oprah winfrey

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back to the World—Oprah Winfrey

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back to the World—Oprah Winfrey

“I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think it’s an on-going process. And it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.”

She is an American proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. She is Oprah Winfrey—the self-made, one of the most powerful women in the world. Born under an unmarried teenage mother, living under rural poverty to wear dresses made of potato sacks, suffering years of abuse, and having to watch her son dying shortly after birth at the age of 14, Winfrey understands hardship like no other. Despite all the adversities that could have easily let down anyone, Oprah survived. And now, as a billionaire and the richest self-made woman in America, she is furthering he reputation for her devotion to philanthropy.

1. The Angel Network

“Inspire people and make a difference in the lives of others”

In 1994, The Oprah Show presented a girl named Nora and her project, Penny Harvest. She and other children were collecting pennies to help various organizations. Inspired by Nora’s little effort to collect up to $1,000, Oprah said, “If you could do that, I wonder what I could do?” Thus launched The Angel Network, a non-profit, volunteer served, public charity. It started with a small project to provide college scholarships for 150 deserving students. The same year, 1997,https://fuzeus.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php viewers of Oprah’s show gathered to help out Habitat for humanity to build 200 beautiful new homes. Pretty soon, this charity was present in any place that needed help. You can find out more about The Angel Network’s work on History of Angel Network

2. The Oprah Winfrey Foundation

“My young friends, doors are opening for you—doors of opportunities that were not open to your mothers and fathers—and the great challenge facing you is to be ready to face these doors as they open.” 

The Oprah Winfrey Foundation does not accept donation from anyone. This is run exclusively by Oprah Winfrey and her endowment and its current asset amounts to a total of $172 million. It was first established to fund Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, which is a girls-only boarding school that officially opened in January 2007 in  south of Johannesburg, South Africa. The mission of this academy is to provide a nurturing educational environment for academically gifted girls who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In October 2007, a female school staffer was accused of physically and sexually abusing students. As soon as she heard the news, Winfrey flew to South Africa to meet with school officials and parents. Fortunately, the mess was handled well under a thorough investigation and Winfrey reportedly provided each girl with a cell phone programmed with Winfrey’s personal phone number. In the statement she said, “It is my deepest hope that the accused is brought to justice and that this serves as a reminder that any time a child has the courage to step forward, it is our duty as adults to listen and take immediate action.” To her immediate and effective remedies to the incident, Merlenes Davis of the Lexington-Herald Leader sent her praise.

But I so admire how Winfrey handled the mess after she heard about it. She pulled no punches, revealed all the ugliness and promised the parents of those girls to do a much better job. The good coming out of this, however, is that those girls, who all have come from extreme poverty, have some idea of what a powerful woman looks like and what she stands for. So do those who no longer work at the academy.

3. Oprah and Bill Clinton

Nearly thirteen years after leaving the White House, former president Bill Clinton is still working to change the lives of people around the world with his foundation, which supports causes such as treating HIV and AIDS. Winfrey is also a big supporter of the Clinton Foundation, which is also supported by Elton John, Donald Trump, Barbra Streisand and Anne Hathaway.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed, “Oprah Bill,” also known as the National Child Protection Act. Oprah’s Bill creates a national registry of convicted child abusers, which relates to Oprah’s personal history of having been abused as a child. At the signing of the National Child Protection Act, President Clinton invited Oprah Winfrey to speak.

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$255,000 for a dinner with Bill Clinton

$255,000 for a dinner with Bill Clinton

After several attempts of Obama’s government to lower the income tax deduction for charitable giving, non-profit organizations such as hospitals and educational institutes, which largely depend on generous gifts from affluent donors, are bracing themselves for the upcoming devastation. In difficult times like this, non-profit organizations have to get themselves lean and mean to find new ways to incentivize people to open their wallets. Since the government is eliminating an important motivation for wealthy philanthropists to donate a huge sum, non-profit organizations have to make up for it, hence initiating a challenging competition between these organizations.

 

One of the websites that successfully promoted its charity service is Charitybuzz.com—an online auction house that offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences to raise money for noteworthy causes. Unlike other charity websites that let their users pick a cause of their interest and donate money accordingly, Charitybuzz holds auctions on a dinner with celebrities, concert tickets, makeovers, art works, internships and even extra roles of popular TV shows such as How I met your mother. Thus it not only attracts wealthy donors but also encourages people who previously weren’t interested in donation to be a part of charity work. Due to its interesting approach to social good, this website raised more than $25 million in 2011 alone and more and more non-profits are becoming its partners.

The most popular service out of all is the celebrity section. Debbie McLeod, an executive director of Grant Me the Wisdom Foundation—which aids women and girls in developing nations—has paid $255,000 to spend the day with Bill Clinton. Her bid was twice the amount to meet Oprah Winfrey. The money collected was donated to Clinton Global Initiative.

Here is a list of top 10 celebrities who were sold for highest price and the organizations where the money was donated to.

  1. Bill Clinton: $255,000 to Clinton Global Initiative
  2. Oprah Winfrey: $105,000 to RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights
  3. Elton John: $100,000 to Natural Resources Defense Council
  4. Rupert Murdoch: $85,000 to the Global Poverty Project
  5. Paul Simon: $75,000 to the children’s Health Fund
  6. Paul McCartney: $70,000 to GREEN Schools Initiative
  7. Green Ross: $70,000 to Peace Corps
  8. Karl Lagerfeld: $65,000 to Runway to Green
  9. Harrison Ford: $65,000 to Conservation International
  10. Howard Stern: $55,500 to Rosie’s Theater Kids

Critics’ response differed greatly on Charitybuzz’s success. Mike Colling, a managing director of marketing agency MC&C, applauded the idea by saying, “Any charity representing itself as competent in the execution of this service should be prepared to substantiate this.” He also added, “This will accelerate the trend for charities to benchmark Despite its effective strategy to promote donation, some people doubt its possible effect on other non-profit organizations that are partners of Charitybuzz. On the other hand, Richard Hill, a strategy director of marketing agency at Touch DDB, argued, “By raising the issue of one charity being more efficient than another, we’d risk making donors question the efficiency of charity spending more generally, which might put them off donating. It could also force charities to spend more on advertising in order to defend their positions, which many donors will see as a waste of money.” Adrian Sargeant, Professor of fundraising at Bristol Business School also agreed. “This is a bad idea, such advertising could backfire, and I suspect such cherry-picking may also prove unlawful.”

The debate on Charitybuzz’s tit-for-tat strategy is worth thinking about. If non-profit organizations are to compete for the donor’s money, is it fair that they come up with innovative but not completely altruistic ways to attract users?

What do you think?