have given away. Just like any other start-up business, it takes time to get profitable,” he said.

He said the financial return for the year ending Sept. 30, 2007, which is just now being filed, will show a greater percentage of overall donations going to charity. We shall see.

The Vancouver Sun January 19, 2008

 

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