Do One Better with Alberto Lidji in Philanthropy, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship

By Alberto Lidji

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More than 150 interviews with thought-leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Hosted by Alberto Lidji, Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Strategic Philanthropy and former Global CEO of the Novak Djokovic Foundation. Be inspired to improve the world around you!

Episode Date
Global Head of the Macquarie Group Foundation, Lisa George, on leading a corporate foundation, maximising employee engagement, matched-giving, impact-tracking software and Australian philanthropy
31:06

This episode provides insight into a dynamic corporate foundation and sheds light on the growth of philanthropy in Australia.

Macquarie Group is a diversified financial srvices organisation with 18,000 employees; working in 33 markets around the world. Interestingly, the foundation was established at the same time and alongside the company itself.

Employee engagement is a key aspect of their philanthropic work. Their matched giving program is generous (matching each employee’s giving up to AUD $50,000 annually) and they also encourage engagement through volunteering, mentoring and sharing of expertise.

Last financial year, the foundation and its employees contributed AUD $44 million to community organisations. We explore their strategic grant-making program, which is focused on economic and social mobility, and which ranges from education and employment of young people in Australia, to higher education access and career attainment in the United States. Their philanthropic work feels different in different regions, and we also hear of their new impact investing work.

Lisa is also co-chair of Philanthropy Australia and she sheds light on the state of affairs and future outlook for philanthropy in that country.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 200 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review to help others find this show.

 

Aug 08, 2022
CEO of the IKEA Foundation, Per Heggenes: a wide-ranging conversation on climate, impact, collaboration, refugees, Ukraine and optimism
40:29

Per joins us back on the show after last having been with us on 6th September 2020. We continue where we left off and start by looking at the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), which the IKEA Foundation set up with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bezos Earth Fund.

GEAPP is working in partnership with countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean to operationalise renewable energy transitions and expansions, which will reduce greenhouse gases, extend clean power to underserved people, and enable green jobs.  As Per notes, we need to embrace radical collaboration – it’s the way to get to Net Zero.

We also look at the IKEA Foundation’s approach to measurement, learning and evaluation; the importance of using evidence to guide grant-making, and the importance of funding research to build such bodies of evidence when they don’t exist.  Evidence is key for achieving systems change, and philanthropy needs to take risks, innovate and collaborate.

The conversation also looks at the work the IKEA Foundation has traditionally been doing with refugees in the Global South and, more recently, how IKEA’s commercial operations are supporting refugees from Ukraine in the Global North. Per details the close collaboration between IKEA’s philanthropic and commercial sides.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 200 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review to help others find this show.

 

Aug 01, 2022
Shannon Elizabeth & Simon Borchert on protecting rhinos, strengthening the conservation workforce, leveraging the celebrity angle, engaging with legislators + the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation
47:24

Shannon Elizabeth is an actor who is passionate about animal conservation. She has starred in over 50 films and television shows, including American Pie, Scary Movie, Love Actually and That 70’s Show.  Simon Borchert has a strong family history of animal conservation in South Africa. Together, this dynamic husband and wife duo are protecting rhinos and strengthening the field of conservation through the work of the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation.

We learn about the foundation’s operations, programs, advocacy with legislators and we gain insight into leveraging the celebrity platform to drive forward positive change and get the message across.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 200 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review to help others find this show.

 

Jul 25, 2022
Siddhi Aryal of Vital Strategies introduces us to the Children’s Environmental Health Indicators Initiative (CEHI) and explores public health, the environment and climate change
35:34

Unhealthy environments have been linked to a range of significant health risks to children, including premature birth, stillbirth, increased lifelong risk for brain and behavioural problems, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancers, dysfunction of hormonal and reproductive systems, and more.

Globally, more than 1 in 4 childhood deaths under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments—a statistic that will continue to rise as climate change magnifies the world’s most important environmental risk factors.

While environmental health risk factors are clearly leading causes of child illness and death in Asia, country-specific, systematic data needed to develop approaches to improving children’s health and reducing, minimising, and preventing environmental risk factors is often lacking. 

We learn how Children’s Environmental Health Indicators (CEHI) can fill the data and knowledge gap in children’s environmental health; enabling tracking, assessment and reporting on the status and impacts of climate and the environment on children’s health as well as the evaluation of environmental interventions and policies.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 200 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review to help others find this show.

 

Jul 18, 2022
CEO of Atlas Corps, Bidjan Nashat, on building a talent pool from the Global South and breaking down the barriers to diverse talent.
37:15

If you ever wondered how to create a truly diverse talent pool and intentionally attract the next generation of leaders from countries not usually represented in senior management teams, this episode will inform you and show you how some of the world’s leading organisations are embracing this challenge.

Atlas Corps was founded in 2006. They are a non-profit, a social enterprise and a registered 501(c)(3) in the United States.

Their Fellowship program identifies strong talent and human capital potential from the Global South and they act as a matchmaker by placing Atlas Corps Fellows with leading organisations such as SAP, Save the Children and the Hilton Foundation.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 200 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review to help others find this show.

 

Jul 11, 2022
CEO of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Anne Aslett, on tackling the stigma around HIV/AIDS, changing social norms and reaching the most marginalised
38:39

Great advances in medical treatments enable most people with HIV to live lives with life expectancy comparable to the general population. Unfortunately, stigma and negative social norms persist and must be tackled.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation is a global grant-making foundation focused on ending the AIDS epidemic. They’re based in London and New York, they fund services on the ground and organisations that are working in the field in up to 50 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia; they are also active in the UK and US.  They are the fifth largest AIDS foundation in the world and were founded in 1992.

Anne shares her very touching personal story that brought her to the field of HIV/AIDS; she speaks with passion about the innovative ways they’re leveraging new technologies to reach those most marginalised individuals and communities; and she gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to work with Elton John to improve lives and change mindsets.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 200 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review to help others find this show.

 

Jul 04, 2022
How to tackle the food crisis? Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) on what philanthropists, corporates + policymakers can do about the food crisis
40:04

In light of so many indicators pointing in the wrong direction, what can we do with the resources and powers at our disposal to tackle the food crisis and drive forward improved nutrition? 

This conversation provides clear suggestions and insight for philanthropists, business leaders and policymakers alike -- the case for improved nutrition has never been stronger.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 200 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review to help others find this show.

 

Jun 27, 2022
Zane Wilemon, Co-Founder of the Ubuntu Life Foundation, shares his personal story of self-discovery, faith and social entrepreneurship. Inspirational work helping children with special needs in Kenya
32:14

In this episode we bring you a heart-warming interview with Zane Wilemon – an ordained priest from Texas who embraced social entrepreneurship in Kenya and improved the lives of children and women through philanthropy and commerce.

We hear how Zane’s philanthropic work led to the creation of Ubuntu Life, a successful social enterprise that is backed by social investors and whose products made it into Whole Foods and were recognised by Oprah Winfrey on her 2020 ‘Favorite Things List'.

Proceeds from the social enterprise go to the Ubuntu Life Foundation, whose work in Kenya supports children with special needs in education and health.

This episode highlights how anyone, anywhere, can make a positive difference to improve our world.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Please visit our website at Lidji.org for information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

 

Jun 20, 2022
What if you left your career in investment banking in London to become a farmer in South Africa? We speak with ‘Farmer Angus’ McIntosh — a leading voice in regenerative agriculture
30:02

In this episode we focus on the power of regenerative agriculture and why you, as a consumer, can literally eat your way to a better world.

We speak with Angus McIntosh, who is better known in South Africa as 'Farmer Angus'. He grew up on a cattle ranch in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Studied Management Accounting at Stellenbosch University before stockbroking for Goldman Sachs in London. Declined the offer of promotion, left his job and moved to South Africa. Built a clay home with inspiration from various people on the way leading to him to eventually become a biodynamic student, grass farmer and carbon sequestrator.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. We invite you to follow us and leave us a review to help others find this show.

 

Jun 13, 2022
Shane Ryan, Global Executive Director of the Avast Foundation, on equity and inclusion within the digital space; trust-based philanthropy, inclusive co-design and much more
35:02

On this episode, we are talking with Shane Ryan, Global Executive Director of the Avast Foundation.  Many of you who use a computer day in and day out will recognise the Avast brand — they are one of the world’s leading antivirus software providers.

We are going to be talking with Shane about equity and inclusion within the digital space, and to kick things off, here’s a sobering statistic: 

According to the United Nations, nearly 3 billion people, or 37% of the global population, have never been online despite a rise in Internet use during the pandemic. And, here’s another statistic: 96% of those nearly 3 billion people who have never been online, live in the developing world.

Today’s conversation is well-rounded and spans equity and inclusion within the digital space, trust-based philanthropy, inclusive co-design and much more. 

Shane himself has overcome much adversity during his childhood, having been in care and coming from humble beginnings in West London; and subsequently succeeding in a career that saw him become Deputy Director of the National Lottery Community Fund, in the UK and, today, Global Executive Director of the Avast Foundation.

His experience in equity, inclusion, grant-making and philanthropy provide him with a unique vantage point from which to shed light on the importance of equitable and inclusive digital futures, trust-based philanthropy and inclusive co-design.  Inclusive co-design being a thread that is constant throughout Shane’s career — he has always been passionate about ensuring everyone has a voice.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Jun 06, 2022
Cath Dovey, Co-Founder of the Beacon Collaborative, on what stops people from giving more philanthropically in the UK and what can be done about it.
30:17

The Beacon Collaborative exists to encourage more private assets to be used for public good.  It is a focal point where philanthropists can come together, share ideas and learn from each other – and where organisations can collaborate to support them on their donor journeys.

We explore the barriers and opportunities in giving philanthropically; the intergenerational dynamics within families; the regulatory environment; the value of relationships between donors and charities and ways in which government can foster more philanthropy.

This episode looks at philanthropy from a UK context but will inform and inspire an international audience. 

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org

 

May 30, 2022
Olivia Leland, Founder and CEO of Co-Impact, on their new Gender Fund and the importance of keeping equity, inclusion and justice at the core of systems change thinking
32:53

Prior to founding Co-Impact in 2017, Olivia served as Founding Director of the Giving Pledge, an effort launched by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

Co-Impact, brings together partners from around the world to drive forward just and inclusive systems change. They’re operating in 13 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Funding comes from philanthropists, institutions, corporates and social change leaders; and their program partners are locally-rooted organisations that are working to transform government and market systems to be more effective and more equitable. 

They are focused on education, health and economic opportunity; and they have recently launched a new Gender Fund, which advances gender equality and is focused on women’s leadership in law and economics.  The Gender Fund has a 10-year horizon and aims to invest $1 billion, of which they have already raised a third. 

This episode provides a candid look at one of the most innovative and substantive collaboratives in the world of philanthropy. It will inform and inspire you.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org

 

May 23, 2022
CEO of Porticus, Melanie Maas Geesteranus. Porticus is perhaps the biggest philanthropic organisation that you have never heard of! We delve into their philanthropic work and rich history
31:36

In this episode, we learn about Porticus’ global operations and explore the importance of participation, building networks, developing programs from the ground up and driving systems change.

Since 1995, Porticus has coordinated the philanthropic endeavours of the Brenninkmeijer family, continuing a tradition of social engagement stretching back as far as 1841. 

Porticus works in 65 countries and has offices around the world. They have 1,500 partners with whom they aim to improve the world. 

Despite their size and reach, they’ve kept a low profile and traditionally the family said they wanted to focus on their partners, rather than have the spotlight on themselves — let our partners shine.

Now Porticus is changing to a more transparent approach. As Melanie notes, when you’re focusing on systems change, you need to get involved in advocacy, you need to be able to influence policy, so there are good reasons for taking a more public and transparent role. It also helps to get new partners and co-funders involved.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, please visit our website at Lidji.org

 

May 16, 2022
Caroline Casey, Founder of the Valuable 500, on leveraging the power of business for disability inclusion
37:37

 

The Valuable 500 is using the power of business to drive lasting change for the 1.3 billion people around the world who are living with a disability.  

They are a collective of 500 businesses and CEOs, chaired by Paul Polman (former CEO of Unilever), who are innovating for disability inclusion, and who include some of the most recognised firms and brands around the world: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Deloitte and Barclays, to name a few.

These 500 companies represent 22 million employees around the world, in 64 sectors, with $8 trillion in revenue power. Caroline is unequivocal that this is an initiative that comes from the heart; if we can make business good, we can change the world.

We also learn about Caroline’s personal challenges and disability: being legally blind (having been diagnosed with ocular albinism, a genetic condition that severely impairs vision), having to remortgage her house in order to get the Valuable 500 off the ground and going to great lengths to get Paul Polman on board.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Please visit our website at Lidji.org for information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review since it helps others find this show.

 

May 09, 2022
Let’s leverage data to drive forward the Sustainable Development Goals! Claudia Juech on helping non-profits embrace and leverage data
38:30

Learn how the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation is making an impact; helping non-profit organisations by advancing AI and data solutions to create a thriving, equitable, and sustainable future for all.

Claudia Juech is Vice President of Data and Society at the Patrick. J. McGovern Foundation and was Managing Director for Strategic Insights at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Her career has been all about using data for decision making – first in the financial sector in Germany and more recently at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she and her team used foresight approaches and innovation methodologies to identify the most promising ideas that could be shaped into the next $100M initiative. 

This episode will stimulate your thinking and provide you with tangible examples of how data can be leveraged to drive forward social good.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, please visit our website at Lidji.org

 

May 02, 2022
James Chen: Moonshot philanthropy and providing access to affordable eye care
35:47

 

James Chen has dedicated the last 20 years to addressing the issue of poor vision. He founded Clearly, a global campaign to educate the public and world leaders and raise the profile of the issue — championing innovation and spreading best practices that help make sight tests and affordable glasses available to all, as well as connecting people committed to tackling this issue so we can all be a catalyst for change. 

As part of this work, James convinced 52 countries at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to pledge affordable eye care for all, created the first UN working group on poor vision and completed research which found glasses had the largest productivity increase of any other health intervention. 

He is creating a tipping point in how poor vision is viewed on the global health agenda, culminating in the unanimous UN ‘Vision for All by 2030’ resolution in the summer of 2021.

In this episode, James also explains his passion for moonshot philanthropy and why it’s important to think big, take calculated risks and, in his words, privatise failure and socialise success, whereby philanthropists absorb the costs when things don’t quite work out and they share with the wider world when interventions succeed.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Please visit our website at Lidji.org for information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please leave us a rating and a review to help others find this show.

 

Apr 25, 2022
Gemma Bull and Tom Steinberg on modern grantmaking and positive change
39:02

Grantmaking is imperfect and full of opportunities for improvement. We explore a range of topics, including (1) trust-based philanthropy; (2) power imbalances; (3) participatory grantmaking; and (4) striving to make grantmaking more accessible, equitable and empathetic.

Tom and Gemma are authors of the book ‘Modern Grantmaking’, which provides useful tips for professionals in this field and instils a belief that better is possible.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Apr 18, 2022
Let’s eliminate poverty in India within our lifetime! Atul Satija, Founder & CEO of The/Nudge Institute, tackles a grand ambition
31:18
Let's transform India into a poverty-free country within our lifetime. A fascinating conversation full of ambition to improve the lives of millions of people.   The/Nudge Institute is an action institute that works with governments, markets, and civil society to build resilient livelihoods for all.   Over 364 million Indians live below the poverty line. At The/Nudge Institute, they believe that it is within our collective means to ensure that every Indian lives a life with dignity out of poverty. They work to create livelihood opportunities at scale, and in doing so, build resilience in society to withstand economic shocks.   The/Nudge Institute has strong foundation partners, including the Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Skoll Foundation and Tata Trusts. Corporate partners include Unilever, Cisco, Morgan Stanley, LinkedIn Social Impact and KPMG.   Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Please leave us a rating and a review since it helps others find this show. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org  
Apr 11, 2022
Social Investing at scale in Australia: a conversation with Michael Traill AM
41:03

Michael Traill is Chair of Australia’s largest foundation, the Paul Ramsay Foundation, and co-founder of For Purpose Investment Partners. Michael also co-founded Macquarie Group’s private equity arm, was Chief Executive of Social Ventures Australia and holds a Harvard MBA.

This episode provides key insight and detail for anyone who wishes to leverage private capital for social good. We explore a range of topics including:

(1) An overview of philanthropy in Australia today. (2) Going beyond grant-making and ensuring endowments are invested for impact. (3) Do investment professionals genuinely value impact investing? (4) How does a non-profit, impact investment manager actually work? (5) How do you go about deal flow origination, and what does a deal look like? (6) How do you go to market with an impact investment proposition? (7) How will the impact investing market evolve in the coming years? (8) Do most impact investment opportunities arise from private equity houses, philanthropic foundations, high net worth individuals, or elsewhere?

Thank you for downloading this episode of the Do One Better Podcast. Please leave us a rating and a review since it helps others find this show. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought-leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Apr 04, 2022
In defence of charities: an interview with Debra Allcock Tyler, Chief Executive of the Directory of Social Change (DSC)
32:04

We explore the world of charities and delve into key questions, such as: 

(1) What’s the state of affairs with charities today?  (2) Why are so many charities struggling for funding when many foundations and major donors saw their endowments, net worth and equity portfolios grow so much in 2021?  (3) What’s the public perception of charities and is it well-founded?  (4) Are there too many charities and do they overlap with each other?  (5) Are there parallels to be drawn between the private sector and non-profit sector?  (6) Is it right for charity CEOs and their boards to focus on growth? 

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought-leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org -- Please leave us a rating and a review since it helps others find this show. Thank you!

 

Mar 28, 2022
CEO of Ella’s Kitchen, Mark Cuddigan, on driving sustainable business at the UK’s No.1 baby food company
35:19

A candid conversation where opportunities are fleshed out; where tensions between mission and sustainability are identified; and where a belief in doing better is underscored.

Should you use plastic packaging instead of glass? How do you tackle the tension between having organic protein food products that help children grow and the high carbon output that accompanies such protein?

We also explore the broader business landscape; delve into the merits of becoming B Corp certified; and consider the legislative agenda, such as the drive for the Better Business Act in the UK, which aims to ensure every company in the UK aligns their interests with those of wider society and the environment.

Ella’s Kitchen leads the way in organic baby food in the UK, is B Corp certified, operates in 35 markets and is mission-driven to improve children’s lives through developing healthy relationships with food.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org  Please follow the show if you’re not doing so already and leave us a rating and a review — thank you!

 

Mar 21, 2022
Deval Sanghavi, Co-Founder of Dasra, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss strategic philanthropy in India
34:59

 

Deval Sanghavi, Co-Founder of Dasra, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss strategic philanthropy in India. Dasra began as a venture philanthropy fund to invest in early stage non-profit organizations in India.

After listening to this episode you will have better insight into the philanthropic landscape in India; understand how grant-making foundations are including the voices of NGOs into their grant-making decisions and how NGO leaders are being supported.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

 

Mar 14, 2022
Let’s transform education systems by reigniting intrinsic motivation! The Chair and CEO of STiR Education, Jo Owen and Girish Menon, explain why motivation is key to success
38:38

Let’s transform education systems by reigniting intrinsic motivation! The Chair and CEO of STiR Education, Jo Owen and Girish Menon, explain why motivation is key to success.

STiR Education operates in India and Uganda, they’ve recently started a program in Indonesia and are currently in discussions with the education ministry in Ethiopia.  Brazil is being explored.

They’ve been funded by some of the world’s leading foundations, including MacArthur Foundation, IKEA Foundation, Dubai Cares, ELMA Foundation and UBS Optimus.

We hear how intrinsic motivation needs to run across entire education systems and without it even the most targeted education interventions are at increased risk of failure. 

Jo Owen and Girish Menon provide excellent insight and vivid examples to inform, inspire and help you make a bigger impact.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Mar 07, 2022
Transforming lives by setting up kids’ operating rooms and training paediatric surgeons in low and middle income countries. Garreth Wood, Chair of KidsOR, talks about need, solutions + economic impact
34:27

Transforming lives by setting up kids’ operating rooms and training paediatric surgeons in low and middle income countries. Garreth Wood, Chair of KidsOR, talks about need, solutions + economic impact.

KidsOR is operating in 20 countries; they’re focused on building centres of excellence for children's surgery; dramatically increasing capacity and access for safe surgery; and they’re doing it in government hospitals, creating safe spaces and the right tools. They are training a local healthcare workforce so they can care for their own nation’s children.

Beyond the moral imperative to support children, there’s a strong economic argument as well: Countries face a staggering difference in economic benefit between a child who spends their entire life living with a disability versus a child who’s able to contribute fully to the country as they grow up. 

In this conversation we explore a range of relevant issues, from the need to train paediatric surgeons, biomedical engineers and the local healthcare workforce, to scaling up internationally and collaborating with governments and ministries of health.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Feb 28, 2022
Jay Weatherill, CEO of Thrive by Five and former Premier of South Australia, discusses Early Childhood Development within an Australian context and introduces an exciting new parenting app
29:56

Jay Weatherill, CEO of Thrive by Five and former Premier of South Australia, discusses Early Childhood Development within an Australian context and introduces an exciting new parenting app.

Thrive by Five is an initiative of the Minderoo Foundation — a philanthropic outfit founded by Nicola and Andrew Forrest that has grown to AU$2.5 billion and is today one of the largest foundations in Australia and the region.

We explore the Early Childhood Development landscape; the work of Thrive by Five and the Minderoo Foundation; and their new parenting app.

As a former Premier of South Australia, we hear how James is able to draw on his experience and expertise to create a social movement and change political realities in the drive to put Early Childhood Development front and centre on the agenda.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship please visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Feb 21, 2022
What if we loved politicians? Lisa Witter, CEO of the Apolitical Foundation, joins us to explore investing in new types of political leaders who will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
35:48

 

What if we loved politicians? Lisa Witter, CEO of the Apolitical Foundation, joins us to explore investing in new types of political leaders who will help us achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

A great conversation on empowering democracy for the 21st Century; supporting and training policymakers and political leaders; closing the gap between evidence and informed political action; and encouraging citizens to participate throughout the political process.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, just visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Feb 14, 2022
Fran Perrin, Chair of 360Giving, calls for more data transparency in philanthropy and explains how grant-makers, charities and beneficiaries can benefit from sharing data
31:48

 

Fran Perrin, Chair of 360Giving, calls for more data transparency in philanthropy and explains how grant-makers, charities and beneficiaries can benefit from sharing data.

360Giving is about making better grant decisions by having more information, and fitting funding to where it’s most needed and has the most impact. They are a charity helping organisations publish open, standardised grants data, and empowering people to use it to improve charitable giving.

Through data sharing they also help lower the barriers to entry for small charities that are fundraising, so they know where to apply and, in the process, stop wasting time applying for money that’s never going to be given.

In this episode we go beyond data transparency and also explore how COVID has shifted philanthropic thinking; the need for increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion; power imbalances; and the increased prominence of trust-based philanthropy.  

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship please visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Feb 07, 2022
Let’s ensure education policymakers rely on evidence! Dr Randa Grob-Zakhary is Founder and CEO of Education.org and is making big, positive waves as a start-up foundation
38:42

 

Dr Randa Grob-Zakhary, Founder and CEO of Education.org, is unequivocal about the need to reduce the gap between the existing body of evidence in education and the small amount of that evidence that’s actually being used by policymakers. 

Education.org is a young foundation making big, positive waves within the world of education. Early stage investors and partners supporting it include the Oak Foundation, Dubai Cares, Porticus, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Echidna Giving.

Randa brings innovative thinking to the table and, as she points out, “it’s very hard being a start-up in the education sector because the sector is so oriented towards the status quo”. 

Prior to founding Education.org, Randa held various roles, including CEO of the LEGO Foundation; Board Member with the Global Partnership for Education; and Global Head of Education at Porticus. She holds an M.D. and PhD in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University.  

Thank you for downloading this episode. For information on more than 150 episodes with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship just visit Lidji.org

 

Jan 31, 2022
Let’s talk collaborative philanthropy! Anna Hakobyan (Chief Impact Officer at CIFF), Deepali Khanna (MD for Asia at the Rockefeller Foundation) and Anurag Banerjee (Co-Founder & CEO of Quilt.AI)
52:26

 

Let’s talk collaborative philanthropy! We are joined by Anna Hakobyan (Chief Impact Officer at CIFF — the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation), Deepali Khanna (Managing Director for Asia at the Rockefeller Foundation) and Anurag Banerjee (Co-Founder & CEO of Quilt.AI) for a candid and thought-provoking conversation.

This is an in-depth episode with views from three influential and consequential thought-leaders in philanthropy and social good, who bring a breadth of experience and expertise ranging from grant-making and impact measurement to data-sharing and artificial intelligence for good.  

Collaboration in the world of philanthropy is not only increasing in prominence but is also becoming ever more sophisticated and innovative.  

We take a look at collaboration across numerous dimensions, including funder to funder; funder and grantees; grantee to grantee; Global South to Global South; private and non-profit sectors; and large/experienced organisations to small/inexperienced ones.

We also discuss how impact measurement, evaluation findings and evidence reviews should be viewed as a public good; fully transparent and shared widely; within an environment of trust that creates safe spaces for candid exchanges on what works and what does not.

And, we explore the importance of going beyond traditional knowledge-sharing by targeting the right audiences with key insights at just the right time when they’re in the decision-making process.  This is an episode that will inform you and equip you to achieve more social good. 

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on more than 150 episodes featuring remarkable thought-leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship please visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Jan 24, 2022
Celebrating our 150th Episode! Tania Bryer of CNBC fame interviews Alberto Lidji to explore insights from The Do One Better Podcast’s 150 episodes. A candid look at podcasting, philanthropy and more
31:18

Celebrating our 150th Episode! Tania Bryer of CNBC fame interviews Alberto Lidji to explore insights from The Do One Better Podcast’s 150 episodes. A candid look at podcasting, philanthropy and more.

Alberto Lidji launched The Do One Better Podcast in early 2019, shortly after stepping down as Global CEO of the Novak Djokovic Foundation. 

He has also been a Senior Advisor to the Goldie Hawn Foundation and Director of Development at the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation.

The purpose of The Do One Better Podcast is to inspire a global audience to be more philanthropic, to act more sustainably and to embrace social entrepreneurship.

Guests over the past three years have included Paul Polman, Siya Kolisi, David Lynch, Julia Gillard, David Miliband, Cherie Blair and Ricardo Lagos.

On this episode we explore:

(1) What it was like in the early days of the podcast.

(2) Advice for up-and-coming podcasters and those who want to create a podcast.

(3) The move from private sector into philanthropy.

(4) What to think about if you’re looking to get into philanthropy.

(5) Lessons and surprises from 150 episodes.

(6) Most moving philanthropic initiative?

(7) What are some of the key trends in philanthropy and broader sustainability agenda?

Thank you for downloading this 150th episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on many other interviews with remarkable thought leaders, visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Jan 17, 2022
Ari Simon, Pinterest’s Head of Social Impact and Philanthropy, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their work supporting emotional wellbeing and mental health -- leveraging scale with half a billion users!
44:43

A must-listen episode that will inform and inspire. Learn how Pinterest is leveraging its scale and reach of 444 million global, monthly active users to change narratives and drive forward social change around emotional wellbeing and mental health.

Pinterest is one of the most inspirational destinations online and, indeed, their mission is to help people discover the things they love, and inspire them to go do those things in their daily lives. 

However, there’s an appreciation that life isn’t always so inspiring, and things on the internet aren’t either. Real-life feelings and experiences can carry over to our lives online. 

Pinterest is focused on emotional wellbeing and they’re leveraging their product, scale and philanthropic network to make a difference to millions of people across the globe.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on nearly 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Jan 10, 2022
Nicola Galombik, Executive Director of Yellowwoods Holdings (owners of Nando’s restaurants, Hollard insurance, Spier wines and many others), joins Alberto Lidji to discuss achieving ESG impact
33:15

 

A must-listen episode for anyone who is interested in integrating ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) into their investments and taking an active, strategic approach to ensuring investee and portfolio companies drive forward the Global Sustainability Agenda.

Yellowwoods is an investment firm and business-builder. They are driven by purpose and we explore how they’re leveraging a range of tools, including procurement, supply chains, youth and inclusive employment initiatives, and regenerative agriculture to drive impact across entire industries.

All of Yellowwoods’ businesses were born in South Africa and many are now global multinationals and household names.

This episode inspires, informs and serves as a call to action for investors and grant-makers alike to leverage commercial models and multi-sectoral partnerships for good. 

Thank you for downloading this episode. For information on nearly 150 other podcast interviews, we invite you to visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Jan 03, 2022
Prof Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director of Strathclyde University’s Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures discusses how to translate research on children’s rights so policymakers understand it
31:34

We explore the importance of making the latest evidence on children's rights and wellbeing accessible to a broad audience, strengthening and framing key arguments by using the most engaging language and communicating with policymakers and politicians so they make informed budgetary and voting decisions.

The Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures works with diverse partners, including the OECD, Unicef and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and engages with policymakers and politicians internationally.

They aim to ensure children facing adversity have what they need to reach their full potential, and much of their focus is on children who come into contact with the justice system.

Despite the fact that the wellbeing of children is an important indicator of the future stability of society and prosperity of the economy, there is still far to go to ensure children’s rights are realised.

Thank you for downloading this episode. For information on nearly 150 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders visit Lidji.org

 

Dec 27, 2021
Beth Breeze, Director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss her latest book “In Defence of Philanthropy” — we explore the arguments and opportunities
36:24

It’s been said that philanthropy is under attack. In this episode we explore key arguments in favour and against philanthropy and highlight opportunities for the road ahead. 

No matter your views on philanthropy, you will find this episode informative and thought-provoking. 

Beth worked as a fundraiser and charity manager for a decade before co-founding the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent in 2008.

She researched and wrote the annual Coutts Million Pound Donor Report from 2008-2017, co-authored Richer Lives: why rich people give (2013), The Logic of Charity: Great Expectations in Hard Times (2015) and co-edited The Philanthropy Reader (2016). 

Her last book The New Fundraisers: who organises generosity in contemporary society? won the AFP Skystone Research Partners book prize for 2018, and her new book, published in Autumn 2021, ‘In Defence of Philanthropy’, is a timely response to growing critiques of private giving.

Thank you for downloading this episode. For information on nearly 150 episodes with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship, visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Dec 20, 2021
Naghma Mulla, CEO of the EdelGive Foundation, talks about philanthropy in India and their new GROW Fund — supporting 100 NGOs in India and backed by the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
28:41

This episode provides clear insight into how the EdelGive Foundation developed, structured and executed a highly collaborative fund to support 100 NGOs in India, securing funding from the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies and the Chandra Foundation. 

The EdelGive Foundation is a grant-making organization, helping build and expand philanthropy in India by funding and supporting the growth of small to mid-sized grassroots NGOs committed to empowering vulnerable children, women, and communities. 

This approach has enabled the foundation to be a go-to partner of choice for Indian and foreign funders wanting to engage with the Indian development ecosystem.

The Grassroots, Resilience, Ownership and Wellness (GROW) Fund is aimed at building the capabilities, resilience and future readiness of grassroots organisations.

The GROW Fund aims to strengthen 100 high impact grassroots organisations over 24 months, through capacity building and support of key organisational functions.

Thank you for downloading this episode. For information on nearly 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy. sustainability and social entrepreneurship, please visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Dec 13, 2021
Matt Hyde, CEO of the Scouts UK, and volunteer Andrew Bollington join Alberto Lidji to discuss ‘the Squirrels’ — a new Early Years provision for 4 and 5 year olds
39:09

 

Get a behind-the-scenes look at how ‘the Squirrels’ came about and how the programme is providing 4 and 5 year olds with skills for life when it matters most by promoting key skills like working together, communication and language, as well as creativity and community awareness.

Gain insight from an in-depth conversation covering the entire journey of how the Squirrels went from initial concept to successful funding, evidence-based piloting, execution and meaningful scale. 

We hear of the many challenges that had to be overcome, the funding sources that were tapped and the diverse stakeholders who were brought on board to make this initiative a success.

Thank you for downloading this episode. For information on nearly 150 interviews with remarkable thought-leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Dec 06, 2021
Simon Sommer, Co-CEO of the Jacobs Foundation, and Sharath Jeevan, Founder of Intrinsic Labs, join Alberto Lidji to explore motivation in the world of foundations
42:46

 

A great conversation on how foundations are able to nurture the organisations they fund and support. We look at the power dynamic between grant-maker and grantee, delve into fostering trust and explore how foundations are able to provide support that goes beyond financial grants.

Simon Sommer is Co-CEO of the Jacobs Foundation, which has 7 billion Swiss Francs in assets (roughly USD $7 billion), granted out nearly 90 million Swiss Francs in 2020 and is a strong backer of education, internationally.

Sharath Jeevan is the Founder of Intrinsic Labs, which helps leaders and their organisations tackle deep motivation challenges. He is the author of the recently-published book “Intrinsic”.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on nearly 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in the world of philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Nov 29, 2021
Let’s get “out-of-school girls” back into school! Safeena Husain, Founder of Educate Girls, talks about their work in 20,000 villages in India and launching the first development impact bond (DIB)
37:16

 

Safeena Husain founded Educate Girls in 2007 and today they operate in more than 20,000 villages across three states in India.

They’re mobilising communities in the most marginalised and remote areas to get out-of-school girls back into school and ensure they stay in school and are actually learning.

They’ve grown at a fast pace and today have a team of 2,200 full time employees and 15,000 volunteers.

Under Safeena’s leadership, and in conjunction with the UBS Optimus Foundation and Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), they launched the first development impact bond (DIB). This was a highly innovative approach to align performance with funding.

Educate Girls was the service provider; CIFF was the outcome payer (who were purchasing two results: (1) getting out-of-school girls back into school and staying in school, and (2) ensuring learning outcomes); and the UBS Optimus Foundation was the social investor. 

We hear the ins and outs of what turned out to be a highly successful initiative.  Educate Girls took the risk of performance, UBS took the financial risk and CIFF got to purchase the impact. 

We also hear how Educate Girls was the first Asian organisation to become an Audacious Project — an initiative run by TED that brings philanthropists together to collaborate and back really innovative, big bets that improve the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic is severely impacting girls and women, and Safeena's view is that if action isn’t taken it could well set girls’ education back by a decade, if not more, so let's work together to get out-of-school girls back into school!

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. For information on nearly 150 other interviews, please visit our website at Lidji.org

If you enjoy the show, please subscribe and follow, share with others and leave us a review and rating. Thank you very much!

 

Nov 22, 2021
Let‘s recycle everything! Tom Szaky, Founder and CEO of TerraCycle, on managing waste to minimise climate impact.
36:56

 

Tom founded TerraCycle 20 years ago when he was a student at Princeton. Today, TerraCycle is the world’s leader in the collection and reuse of non-recyclable post-consumer waste. 

They work with more than one hundred major brands — including Tesco, Heinz and Coca-Cola — in twenty countries across the globe to collect used packaging and products that would otherwise be destined for landfills. 

Through their ‘Loop’ initiative, they are changing the way we shop by creating sustainable new packaging solutions and enabling consumers to enjoy their favoruite products from popular consumer brands in refillable containers.

A fascinating and thorough exploration of the world of recycling, with key insight into the economics, solutions, opportunities and challenges. We can all make a difference.

Thank you for downloading this episode. Visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org for information on around 150 interviews with remarkable guests in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

 

Nov 15, 2021
Let’s harness the power of global diplomacy and interfaith dialogue to tackle climate change! UK Ambassador to the Vatican, Chris Trott, joins Alberto Lidji during COP26
32:22

 

On 4th October 2021, Pope Francis and leaders from other faiths gathered to appeal for robust commitments from political leaders in the run up to COP26 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference).

Chris Trott, the UK's ambassador to the Holy See, shares his views on the significance of this extraordinary gathering and its highly consequential nature.

The Pope has been a long-standing voice on matters pertaining to sustainability. In 2015, he issued an encyclical called Laudato si’ in which he called for care for our common home and decried environmental destruction.

On 25 September 2015, Pope Francis addressed the UN General Assembly and he made the appeal for a common plan for our common home. On that day, world leaders adopted Agenda 2030 and the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The UK is hosting COP26 right now and Chris Trott shares a unique insight into the importance of faith communities in helping drive positive change by advocating for responsible behaviour towards climate.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, an expert in sustainable development, noted a few years back that “Pope Francis has been a champion, together with other religious leaders who are, of course looked to for guidance and admired worldwide within their faiths and well beyond their particular faiths, in helping the world to understand why sustainable development is the challenge of our time.”  

This episode of The Do One Better Podcast underscores this view and provides unique and timely insight during COP26 and in the face of the climate crisis.

Thank you for listening to The Do One Better Podcast. Please subscribe and leave a rating and review if you enjoy the show. For information on nearly 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders, please visit the show’s website at Lidji.org

 

Nov 08, 2021
Let’s decarbonise one million hotel rooms! Keith Barr, CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how they’re improving and innovating to become more sustainable
40:31

With a presence in more than 100 countries, IHG has 6,000+ hotels, employs 350,000 staff and caters to many segments across 17 brands, from Holiday Inn to Crowne Plaza, InterContinental and Six Senses.  They recognise the tremendous opportunity to drive positive change.

We learn what Keith and his team are doing to reduce their carbon footprint, improve operations and reduce waste. They’re embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and new technologies to fluctuate energy utilisation more effectively and are challenging every aspect of their supply chains to innovate for more sustainable solutions.

Annually, IHG disposes of around 2% of their hotel properties, which is a significant number when one considers they have more than 6,000 hotels.  Many of these properties are removed because they are older, no longer commercially viable and are often high energy inefficient.

Reducing the carbon footprint of their existing hotel portfolio is key. This is complemented by a focus on designing the hotels of tomorrow for low or zero carbon and, also, by leaning into renewable energy.

No matter how efficient the operations become, it is imperative that they can tap into renewable energy.  This is where government needs to play an active role to decarbonise energy grids.

Governments are quite good at setting grand targets for future carbon emissions but they are not necessarily as good when it comes to presenting the transition roadmap to reach their net zero destination.

This is where private business is taking the lead; individual industries are much more aware of what needs to be done to decarbonise in their space. Consequently, there is much governments can learn from industry leaders as nations transition away from fossil fuels.

The hotel experience will likely change more now and in the next 10 years than it has in the past 50 years. The race to decarbonise one million hotel rooms is on, so watch this space!

Thank you for listening to The Do One Better Podcast. Please subscribe, share and leave us a rating and review. For information on nearly 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Nov 01, 2021
Let’s transform food systems! COP26 Special. President of WWF Int’l & CEO of GIST, Pavan Sukhdev, and Executive Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, Ruth Richardson, call for action
31:40

COP26 starts this Sunday and the world’s attention is focused on climate. Food systems are an integral component and we need to recognise their hidden costs and positive benefits.

Traditional accounting often fails to account properly for negative externalities, such as habitat destruction, soil erosion and water contamination, or positives such as carbon sequestration, insect pollination and resilience to natural disasters.

True-value accounting and true-cost accounting paint a much more holistic, comprehensive view which, in turn, helps inform food pricing, policy documents and balance sheets. If we are serious about sustainability, we need to account for the whole picture.

Pavan and Ruth provide insight, call for action and shed light on the invaluable work of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), GIST Impact and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. The evidence is robust and the arguments are clearly laid out in this podcast episode.

Ruth delves into their recently-published “True Value” report, which was launched just days ago by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and identifies ‘beacons of hope’ to understand the breadth and depth of food systems’ positive impact.

We also learn from Pavan and Ruth of a 6-year old project in Andhra Pradesh, India, focused on natural farming, where more than 700,000 farmers (mainly women), have committed to a natural farming model, which has led to higher yields, lower water usage, lower on-farm and off-farm disease and positively impacted climate, soil benefits and various other components.

As we approach COP26, Ruth notes that we need countries to step up and recognise the importance of food systems to the climate agenda, in order to make the connections between food, climate, nature, equality etc — there is currently a disconnect.

Pavan notes that many SDGs are influenced by food systems. It’s not just SDG2 and sustainable food but also SDG3 (health), and SDG1 (poverty), SDG5 (gender equity), SDG4 (education), SDG6 (water) and SDG13 (climate) etc. 

If we don’t see the whole picture and properly account for the hidden negatives and positives, we are simply not going to get to the solutions that are so desperately needed.

Thank you for downloading this episode of The Do One Better Podcast. Please subscribe and leave a review and rating if you enjoy the show. Visit Lidji.org for information on nearly 150 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

 

Oct 25, 2021
Dr Sanford “Sandy” Greenberg shares his philanthropic ambition to end blindness. Sandy is blind, highly accomplished and talks with passion about adversity, hope and driving medical breakthroughs
28:18

Sandy lost his eyesight in 1961 from glaucoma while he was a student at Columbia. At that point, he promised God that he’d do everything he could for the rest of his life to make sure no one else should go blind — he has led a successful life full of purpose.

Just days ago, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Wilmer Eye Institute established the Sanford and Susan Greenberg Center to End Blindness. 

Sandy sheds light on the Center’s drive to support the next generation of researchers who have high risk, high reward ideas but lack funding and mentorship.  The Center aims to raise $100 million and they have already secured half that amount.

Sandy also shares fascinating anecdotes, including how his college roommate (music legend) Art Garfunkel would read to him when he lost his sight; his emotions as he wrote his book ‘Hello Darkness My Old Friend”; and his relentless pursuit of education at Columbia, Harvard and Oxford.

If you want to hear a touching, personal story where optimism overcomes adversity and where purpose tackles blindness, this episode is for you. 

Thank you for listening to The Do One Better Podcast. Please subscribe, follow and share with others. For information on nearly 150 episodes, please visit our website at Lidji.org

 

Oct 18, 2021
Charmaine Griffiths, CEO of the British Heart Foundation, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the challenges posed by the pandemic, the immense value of partnerships and why a sense of urgency matters
30:44

 

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is at the forefront of funding cardiovascular research, with £447m in active research commitments across the UK, powered by 4,000 staff and 20,000 volunteers. They are celebrating their 60th birthday in 2021.

Every year the BHF funds around £100m in new research, backing the best talent and a wide range of projects, from data science and new AI technology to genetics and regenerative medicine.

They embrace a strong sense of urgency in support of the 7.6m people who have cardiovascular disease in the UK and we hear of the pressing need to tackle patient waiting lists, which pose a real threat to many people in serious medical need.

The BHF relies on strong, diverse partnerships with key stakeholders from the private sector, government, academia, other charities and many other sectors — both nationally and locally. Partnerships are crucial to the BHF and we explore some specific partnerships during this episode.

Charmaine also provides much insight into the challenges she faced while managing the BHF during the COVID-19 pandemic. She joined as CEO in February 2020, just as the pandemic was taking off and had to close their offices shortly thereafter — facing a steep learning curve as she and her colleagues learned to operate in a digital environment. A real challenge when you need to engage with 20,000 volunteers.

The pandemic impacted every aspect of the BHF’s operations, including its 730 shops and stores, which are scattered across the whole of the UK.

During the worst moments of the pandemic, BHF was losing £10m monthly.  Last summer, they reduced the operating size of the core organisation by 25% to ensure they maximised and protected their revenues from charitable work, with the aim of ensuring they didn’t have to reduce any of their research activities.

Fortunately, their stores have now reopened and their offices have embraced a hybrid working model — a new way of working they are looking to maintain for the long-term. We hear about their Flexibly Connected programme that redesigned their office environment and ensures people have what they need when they work from home and aims to encourage office use as convening spaces for collaboration.

This is a fascinating and inspiring chat with an energetic CEO who cares deeply about the British Heart Foundation and the millions of people it supports.

Visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 150 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders. Please subscribe, follow and leave a review if you enjoy the show. Thank you!

 

Oct 11, 2021
Caroline Anstey, President & CEO of Pact, explores how the NGO sector is accounting for its own carbon emissions and argues the sector isn’t always practising what it preaches
35:50

Caroline had an 18-year career at the World Bank, where she worked as Managing Director in charge of Operational Policy; Chief of Staff; and Vice President for External Affairs. 

She subsequently joined UBS as Group Managing Director to spearhead the firm’s sustainability policy and investment products.

Today, despite being part of the NGO sector herself, she expresses her views candidly and notes that NGOs can improve how they manage their carbon emissions, report on their carbon footprint and provide visibility on their path to net zero.

She is cautious not to generalise and, indeed, mentions that NGOs directly working on environmental issues tend to be ahead of the curve in having robust climate commitments; but many others in the NGO sector are behind the curve.

Caroline references the United Kingdom's FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) and their recent mandate requesting to know the carbon footprint of organisations that are implementing their projects. In her view, NGOs will be under increased pressure from governments, donors and employees to present more robust commitments to net zero and provide visibility on the path they will take to get there. 

Visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 150 interviews with remarkable thought leaders. Please subscribe, follow and share widely. Thank you!

 

Oct 04, 2021
Shami Nissan, Head of Responsible Investment at Actis, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss ESG investing from a practitioner’s perspective — exploring key questions and highlighting the latest trends
29:56

 

We start off by delving into the differences in approach and expectations between traditional investing, ESG investing and impact investing. Today, the broad view is that it is perfectly viable to seek competitive, risk-adjusted returns, while pursuing best practice in ESG (environmental, social and governance). While, on the more philanthropic side of the spectrum, there are those who are happy to accept concessionary rates of return, trading off some financial return in favour of an improvement in social good.

We look at the Net Zero movement and decarbonisation. And, we explore some areas of contention among those who seek a net zero world. For instance, should one divest from fossil fuels immediately or could one have more leverage by staying engaged?

By divesting immediately, some argue that you lose your voice as an investor to help those firms transition into net zero.  Within public equity companies, if one divests it simply means that someone else is buying these stocks, and you are arguably not making a real world impact, in the sense that the CO2 is still being emitted.  Therefore, by engaging actively as an investor across all sectors (i.e. not just renewables) you continue to wield influence to try to change the strategic direction of firms, such that companies do the transitioning to net zero themselves. 

In this episode we also look at the different tools and approaches available for ESG-minded investors in public and private equity markets. We explore how Actis works with their portfolio companies to help them improve on ESG and how they aim to unlock value during the time of ownership.  

This episode explores a wide range of areas from an investment professional’s perspective. Please note you may also wish to listen to our previous interviews with Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC, and Carmine Di Sibio, Global Chairman and CEO of EY, where we explore ESG and the move to standardising reporting frameworks globally.

Follow and subscribe to The Do One Better Podcast and please leave us a review if you enjoy the show.  Visit our website at Lidji.org for information on nearly 150 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders. Thank you!

 

Sep 27, 2021
Philanthropists Laurence Lien, Kathlyn Tan and Dominic Scriven are all collaborating on the launch of Asia Philanthropy Circle’s new Climate Collective, which is launching now!
29:37

 

Asia Philanthropy Circle’s (APC) new climate collective is launching now and we hear from three philanthropists who have very different experiences and expertise — from long track-records to NextGen perspectives — who share a passion for tackling the climate crisis.

APC is about learning, exchanging ideas and collaborating. It’s about taking joint action to do more and to do better. Climate is one of their key philanthropic areas of interest; others include education, healthcare, the ageing population and mental health.  By working together they can drive philanthropy on climate and have more impact.  Only 2% of global philanthropy goes towards climate. 

Kathlyn Tan is a next generation philanthropist and leads the environmental portfolio of her family’s philanthropy, the Rumah Foundation, in Singapore. They do impact investing, philanthropy and are also looking at how best to integrate ESG in their business interests. Kathlyn’s passion stems from the ocean and her love of diving and marine life. She’s very excited about the climate collective and it is inspiring to see more philanthropists tackling this vital issue.

Laurence Lien launched APC six years ago and is also Chairman of Lien Foundation, a family foundation established in 1980. He notes that climate is a problem too big for any single one of us to tackle alone. Importantly, we need to dispel the notion that there’s not much that philanthropy can do about the climate crisis. Laurence is keen on this partnership because the scale of the problem is just so big. The new APC Climate Collective is just a starting point — this is not just about collaboration with each other but also about collaboration with other global funders.

Dominic Scriven has been living in Vietnam for 30 years; he’s originally from the UK. He has been running Dragon Capital, a financial institution with a focus in Vietnam, for most of that time. Dominic cares deeply about the broader climate crisis and he notes that Vietnam is a victim of climate change. He’s keen to see how developing countries can deal with the climate crisis and this is very much front and centre in his thinking, both personally and in his business. Dominic is particularly interested in biodiversity economics and is focusing much of his philanthropic efforts on creating metrics to measure biodiversity improvement and degradation.

There are eight APC members joining together initially to launch this new climate collective, along with a full-time member of staff from APC to help co-ordinate this initiative. They’re approaching this with an open mind and appreciation of the many opportunities for working together and collaborating. 

Visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org for information on close to 150 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders. Please leave us a review if you enjoy the show -- thank you.

 

Sep 20, 2021
John Rendel of the Peter Cundill Foundation joins Alberto Lidji to talk about trust-based philanthropy and the value of long-term, unrestricted funding provided by grant-makers
29:43

 

A strong case is made by John Rendel in support of unrestricted funding, encouraging grant-makers to embrace this approach to giving and calling on recipient organisations to fight for the cause of unrestricted funding as well.

John’s advice is that if you, as a grant-maker, don’t trust the organisation you’re supporting, then don’t trust a restricted grant to that organisation. And, if you do trust them, then give them unrestricted funding.

We need to build the understanding of how restricted grants undermine impact and reduce the efficacy of the organisations grant-makers are trying to empower. 

While the philanthropy sector has seen a move towards more unrestricted funding during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peter Cundill Foundation has been arguing for this approach since before the pandemic was a fact of life.

The Peter Cundill Foundation grants out around USD $9 million annually. They are based in Bermuda and operate internationally, including in the UK, Canada and Sub-Saharan Africa. They do much of their funding in support of charities that are improving the lives of children around the world. 

Please subscribe, share and leave us a review if you enjoy the show. For more information on more than 100 interviews with remarkable thought leaders, visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org

 

Sep 13, 2021
Stefan Flothmann, Global Director of Mindworks — the cognitive science lab of Greenpeace — joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the use of neuroscience + behavioural science to make campaigns more effective
31:03

Learn what one of the world’s great campaigning organisations is doing to engage with its audiences more effectively, in a manner that is inclusive and empowering. 

Stefan has been with Greenpeace since 1993 and has been driving Mindworks over the past few years. He describes Mindworks as a bit of a garage project within Greenpeace, with freedom to innovate and create new ways of working. 

At Mindworks, they dig into the latest cognitive science and social psychology to develop new ways and tools to engage people, to do audience research and to shift mindsets that, in turn, help to transform systems.

Their latest project is called ‘The Disrupted Mind’, which they started in response to COVID-19 and it aims to find out what opportunities can arise from a crisis; looking at how to change mindsets and explore how a given crisis can be used to drive positive change. 

Insight coming out of this research shows that crises are actually a good time to change mindsets. In normal life, most people have quite a fixed world view; people don’t like surprises and don’t much like to go outside old habits. 

When a crisis hits, however, most people are thrown into a state of disorientation and their world view can crumble. It is at this point where one can intervene and say to those who have been impacted: What about changing this or doing that? There is an opportunity to leverage crisis moments for the better.  

Visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org for information on more than 100 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders. We invite you to subscribe to the podcast, leave a review and tell your friends and family about the show. Thank you!

 

Sep 05, 2021
Mary Abdo, Managing Director at the Centre for Evidence and Implementation, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss evidence-based philanthropy
29:06

 

The Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI) is a global not-for-profit advisory organisation set up in Australia in 2016 with offices in Singapore, the UK and Australia.  They are a social enterprise subsidiary of Save the Children.  

CEI is a mission-driven organisation dedicated to seeing the best evidence implemented in policy and practice to improve the lives of vulnerable people. They work with a range of clients, including governments, foundations and social sector agencies by supporting them to use evidence well and to implement it well.

In order to help organisations accelerate the use of evidence on what works to improve the lives of vulnerable people, the folks at CEI do three things: (1) they support organisations to make sense of the evidence; (2) they work with them to trial, test and evaluate approaches; and (3) they work in ‘Implementation Science’ — if we think of evidence-based interventions as the ‘what’, then Implementation Science is the ‘how’.

During the conversation, we look at what it actually means to be evidence-informed in one’s philanthropy, both from a perspective of outlook and from a perspective of approach.

What is evidence and why is it important? There is a need to move away from what simply ‘sounds good’ to what is actually based on good science and research.  Moreover, there is a need to embrace a learning mindset — shifting the emphasis from trying to get it right all the time to a focus on learning and sharing what one has learned.  Innovation is also key and, counterintuitive as it may sound, being innovative also means simply doing what works, now.

Research, methodologies and frameworks have changed over the last 20 years and the potential for big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the field in the coming years is tremendous.

This episode is for anyone who is keen to understand research and evidence, how it is implemented to improve the lives of vulnerable people, why it is important and how its insight can be viewed as a public good on a global level.

Click the subscribe button if you enjoy this episode and visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org for insight on more than 100 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders. 

 

Aug 29, 2021
Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss Chile’s transition to democracy, his vocal stance against Augusto Pinochet, the climate crisis and the work of his foundation
35:22

 

A warm conversation with Ricardo Lagos, a towering figure of Latin American politics who played a highly consequential role during Chile’s transition to democracy in the 1980s and later on as President of Chile in the 2000s.

Ricardo Lagos was President of Chile from 2000 to 2006.  He left office with a remarkably high approval rating of c. 70%.   He served for the centre-left Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia coalition, championing reforms to the healthcare system, enacting free-trade agreements whilst reducing economic inequality.

We hear of his — now famous — live TV interview in 1988 where he pointed an accusatory finger directly at the camera challenging General Pinochet’s attempt to extend his rule by plebiscite.  

This was a key moment in Chile’s transition to democracy and, at the time, led many viewers to fear Ricardo Lagos was unlikely to see another day. Interestingly, he didn’t quite realise the impact of what he said during that TV interview until afterwards when people started coming up to him to tell him just how remarkable it had been.

We also hear about Ricardo Lagos' passion for tackling the climate crisis and his time as UN Special Envoy on Climate Change between 2007 and 2010. He is candid about some of the challenging conversations he had with other leaders, such as President Lula of Brazil on the harm of deforestation in the Amazon.

He remarks that in the past, the key question was ‘what’s your country’s National Income?’ These days, the key question should be ‘what’s your country’s per capital carbon emissions?’ Times have changed considerably over the past decade and must continue to change as we strive for the Sustainability Agenda.

We also get insight into the work of the Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo, which he founded after stepping down as President of Chile, and the importance of civic engagement and the power of the digital age to foster transparency in government.

Click the subscribe button and visit The Do One Better Podcast at Lidji.org for information on more than 100 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders. Thank you!

 

Aug 22, 2021
Naina Batra, Chairperson and CEO of AVPN (Asian Venture Philanthropy Network), joins Alberto Lidji to discuss donor collaboration in Asia and increasing the flow of capital into the social sector
34:16

 

AVPN is a platform and network of investors and social funders who deploy capital for impact across Asia. Members deploy resources across a wide continuum of capital, from grant-making to impact investing, ESG and other variations. Members are both based in Asia and, also, some are global but have an interest in Asia.  AVPN is based in Singapore.

 

We hear of the drive for scale and the importance of working with governments. AVPN started the Policy Forum, bringing private sector capital to work together with public sector money, collaborating around social issues. Much wealth in Asia comes from business and, traditionally, we hear how there is some trepidation about working with government. But, in the social space these unlikely collaborations are key.

 

Thematically speaking, Gender, COVID-19, Climate Action and Health have been very pronounced within AVPN. Also, about 60% of AVPN’s members fund Education and about 50% are interested in Health. 

 

Naina mentions how in matters pertaining to Gender Equity and SDG 5 (UN Sustainable Development Goal 5) Asia has gone backwards in recent years. Therefore, gender has been of importance to AVPN.  Last year, AVPN launched the Asia Gender Network, which is a collaboration between HNW (high-net-worth) Asian women who came together to foster a movement that aims for a more gender equal society that is also in tune with Asian values. 

 

While they deeply care about gender equity, many Asian foundations are weary of terms like ‘feminism’ or approaches that embrace a more militant edge to the debate. There is much consideration to how one frames the debate and the discourse is more about soft power and getting the point across through more subtle ways — while there is a recognition that achieving SDG 5 is non-negotiable.

 

Knowledge sharing is a key aspect of AVPN’s work. AVPN has a Knowledge Centre that curates existing research for its members and aggregates practitioners’ insight. Their Academy aims to share this knowledge actively with a broad range of stakeholders. These initiatives are useful both for nascent philanthropists and experienced practitioners alike.

 

AVPN membership is at the organisation level — not individuals. Usually, it is the CEO of an organisation who represents that organisation at AVPN and, indeed, often many others from member organisations participate as well. 

 

AVPN also has funds focused on specific thematic areas. For instance, they have a Healthcare Fund involving key organisations such as the Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Macquarie Bank and Sequoia — all coming together to pool their money to support healthcare organisations across south east Asia. In another fund, they’re collaborating with interesting organisations such as KKR, and Naina notes that many organisations are much more keen on taking on risk when they’re active in a pooled fund than when they’re doing grant-making individually. 

 

Please subscribe to The Do One Better Podcast and visit our website at Lidji.org for information on more than 100 other interviews with remarkable thought leaders.  Thank you!

 

Aug 15, 2021
Carmine Di Sibio, Global Chairman and CEO of EY, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss ESG, diversity & inclusion and how being a child immigrant to the US influenced his sense of belonging and world view
38:41

 

In many ways, Carmine is part of the American dream. He was born in Italy and when he was just three years old his family moved to the US. With no prior family history of higher education, Carmine completed his MBA at NYU, joined EY in 1985 and rose through the ranks to lead one of the world’s largest professional services organisations that employs around 300,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries. 

This conversation ranges from the personal to the professional. We hear a remarkable childhood story that led to great success and a desire to make a positive difference.

We focus on ESG factors (environmental, social, governance) and explore what EY is doing on this front, and what they’re encouraging their clients and suppliers to do as well. There is a need for standardisation in ESG accounting, a recognition that sustainability needs to be front and centre in corporate strategy and an appreciation that the time is now.

Visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org for a full transcript of this episode.

 

 

Aug 08, 2021
Lisa Pearce, Chief Executive of British Wheelchair Basketball, talks about parasports, the new Women’s Premier League and considers whether one could integrate the Paralympic and Olympic Games
33:42

 

Great Britain is very strong on the global stage of wheelchair basketball. The men’s team are currently the reigning World Champions and European Champions, and the women’s team are the Silver World Medalists and European Silver Medalists. The teams are very excited about the prospects and opportunities at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

In the UK there are around 17,000 people who play wheelchair basketball. And there is a new campaign, called Inspire a Generation, aimed at doubling participation with a strong emphasis on working across communities in the UK, upskilling community leaders to bring wheelchair basketball to their communities, along with developing school packs and resources for teachers so that everyone can get involved no matter where they live. 

Interestingly, out of the 17,000 people who play wheelchair basketball, 21% are non-disabled — therefore it’s truly an inclusive sport for all. And, there is demand for another 70,000 new players.

The global audience for the Paralympic Games in Rio was 4.1 billion, which was a 127% increase since 2004 and had coverage in more than 150 countries. 

This begs the question, why can’t we create the sort of professional league environment one sees in other sports, like football, cricket, tennis and hockey? 

There is a new women’s premier league in the pipeline for wheelchair baseball — a world-first — London Phoenix being the Capital’s franchise. The women will lay the foundation for this over the next three years and then men’s franchises will come in as well.

This is great for communities to come together and, importantly, to increase the visibility of the sport. It helps to challenge people’s perceptions around disability and create an inclusive environment so everyone can thrive. Having an active league with frequent, elite competition is also important for the sport to truly flourish and talent to come to the fore.

The Paralympics is gaining a huge support base and we explore whether there’s scope to integrate the Olympics with the Paralympics. It’s a question on many people’s minds.

Visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org for more information.

 

Aug 02, 2021
Lord Jack McConnell, former First Minister of Scotland, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss recent cuts in UK foreign aid, international sustainable development and the McConnell International Foundation
31:30

 

We start the conversation by getting Jack’s views on the cut in UK foreign aid from 0.7% of National Income to 0.5% and this month’s House of Commons vote  on the matter.

He notes that every other G7 country is increasing its foreign aid this year, not decreasing it, and if there was ever a case for the UK to decrease its foreign aid it's not in the year of a global pandemic and the most important climate change summit since 2015. It's terrible timing and it's in the wrong direction. 

We also discuss the leading role of the private sector in embracing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) these days and broaden out the discussion to explore the future of Scotland within the Union, the importance of global education and even delve into the world of single malts for a lighter touch.

For a full transcript of this conversation visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org

 

Jul 25, 2021
Baroness Helene Hayman, Member of the UK House of Lords and Co-Chair of Peers for the Planet, and Senator Mary Coyle of the Senate of Canada, join Alberto Lidji to discuss climate and political action
43:13

 

In this episode we talk about the climate crisis and learn about ‘Peers for the Planet’ which is the House of Lords’ Climate and Biodiversity Action Group, launched in 2020 — bringing together more than 120 Members of the House of Lords who want to put the need for an urgent response to climate change and biodiversity loss at the top of the political agenda.

We also look at international knowledge-sharing on climate action between the UK’s and Canada’s upper houses of parliament and hear how Senator Mary Coyle in Canada and Baroness Helene Hayman in the UK are collaborating and learning from each other in order to leverage their respective platforms to tackle the climate crisis.

For anyone who is interested in driving forward legislative change to tackle the climate crisis and fostering international collaboration in this field, this episode will be of particular interest to you.

For a full transcript of this conversation please visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org

 

Jul 18, 2021
Shloka Nath, Executive Director of the India Climate Collaborative and Head of Sustainability at the Tata Trusts sheds light on India’s first major philanthropy collaborative focused on climate change
37:38

 

The India Climate Collaborative (ICC) is an India-led platform founded in 2018 by a group of philanthropies interested in continuing to accelerate India’s development, while also exceeding its climate goals.  The Tata Trusts is one of India’s leading philanthropic foundations and an instrumental actor in driving the ICC forward.

In this episode, we learn of the fight against climate change within an Indian context and the collaboration between philanthropists and diverse stakeholders that is leading to innovative thinking and additional funding in this field.

For a full transcript of this episode, visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org

 

Jul 12, 2021
Jo Swinson, Director of Partners for a New Economy and former Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the UK, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss transforming traditional economics to tackle the SDGs
40:04

Partners for a New Economy is a donor collaborative founded by the Oak, MAVA, Marisla and KR foundations, and today also includes the Ford Foundation and Laudes Foundation.

This conversation is for anyone who believes existing economic systems need to be improved if society is to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Jo Swinson is the former leader of the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom. From 2012-2015, she served as Business Minister in the UK, and in 2009, she co-founded a cross-party group of MPs to work collaboratively on new economic thinking and well-being economics.

In this fascinating conversation, Jo sheds light on her current work, political experience and her personal narrative. 

For a full transcript of this episode visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org

 

Jul 04, 2021
Mike Barry, former Director of Sustainable Business at M&S and founder of Mikebarryeco, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the latest trends in sustainable business and their numerous social implications
33:05

 

This is a conversation full of fascinating details, insight and observations that present the listener with invaluable context on what’s required if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe, achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure we don’t leave large segments of society behind.

We hear how, ultimately, no matter how good the policymaking, nor how innovative the new technology, we won’t achieve success if we don’t entice the world’s citizens to change their behaviour — with sustainability front and centre — and ensure mass global engagement.

From traditional beef burgers, to plant-based burgers and even laboratory-grown meat; from the Race to Net Zero to the invaluable role of efficient cities in tackling the SDGs — you will thoroughly enjoy this episode and gain much useful information in the process.

A full transcript of this interview is available by visiting The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org

 

Jun 27, 2021
Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss stakeholder capitalism, ESG (environmental, social, governance) and how the corporate world is embracing the sustainability agenda
37:15

If you want a front-row seat to see and understand how large corporates are approaching stakeholder capitalism and ESG, this episode is most certainly for you.  

On 15th June 2021, PwC announced a massive ESG push. They’ll be investing $12bn and creating 100,000 new jobs to boost ESG expertise for clients. So, this podcast interview isn’t just theoretical; there’s real consequence to everything you’ll hear in this episode.

PwC spans 155 countries and includes more than 284,000 people — a professional services network, providing audit, tax, consulting, and deals services around the world, in order to build trust and contribute to productive solutions for the world’s most pressing problems.

For a full transcript of this interview, visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org

 

 

Jun 20, 2021
Charles Delingpole, Founder and CEO of ComplyAdvantage, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how to leverage technology and data to tackle ESG risk
29:55

A must-listen episode for anyone who is interested in social entrepreneurship and combining for-profit activities with social good.

ComplyAdvantage is a market leader in the use of technology, machine learning and big data to automate and scale solutions that help organisations and individuals mitigate ESG (environmental, social, governance) risk; in the process helping to tackle money laundering, human trafficking and other crimes. The firm is a commercial venture with a strong social purpose at its core and they have secured over $100 million in funding from the likes of Goldman Sachs, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Index Ventures.

We discuss a range of topics, from international sanctions and political exposure to adverse media and reputational risk. Charlie provides insight into the company, their solutions and his own trajectory and personal narrative.

Charles Delingpole has a strong entrepreneurial track record, having previously co-founded MarketFinance, a corporate financial solutions company that raised $59 million in funding, and the world’s largest student discussion forum The Student Room when he was 16.  He holds an MA in Politics from Trinity College, Cambridge, and a Masters in Management, Strategy, and Finance from the London School of Economics.

For a transcript of this episode visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org -- where you will also find information on over 100 interviews with remarkable leaders. Please subscribe and share -- thank you.

 

Jun 13, 2021
Cameron McCollum, Director of the Sudreau Global Justice Institute, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss access to justice for vulnerable populations in the Global South
37:46

 

We discuss access to justice in developing countries; the current state of affairs in specific countries in Africa and opportunities for improvement.   The Sudreau Global Justice Institute ("SGJI") is an international human rights organization NGO based out of Pepperdine University. SGJI partners with governments around the world to advance the rule of law and provide access to justice to vulnerable populations. They believe that a healthy justice system is key to eradicating systemic suffering and unlocking a community's potential. A well functioning justice system not only protects the vulnerable, it is also the foundation upon which it becomes possible for all other forms of community development to flourish.   They currently have an active partnership with the Ugandan government to pilot the nation's first Public Defender's Office, and they continue to train and provide strategic assistance in Uganda's implementation of plea bargaining into its criminal justice system. In addition, they have a team in Accra, Ghana where they are working alongside the Ghanian government and the U.S. State Department to further similar plea bargaining and access to justice initiatives.   For a full transcript of this interview, visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org - Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you.  
Jun 07, 2021
Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and Managing Director at MacArthur Foundation, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss multi-million dollar competitions, philanthropy markets and funder collaboratives
31:57

 

A must-listen episode for anyone who seeks truly innovative and collaborative thinking in philanthropy.

 

Lever for Change is a new nonprofit affiliate of the MacArthur Foundation, created to accelerate large-scale social change around the world. The organization develops and manages customized, open and transparent competitions that connect donors with bold solutions to global challenges, while strengthening the most highly rated ideas emerging from these competitions and catalyzing big investments through its Bold Solutions Network. 

 

In addition to her role at Lever for Change, Cecilia oversees the MacArthur Fellows and 100&Change, MacArthur’s competition for a $100 million grant to help solve a critical problem of our time. 

 

For a full transcript of this interview visit The Do One Better Podcast website at Lidji.org  Please click that subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you.

 

May 31, 2021
Chair of EY Foundation, Patrick Dunne, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the dynamics of corporate and governance boards. Great insight from Patrick’s book, “Boards”, and nearly 30 years experience at 3i
34:19

 

If you have to work with boards this episode is for you.  We tackle highly topical questions:

 

• What are some of the main challenges with boards?… 

• What’s the relationship between the chief executive and the board?…. 

• Is there much of a difference between board members within a for-profit context vs a nonprofit context?… 

• What about recruiting new board members?…

• More...

Patrick is an experienced Chair and serial social entrepreneur who has extensive experience of working with boards in Europe, Asia and North America.  Early on in his career at 3i he built a resource of over 600 experienced directors who were appointed to over 2,000 boards for 3i across numerous countries.  The programme he established became widely recognised as a model of adding value and a leader in best practice.

 

For a full transcript of this interview, visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org  Please subscribe and share widely with others. Thank you.

 

May 23, 2021
David Lynch, filmmaker and creative genius, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about Transcendental Meditation, consciousness, his foundation’s work and the ups and downs of his personal journey
39:19

 

This episode is an absolute must-listen for fans of David Lynch and those craving wellbeing through meditation. David speaks from the heart, with abundant passion and an infectious self-assuredness about consciousness and the power of Transcendental Meditation to do away with the negatives in one's life while letting in boundless positivity.

We learn about the work of the David Lynch Foundation, helping bring TM to the world, and also hear about David's creativity, successes and failures -- and how he has overcome the most challenging times.

David lets us in on those earlier moments in his life when he felt unsatisfied with a success he perceived as hollow, and we also hear of challenging moments in his career, such as following the film Dune — a “giant failure” by his own account — where he notes that had it not been for that “inner strength from meditation, from transcending every day, I might have wanted to check out.”

Since 1973, David has been practising Transcendental Meditation — and he has never missed a meditation since then — meditating 20 minutes twice a day.  While skeptical at first, David notes that TM has quite simply transformed his life.  “Just meditate regularly, go about your business the same way you would, and watch things get better.”

For a full transcript of this fascinating conversation, visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org — Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others — thank you!

 

May 16, 2021
Facebook’s Head of Social Impact & Health Partnerships, Anita Yuen, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their initiative to connect billions of people to authoritative information on COVID-19 vaccines
34:15

 

Anita sheds light on Facebook’s COVID Information Center, where people can access authoritative information about COVID-19 vaccines, and she goes on to explain how they have been partnering with the World Health Organisation (WHO), non-profit organisations and governments around the world to make sure there is accurate and credible information for people about COVID-19 vaccines.

The discussion also delves into Facebook’s work around blood donations in more than 29 countries and how the platform has facilitated $5 billion in donations for good causes.  Anita provides a candid look at social good campaigns at truly global scale.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org for a full transcript of this episode.  Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others — thank you!

 

May 09, 2021
Sir Peter Gluckman, former Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Director of Koi Tū, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the interaction between science, policymaking and diplomacy
43:04

Sir Peter was Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2009 to 2018, serving three Prime Ministers: John Key, Bill English and Jacinda Ardern. He’s also the Director of Koi Tū — the Centre for Informed Futures — a New Zealand based think tank looking at some of the most pressing issues impacting our world.

In this episode we talk about the role of chief science advisors, how science and policymaking work together and the interaction between science and diplomacy — a discussion that takes place within a backdrop of declining public trust, increasing misinformation and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a full transcript of this episode visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org — please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

May 02, 2021
Executive Director & CEO of Together for Girls, Daniela Ligiero, talks about their work in tackling violence against children and their invaluable, national Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys
39:21

 

Together for Girls is a global, public-private partnership dedicated to ending violence against children, especially sexual violence against girls.

The partnership includes five UN agencies, the governments of the United States and Canada, several private sector organisations and more than 20 country governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, working together to generate comprehensive data and solutions to this public health and human rights epidemic.

Together for Girls, in partnership with the CDC — the US Centers for Disease Control — has conducted their Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys in 24 countries.  They now have data for over 10% of the world's population under 24 on this issue and are the single largest repository on sexual violence data for children, adolescents and youth. 

This is a fascinating conversation on a sobering topic, underpinned by optimism and a sense of urgency.  Daniela sheds light on the global context of violence against children and clearly articulates the work being done to tackle it. 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org for a full transcript of this interview. Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely — thank you!

 

Apr 25, 2021
Denis Mizne, CEO of the Lemann Foundation, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how to achieve quality public education in Brazil for every child
38:10

 

This episode is of particular interest to anyone who cares about driving forward quality education at scale in a global context. While the Lemann Foundation is based in Brazil, its work is of interest to philanthropists, NGOs and social entrepreneurs across the globe.

Denis sheds light on the Foundation’s work, ranging from operations to grant-making, and provides a solid overview of the current state of affairs in Brazil’s education system and the opportunities for improvement.

The Lemann Foundation was launched in 2002 by self-made Brazilian entrepreneur Jorge Paulo Lemann, who is one the world’s most prolific private investors and philanthropists.  Lemann’s private equity firm, 3G Capital, boasts a portfolio that includes the likes of Anheuser-Busch, Burger King, Heinz, Kraft, SABMiller, and Tim Hortons.

Visit The Do One Better! Website at Lidji.org for a full transcript of this conversation. Please click the ‘subscribe’ button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others — thank you!

 

Apr 18, 2021
David Miliband, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and former UK Foreign Secretary, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the plight of refugees and displaced persons globally
39:31

 

David served as the youngest UK Foreign Secretary in three decades, driving advancements in human rights and representing the UK throughout the world. His accomplishments have earned him a reputation, in former President Bill Clinton's words, as "one of the ablest, most creative public servants of our time.”

David talks candidly about the invaluable work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the plight of refugees and displaced persons, and sheds light on the differences between being the foreign minister of a permanent member of the UN Security Council and leading one of the worlds most impactful NGOs.

The IRC was founded by Albert Einstein, who was in Princeton, in the USA, when Hitler came to power. And he founded the International Rescue Committee, the Emergency Rescue Committee at the time, in the 1930s, and he founded the organisation out of a burning sense that while he was safe, so many others were not safe from the Nazis. 

The IRC is an organisation whose purpose is to help people whose lives are shattered by conflict, persecution and disaster. They work in 40 countries, in what David calls the ‘arc of crisis’, from the war zone in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, through to the internally displaced, the homeless in their own country, who have had to flee to the houses of cousins or strangers in refugee hosting states.  The IRC is an $825 million a year organisation, with 13,000 employees.

David sheds light on his journey, from UK politics to the NGO world; he delves into the differences between the two and the benefit of having experienced both.  He describes the IRC as an organisation that is about solutions rather than suffering.

For a full transcript of this conversation, visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org

Please click the ‘subscribe’ button on your favourite podcast app and please share widely with others — thank you! 

 

Apr 11, 2021
Amy Klement, Managing Partner of Imaginable Futures — a venture of the Omidyar Group, Founded by Pierre and Pam Omidyar of eBay fame — discusses unleashing human potential through learning
34:31

 

If you ever wondered how a Silicon Valley mindset rooted in social entrepreneurship can improve global education, then this episode is for you.  A fascinating look at an organisation that is quite different from traditional philanthropy.

Imaginable Futures is a philanthropic investment firm that combines impact investing and foundation grant-making in order to unleash human potential through learning.

Imaginable Futures spun out of the Omidyar Network a little over a year ago, where they were previously the Education initiative of Omidyar.  They were founded and are funded by Pam and Pierre Omidyar — who is also the Founder of eBay.

Amy worked for eBay, where she served as VP of product strategy and operations, and was previously one of PayPal’s earliest employees in the late 1990s. Today, she leads Imaginable Futures.  She provides great insight and projects very positive energy. 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org for a full transcript of this episode. Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Apr 04, 2021
Paul Polman, Co-Founder of IMAGINE and former CEO of Unilever joins Alberto Lidji to discuss CEO engagement in sustainable business and creating ‘tipping points’ in specific industries to drive change
45:34

 

"Redesigning how business could be and should be, to the benefit of society, is a very important thing."

We tackle a diverse range of topics, from climate change and inequality to his outlook on life and the observation that some people think greed is good but, longer term, generosity will always win.

This is a multifaceted and candid conversation. We hear how his potential to drive forward greater change in global development is actually stronger now than it was when he was still at Unilever. 

We also get a glimpse into his youth, where he notes without any hesitation that: "I wanted to be first a priest and then I wanted to be a doctor, I ended up with serendipity in business, I wouldn't do it again, today, I wouldn't go into business, necessarily, but I always felt more of an urge to help other people."

Paul Polman sheds light on his efforts to engage leading corporate CEOs and to bring key industries to a 'tipping point' whereby they start to embrace sustainable business. He speaks with great passion, insight and an unmistakable sense of urgency. 

This is a fascinating conversation from beginning to end -- enjoy it and take plenty of notes!

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org for a full transcript of this conversation and insight from over 100 podcast episodes on philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.  Please click the ‘subscribe’ button on your favourite podcast app. Thank you!

 

Mar 28, 2021
Tackling global hunger and malnutrition. Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), presents a sobering picture and a clear path forward
38:53
On this episode we focus on global hunger and malnutrition, which is UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger).   We address key questions and explore the subject in depth:   • Should anyone be dying from hunger in this day and age? • Must we embrace a vegetarian lifestyle? • What is the impact of childhood stunting on long-term economic development?   • What's the connection between food systems and the climate crisis? • What can policymakers, corporates and citizens do right now?   We explore global hunger from various angles and present a clear, actionable path for policymakers, business leaders and citizens around the world to consider as we approach 2030, the target year for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).   Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org for a full transcript of this episode.   Please click the subscribe button on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast app.  Thank you for listening and for sharing with others!  
Mar 21, 2021
Rugby star Siya Kolisi and Rachel Kolisi join Alberto Lidji to share their inspiring philanthropy journey and ambition to change narratives of inequality in South Africa through the Kolisi Foundation
51:56

 

Siya came from a challenging and humble background and, in 2018, became the first Black test player appointed Captain of the Springboks — South Africa’s national rugby team. In 2019, Siya led his team to Rugby World Cup victory.

Rachel brings a long-standing passion to serve individuals and communities across South Africa. From as early as 1990, Rachel has been involved in charitable and community development projects which have brought about transformation for many different communities.

Siya and Rachel co-founded the Kolisi Foundation exactly a year ago and are already making a huge impact in South Africa, tackling gender based violence, alleviating the hardships caused by COVID-19 and convening diverse stakeholders.

The Foundation has provided sustainable food parcels to more than 25,000 families and provided hygiene products to front-line health workers nationally, in partnership with The Nelson Mandela Foundation.

In this candid and warm conversation, both Siya and Rachel speak with great passion and articulate the nature of their work very clearly. We learn from both of them about the contexts that shaped their thinking, the challenging realities they’ve witnessed and how they’re leveraging their high-profile voices to convene partners, change attitudes and make a difference. 

For a full transcript of this fascinating conversation, visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org  — Download 100+ episodes in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please click the ‘subscribe’ button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Mar 13, 2021
Cherie Blair and Helen McEachern join Alberto Lidji to discuss closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship, why mentorship matters and reaching 175,000 women via the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
35:17

 

We hear Cherie’s personal story, from the positive influence of her mother and grandmother, to starting out as a lawyer in the 1970s when it was still rare for women to be actively involved in the workforce, to her time living in 10 Downing Street where she was lucky enough to travel the world and meet many great women across the world. 

Cherie felt that there was a gap in women's economic independence — women and girls — and if they could fill that gap by giving women skills, networks and the mentoring that they needed they  could really make a difference.  She set up the foundation in 2008 and now have reached approximately 175,000 women and girls in over 100 countries.

We hear how if women had the same opportunity to be entrepreneurs as men, global GDP could rise by about $5 trillion dollars.

Helen McEachern, the Foundation’s CEO, explains why they focus on low and middle-income countries, where the lack of economic parity is particularly pronounced. We also learn how they leverage technology to remove barriers and of the invaluable role of their global online mentoring programme.  Helen notes how the social norms that women face that hold them back are different in different countries and so they tailor their approach accordingly.

This is a fascinating conversation for anyone who cares about gender equality and embraces the entrepreneurial spirit. The conversation airs as the world marks International Women’s Day 2021.

For a full transcript of this conversation visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org  where you’ll also find 100+ thought-leadership conversations on philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.  Please subscribe on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Mar 07, 2021
Every woman must be given a chance to succeed. Vice Chancellor of the Asian University for Women (AUW), Prof Nirmala Rao, shares the impact of Bangladesh’s (and region’s) only liberal arts institution
33:41

 

An inspiring conversation for anyone interested gender equality. The Asian University for Women (AUW) was first established in Bangladesh in 2008, with a specific mission to recruit young women who have promise and potential, regardless of their background, and to offer them high quality education. 

It's a liberal arts institution — the only one of its kind in the region. It's very global in outlook and rooted in the context and aspirations of the young people of Asia, designed to address some of the inequalities endemic to the region. 

The idea for the university grew out of the World Bank and United Nations Task Force on Higher Education and Society.

For a full transcript of this podcast, visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org  where you’ll discover more than 100 thought-leadership podcast episodes in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please subscribe and share widely — thank you!

 

Feb 28, 2021
Julia Gillard discusses her work at the Global Partnership for Education, sheds light on her journey to become Australia’s first woman Prime Minister and argues for quality education for everyone
31:00

 

An insightful and candid conversation with a true champion for quality education for every girl and boy across the globe.  

Born in Wales, UK, Julia migrated with her family to Australia as a very small girl. She was educated at local government schools, literally at the end of her street.  

Her father had grown up in a coal-mining village and he left school at 14. He found his way in Australia as a psychiatric nurse. Her mother worked as a cook in a care home. 

Julia has always been conscious that her life chances have been defined by coming from a loving stable family, but also by going to great schools. Fortunately, those government schools at the end of her street were fantastic schools.  And if they hadn't been fantastic schools, her entire life would have been different. 

Today, Julia is Chair of the Global Partnership for Eduction (GPE), which can be thought of as a shared commitment to ending the world's learning crisis. 

It is the only global partnership and fund that focuses solely on school education in lower-income and middle-income countries. They have got around 20 years’ experience now working with partner countries to make sure that more girls and boys not only get access to school, but the education they have at school is a quality one. 

Their model for change is really about mobilising donors, the UN family, philanthropists, the private sector, everyone basically, behind country-led plans to transform their education system. 

They’re working in 76 countries around the world. It's a broad and a deep partnership for change.

Download this episode to hear much more about Julia’s remarkable work and story.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for a full transcript of this episode, guest bios and useful links. Enjoy and learn from 100 episodes in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship at Lidji.org

 

Feb 22, 2021
President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Larry Kramer, shares his candid views on tackling climate change, adaptation vs mitigation, the merits of divesting from fossil fuels and more
35:11

 

Larry has been President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation since 2012. Before joining the foundation, Larry served from 2004 to 2012 as Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School.

The Hewlett Foundation has an $11 billion dollar endowment and this conversation focuses on their work tackling climate change. Larry delves into the difference between the different approaches of adaptation vs mitigation — and he explains his preferences. 

We learn of the key players in this field today and different collaborations in place to drive change forward.  Only around 2% of global philanthropic funds are focused on climate, so there is a pressing need for more action from funders around the globe.

Larry speaks candidly about the importance of unrestricted funding where appropriate and provides his views on whether divesting from fossil fuels is the right thing for the Hewlett Foundation right now. The focus, ultimately, being about achieving most impact.

For a full transcript of this podcast episode visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org where you’ll be able to download guest bios, useful links and more than 100 thought-leadership conversations on philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.  Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others — thank you!

 

Feb 21, 2021
CEO of Bond, Stephanie Draper, sheds light on the work of the UK’s network for organisations working in international development and discusses the challenges and opportunities to build back better
30:36

 

An insightful conversation that delves into the UK Government’s changes to its foreign aid budget, the termination of the Department for International Development (DFID), and co-ordinating with UK and international organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stephanie Draper has spent more than 20 years working to accelerate a just and sustainable future, with a focus on sustainable development. She brings extensive international experience of bringing sectors together to collaborate and shape a better future.

For a full transcript of this conversation visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org, where you’ll also be able to download guest bios, useful links and 100+ episodes on philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

 

Feb 14, 2021
Dr Charlie Teo, renowned Australian neurosurgeon, talks about his foundation’s work in driving forward brain cancer research, the latest medical advances and his sense of urgency to find a cure
36:36

 

An insightful conversation with a highly passionate and respected practitioner and advocate. Charlie provides an overview of the state of affairs in brain cancer research today, sheds light on the medical advances he has witnessed since his days as a medical student and shares his optimism for much less invasive and much more effective treatments in the not too distant future.

From founding the Charlie Teo Foundation to helping set up a pro bono hospital in India, Charlie’s story will inspire and inform you.

Charlie was, and remains, instrumental in the development, dissemination and acceptance of the concept of keyhole minimally invasive techniques in neurosurgery. He runs a fellowship program that attracts over 600 applicants yearly and has trained many of the world’s leading figures in neurosurgery at distinguished centres such as the Barrow Neurological Institute and Johns Hopkins, Duke, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Harvard Universities.

He has raised over $20 million that has been used to fund research scientists both in Australia and abroad.  Charlie dedicates 3 months every year to pro bono work in developing countries.

Charlie was named as a Member of the Order of Australia (for contribution to the development of minimally invasive neurosurgery). In 2012 he was invited to give the Australia Day Address to the Nation and in 2013 was honoured to be the first non-politician Australian to address the US Congress on the need for more funding for brain cancer research.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website at Lidji.org for a full transcript of this conversation, guest bios and useful links. Download 100+ podcast episodes on philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. 

 

Feb 07, 2021
Social entrepreneur, Chris Robson, is Founder & CEO of Living With — a digital health company focused on remote condition & patient management. A conversation on success, failure + making a difference
32:56

 

Chris shares his insight on the social entrepreneurial journey and his current venture, “Living With”, which helps patients, doctors and researchers to manage conditions remotely and derive  valuable data in the process.

Chris has 20 years’ experience of building fast growth, multinational companies and products, from £0 to £50m turnover. Among other ventures, he built and floated digital agency, Syzygy, on the German Stock Exchange and co-founded Ink Publishing, the world’s largest publisher of inflight media. He holds an MBA from London Business School and a degree from Oxford University.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for a full transcript of this podcast episode, guest bios and useful links.  Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Jan 24, 2021
Director General of the MAVA Foundation, Lynda Mansson, discusses the strategic challenges of winding down a foundation that’s granting around $100m annually and will cease to operate in late 2022
35:17

 

The foundation will sunset in a couple of years’ time, and the dynamics are much more complicated than one would expect. From ensuring the foundation’s key staff are motivated until the end to sharing institutional knowledge with others and helping partners and beneficiaries thrive in the long-term.

The MAVA Foundation is a family philanthropic foundation based in Switzerland.  They were founded about 25 years ago by Dr Luc Hoffmann, who is the grandson of the founders of Hoffmann-La Roche. 

The foundation will be closing and will stop their grant-making after 2022. Over their lifetime, they have granted out more than one billion dollars.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for a full transcript, guest bio and useful links.  Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Jan 17, 2021
Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) Executive Director, Ashlee George, talks about their work in support of youth in South Africa through the lens of HIV/AIDS prevention
33:21

 

Learn how Charlize Theron, one of Hollywood’s biggest names, founded CTAOP in 2007 and is today driving a strong network of charitable partners, supporting youth in diverse ways and working with a team of professionals to help improve young people’s lives as we approach the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Ashlee George has been part of Charlize Theron’s team for 15 years and over the past decade has been leading CTAOP’s efforts to oversee dramatic growth, including increasing the foundation’s grant making, communities served and youth engaged — underscoring CTAOP’s vision of a future where all youth are empowered to live healthy, HIV-free lives.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for a full transcript, guest bio and useful links.  Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Jan 10, 2021
CEO and Co-founder of the EkStep Foundation, Shankar Maruwada, explains how they’re leveraging technology, big data and mobile platforms to drive forward education at scale in India
37:43

 

Infosys Chairman and Co-founder, Nandan Nilekani, and Rohini Nilekani, are the other two Co-founders of the EkStep Foundation.  Both Nandan and Rohini are signatories of The Giving Pledge — a commitment made by billionaires to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Infosys is one of the world’s largest IT firms and Nandan Nilekani’s involvement places the EkStep Foundation in a strong position to leverage technology in pursuit of education — the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4).

The EkStep Foundation was set up in 2015. The idea was to think big: they aimed for a big goal to reach 200 million children in India and improve their access to learning opportunities and help them achieve improved learning outcomes.

At EkStep, they have a sense of urgency and believe that social good can be done at the scale of the entire population. Time is of the essence since every single year there are 20 million children in India who enter and exit the education system. Therefore, every year wasted is tremendously costly.  In addition to speed and scale, the third key consideration is ensuing their work is sustainable.

Organisationally speaking, the EkStep Foundation is relatively small and only has approximately 40 members of staff — considering they’re reaching more than 200 million children, this is quite a good ratio.

Shankar sheds light on the technology and methods they’re embracing to improve education for millions of children. One of the challenges is ensuring their approach is compatible with the sheer scale and diversity of India, with 25+ formal administrative languages and hundreds of dialects. 

The technology should also help the existing ecosystem of actors since at EkStep they’re not interested in becoming yet another player in this field but, rather, they wish to facilities and improve the capacity of what’s already in place. The technology should fit in with the existing constraints and habits of the chidden, the schools and the education systems in place.

At EkStep, they thought long and hard about the possible ways in which they could help and ultimately ended up focusing on the humble textbooks that are delivered to millions of households annually.

In India, a billion textbooks are printed and distributed to children across the country entirely for free every year. A child may lack many things but a textbook is unlikely to be one of them.

Instead of thinking of the textbook as an outdated technology, they looked at imbedding QR codes so that when you access these QR codes you get content that’s relevant to the chapter and book you’re studying from.  It’s a gateway to content that is interactive, trusted and relevant to the learner.  It is a simple but effective approach.

QR codes tend to be present within each chapter; perhaps 10 to 15 QR codes per book, on average.  

Shankar provides examples: For instance, a 2nd grade student follows the sequencing of chapters in her textbook and the QR code in each chapter provides free content that is created and curated by her school authority — so it’s trusted. 

In a chapter about fractions, for instance, the content could show a video of a cake sliced into 5 pieces, so as to show the concept of fractions. This, in turn, could be followed by questions or a practice test, which then helps you know whether the content has been understood well.

One could say the QR code is somewhat equivalent to a GPS system within the textbook.  It’s like that 2nd grade student is telling the system, here I am right now, I am looking at fractions and, yes, I am understanding this content well. 

A fascinating aspect of this approach is that the content being shown to that student can change dynamically so that at the start of the year it’s more about explanations, while towards the end of the year it might be more about revision and mock texts.  Each individual state in India decides on content and how to sequence it.

In most traditional education systems, there is only limited (if any) feedback of what content individual children are finding engaging. Now, with these QR codes and targeted, dynamic content, they do have remote sensing of data that enables the education system to understand patterns, content engagement levels, learning outcomes, mock exam outcomes and what content students are spending most time on.  Are they focusing more on writing, mathematics, science etc? 

They created technology as a digital infrastructure and they’ve called it ‘Sunbird’ — Shankar remarks that one can think of it as a kind of Linux equivalent for learning. Open infrastructure and free. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to have a look at it and embrace this platform if they wish, irrespective of where in the world they might be.

It wasn’t straightforward to be allowed to operate in around 28 states in India and to reach the 200 million children they had originally envisioned.  But, with a clear focus on their original scale target and by not being precious about their brand, they have succeeded and are impacting millions of children.  They decided that the EkStep brand should never be in the picture, they collaborated with many others and they made their solution open source, free, and available to anyone who wishes to use it.

A question that often comes up pertains to the reality that many children simply don’t have mobile phones or smartphones that can access QR codes. Indeed, that is a limitation Shankar recognises. He mentions that half of children in urban India may not have access to mobile phones, and that number increases even further in rural India. However, he points out that every teacher has a device. So, if the teacher accesses the content they can teach better and enhance the traditional chalkboard they have in the classroom.

Moreover, as a result of COVID-19 schools are closed. So the government is coming out with TV programmes that also have QR codes that are connected to textbooks. They’re connecting the physical to the digital, trying out innovative ideas and aiming to ensure that no child should suffer for lack of access to technology.

Shankar’s key takeaway: When you’re thinking about making a social impact, think big. Don’t constrain yourself by the limited resources you have, because whether you think big or think small, the amount of thinking is the same. When you’re thinking big, don’t worry about not having a perfect plan, or about limited resources or worry about failing.  Shankar has seen great things happen when you set a goal that is way above your means to achieve but it’s so inspiring that you start to attract people around you who are equally inspired and who help you achieve your goal.  With that in mind, if you let go of the need to control the journey, be prepared for a fun ride. And, miraculous things will happen. Even if you don’t achieve your goal, you will end at a place that is far better than what you would have had if you had thought small and only achieved that.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe to this podcast on your favourite app and share widely with others -- thank you!

 

Jan 03, 2021
New Year’s Special with Alberto Lidji - Key Takeaways from 2020. Philanthropy, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship
30:27

 

A New Year's special episode featuring key takeaways from some of the fascinating guests who joined us on The Do One Better! Podcast during 2020, including:

• Fran Perrin - Chair of 360Giving

• Sir David King - Former UK Government's permanent Special Representative for Climate Change

• Per Heggenes - CEO of the IKEA Foundation

• John Goodwin - CEO of the LEGO Foundation

• Ben Davies - Executive Director of the Johnson & Johnson Foundation

• Tony Nader - CEO of Transcendental Meditation organisations

• Craig Silverstein & Mary Obelnicki - Co-founders of Echidna Giving and signatories of the Giving Pledge. Craig was Google's first-ever employee

• Tariq Al Gurg - CEO of Dubai Cares

• Sandro Giuliani - Board Trustee of the Roger Federer Foundation

• Brian Gallagher - President & CEO of United Way Worldwide

• Howard Taylor - Executive Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children

• Anurag Banerjee - Co-Founder of Quilt.AI

• Matt Reed and Tinni Sawhney - CEOs of Aga Khan Foundation in UK and India

• Jeffrey Abramson - Co-founder of the Rona and Jeffrey Abramson Foundation

• Edwin Macharia - Global Managing Partner of Dalberg Advisors

• Mabel van Oranje - Founder of Girls Not Brides

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website to listen to the full episodes with the above guests and nearly 100 episodes with remarkable leaders in philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

Thank you for making The Do One Better! Podcast such a success in 2020. Happy New Year!

 

Dec 27, 2020
Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy, Clare Woodcraft, discusses philanthropy in emerging markets, the Global South / Global North power imbalance and the need for collaboration
34:22

 

The Centre for Strategic Philanthropy was founded by Badr Jafar and is based at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge.  It was launched in June 2020 and is focused on emerging markets, with particular concern for the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. Its geographic focus is something that sets the Centre apart from other academic outfits in the field of philanthropy.

They have three core pillars of activity: (1) they are a research centre, (2) will provide executive education commencing in early 2021, and (3) are a convening platform bringing together diverse voices, especially from the Global South.  

Clare provides insight into philanthropy in emerging markets and delves into some of the findings from their recently-published report Philanthropy and COVID-19: Is the North-South Power Balance Finally Shifting?

There is tremendous growth of philanthropy in the Global South and Clare explains how young philanthropists are increasingly moving away from establishing a straight forward foundation and, instead, are starting to consider alternative routes to doing good, such as creating an impact fund or starting a social enterprise.  

The Centre wants to help new, up-and-coming philanthropists to deliver more impact at scale, and to do so collaboratively.  They convene, attract new voices from diverse countries and encourage collaboration. 

Part of the rationale for Badr Jafar’s founding of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy was the lack of existing research into philanthropy in the Global South.  When asked what success for the next 10 years looks like, Clare replies that she’d like to see the Centre fill research gaps as much as possible, develop a better understanding of the landscape and have more robust data. Moreover, there is also a need to determine and showcase what best practice looks like.

Clare’s key takeaway: It’s about insuring that good intentions translate into impact. We really need to look at the evidence around what works and what doesn’t work. She cautions that before rushing in to create a programme or an intervention, one should really try to look at who’s already working in the space in question and aim to collaborate if possible. Yes, bring your passion, but be aware that intentions need to be matched by evidence.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others -- thank you!

 

Dec 20, 2020
CEO of the FrameWorks Institute, Nat Kendall-Taylor, discusses the science of framing + how best to translate evidence-based research into effective communications for mass audiences and policymakers
41:12

 

The FrameWorks Institute has been around for 20 years and they currently have a staff of around 25 professionals, comprised largely of PhD-level social scientists. Nat describes the team as a motley crew of disenchanted academics. Interestingly, they really don’t have folks in the team who come from a communications background, which is a bit ironic considering they focus on communications.

Nat describes FrameWorks as a non-profit, communications, social science research think tank. They are mission-driven to use social science research to support the communications capacity of the non-profit sector. 

They do this by focusing on three areas: 

1) they study, and are interested in, how people think about complicated social and scientific issues — it’s not about what people say or how they answer polling questions but, rather, it’s about how people use common cultural ways of understanding to make meaning of complicated social issues; 

2) they look at ‘framing’ and explore how presenting information in different ways influences how people think, feel and are willing to act — this is the science of framing; and 

3) they take results from this research and partner with organisations that are active in key sectors and they use these findings to improve these organisations’ communications.

There’s an overarching observation Nat makes clear early on: don’t assume that you are your audience. Nat notes that it is extremely common for people who are communicating about specific issues to make the erroneous assumption that they are their audiences. 

Data and evidence don’t necessarily make for effective communications. Nat asks, how many times have we seen presentations that start with data, have another piece of data, then include some charts and graphs about data, and then conclude with yet more data.  

We assume that this data layering speaks to our audience the way it does to us.  But this is by no means the case. Different people may need different elements in order to be convinced.  Always keep in mind that you are not your audience. One needs to draw a distinction between data and various other aspects that activate common, widely-shared values.

We also have a tendency to think of misperception as being analogous to people being wrong, or incorrect or simply unable to understand. This is dangerous. It’s not necessarily that people are wrong but, oftentimes, that people simply have developed different ways of thinking about certain issues or understanding the world around them. 

We hear how there’s a need to tweak the message to local cultures. The holy grail would be a single message that simply works all over the world — one size fits all. But in reality, while you may have a point you want to make to everyone in the world, how you make that specific point is going to have to be honed and made particular to given regions and countries, cultures and subcultures. You need to acknowledge the role that culture plays in how people think and process information.

Nat then sheds light on FrameWorks’ fascinating partnership with Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child and its director, Prof Jack Shonkoff. This collaboration stretches back further than a decade. 

We hear how FrameWorks helped the Center to translate complex research on early childhood development into highly effective messaging that helps a mass audience understand its meaning and helps increase awareness, change attitudes and drive forward positive behaviours.  

We hear of the development of specific phrases, such as ‘brain architecture’, ‘toxic stress’, and ‘serve and return interaction’, that were created to help research findings from the field of early childhood development reach and impact a broad, international audience.  

While these phrases seem fairly straightforward and sensible, Nat notes the work that went into developing these concepts took a great deal of effort and extensive development and testing; followed by extensive pushing and pulling between academics around how best to incorporate them.  Nat expands on these key steps, providing rich insight into the nuts and bolts of this process.

Nat’s key takeaway: firstly, it’s important to realise that you are not your audience. As a mantra, if you can repeat that, you’ll fall into fewer traps and you’ll make better decisions as a communicator. And the second piece revolves around the role of ‘framing’ in the process of change-making. Keep in mind that what you know is important, but there’s the bit about how you say what you know — the significance of framing. Realise that it’s not just about ‘what’ you know, but it’s about ‘how’ you communicate it in order to have impact with your information.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others — thank you!

 

Dec 13, 2020
President and CEO of World Vision International, Andrew Morley, talks about their work in supporting the most vulnerable children across 100 countries, with 37,000 staff and 100,000 volunteers
36:42

 

In 2020, they are celebrating their 70th birthday. World Vision International operates in most countries across the world and is a $3 billion organisation focused on ending violence against children in all its forms and supporting children, particularly in some of the most challenging countries, such as the DRC and Syria.

 

While World Vision is a Christian organisation, they serve those of all faiths and of no faith at all. They’re structured globally by setting up separate legal entities in the countries where they operate (such as World Vision South Africa) — these entities all agree to work in partnership with all the other World Vision entities around the world. They also work with delivery partners in local settings. Many of World Vision’s in-country team leaders come up from local communities, as opposed to being expats placed there from overseas.

 

Andrew sheds light on World Vision International’s funding.  Their primary funding is derived through their child sponsorship model.  This is a model that aims to develop communities — not just the individual child but also the communities where that child lives. 

 

Since they are a $3 billion organisation, they are fortunate in having adequate resources to withstand a shock such as that posed by COVID-19. Part of the reason why their funding streams are robust is the strong link between sponsors and the children and communities where these children live.

 

We also hear of Andrew’s career trajectory. He started off in the private sector and only later on in life moved into the non-profit world. He was always selling things from an early stage in his childhood and, then, also as a teenager.  The idea of marketing was something he was passionate about. Then, at 30, he had a powerful coming to faith moment and felt a calling to become a Christian. His life turned around at that point. At the time he was working for Sky TV as sales and marketing director — he recalls how back then he was the youngest executive on their Management Board.  

 

He stayed in the corporate world for 20 years, spending time at high profile organisations, such as Google and Motorola Mobility.  In 2017, he was ordained as an Anglican Vicar in St Paul’s Cathedral. Now, alongside his work at World Vision International, on Sunday mornings Andrew serves at a London church called Holy Trinity Brompton. He loves combining the two.

 

We hear how transitioning from the corporate world to the non-profit world is not that straight forward. The remuneration is much different and in the non-profit world everything is about excellence at a minimum cost, while in the corporate world it is about excellence at an acceptable cost. In the non-profit world, funding decisions often impact whether a child goes hungry or not. Andrew advises the audience: if you feel pulled towards the non-profit world, then go ahead and give it a try.

 

One of the major programmes at World Vision is focused on ending violence against children. Andrew notes how lockdown and COVID-19 have meant that children are at home more, and they’re away from the protective environment of school and are often not given access to the adults who might protect them. So, the risk of violence against children is exacerbated.

 

When asked what success for the next 10 years looks like to him, Andrew answers that he’d love to see an end of extreme poverty in all its forms by 2030. He’s optimistic and explains that despite the backwards steps in economic indicators due to COVID-19, what we’ve also learned from this pandemic is that when people come together and have a common goal that we can achieve lots.  He’d also like to see an end of violence against children in all its forms and have World Vision play its part in making that happen. 

 

Andrew’s key takeaway: Think about how your life is having an impact on the world, and ask yourself what you want your legacy to be. Most of us want to have a legacy that makes the world better in some way, so think about how you can do that. Have the belief that you can make a difference.

 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Dec 06, 2020
CEO of the Scouts UK, Matt Hyde, talks candidly about painful decisions taken on restructuring, redundancies and disposing of assets in the face of COVID-19. Invaluable insight on weathering the storm
39:30

 

Scouting prepress young people with skills for life. It has been around for 113 years and is active in 190 countries. There are 53 million scouts worldwide and 460,000 in the UK. Moreover, there are 160,000 adult volunteers in the UK and 60,000 young people who are waiting to join the Scouts.

 

In the UK, the Scouts are a federation of 8,000 Scout charities. The organisation has numerous income streams and areas of operations.

 

Matt sheds light on the dynamics of how the Scouts operates in the UK and we discuss how different parts of the organisation have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  He describes in detail the painful realisation over the late summer, 2020, that this pandemic wasn’t going to be going away quickly and, therefore, they needed a decisive plan.

 

Consequently, the team has been reduced from approximately 390 staff to around 260, and many property assets, including Baden-Powell House in central London, are being disposed.

 

This has been painful for the entire organisation and staff morale has clearly been affected. And, yet, there is a realisation of the importance of focusing on the Scouts’ mission and ensuring everything works towards achieving that.

 

Matt’s key takeaway for other leaders trying to weather the storm: The first thing is to go back to your mission. Ask yourself, is everything you’re doing furthering your mission?  And, are you taking those difficult but courageous decisions that you need to take?  Because, sometimes, to build the new you have to give up some of the past, and that’s difficult — and it’s emotionally difficult. We often don’t talk enough about the emotional drain on leaders. It’s about a mindset shift that says, OK, we’re going to build something new and therefore we’re going to take these difficult decisions. And then, ask how are you adapting your strategy in order to deliver that — in order to return to a time when you can be more optimistic about the future. You have to go to the depths of those difficult moments to come out on the other side.

 

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Nov 29, 2020
CEO of United World Schools, Tim Howarth, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss strategic exit planning, transitioning schools to local education authorities and expansion into new geographic regions
35:23

 

UWS is an educational NGO, based in the UK, with an international approach and a presence in Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal. 

 

Through education, UWS transforms the lives of some of the poorest children in the world who would otherwise have no access to education. They work with local communities to build and nurture schools and, then, to transition these schools into the government system. 

 

They have launched 226 schools and learning sites in Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal. Each school typically serves 150 children. 

 

UWS looks to build schools in places where there is a good fit. They identify regions where there are large populations of out of school children, which are remote, difficult to reach and are marginalised for various reasons.  

 

They identify these communities by liaising with local government and by working closely with teams on the ground. Importantly, UWS engages with local ethnic minorities who have key insight on where needs are greatest.

 

Each school is different and has its own life journey.  It may take a year or two to develop a school. Then, it’s about developing the enrolment and getting students in the habit of turning up — after all, these are often communities where the concept of attending school regularly is new. From there, it’s about maturing, whereby schools are brought up to a certain quality standard.  

 

This whole process takes several years; possibly a cycle of between 5 and 10 years. Once the school in question is working very well, then UWS looks to transition it into the local education authority — thereafter providing very light touch support.

 

We hear how the actual workforce is key to success, and how the whole endeavour is much more than simply constructing a new school building. Local communities, teachers, education authorities  — everyone is vital for success.

 

One of the hardest things UWS needs to do is figure out where they’re going to invest their finite resources. This means that if they find an education authority that is engaged and provides good political capital, there is an incentive to work with them repeatedly.

 

When looking to expand geographically, they consider (1) whether the level of need is there — ensuring they only go into places that have a clear need; (2) whether there is the potential for good partnerships, particularly with national and local governments, with good political capital where the government helps with the process; and (3) whether UWS can engage their supporters and donor-base to ensure there’s sufficient funding available.

 

Tim’s key takeaway: UWS uses this transition concept as an absolute guiding light for their overall strategy because it means they ultimately can deliver their mission and are leaving behind an empowered, well-run, robust project.

 

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Nov 22, 2020
President of Rotary International, Holger Knaack, discusses the importance of attracting more female members and young professionals; ensuring diversity within their 36,000 clubs and 1.2m members
30:24

 

We discuss Rotary International’s charitable work in local and global settings. They are the largest service club organisation in the world and operate in more than 200 countries.  While clubs are independent they all follow core values. 

 

Holger is looking to increase the number of female members who join Rotary International as well as the number of young professionals. Diversity is vital and much progress has been achieved on this front in recent years.

 

Rotary International supports a wide range of charitable activities.  Holger specifically references polio eradication, a successful initiative they started decades ago in the Philippines, which has led them to collaborate with key global partners, such as WHO, UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

 

Holger also talks about Rotary International’s support of peace initiatives and notes they’re currently partnering with seven universities in the world to run peace projects; where people are conducting masters studies in peace to drive this field forward globally.

 

Rotary International is both local and global. They support local service projects as well as international projects focused on water, and on maternal and children’s health in Africa and India, for example. Since Rotary clubs are everywhere, they can interact internationally for charitable work unlike many other organisations.

 

Rotary International is a very flat organisation and has been around for 115 years. There’s just one president — interestingly, Holger’s term is just one year in duration — and there are 17 directors, and then 530 district governors around the world.

 

Holger’s key takeaway: Rotary is probably different than you thought. It’s a different organisation than it was 100 years ago. It’s not an old man’s organisation that is about going to lunch. Rotary is a vibrant organisation with many different clubs that fit your needs. Rotary clubs are looking to make lasting, positive change in the community, in the world, and within ourselves.

 

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Nov 15, 2020
CEO of Gorongosa Trust, Matt Jordan, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social enterprise + wildlife conservation at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. One of the most biodiverse places on the planet
35:05

 

This conversation provides great insight into a public / private partnership with a strong philanthropic underpinning that simultaneously drives forward human development and wildlife conservation at scale — within a challenging context that in recent years has included conflict, local fighting, a commodities crash, a currency devaluation and a massive cyclone. 

 

A focus on forestry, ecotourism and agribusiness has resulted in robust social enterprise activities that  incorporate local communities while helping tackle climate change. 

 

There are 200,000 people around Gorongosa National Park and 80% of them are subsistence farmers living on under $2 a day. They are vulnerable to malnutrition, poor education and other challenges. 

 

Creating small businesses, helping with skills and fostering greater access to finance helps establish the ‘enabling’ conditions that transform livelihoods for the long term.

 

Matt’s key takeaway: Be part of something that creates a world where people and planet thrive together! 

 

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Nov 08, 2020
Co-Founder of Quilt.AI, Anurag Banerjee, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the power of artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet to drive forward the global development agenda
31:43

 

A fascinating and thought-provoking conversation for anyone who's looking to understand attitudes and drive behaviour change at scale for the betterment of society.

 

What drives misogynistic attitudes? How do you know whether your philanthropic intervention is making a difference?  Can AI and big data help improve girls' education and expected career outcomes? What about privacy considerations when analysing mass behaviour online?  We discuss these questions and many more.

 

Quilt.AI is a mission-first technology company, seeking to increase empathy in the world. Using the Internet as a source of knowledge, inspiration and communication, Quilt.AI works on issues including climate change, gender equity and health across the world. Their work has focused on a range of thematic areas across the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

The firm’s clients include some of the world’s most recognised for-profit and non-profit organisations. They’re headquartered in Singapore with a presence in New York, London, Zurich and New Delhi.

 

An insightful conversation that's perfectly aligned with today's global development needs and technological advances.

 

Anurag’s key takeaway: The Internet is still in its infancy.  We think of it as something that’s been here forever but it’s still relatively new. The next version of the Internet, the way information is indexed, the way we experience it, these things are all still to come. These are fascinating times.

 

Editor's Note: This interview was conducted in August 2020.  In October 2020, Quilt.AI became a corporate sponsor of The Do One Better! Podcast.  The original interview was conducted well before there had been any conversations around sponsorship.  Anurag Banerjee was invited as a guest on The Do One Better! Podcast purely on the merits of his work.

 

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Nov 01, 2020
Co-Founder & CEO of the Geanco Foundation, Afam Onyema, talks about transforming lives in Nigeria, working with A-list celebrities and taking the plunge into philanthropy straight after Stanford Law
38:01

We hear how Afam’s father, and his dream to improve lives in Nigeria, was the inspiration that led to the creation of the Geanco Foundation – a charity based in Los Angeles. His father is originally from Nigeria and Geanco is very much a family story; they led with a dream and figured everything else from there.

 

Afam studied at Harvard and Stanford Law, yet his calling to serve guided him to the world of philanthropy and development work, and he co-founded the Geanco Foundation in 2007 right after completing his law degree.

 

He explains how declining numerous corporate law job offers in order to launch a foundation was not an easy choice – and indeed his mother certainly raised an eyebrow when she learned of this – but the decision simply felt right and Afam has never looked back.

 

Even though Afam had no experience in fundraising – an essential ingredient for any nascent charity – he was incredibly fortunate to get immediate financial backing from some of his classmates who organised a fundraiser for him early on and, also, from one of his professors who had done very well in the tech sector and had decided to support Afam and his work at Geanco for the first year.

 

The Harvard and Stanford networks played important roles and Afam advises listeners not to neglect the power and potential of your alumni networks.  His base of support today has much to do with the thousands of emails he sent to Harvard alumni and Stanford alumni over the years. 

 

Afam presents a sobering picture of the many challenges faced by the people of Nigeria today, from poor education and health, to gender inequality and the threat from terrorism. The Geanco Foundation tackles many of these challenges in its own way, by developing and driving highly targeted and meaningful interventions.

 

On healthcare, they organise medical and surgical missions in Nigeria, carrying out hip and knee replacements and various other types of operations. They also help improve outcomes in prenatal care by, among other things, helping to screen hundreds of women each month for anaemia and distributing ‘Mama Kits’ in rural parts of the country, which contain all the essentials one would need to deliver a baby safely in rural settings.

 

On education, they provide a variety of services and support, which range from delivering tablets to schoolchildren so they can read and study during lockdown, to helping build sports facilities and ensure schools have the right equipment.

 

Afam talks with great passion of the David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship for Girls, which the Foundation launched with the invaluable support of David Oyelowo, a world-renowned actor who cares deeply about the work of the Geanco Foundation.  David is just one of the many Hollywood celebrities who supports Geanco in a meaningful and substantive way – a partnership in the true sense. 

 

The Scholarship supports girls – many of whom have been left orphaned by terrorism in the country – in a comprehensive and meaningful way by providing support ranging from school tuition, room and board, healthcare and even by having representatives of the Foundation attend parent teacher conferences. 

 

The Scholarship started with just 3 girls in a single school in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, and today serves 35 girls in 4 schools throughout the country. In the coming years, Afam would like to see this grow further.

 

He notes that while these numbers may seem modest, the ‘Leadership Scholarships’ are truly comprehensive, meaning it’s not simply a matter of writing a cheque.  In the case this Scholarship, they literally help girls across pretty much every meaningful aspect of their lives.

 

There is no question that celebrity support has been invaluable to the Geanco Foundation. Afam notes that this support took time to secure and nurture, but with transparency, trust and real partnership it is proving extremely fruitful.  These celebrity engagements are true partnerships that go well beyond the simple endorsement one might think of.

 

Interestingly, Oprah Winfrey was the first funder of the David Oyelowo Leadershp Scholarship for Girls, and celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor ,Jimmy Kimmel and Charlize Theron  have been invaluable in supporting the Foundation by making introductions, getting involved and being part of the Geanco family.

 

Afam’s key takeaway for listeners:  He points us to his life’s mantra, which is simply to be kind to others and to serve. Our world is becoming angrier, sharper and more divisive.  Just find ways to be kind and always ask yourself how can you serve in any given situation.

 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please click the subscribe button on your favourite app and follow us on LinkedIn. Thank you!

 

Oct 25, 2020
Executive Director of the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Ben Davies, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the importance of supporting frontline healthcare workers
39:52

 

Ben Davies provides great insight into the work of the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, their support of frontline healthcare workers, their $250 million investment and their aim to reach 100 million people... and much more.

 

Highly consequential work, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This conversation sheds much light on corporate philanthropy and how the private sector plays a role in driving forward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

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Oct 18, 2020
Executive Director of Concern Worldwide UK, Danny Harvey, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their strategic thinking, ambitions for the future and how management has coped with COVID-19
36:49

 

Danny Harvey has more than 20 years' experience in the humanitarian aid and development sector, working with a number of organisations, including Concern. She has lived and worked in a number of countries including Cambodia, East Timor, Uganda and Indonesia. 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for full episode notes, guest bios and useful links. Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely -- thank you!

 

Oct 11, 2020
Sir David King, Founder & Chair of the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge University, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss innovative technologies to tackle the climate crisis
35:20

 

A fascinating discussion on the urgency of the climate crisis, including insight into some highly innovative technologies being pursued to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to refreeze the polar regions.

 

Sir David King was the UK Government's permanent Special Representative for Climate Change from September 2013 until March 2017 and was previously the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor from 2000 to 2007, during which time he raised awareness of the need for governments to act on climate change and was instrumental in creating the Energy Technologies Institute.

 

He also served as the Founding Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at Oxford; was Head of the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge University 1993-2000 and Master of Downing College at Cambridge 1995 -2000.

 

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Oct 04, 2020
Vikas Pota – former Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, and education policy expert – joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the inaugural World Education Week taking place on 5th-9th October 2020
29:44

 

Vikas is a repeat guest on The Do One Better! Podcast. He first came on the show in 2019 when he was heading the Varkey Foundation – the organisation behind the one million dollar Global Teacher Prize.

 

He is an education policy expert and in this episode Vikas talks about the upcoming inaugural World Education Week, taking place 5th to 9th in October, virtually. The event is organised by T4 and Vikas is driving it forward.

 

Vikas notes how the biggest lever of change we have in education is the teacher, so they’ve decided to have the inaugural World Education Week commence on 5th October, which is World Teacher Day.

 

A key driver behind all this is the need to accelerate progress in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), which focuses on education.  The exciting thing is that digital platforms, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, allow for new voices of folks to share experiences and share perspectives. It enhances debate and discussion.

 

Vikas explains that teachers trust teachers, and schools trust schools, so when a school leader speaks from their experience as to how they’ve done XYZ, the likelihood of other teachers in similar situations listening and taking note is much greater.

 

This is why they’re also organising  a ‘Global Showcase’ during World Education Week, where they have 100 schools from around the world that are going to demonstrate an area of expertise to others.

 

There are 5 areas they’re asking schools to consider: (1) the use of technology, (2) employability, entrepreneurship and the development of life skills, (3) deepening family and community engagement, (4) the science of learning and the science of teaching and (5) wellbeing.

 

The power of World Education Week is in its targeted approach. Vikas prompts listeners to keep in mind that events are a tool in one’s efforts to promote or take part in some sort of advocacy effort. In the case of World Education Week, it’s an important initiative to drive the conversation as to what is possible with regards to accelerating progress in SDG4, as opposed to merely having 100 events around the world on education.

 

Capturing of knowledge and making the conference freely available to people is important. By amplifying the teacher experience you really do change the discussion.  It’s important to make sure teachers are included.

 

Vikas also underscores the need to increase the social status most societies grant teachers. COVID-19 has in some ways prompted parents to recognise exactly how much work teachers do every single day; something that came into sharp focus as parents had to deliver home schooling during lockdown.

 

To achieve SDG4 by 2030 (the target year of the UN Sustainable Goals) we need 69 million new teachers to be brought into the profession.  Vikas remarks: How can you recruit so many teachers if we keep on treating teachers the way they’ve been treated thus far.

 

Vikas’ key takeaway: The parting thought is one that fills Vikas with hope and optimism, born out of seeing what happens in schools all around the world. There’s so much excellence in all parts of the world that by convening and bringing teachers and schools together we actually have for the first time, because of the use of digital communications platforms, the ability to influence schools in other parts of the world, and also in ours, to do a better job and to raise the standard of education, and that fills Vikas with a lot of hope.

 

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Sep 26, 2020
Executive Director of the Impact Fund and Forum at GESDA (Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator), Sandro Giuliani, discusses future scientific breakthroughs and international development
28:14

 

Sandro notes that the world is experiencing breakthrough scientific discoveries at unprecedented pace. He asks: if we can anticipate these emerging technologies, can we then unlock their potential to improve our world for the benefit of society?

 

GESDA was started by the Swiss government, who provided approximately 50% of the initial funding; this was matched by philanthropy.  The organisation is now an independent foundation.

 

GESDA aims to bring in key multilateral stakeholders, mixing science and diplomacy, to anticipate what future technologies could look like.  Information technology, quantum computing, bio-inspired computing, artificial intelligence, human augmentation, eco-regeneration – what will be the impact of these technologies for the future of humanity and our planet?

 

GESDA has reached out to the best researchers on these topics and has created an academic forum; essentially, they’re identifying some of the world’s best researchers who are in their labs developing the future right now, today.

 

Key questions at GESDA: 1) Who are we, what does it mean to be human; 2) How are we going to live together, what technologies can reduce inequality; 3) How can we ensure the wellbeing of humanity and a sustainable planet?

 

Sandro explains how he will be looking at creating an impact fund focused on enabling the development and testing of these technologies and solutions. He will be developing key alliances with the right partners in philanthropy, the corporate world and beyond.

 

Sandro’s key takeaway: Ask the question about anticipation and embrace it. What is science able to do in 5 to 10 years and how are we now anticipating solutions.  Anticipatory thinking can be quite transformative. He invites everyone to ask what can an anticipatory approach bring to the work one is doing.

 

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Sep 20, 2020
Vodafone’s Head of Sustainable Business, Dorothée D’Herde, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss building a digital society that leaves no one behind and protects the planet
35:25

 

Vodafone Group is one of the world’s leading telecoms and technology service providers – covering such things as connectivity, convergence and the internet of things. They also have strong expertise in mobile financial services and digital transformation in emerging markets. They mainly operate in Europe and Africa, with mobile operations in 24 countries.

 

Dorothée explains how the role of the sector in society is crucial. The nature of the products and services they’re involved with means they have the potential to leverage digitisation to enable the speed and scale needed to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

At Vodafone, their drive is about connecting for a better future; it’s about building a digital society that leaves no one behind and protects the planet.

 

We explore what it takes to embed a sustainability mindset within the organisation. Dorothée notes that it’s very helpful that, at Vodafone, sustainability is a CEO-led agenda and it can be found throughout the whole organisation, including in functions such as Vodafone procurement, Vodafone business, brand and commercial.

 

Dorotheée’s key takeaway for those working in sustainability within a corporate environment is (1) Purpose: really finding that genuine articulation of why you exist as a company; and if that exercise hasn’t been done yet, try to make that exercise happen at the highest level; and (2) Pace: the window to avoid a climate catastrophe is closing. There’s a drive and energy and a passion to go very fast and go where we need to go. But sometimes this doesn’t work in a big organisation, and sometimes you need to take a step back and bring the organisation along. 

 

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Sep 13, 2020
CEO of the IKEA Foundation, Per Heggenes, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their focus on climate change, improving children’s lives and helping refugees become self-sufficient
32:56

IKEA was founded in Sweden, in 1943, by Ingvar Kamprad, whose vision was to improve everyday life for the many.  The IKEA Foundation is independent from the retail business with a sole focus on creating brighter lives on a liveable planet through philanthropy and grant-making

 

They work to create more family wealth; to enable families to afford a better life. When families have a sustainable income they will invest it in their children’s health and education. They also focus on protecting the planet and reducing greenhouse gas emissions because if nothing is done urgently there won’t be a planet for the children they’d like to help.

 

They support work around five themes: 1) Employment and entrepreneurship; 2) Regenerative Agriculture; 3) Climate Action; 4) Renewable Energy; and 5) Special Initiatives and Emergency Response.

 

Per delves into the huge challenges posed by COVID-19 and notes that for many of the people they help, the medical side of COVID-19 hasn’t been as much of an issue as have been the economic challenges presented by this pandemic; challenges in being unable to work and feed their families.  Despite the challenges, this pandemic presents opportunities to accelerate development, to think outside the box and to take risks.

 

The IKEA Foundation has 130 partners and 185 active programmes around the world. Per explains how challenging it has been for the Foundation to engage with these 130 partners as the pandemic struck and many of them required additional funding and flexibility to survive.

 

Per also sheds light on the work being done by the Foundation to help refugees and invest resources towards building lives for refugees and helping them become self-reliant.

 

Working closely with IKEA business – they look at how refugees can get a start by having a 6-month internship with IKEA and then be able to apply for  job at IKEA. This has the power to change a person’s starting point in their new environment.

 

Per gives insight into his personal career trajectory, coming originally from the private sector. He explains how he faced a steep learning curve coming into philanthropy from the private sector and faced scepticism from those who view business as something bad.

 

Encouragingly though, this sentiment has evolved a lot over the past decade and now NGOs and philanthropies see business and the private sector as an important player in trying to drive forward the big global agendas such as climate change.

 

Per’s key takeaway: We have very limited time left to preserve the planet and ensure the world lives within the planetary borders and does whatever it can to reduce greenhouse gases, because without that almost everything else becomes secondary.

 

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Sep 06, 2020
Director of the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, Cynthia Osborne, discusses how to engage with elected officials and policymakers on the topic of early childhood development
32:59

Cynthia will be hosting the 'National Prenatal-to-3 Research to Policy Summit' on 15th September 2020. A virtual event open to everyone which will feature Prof Jack Shonkoff of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, Gov DeWine of Ohio, Gov Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and various other experts and policymakers.

 

The Summit is presented by the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs. 

 

During the podcast, we hear how early childhood is a period of incredible importance. It is the time when brain development is happening most rapidly.  Cynthia notes how children who are exposed to early adversity have higher rates of lung disease, heart disease, cancer and they engage in more risky behaviour – the earlier years really do shape the development of our brains and our body’s systems.  In the USA, children who are exposed to extreme adversity early in life have a life expectancy that is 20 years shorter than children who are exposed to very limited adversity.

 

We also hear Cynthia’s insight on the most effective policies that states can implement now and how different states in the USA compare to each other.

 

Cynthia’s key takeaway: She wants folks to understand just how important these first three years are, and to understand that we can actually do something to make it so that kids get off to the healthy start they deserve. Policies do represent the choices and the priorities that we have, and if we prioritise the fact that children deserve this healthy start then we know some of the answers for how to make that happen.

 

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Aug 30, 2020
Transcendental Meditation and philanthropy come together as we hear Jeffrey Abramson discuss his Foundation’s work and his support of Maharishi International University and the David Lynch Foundation
34:09

Jeffrey is a Washington DC-based philanthropist who’s been practising Transcendental Meditation (TM) for more than 40 years and he’s a Co-Founder of the Rona and Jeffrey Abramson Foundation.

 

He started thinking about improving the world when he was just 8 years old. He knew he wanted to end suffering and he wanted the solution to be one thing that could be given to people everywhere to change their circumstances, so they were the ones who lifted themselves up, and it needed to make them self-sufficient; not dependent on others. 

 

Many years later, when Jeffrey was 20 years old, he learned TM and experienced the benefits from meditating. He realised that maybe TM was the one gift that could deeply effect and empower everyone. 

 

A key goal of his philanthropy is to expand the research into TM and give people around the world access to their potential; to unleash their drive so they can impact their own lives and their own communities.

 

Jeffrey sheds light on his experience working with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who launched TM in the 1950s, which he describes as a defining moment in his life; an experience he thinks about often.

 

Among his various philanthropic activities, Jeffrey is the Chairman of the Board at Maharishi International University (MIU) – he’s been on the Board for 20 years. He’s very proud of this and he notes how MIU develops the whole person and includes TM as part of the curriculum.

 

A few years back, Jeffrey’s Foundation agreed to a multi-year pledge to the David Lynch Foundation – a foundation committed to ensuring that every child anywhere in the world who wants to learn to meditate is able to do so. Jeffrey sheds light on a specific community project in Washington DC called The Ark that brings TM to marginalised segments of the local community.

 

Jeffrey also explains how he aligns business with philanthropy and how TM is integral to his company’s success and operations.

 

Jeffrey’s key takeaway: He notes that solutions exist for the global issues we’ve discussed. They just need to be implemented by people who care. Change is possible and it always starts with one person. And, Jeffrey has found that for real systemic change to happen it must begin first within each of us. It’s important to reflect on where real sustainable passion comes from. It comes from the fullness of an ever-flowing free heart and soul. Every act counts. There’s always a domino effect to the people you touch with simple generosity and kindness. Do something that drives you, that fills your heart. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Plant a tree; meditate; donate; volunteer. It’s simple. Help put proven solutions to work; make a difference and trust in your goodness.

 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Click the subscribe button and share with others -- thank you!

 

Aug 24, 2020
CEO of Practical Action, Paul Smith Lomas, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss market-based solutions for improved water sanitation and systemic change in Bangladesh
32:10

Practical Action is an innovative international development organisation; their Patron is Prince Charles, HRH The Prince of Wales, and they partner with diverse organisations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the IKEA Foundation and DFID – the UK’s Department for International Development.

 

The organisation is comprised of various entities, which include a charity running projects internationally, a publishing company and a consulting company as well – together they work hard to find ingenious solutions, capture and share learnings, and to bring about big change.

 

Practical Action works in about 12 countries at any one time. In total they have 600 staff and partner with many organisations. Their operating budget for charitable actives is about £30m annually.

 

They’re a very practical organisation and focus on farming that works; energy that transforms people’s lives; helping to build resilience; and making urban centres safer places for people to live in – particularly looking at water sanitation.

 

The thrust of the conversation with Paul revolved around Practical Action’s work in Bangladesh (where they have a team of approximately 100 staff) as it pertains to water sanitation.   Paul is a water and sanitation engineer – so he gets very excited about this topic.  He’s not shy to say that in the case of their water sanitation project work in Bangladesh, essentially, “we’re talking about poo”.

 

They’ve been working with marginalised, urban communities in slum areas in towns and cities around Bangladesh and helping them to improve their living conditions.  Again, in his candid manner, Paul notes that a particular problem is “the problem of shit”.  Many people have access to a latrine, which people use as their toilet – but the challenge they found was that emptying the latrines was a huge problem.

 

Across the whole of Bangladesh, something along the lines of 80,000 tonnes of human waste is produced every day, and over 90% of it remains untreated.  What happens often is that emptying these latrines becomes the task of informal waste workers, literally emptying pits by hand and disposing of the sludge in open watercourses. We’re talking about something that fills the equivalent of 30 Olympic swimming pools every day.

 

This poses a terrible health threat to people living in these areas. The total population of Bangladesh is around 160 million people; of which perhaps 40% are living under the poverty level.  Safe sanitation is a matter for the whole population – not just those living in slums.

 

Practical Action focused on developing a market system for sludge, working across the board with diverse stakeholders, including micro finance outfits, government representatives and foundations.

 

They tried to answer the question of: How do you get these pits emptied in a safe and reliable way?

 

Practical Action’s solution turned this activity into a business, in a sustainable way – in partnership with a broad range of actors, developing a workforce and turning sludge into fertiliser.

 

They worked with municipalities to license operators; they developed an app so city dwellers could order this service and leave feedback for a job well done.  In turn, service providers got decent pay - and so the market works.

 

Their work started approximately 10 years ago, when they were working with WaterAid.  They could see that while latrine coverage in the country was going up, the problem of sludge was not actually being addressed.  So, they started piloting urban-based sewage treatment systems and things have progressed very well since then.

 

Paul also sheds light on his career trajectory.  He’s an engineer by background and at the start of his career was working in the construction industry in the UK. In his 20s he took a posting with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) to work in Sudan and he found this experience highly stimulating and full of purpose. He learned much and shifted from a traditional career path, from what he classifies as a construction engineer, in order to become a development engineer.

 

Paul’s key takeaway: It’s all about the team. If you have a motivated team that is ready and willing to work together for a common purpose, then you’re powerful!

 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful resources. Please click the subscribe button and share widely -- thank you!

 

Aug 16, 2020
President & CEO of United Way Worldwide, Brian Gallagher, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss digital transformation, “Philanthropy Cloud” and helping millions of donors connect with great causes
38:56

United Way is the world’s largest privately funded non-profit organisation. It is 133 years old, has 3 million volunteers, 8 million donors and operates across 40 countries – including the UK where they’ve had a presence since 2014. Last year it raised around $5 billion.

 

United Way Worldwide is a social franchise; it owns the brand and sets rules on financial reporting, governance, ethics and inclusivity across 1,800 communities globally.  It also manages relations with the United Nations (UN), the World Economic Forum (WEF), corporates and governments.

 

Brian sheds light on his background. He formally joined United Way as a trainee back in 1981 and has thoroughly enjoyed the journey.  A word of wisdom he likes to share with folks who are just starting out on their careers is simply ‘be prepared to say yes’ – we’re so wired to say no.  So, just say yes.

 

Last year United Way generated around $5 billion in income, which is a remarkable sum.  Brian notes the breakdown of this income is roughly split as follows: 15% from corporations (such as IBM, UPS, FedEx, Samsung and IKEA); 35%-40% from the employees of the 65,000 companies they work with (employees who tend to give via payroll); and the other 50% comes from individuals.

 

United Way has approximately 8 million donors. There are 600 donors who have given $1m+; 40 donors who have given $10m+; and approximately 25,000 donors who are regularly giving $10,000 annually.  The average donor gives $300 per year.  Brian notes that United Way is most effective when it reflects and looks like its community. And, in order for a community to succeed, everyone in that community needs to succeed.

 

When asked about what success looks like for the next 10 years, Brian responds that, for him, inequality is the biggest issue in the world today.  In 10 years from today the world is going to have to be more equitable, more just and cleaner environmentally. This change will either happen through enlightened political, corporate, and non-profit leadership; or it’s going to happen through social unrest.  He is optimistic about how things will shape up for the next 10 years, although he notes he’s less optimistic about the next 18 months.

 

On the issue of COVID-19 around the world: Brian observes that it’s the countries with strong public health systems (countries who look after the health of all their citizens) that are doing much better than places like the US.  Likewise for countries where there’s a strong social contract, a commitment to the common good and where people care about each other – these are the countries that are coping better. For him, the pandemic is wildly instructive in terms of what success looks like in the next 10 years; there needs to be a focus on the common good.

 

There is a great deal of digital transformation and innovation taking place at United Way.  Brian sheds much light on how the organisation has evolved; he provides insight into their traditional business model and how they’re now embracing digital technology to increase efficiency and transparency in their philanthropy.

 

United Way helps to take the resources in a community and to match these with people in need.  The business model at United Way was to pool your money; United Way will then assess who are the best non-profits out there, and then they’ll give them that money and ensure they’re doing a good job, and then they’ll tell the donors about it.

 

However, Brian notes that digital technology is now eliminating the middleman in transactions. So, you don’t necessarily need to go through institutions any longer, you can do it individually. So, what United Way has been working towards is how to build this community exchange without individuals having to come to them as a vertical institution.

 

What United Way has done is build individual donor and volunteer digital profiles. They’re working with Salesforce – building first in workplaces and then beyond – on the ability to build your own profile (what do you care about philanthropically in terms of where you want to give; how you want to volunteer; what you want to advocate) and they’ve taken all of their work in education, income, health, migration etc and they’ve digitised it all. They have also taken all of their impact content and turned it into digital.

 

They’re putting their donors and volunteers together with this content on one platform so they can interact with each other without necessarily going through United Way.

 

Brian notes that if United Way is to go from 8 million donors to, say, 18 million donors, they’re going to have to give up some control as an institution and instead create an environment and a technology ecosystem that allows the donor and the volunteer to get directly to the service provider or even the person who needs help – so that United Way facilitates that process instead of managing it.  Fundamentally, it’s about how can United Way help individuals connect directly to what they want to achieve philanthropically.

 

This digital platform they’ve created with Salesforce is called Philanthropy Cloud; it is now live in around 350 companies in the US and there are around 70,000 people using it.

 

As the users use Philanthropy Cloud, the tech gets smarter. The Salesforce AI (artificial intelligence) is in the tool itself.  Brian has Philanthropy Cloud installed on his phone; it tracks things for him, it makes recommendations for him to read about certain philanthropic topics, it provides stories and information that are relevant to him. 

 

The way Brian describes it is: why can’t the philanthropy on his phone be just like his Spotify account?  Why can’t it watch him use the service and then make suggestions to him – so that’s what Philanthropy Cloud is about. That’s what it does.

 

Brian’s key takeaway for listeners: We need to connect with each other. We’re better together than we are apart; this applies to philanthropy. Let’s be generous; let’s share with each other. If we do this there’s nothing that will stop philanthropy generally, and therefore society.  Brian is increasingly learning that there are so many things he doesn’t know. Appreciating this has allowed him to be freer, to think abut United Way’s work differently; to think about who they might partner with that they wouldn’t have partnered with before.  It’s that old adage: if you hold the bird too tightly in your hand you kill it, and if you open up your hand it flies away; so you have to hold on to these things gently.  United Way now finds its thinking to be much more open.  For those of us in philanthropy – no matter what segment of philanthropy – you have to be open, you have to be willing to learn, you have to be a bit vulnerable and you have to trust more than we trust right now. We have to be open and generous and, if we are, good things will happen!

 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful resources.  Please click the subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Aug 10, 2020
CEO of Humanity & Inclusion UK, Aleema Shivji, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss disability inclusion in crisis settings – One in seven people in the world live with disability
32:04

 

Humanity & Inclusion exists to support people with disabilities and vulnerable people who are affected by poverty, conflict, disaster and exclusion to achieve their rights and live in dignity.

 

They were founded in 1982, initially supporting victims of landmines who were fleeing to Thailand from Cambodia.

 

Today, Humanity & Inclusion is active in 60 countries.  It is a federated network with members around the world.  They work in partnership with diverse stakeholders – including UNICEF, the WHO and the UK Government – and their work is a combination of advocacy and operations.

 

Ninety per cent of their staff are local to the countries they work in, so they’re closely embedded at the community level, which then also makes it much easier to identify good local delivery partners.

 

Aleema notes the importance of their work by highlighting that 1 in 7 people in the world live with a disability, and their problems are exacerbated in settings of crisis and poverty.  Those with disabilities are at increased risk.

 

Women with disabilities are twice as likely to be a victim of sexual and domestic violence than non-disabled women.  In humanitarian crises people with disability are at an even more increased risk.

 

Aleema sheds light on her personal trajectory. She has travelled extensively and worked in many countries, including Haiti, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.  This global experience drives much of her passion today, even though as CEO of Humanity & Inclusion in the UK she is no longer in the frontlines as much.

 

Aleema grew up in a philanthropic family but never thought of development work as a career. She trained as a physiotherapist and at some point started to feel something was missing in her career. Then, while working in Bangladesh, something clicked and she realised she wanted to work in development work and make a real difference leveraging her clinical training to train key stakeholders in the frontlines.

 

Aleema’s key takeaway:  Remember that people with disabilities are the world’s largest minority and all of us have a role to play. Everyone from philanthropists to campaigners, to companies, to foundations and governments – we all have a role to play. Look around you and see what you’re supporting; where are you giving your gifts? Are you giving in a way that ensures that the most marginalised people are impacted?  We all have a role to play to leave no one behind and to achieve the goals of Agenda 2030.

 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful resources.  Please click the subscribe button and share widely with others - thank you!

 

Aug 03, 2020
CEO of Plan International UK, Rose Caldwell, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss children’s rights; equality for girls; and how to build back better post-pandemic
36:08

 

Plan International is a global charity operating in more than 50 countries. It was established in 1937 and strives to ensure the rights of children and equality for girls.  Several decades ago, it established the ‘sponsor a child’ model, which successfully supports the local communities where these children live.

 

We hear how Plan International engages with a truly broad and global range of partners, from small, local NGOs, to the likes of the LEGO Foundation, Unilever and AstraZeneca.

 

Rose grew up in a farm in Northern Ireland – one of five children – and didn’t even know what international development was back then. She grew up in a country that was in conflict, and that had an impact on her. 

 

Northern Ireland at that time was quite inward looking and Rose could never envision as a child that she’d end up travelling the world and running international development endeavours.  She started off in the private sector but once she ventured into the international development world she never looked back.

 

Rose admits she’s had good luck during her career. Rose never had a great career plan but she broadly knew the direction she wanted to take and knew she wanted to do something she was passionate about and believed in.  She captured the opportunities as they materialised and now finds it truly humbling being in such a leadership role.

 

Being in London is certainly a departure from her previous postings in the global south, and she very much misses life in the frontlines.  As a CEO in London, you can get a bit removed from what’s happening in the field, which is why visiting their programmes overseas is so very important – and, now with COVID-19, this means watching the videos that come back from the frontlines.

 

We hear how working in international development requires one to be an optimist.  However, despite feeling optimistic, Rose is indeed concerned.

 

The impact of COVID-19 on girls is massive: education, child marriage, infant mortality, gender-based violence – the coronavirus pandemic has wide-ranging, negative implications.

 

Rose notes there are estimates that by 2030, there will be 13 million more girls who find themselves in early forced marriage because of this pandemic. There is the real risk that COVID-19 will roll back the progress that has been made thus far on gender equality and girls rights.  Therefore, it is important for governments around the world to recognise the vulnerably of girls in crisis.

 

Rose’s key takeaways: (1) This [pandemic] is a global crisis; while the UK has been terribly impacted, we need to realise we won’t solve this crisis until it’s solved all around the world. We need to focus on our interconnectedness and embrace a global outlook. (2) It is vital to raise awareness of the impact this crisis has on girls. The girls of today are the women of tomorrow. We need to be aware and support the voice of girls, and listen to what they have to say; we need to recognise that in a crisis it is girls who carry a greater burden than boys.

 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share widely. Thank you!

 

Jul 27, 2020
President of the Oak Foundation, Doug Griffiths, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the Foundation’s $300m annual grant-making + their collegial approach to partnerships + fostering transformative change
39:51

The Foundation focuses on global, social and environmental concerns, particularly in helping the most disadvantaged.  In 2019, the Oak Foundation made 377 grants, to 342 organisations in 37 countries, totalling around $300m. 

 

The Foundation backs a wide range of initiatives focused on the environment, housing and homelessness, international human rights, issues affecting women, learning differences, preventing child sexual abuse; and special interest areas such as health, humanitarian relief, education and the arts.  They also have four national programmes in Brazil, Denmark, India and Zimbabwe.

 

Doug sheds light on the Foundation’s main programme areas and provides insight on their transformative work on the environment and climate justice – aiming to strengthen the ecosystem of climate funding.

 

We hear of the Climate Leadership Initiative hosted by Climate Works, for instance, where the focus is on helping individual philanthropists identify where they can enter the climate space. For many donors it can be very challenging to ascertain exactly where and how they can get involved in this space – it can be daunting since it’s a very technical and scientific field.

 

The next campaign they’re very excited about is around food.  Creating a big tent to bring a wide range of voices and stakeholders together, from those concerned with food production and land use to local sourcing and plant-based solutions. There’s a lot of engagement but there hasn’t been a lot of movement on the food side of things. By helping to fund this platform they want to bring people to the conversation, letting them know there are others interested in this space and letting them know there are many examples showing how people can get involved.

 

Doug talks about how they go about their grant-making and the work they do with different platforms, collaboratives, intermediaries and grantees. They place much effort to ensure their processes are streamlined and not bogged down by red tape. 

 

Doug joined Oak Foundation in January 2019. In his role as President, he is thrilled to knit together his professional experiences advocating for human rights, humanitarian relief, social development and environmental protection.

 

Dough was a career diplomat; he held various roles including that of US Ambassador to Mozambique.  He holds a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Notre Dame. He has lived in Canada, Ecuador, France, Germany, Haiti, Mozambique, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States. 

 

Doug provides two key takeaways: (1) [for those in the foundation and philanthropy space] he hopes we all continue to explore our aspirations to be good grant-makers and that we, to the extent possible, trust grantee organisations and are as unburdensome as possible. (2) Doug also notes that we are in desperate need globally of kindness and empathy, so we should take care of each other. Be kind to your family, your colleagues, your staff and, yes, even your boss.

 

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please click the subscribe button and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Jul 20, 2020
Dr Christian Busch, author of 'The Serendipity Mindset: The Art & Science of Creating Good Luck', joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how there’s much more to success than blind luck
34:16

An insightful conversation on serendipity, success and leveraging opportunities to improve the world. We explore how to breakdown the barriers to serendipity, spotting opportunities, connecting the dots, and turning serendipitous encounters into opportunities for success.

Christian Busch is an expert in entrepreneurship, social innovation, and purpose-driven business. He teaches at New York University (NYU) and at the London School of Economics (LSE), and directs the NYU Global Economy Program.

The conversation provides real-life examples and behavioural tweaks that are both thought-provoking and entertaining.  A must-listen for anyone who’s open to framing the world in a slightly different light and appreciating that one can be proactive when it comes to luck.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please click the subscribe button and share widely. Thank you!

 

Jul 16, 2020
Roger Federer Foundation: great insight on Roger’s philanthropic work and the Foundation’s support of education in Africa and Switzerland, from Board Trustee Sandro Giuliani
24:40

 

The Foundation was founded in 2003 and focuses on school readiness; they invest approximately 10m Swiss Francs (roughly US $10m at the time of writing) annually supporting children to transition into school.

UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.2 is a key reference for their work, aspiring to ensure that by 2030: all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.

Geographically, the Foundation works across six countries in Africa – Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe – and also in Switzerland.  Roger’s mother is South African and his father is Swiss.

When asked what it’s like to work with Roger, Sandro replies that it’s pretty cool.  Roger is running the Foundation strategically and is very hands on. For Sandro, it’s not just about working with someone who’s very high profile, it’s also a matter of working with a philanthropist who truly wants to transform children’s lives for the better. It’s a lot of fun and a privilege; it is incredibly rewarding.

We hear how the Foundation has a strong executive team and is very lean. There are only around three team members based in Switzerland and another three based in South Africa. Their CEO is Janine Händel, who has been with the Foundation from the outset.

The Foundation’s approach is community based; they work with teachers through their partner organisations (the Foundation is not an implementing organisation); they work with local partners directly in the local communities they serve and have reached more than one and a half million children.

Sandro notes the Foundation is working on an innovative project right now called the ‘Early Learning Kiosk’, which is a tablet-based app that is used by pre-primary educators to train themselves; and it also helps teachers assess a child’s development.   It is easy to scale since it is a tablet-based solution.  They are currently testing the Early Learning Kiosk with 5,000 teachers; and we hear how it was developed with universities and local partners. Even though the Early Learning Kiosk is currently being tested, it is already available for download for anyone who wishes to sample it. Once testing is completed, the Foundation aims to scale it and deploy it across Africa. The Early Learning Kiosk is available for download on both Apple and Android tablets.

Sandro adds that the Foundation is in an enviable position, whereby they can combine rigorous testing and innovation with a strong brand name and a personality that can engage effectively with policymakers.  First they focus on excellence and then they use the power of Roger to promote their work.

During these challenging times with COVID-19, the Foundation aims to ensure that teachers learn, maintain and increase their competence while in remote areas.  There is a focus on teacher workforce and quality; and they need to use technology to strengthen the role of the teacher; not to replace the teacher. 

Sandro remarks that this is an exciting platform for scale; to reach millions of kids through various partners who are active throughout Africa.  The development of the Early Learning Kiosk at the beginning was in collaboration with Hansjörg Wyss, one of the biggest Swiss philanthropists.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please click the 'subscribe' button and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Jul 12, 2020
Peter Jones Foundation's Managing Director, Bill Muirhead, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss instilling enterprise skills and a social entrepreneurial spirit in today's youth
34:07

Peter Jones is one of the UK's best known entrepreneurs and in 2005 he founded the Peter Jones Foundation to improve the socio economic outcomes for young people by helping them develop enterprise skills. They aim to ensure at least 60% of the young people they work with come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This wide-ranging conversation introduces listeners to the Foundation's various initiatives, including their Tycoon Programme, which aims to back children's and young people's business ideas by lending money to them that is risk free and encourages them to develop and execute innovative business plans.

The Foundation currently works with approximately 700 schools and has supported 12,000 young people to set up and run their businesses.

Bill Muirhead delves into the question of what, precisely, are enterprise skills and underscores the importance of learning through doing. There is room for the UK's school system to embrace enterprise skills more robustly and, indeed, Bill notes how these skills are vital to increasing self-esteem and confidence. 

In addition to working with schools, the Foundation has also developed a strong alumni programme that supports those young people who have engaged in its programmes over the years.

Bill's key takeaway for listeners: He asks you to talk to the educators and young people in your lives; we all have the opportunity to ask the question: what did you do today that was enterprising?  What's your school doing to encourage enterprise? If the answer is a blank stare, then look up the Peter Jones Foundation; explore its Tycoon Programme.  Have enterprise education on your radar. You may not have thought of it before but it's really important in the world that we're facing up to.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful resources. Please click the 'subscribe' button on your podcast app and share widely with others. Thank you!

 

Jul 06, 2020
Refugees and access to university education. Executive Director of World University Service of Canada, Chris Eaton, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss support for refugees and work with UNHCR + UNESCO
34:18

World University Service of Canada (WUSC) is a Canada-based organisation dedicated to expanding education, economic and empowerment leadership opportunities for youth in Canada and around the world, with a particular focus on refugees, displaced youth and young women. 

WUSC has its origins in the 1920s and today has a team of approximately 15 staff in Canada and a strong presence in the frontlines of the developing world. They’re actively supporting refugees from eastern Africa – Uganda, northern Kenya, Malawi – and the Middle East – Syria and Iraqi refugees based in Jordan and Lebanon.  They’ve done some work in Myanmar and are exploring needs in Latin America.

We also hear how their current operations are being negatively impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, they were due to assist 140 refugees to come to Canada for the start of the 2020/2021 academic year but that’s on hold for now due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Chris provides useful insight into the difference between the opportunities available in many developed countries, such as Canada, and countries of first asylum – the countries where refugees first go – which are usually in the global south and often struggle to provide higher education opportunities for their own populations, even without any refugees in the equation. 

The pathway to higher education for refugees is full of challenges. Funding is a hurdle; scholarships are often restricted to specific countries of origin, religion, age; the equivalency of academic qualifications is not always straight forward to assess; university admissions processes can be cumbersome for many reasons; and even in the final country of destination incoming refugees may experience xenophobia, racism and many cultural challenges.  WUSC tries to assist refugees to overcome all of these challenges. 

WUSC is fortunate to engage with like-minded organisations, such as the Shapiro Foundation.  Chris notes how Ed Shapiro is a philanthropist who is interested in expanding opportunities for refugees. He has engaged with a number of charities, both in terms of helping expand the work going on in Canada and, also, in exploring how Canada can share its expertise to help the work being undertaken elsewhere. 

WUSC has been working very closely with the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) around expanding education pathways for refugees globally. They’re part of a global effort to share and develop capacities in other countries to do this kind of work. Chris sheds light on a report WUSC prepared in conjunction with UNHCR and UNESCO ("Doubling Our Impact: third country higher education pathways for refugees" – Feb 2020) which is useful reading for anyone interested in making an impact in this space. 

The key takeaway Chris shares with listeners: Think about the challenges that you’re trying to address, at the scale commensurate with the challenge itself. This has been a key piece for WUSC as they think of the growth of their own programming.

Please click the subscribe button on your podcast app and visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. 

 

Jun 29, 2020
Thinking strategically about scaling up impact.  CEO of Spring Impact, Dan Berelowitz, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about helping charities scale up while ensuring quality and impact
35:38

Spring Impact is a registered charity in the UK and a 501(c)(3) in the USA. They help other charities and innovative organisations of various sizes and degrees of experience to scale up, replicate and increase their impact.

Dan sheds light on his professional trajectory and highlights how he learned a great deal by observing the likes of McDonald’s and Oxfam.

Unlike many commercial advisory firms, Spring Impact is happy to share their intellectual property (IP) so that others can learn from their processes and strategies. They publish a ‘Social Replication Toolkit’ that is publicly available and transfers insight to anyone who’s interested in learning more.

Interestingly, Spring Impact often works with organisations that are already well on their scalability journey – not just nascent ventures.  For instance, Dan noted Spring Impact works with several Skoll Awardees.

Spring Impact is also deploying much attention to drive forward the field of early childhood development (ECD). They have helped many clients in this space and are now looking at how they might be able to create toolkits and processes that would be of use to any ECD organisations looking to increase their reach.

Dan explains how they work with charity Boards and CEOs and, also, he notes that oftentimes the funding for their work actually comes from third party Foundations that have identified a specific charity in need of gaining scale and, consequently, they approach Spring Impact and fund their work in support of the charity in question.

Dan’s key takeaway: Keeping in mind the current COVID-19 backdrop, he notes that, yes, do think about emergency response and risk but, also, go ahead and hold your head up to the possibilities to really expand and create more impact. Once we’re in recovery mode post-pandemic, you should really think systematically and strategically about scale.

Visit The Do One Better! Podcast website for guest bios, episode notes and additional resources on a wide range of topics focused on philanthropy, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Please subscribe to the show and share widely with others -- thank you!

 

Jun 22, 2020
CEO of ACEVO – Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations – Vicky Browning, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss leadership networks + ACEVO’s upcoming report on racism in the charity sector
34:01

ACEVO is a network of more than 1,400 CEOs and aspiring chief executives based in the UK. They represent members from organisations across all sizes. They are a charity themselves and aim to ensure the leaders they serve are able to make the most impact possible. They support leaders and, in turn, these leaders inspire their own organisations. ACEVO helps CEOs be the best they can be.

Vicky sheds light on how ACEVO’s members are responding to COVID-19 – a crisis that is stretching many charities to the limit. She notes there are serious concerns and, indeed, demand for charities’ services has gone through the roof. At the same time, many fundraising and income streams have been negatively impacted.  Yet, there is much hope and much consideration in the sector for how we can build back better.

ACEVO has actually weathered this pandemic quite well. They have had to shift all their events on to digital platforms but that has led to good engagement. Whereas before they were convening their members through 50 different in-person events annually, now they’re doing approximately four weekly events using digital platforms. Engagement with their members has increased, as have their membership renewal rates. Members see the value of being part of this community of CEOs and aspiring leaders at this time of crisis.

On 17th June 2020, ACEVO have a report on racism coming out called ‘Home Truths’. They have been working on this report for more than a year in conjunction with a partner organisation called ‘Voice for Change England’.

The report looks at racism within the charity sector. Its insight is derived through various sources and methods: by talking to people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds who work in the charity sector; surveying more than 500 people; conducting in-depth interviews with people from diverse backgrounds; and holding roundtable conversations.

Vicky notes that the experiences BAME individuals have while working in the UK charity sector are often not good. This report aims to understand exactly what BAME individuals are experiencing in this sector and how best to address the problems highlighted.  The report is called ‘Home Truths’ because it delivers some fairly robust truth to, particularly, white leaders in the sector about how the sector is falling short in areas of equity and inclusion.

Vicky notes the problem is not just an absence of BAME people in the charity sector but, also, that those who are in this sector are often not having a positive experience. She also notes that, historically, organisations serving BAME communities are underserved in the funding arena.

During the podcast she also sheds light on ACEVO’s work and coalitions with other organisations who represent this sector, such as the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF). Interestingly, she notes there is room to explore international coalitions.

Vicky’s key takeaway:  As leaders we need to imagine better to create a better world, so let’s not be limited in our imagination for what things could be, let’s think big and then work collectively to move towards achieving some of those bigger, bolder visions.

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share – thank you!

 

Jun 15, 2020
Head of the Sage Foundation, Debbie Wall, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss corporate philanthropy, supporting local communities across 23 countries and launching a corporate foundation from scratch
32:04

Debbie sheds light on how Sage – a business solutions company and accounting software developer – launched the Sage Foundation five years ago. She was instrumental in launching the foundation which, today, entices more than 13,000 Sage colleagues to volunteer their time (last year, they volunteered an aggregate of 31,000 days), works with 300 charities at any given time, and supports local communities through grants, resources and innovative initiatives.

Debbie notes that philanthropy and volunteering are a great way to create happiness and her passion is unmistakable.  We hear how the Sage Foundation focuses on young people, women and military veterans and engages around work-readiness, education and entrepreneurialism.

Each Sage colleague is granted 5 days per year to volunteer for a charitable cause close to their heart. This can take many forms and today, with the pandemic and COVID-19 impacting the world, they’re doing a great deal of remote volunteering – such as online mentoring, helping children to read or even working with wildlife charities by reviewing live cams and assessing animals’ migration routes.

Moreover, at the Sage Foundation they’re helping charities better manage their finances in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic – for instance, by helping charities be more effective with their cash-flow and by facilitating knowledge-sharing between organisations. 

They’ve also launched the FutureMakers initiative, which is aimed at teaching young people aged between 11 and 18 about artificial intelligence (AI) and considering the likely impact AI could have on their future careers. In addition to volunteering and grants, the Sage Foundation also helps with resource by discounting their cloud-based software and supporting charities in their local markets.

Debbie shares her experience of what it was like to launch the Sage Foundation from scratch, how she advocated for this philanthropic initiative to sit at the very top of the Sage corporate structure and also gives insight into the work required to introduce the notion of a foundation and volunteering to the firm’s 13,000-strong workforce and, ultimately, ensuring everyone is strongly engaged with philanthropy.

Debbie’s key takeaway for listeners: “Action speaks louder than words. Get on and do it!”

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share with others – thank you!

 

Jun 07, 2020
CEO of Coram, Carol Homden, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the charitable work of this 280-year-old children’s charity in support of children’s rights, welfare and education
32:58

Carol became Chief Executive of Coram in April 2007 and was awarded a CBE in 2013 for her contribution to services for children and families. 

Carol sheds light on the charitable work of Coram in supporting the rights, welfare and education of children throughout its 280 year history.  She speaks of its Founder, Thomas Coram, describing his life and passion to help children.

The conversation explores a wide range of topics, from Carol’s professional trajectory and Coram’s impact to COVID-19 and pressures on funding.

The key takeaway Carol would like listeners to keep in mind: quoting Thomas Coram, carol notes that everyone ought in duty to do any good they can, and she prompts us to ask how each of us is serving. She concludes by quoting Anne Frank: How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before they start to improve the world.

 

Jun 01, 2020
CEO of ShelterBox, Sanj Srikanthan, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss disaster relief in the face of Super Cyclone Amphan and COVID-19 in Bangladesh and eastern India
29:46

Sanj starts off by providing an overview of ShelterBox’s origins; from a small outfit conceived 20 years ago in Cornwall, UK, to a global NGO providing disaster relief on the ground and via remote technical assistance. 

It has only been a few days since super cyclone Amphan made landfall in Bangladesh and eastern India, and the latest estimates are that 10 million people have been impacted and 500,000 have lost their homes; this is on top of already being in an incredibly precarious situation as they grapple with COVID-19 in extremely densely populated areas where coronavirus is present.

It’s worth noting that a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh has 40,000 people per square kilometre, whereas Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) started has 6,000 people per square kilometre. 

Sanj remarks that when the cyclone hits people are losing their homes and then moving into even more crowded settings for shelter, which then adds to the risk of coronavirus transmission. Therefore, ShelterBox needs to act quickly to provide family shelter; they’ve also got to provide hygiene materials to help people keep their hands clean.

This is a disaster on top of a disaster. This super cyclone is a natural disaster which is an acute emergency; you also have the coronavirus which is becoming a chronic emergency; and you also have the much wider development disparity with people living in extreme poverty.  When you live in extreme poverty, you have less resilience and little ability to support your family. You don’t have a government that can provide you with a furloughing scheme and pay your wages, or that can bail out businesses, or provide healthcare.

Sanj recalls a conversation he had with someone in Monrovia, Liberia, in reference to the earlier Ebola outbreak.  The man noted that Ebola doesn’t scare him since he’s already exposed to many risks that are alien to most Westerners.  For him, dengue fever can kill him, malaria can kill him; he can’t afford healthcare, if he doesn’t work he’ll die. And so, for much of the world there is a lack of safety nets – the extreme poverty faced by millions is already life-threatening, on top of the acute and chronic emergencies.

Interestingly for a global disaster relief NGO, ShelterBox’s headquarters is in Cornwall, UK. They have approximately 110 staff in Cornwall and 20 staff in London.  Sanj describes ShelterBox as both a community and an organisation. It relies to a great degree on volunteer support, from Rotary Club members to individual ambassadors.

ShelterBox has created response teams that go out into the frontlines when needed – made up both of professional humanitarians as well as volunteers.  They have over 200 volunteers who are response team members in addition to their professional staff.

They run training programmes for volunteers that include a wide array of information, from how to run distribution to doing needs assessments.  Training makes a big difference.  They assess people for their qualities, for their appetite for learning and for their raw skills; but not necessarily their previous experience. They look for the potential in people.

ShelterBox works closely with the public and has a strong following of supporters. They’re working on developing more of an international base and now also have opened an office with a team full time in the Philippines and are looking at other countries, too.  They take pride in partnering with local organisations on the ground – sometimes in very difficult circumstances in Syria, in Cameroon, in Somalia – and sticking with them, investing in their capacity and ultimately handing over responses to them.

Innovation is important. They have a ‘Horizons Team’ whose job is to spot new products for distribution and getting on top of the tech wave – thinking about what the world is going to look like in 10 or 20 years, what’s climate change going to do, what’s the scenario for that disaster they haven’t predicted.  They’re also looking at new ways of working, such as remote technical assistance, which they’re currently doing in Paraguay with local partners.

Sanj sheds light on his professional trajectory. He was a Captain in the British Army and did two tours in Iraq, then joined the IRC (the International Rescue Committee) where he worked for close to a decade. He joined the Army in a pre-9/11 world. It was exciting and it was different, and he enjoyed the comradery, but through two tours in Iraq he did become disenchanted with what militaries do and can achieve versus what are the real human needs. So, he left with some good memories and some useful lessons. He then did a master’s degree and then went to the IRC – an organisation that taught him much about what it means to be a humanitarian and that’s where he got his grounding.

Today, Sanj notes that collaboration is improving between international NGOs and even with the UN, but there’s still a long way to go. Questions need to be asked around why do we have various NGOs doing the same type of work in the same country; why not have a single NGO doing each type of work and start to consolidate? There’s a long way to go but Sanj is very encouraged by the direction of travel. 

Sanj posits a pragmatic idea to improve how the global community tackles some of the more intractable development problems. He doesn’t believe we can look to a deadlocked UN Security Council to resolve some of the conflicts and global issues we face – to get the Paris Climate Accords up and going for instance. Rather, he feels we need to look at more regionally led solutions and alliances.  For instance, he points to ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) one such example that can help where global frameworks struggle.  Likewise, he refers to conflict resolution in places such as the Sudan and South Sudan, where east African states have been very involved.  So, he believes that investment and support by Western countries in those types of mechanisms is a very pragmatic way to solve problems region by region.

Sanj’s key takeaway for listeners: As a senior (or aspiring) leader there is a fine balance to strike between having sufficient humility and having too much deference to what people think. It is important to keep the humility while having a lodestar that guides where we need to go without being afraid to bring people along for that journey.  Try to take time to get feedback from those around you to help you strike that right balance – this will serve you well.

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share -- thank you!

 

May 25, 2020
CEOs of Aga Khan Foundation in UK and India, Matt Reed and Tinni Sawhney, join Alberto Lidji to provide insight from the front lines; gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and more
40:56

 

This episode follows from an earlier episode of The Do One Better! Podcast featuring Matt Reed, which aired in October 2019. It is worth listening to that episode in conjunction with this one.

This conversation sheds light on the Aga Khan Foundation and the Aga Khan Development Network at a global level and provides tangible insight to their work in India.

Matt Reed is CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation in the UK (and was formerly CEO in India between 2013 and 2016) and Tinni Sawhney is the current CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation in India.  Together, they provide a multifaceted account of how they’re helping the most marginalised communities and individuals.

The Aga Khan Foundation is one of 10 development agencies that together form the Aga Khan Development Network, founded by His Highness the Aga Khan.  They work across all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aim to: 

  1. Improve the quality of life, in all its dimensions, in all the communities where they are active
  2. Promote pluralism
  3. Enhance self-reliance and civil society

 

They’re active in approximately 20 countries across central and south Asia, east and west Africa, and the Middle East. They focus on the poorest of the poor, in some of the most remote regions of the countries where they’re active. 

Across the Network, they employ between 80,000 and 90,000 people – excluding the communities and volunteers they work with – and the Foundation itself works with approximately 40,000 civil society organisations annually.  Annual operations across all 10 agencies is roughly $5.5bn.

Tinni Sawhney sheds light on the work of the Aga Khan Foundation in India.  Their interventions span many sectors, including girls’ rights, women’s economic empowerment, gender equality, early childhood development and agriculture.  Prioritising the needs of women is central to all their work. 

On the issue of society’s attitudes in India towards women being active in the labour market; girls staying in school for as many years as boys do etc:  Tinni notes that oftentimes, women’s work is unseen and unheard. At the Aga Khan Foundation, they want to make sure women realise just how important women's work is both to the communities in which they reside and also in their own households. It is also important to help men realise that the work of women is so fundamental to the economic development of their work and, therefore, they need to allow women to step out of their home.

Tinni talks with passion about an intervention that helps schoolgirls and young women have a voice.  She sheds light into one programme that had identified that many girls were dropping out of school to stay at home and manage the house. But these girls definitely had aspirations. 

So, they launched learning centres that provided a welcoming environment and enabled participants to gain some qualifications and vocational life skills - also making them aware of their rights and entitlements.

This life skills education led girls to realise they could have a different life. In the eyes of their immediate household these were now women who were contributing to the running of the household economy, so that increased their status within the household and, importantly, within the community there was also a greater acceptance of women working.  

Many girls who complete this vocational training end up becoming role models to other girls in their communities. And, ultimately, that’s how change across the whole of society happens.

The Aga Khan Foundation is very much a facilitator and their interventions are sustainable, whereby they continue to yield benefit to local communities even after the Foundation is no longer directly involved, and whereby many of the benefits and ideas that result from their interventions actually originate within the local communities themselves.

Tinni goes on to shed light on her own professional trajectory and how she ended up becoming the CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation in India.  She notes that while growing up she didn’t feel she was going to be active in the development field. But that changed when she joined the Institute of Rural Management in Gujarat .  As part of her training she had to live two months in a village that had no running water and the only house that had a toilet was the house where Tinni was sent to live by her institute. That’s when she realised that if we are really going to make a change then perhaps this is the setting where one starts.  She was very enthused by Mahatma Gandhi’s sayings that India resides in its villages. That’s where Tinni found her calling. 

Tinni’s key takeaway for listeners: Sometimes we find the greatest stories of courage and empowerment among those we would think of as poor.  She has found some of the greatest stories of empowerment among the women she works with. She feels the potential to overcome great odds is present in everyone. With a little bit of support, people can take this potential so much further – one cannot even imagine. With a little support that potential can really become an agent of change. This is very inspiring!

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share widely with others – thank you!

 

May 18, 2020
Founder and CEO of Home for Good, Krish Kandiah, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss philanthropy, the global orphanage crisis, family-based care, fostering and adoptions
33:58

Home for Good is the charity Krish founded 5 years ago, which came out of his own family’s experience of fostering and adopting.

 

We hear how in the UK there’s a shortage of foster carers and adoptive parents; in the USA there are over 110,000 children who are in the care system waiting to be adopted and are ready for families. Globally, there’s a whole issue on how we care for children.

 

In the UK, the government is the corporate parent of every child that’s in the care system. There has been a huge upturn in the number of kids who are in care in England with 75,000 kids in care at present. The government is struggling to find carers.

 

Krish works very closely with the UK Department for Education and, also, he is increasingly working with the UK Home Office, since there is a pressing need for unaccompanied asylum seeking children who have fled war and terror in places like Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

 

Krish notes that asking someone to become an adoptive parent or foster carer is a really big ask. It goes well beyond asking someone to give money.  Rather, we’re asking people to open their homes and welcome into their families strangers’ children who have had all sorts of on-going trauma; to love these kids as their own flesh and blood, not just for a hobby or a weekend but for the rest of their lives – that’s a huge ask.  It’s a hugely philanthropic way of living.

 

During the conversation, Krish also shares his fascinating personal story and sheds light into his mixed race background, his mother’s experience growing up as a child in an orphanage and his own six children – three of whom are his birth children.

 

Krish’s dad was born in Malaysia, and his dad’s dad was born in Sri Lanka. His mother was born in India, and her dad was Irish.  Krish notes how in the 1940s and 1950s it was quite unusual for a mixed race marriage to take place and, because mixed race children were not socially acceptable, his grandfather’s three daughters ended up in three different orphanages all over India. This was the case even though their mother was around and able to care for them.

 

As a consequence of discovering his own personal family history, Krish is now also quite focused on the issue of de-institutionalisation.

 

Most children in orphanages around the world have living parents. However, he notes that because of social stigma or well-intentioned philanthropy that hasn’t necessarily been thought out we are unnecessarily institutionalising children. This was Krish’s mom’s story – she didn’t need to be in an orphanage as a child yet she grew up in one unnecessarily.

 

Krish goes on to explain how, today, he now has three birth kids and three permanent other members of their family through fostering and adoption.  It is through these experiences that Krish and his wife know both how challenging fostering and adopting are and, also, just how very rewarding they are as well.

 

Krish’ passion comes across loud and clear and he explains how the goal of finding a home for every child that needs one has been the operating vision of Home for Good since the very outset.  

 

To underscore how consequential this issue is to society, he presents some sobering statistics: for instance, kids who age out of the foster system in the UK make up 1% of the population but they make up 25% of the homeless population and make up between 40% and 50% of our prison population.

 

Krish's takeaway for philanthropists: Passion and heart are not enough to do effective philanthropy. As philanthropists we have go to be absolutely informed and clear that our interventions are actually doing good.

 

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May 10, 2020
CEO of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA), Steven Serneels, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how venture philanthropy is manoeuvring in light of COVID-19
40:44

We hear how five venture capitalists met in London approximately 15 years ago and explored how philanthropy could embrace more of an entrepreneurial spirit, and how venture capital assets could blend with philanthropy assets. Those were the origins of the EVPA.

 

There are many ways of defining venture philanthropy, and Steven likes to think about it along three dimensions: 1) yes, giving is good but it’s even better if you can measure your results and you know what you’re after; 2) as in venture capitalism, you need to go beyond the funding by exploring the value that one can provide by opening one’s networks, by providing capacity-building etc; and 3) being creative enough to provide tailored financing that is flexible and fits best with a given situation.

 

We hear how the EVPA is active in over 30 countries and has more than 300 members.  They are an ecosystem builder and provide diverse services, from peer group convening to research and working closely with all stakeholders.

 

The EVPA also has a strong relationship with the European Commission and connects closely with academic institutions and policymakers.  The typical profile of an EVPA member is mainly a European, cross-national organisation. Foundations and social investment funds are two of their main membership constituents, along with organisations such as NGOs and social enterprises that are more on the demand side of the equation.

 

While traditionally their members were organisations, more recently they have also started including high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and philanthropists in their membership – individuals who can bring key resources and expertise to the mix.

 

Steven notes that COVID-19 is presenting serious challenges and he views this pandemic in three phases:

 

1) The survival phase – ensuring, for instance, that liquidity challenges don’t lead social enterprises to failure.

 

2) The revival phase – say the next 6 to 18 months – how best to stabilise and get things back on line.

 

3) The building resilience phase – being much better prepared for whatever future crisis might be looming in the horizon.

 

Foundations are struggling right now as they consider how to address the challenges presented by the novel coronavirus; they’re being prompted to ask some highly consequential questions, such as:

 

1) Should I redesign my programme, perhaps by moving away from a traditional focus on, say, the arts to a new focus on health or tackling COVID-19 in refugee camps?

 

2) Should I shorten my investment horizon from a multi-year approach to a more short-term focus, right now, to support organisations with immediate funding to address their liquidity challenges? and

 

3) How should I react if my foundation’s endowment has taken a serious hit?

 

Steven notes that the EVPA is suggesting to their members that they become a bit more relaxed about the rigorous reporting requirements they’re traditionally asking of grantees and to be more flexible with the management of grants; they should ideally open up a little bit about where and when to use the money; become a bit more relaxed because it’s urgently needed now.

 

When asked about how the EVPA member organisations and industry stakeholders all share information with each other, Steven mentioned that they have just gone live with Unitus Europe – a European philanthropy and social investing impact hub – a joint initiative the EVPA was very involved in launching.  They’re joining forces to ensure that the whole sector can have visibility on the different actions and initiatives that are being taken and, in the process, connecting supply and demand.

 

Steven also sheds light on the challenges being faced by social investment funds at this time and the partnerships that the EVPA has developed with various universities that are focused on applied research, such as ESADE in Barcelona, ERASMUS in Rotterdam, Catolica in Lisbon and HEC in Paris.

 

Steven talks about his background in the private sector and how he ended up running the EVPA. He always had a conviction that there should be a sweet spot where you can both do business and you can also do good at the same time.

 

When considering what success looks like in the next 10 years; a time horizon that aligns well with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Steven notes that using regulated accounts to measure the success of a business is something we’ve started doing approximately 150 years ago.  Before that there really weren’t any regulated accounts.  Yet, today, the financials are the key metric everyone looks to.  A similar thing happened with risk – looking at risk and return is something that is relatively new. Therefore, what Steven sees now is a third element coming into the picture, which is 'impact'. Societal additionality – there are loads of debates on how to measure impact yet, in 10 years’ time, he’d like to see a state of affairs where impact is a tangible and integral part of this risk-return-impact dimension.

 

Steven’s key takeaway for listeners: these unprecedented times in light of COVID-19 mean there are big dangers and big opportunities out there. He sees that in times of crisis, we tend to take measures that are not temporary but are often here to stay. Right now he’s following a current discussion on privacy and whether we should deploy smartphone apps to track what we’re doing, who we’re connecting with etc [within a COVID-19 context]. From an immediate perspective, for sure, there is a benefit of implementing such a system.  However, we need to be mindful of how best to implement things that have a short-term value while also keeping in mind that once implemented it may not be so easy to remove them when required. We should be very aware that the actions we take now in this time of crisis will probably be around for a much longer time. Democracy is at stake – we should not take light-hearted decisions and we must keep our long-term values front and centre when taking action now.

 

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May 04, 2020
Executive Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, Howard Taylor, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their work and the increased risk COVID-19 presents to children globally
37:46

The organisation was founded in 2016 by the Secretary General of the United Nations; its Board includes the head of UNICEF and the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is a public-private collaboration that includes UN agencies, governments, industry and others.  They have more than 400 members.

 

Collectively, they want to raise awareness, catalyse leadership commitments, mobilise resources, promote evidence-based solutions and support those who are working on the front line to tackle all forms of violence, abuse and neglect of children.

 

Early on in the podcast, we delve into the large amount of useful information they’re curating, which is available on their website, to help ensure children are protected during this period of uncertainty with the COVID-19 backdrop. 

 

The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children acts as a focal point of evidence-based information that is of relevance across many sectors, such as health, education and social services.  We are reminded that many sectors are involved in protecting children from violence.

 

Howard remarks that the risks children face right now are not new risks but they are exacerbated risks, due in great part to the high stress of COVID-19 in domestic environments -- confinement, isolation, job loss etc.   We hear how children are spending much more time online, and this increases risk.

 

Collectively, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children is trying to ensure child protection is embedded in government responses to COVID-19 across the globe. This is a key priority. It is also imperative that child protection services continue to be seen as essential services and get resourced appropriately during this pandemic.

 

Howard notes they must ensure that they get the right evidence-based advice to parents, caregivers and to children themselves. And, he underscores the importance of providing ‘evidence-based’ information since there is a lot of questionable information sloshing around out there. He notes it is a privilege to be working so closely with UNICEF, the WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and many others – drawing on a wealth of experience and expertise.

 

One of the challenges right now is packaging this evidence-based information in the appropriate way to ensure it’s reaching the right audiences, with the right messages, in a timely fashion, to equip parents, caregivers and in some cases the children themselves to stay safe.

 

Countries are at different stages in dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and are embracing different responses. Irrespective of each country’s particular circumstances, Howard wants to ensure governments are taking child protection seriously. It is important to note this issue doesn’t go away once a coronavirus vaccine is made available. The violence, neglect and abuse experienced by children today will have very long-lasting effects on individual children and national economies.

 

There are approximately 1.5bn children who were previously in school and now are out of school due to COVID-19. Much of what these children are doing today is online; and they’re not connecting in person with teachers, friends or social workers – the network of people children normally have around them who can serve a protective function.

 

It’s important that parents and caregivers know what children are doing online. Moreover, we hear how there is also a role for technology companies and telecoms companies to play as well. There are certain things they can do in terms of making their platforms, their social media and their learning spaces as safe as possible; and, they can also help push out child safety messages and help detect, disrupt and stop any harmful activity that’s going on. 

 

The episode also touches on the increased vulnerability of certain at-risk segments, such as children who are refugees, migrants, displaced children and children living in conflict environments; often without parental care, living on the streets or in urban slums.  On top of everything, there’s also a gender dimension to keep in mind since girls are at higher risk than boys.

 

Howard speaks about his organisation’s strategic considerations in light of COVID-19 – his organisation employs approximately 25 staff who are mainly based in the USA and Geneva, Switzerland.  Many of them have worked in social impact and international development, yet none of them have ever worked through a global pandemic of this nature. The challenge now is that this pandemic doesn’t only impact their beneficiaries but, indeed, it has a direct impact on the team as individuals and the organisation as a whole.

 

Despite the wealth of experience the team has in dealing with conflicts and various other crises over many years and many places, the COVID-19 pandemic feels qualitatively different.  Everyone in Howard’s team is remote working and they’ve done much by way of scenario thinking and contingency planning as they try to figure out what this pandemic could look like as time moves on.

 

It’s not just about how to end violence during COVID-19 but also nobody knows exactly how lockdowns will unwind or how COVID-19 will eventually unfold, or when a vaccine will come in, so it’s also about thinking of the next 18 months and beyond, and what is going to be needed, what is going to be possible and how do they go about that with and through their partners.

 

Howard also introduces listeners to their ‘Fund’, which has made significant investments in the last few years – particularly to address child online safety and also for children in humanitarian areas of conflict. In light of COVID-19, they’re now reaching out to their grantees to find out what they need on the ground, what the implications are for the work they’re doing, and what it means for them not just workwise but also organisationally.  It is a fund that has mainly been funded by governments and foundations but that is open to everyone who wishes to support the work they’re doing.

 

We then also hear of INSPIRE – a set of evidence-based strategies for countries and communities working to eliminate violence against children, which was created by various UN agencies, the US Centers for Disease Control and others.  Howard noted that it’s probably the best example of a comprehensive set of strategies which, if adopted, followed, resourced and implemented give you a good shot at ending violence against children.

 

When asked what success looks like for the next 10 years: Howard would like to see target 16.2 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achieved by 2030 – the target focuses on eliminating violence against children. He views it as his job, and that of his team and partners, to hold governments to account and, indeed, also to support governments with the evidence and resources.

 

Howard’s key takeaway: Firstly, we can and must do more to protect children during COVID-19. Secondly, to have optimism that coming out of COVID-19 the world isn’t going to be the same as it was before, and so asking what is it going to look like to build back differently. Whether that’s around the level of consciousness and awareness of the issue; whether that’s around action that’s taken to address the issue of violence, abuse and neglect of children. Do more now, and in doing so be more aware and, then, let’s build back differently as we come out of this crisis to whatever the next new normal is going to look like for children all over the world.

 

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Apr 26, 2020
Corporate strategy and COVID-19. Dalberg Advisors’ Global Managing Partner, Edwin Macharia, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their advisory work in the global south during this pandemic
37:03

Dalberg is a strategic advisory firm serving a wide range of clients, from foundations and NGOs to private firms and governments. The firm was founded in 2001 and aims to create a world where all people everywhere are able to reach their full potential. In this episode we discuss how they're tackling COVID-19 implications and advising their clients accordingly.

 

Development and impact is key for Dalberg and, today, they are a group of companies with 30 offices globally and interests in a wide range of activities, including: human-centered design, data analytics, on-the-ground research, transaction advisory, media and advocacy, and increasingly implementation capacity.

 

Edwin started his career at McKinsey & Co in New York in 2001. He notes how 9/11 was actually his second day at work and it was a defining moment in his life that helped shape his outlook and appreciation of impact and the importance of things besides traditional shareholder value maximisation.

 

Dalberg works closely with national governments, the UN ecosystem and multilateral agencies. They’ve become the largest top-tier advisory firm in Africa; larger even than those that don’t focus on mission and impact to the same extent.  They appreciate that many markets in the global south are the most forgotten and the least able to access professional support, and they’re keen to ‘localise’ their approach, meaning that in any given country where they operate, between 60% to 80% of staff are from that country themselves.

 

Thematically, they cover everything across the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since, as Edwin notes, everything is tightly interconnected. You can’t fix malnutrition in children, for instance, by focusing on health alone. The drivers may well be agricultural issues, or trade issues, or education issues – everything is interconnected.

 

COVID-19 has been a major shock to every single client they serve; private, governmental, philanthropies; it has impacted everyone across the board. When advising clients on how best to brace themselves for the arrival of COVID-19, there are three core things they’re focused on:

 

Firstly: Understand thoroughly what the situation is today, and respond appropriately. If you’re a private venture, consider your supply chain, your workforce and your distribution networks, for instance.  If you’re a government, what does this do to your fiscal space and your ability to raise taxes. If you’re a philanthropist, which places do you invest in, and are you taking a portfolio view. Even in this immediate context, what are the things you can do today that can have a long-term impact for your own organisation and business. Edwin emphasises that in the middle of a crisis nobody has perfect information, so you need to have a system to constantly assess what’s going on so you can respond accordingly. Also, recognise that the decisions you made yesterday may not be the correct ones for today, since you may now have new or better information that you didn’t have before.

 

Secondly: Start understanding what are the mid-term impacts that COVID-19 will likely have on your firm, government or philanthropy, and make decisions that provide for the best possible floor for your organisation so you don’t crash through it and therefore are unable to recover when this crisis concludes.

 

Thirdly: Proactively start to plan for what the post-pandemic world could look like. Because the decisions you make today could lock you in a negative space if you don’t think long-term enough on what recovery begins to look like – you may be tempted to get rid of capabilities or assets or partnerships that you might need to reacquire further down the line.

 

It is important to recognise that the first thing you’ll feel is panic; the world is falling on your head and you don’t know what to do.  It’s important to acknowledge this but, also, you need to park that to one side and then move to a more deliberate approach to understand the expected impact on your organisation and then start to plan appropriately for what the response looks like.

 

Even at Delberg themselves, they started tracking COVID-19 in early January 2020 and once they realised that this virus wasn’t going to be contained in China, they very quickly started having business continuity conversations and ensuring the most important matters got attention from the very most senior leadership in the firm. We don’t know what the crisis will look like but we know that we can prepare today as best as possible so we can aim to respond appropriately.

 

Towards the end of February they stopped all international travel at Dalberg, which was very difficult to do, especially keeping in mind their on-the-ground research and human-centered design work.  This was difficult but it was the right decision to protect their staff, the communities where they’re based and simply to be good citizens of the world and reduce the risk of transmitting this virus as they’re travelling through airports.

 

Edwin is based in Nairobi, Kenya, and he explains how there, too, they experienced initial panic followed by anxiety. This is a challenge for government leaders because on the one hand you want to protect the health of your citizens and on the other you want to protect their livelihoods – many people don’t have savings and are manual workers. It’s a very challenging reality. In some communities social distancing is simply impossible, with high-density communities, no running water, no possibility for remote working.  A taxi driver or a labourer in a construction site simply cannot telecommute and, yet, these are the most vulnerable segments.

 

In response, Dalberg is incubating coalitions that can tackle these challenges in effective and scalable ways.  ‘Safe Hands’ is one such initiative. It’s a coalition of Dalberg and new tech companies in Kenya, and manufacturers and distributers aimed at providing the hand sanitisers and face masks so desperately needed, and ensuring as much as possible of these get to informal communities.  It’s large scale manufacturing at the lowest possible cost.  Almost everyone in the coalition has said they’re putting aside the profit motive to ensure they’re protecting these more vulnerable communities.

 

Another initiative focuses on unconditional cash transfers to those who are most vulnerable. These cash transfers help people so they can continue to operate and exist as individuals. Cash has a strong economic multiplier because it ensures the local shopkeeper is still able to sell products and, therefore, the supply chain is maintained.

 

They’ve started these two coalitions in Kenya, but their aim is to use these as examples for others to build similar coalitions in countries across the globe. They want to share the model, the lessons they’ve learned and ensure they share this insight with others.

 

Edwin notes that some philanthropists in the global south have stepped up to the challenge; Aliko Dangote being one such example.  The bit Edwin underscores from a global north philanthropy perspective is that everyone is being called to support the same cause. Everyone is being approached to help with COVID-19, irrespective of whether they live in San Francisco or Zimbabwe or Senegal. This is a departure from what has traditionally been the case, where philanthropists in the developed world would be approached for very different things in their local community versus the needs they might address in the developing world.

 

Also, because of distance and the inability to travel at present, it’s important for philanthropists to listen to insights from the frontlines. What’s happening in response to COVID-19 in California, for instance, may be interesting but not necessarily directly transferable to what’s happening in Tanzania. So, if you’re already working with partners in the front lines, be much more attentive to the things they say they need, versus looking at your local partner simply as a ‘delivery partner’.

 

Edwin also brings into the conversation the need to pay attention to what’s happening in the global east.  The people who are furthest along in dealing with COVID-19 largely sit in the global east – China, Singapore, Hong Kong.   They’re weeks if not months ahead.

 

Unfortunately, though, from a technical perspective, the link between the global east is weakest with the global south.  So, a lot of this knowledge tends to be intermediated by a Western institution. The China context in a development perspective is much closer to an African context than New York or Italy, for instance.  Edwin recommends that as philanthropists today are thinking about where they can provide support today for global south partners; rather than the traditional question of how do I go through a global north institution, which then works with a global south institution, ask yourself 'can I actually find a way to tie the connection between global east and global south'? Because this transmission of knowledge is what needs to happen in a much more accelerated way in today’s world.

 

Key takeaway: He wonders, how can we expand individuals’ moral universe.  How can we expand empathy and people’s understanding of just how connected we all are. Therefore, looking out for each other is in our own selfish best interests. Hopefully, when we look back on this crisis, we can say 'did we build back better' because all our interventions had a person at the centre of what we were trying to achieve. And that person was not those who we currently consider to be in our moral universe but it’s actually much more global and much more expansive. Because this is the only way we will find long-term solutions to this challenge. To Edwin, COVID-19 is the first of challenges humanity is going to face. Climate change is just waiting around the corner.  We can use this crisis to build back better; an ability to respond will require us to all start from a position of greater and deeper empathy, particularly for leaders across the world, and then hopefully create the systems and institutions to make that possible.

 

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Apr 20, 2020
COVID-19 in crisis settings and the power of play. CEO of Right To Play, Kevin Frey, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how they’re preparing for the pandemic in 52 refugee camps across 22 countries
33:30

COVID-19 in crisis settings and the power of play. CEO of Right To Play, Kevin Frey, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how they’re preparing for the pandemic in 52 refugee camps across 22 countries.

 

This episode looks at Right To Play’s work and how it impacts lives in diverse ways – we frame the whole conversation within the coronavirus context and the challenges for their workforce and beneficiaries alike.

 

Right To Play is an international organisation that was founded in 2000 by Johann Olav Koss – a former Norwegian Olympian. They’re working in 22 countries – mainly in Africa, Middle East and Asia – and reach over 22 million children every year. They work in 52 different refugee camps and have extensive experience in crisis settings.   

 

Kevin and Right To Play Internatiponal are based in Toronto, Canada, and the organisation has offices in many countries, from New York and London, to Amsterdam, Norway, Sweden and Germany.  They use all forms of play, from gamified learning to music, sports, arts and more.  

 

We hear of the organisation’s trajectory, from 2000 until today. Over the years, they have secured impressive government and foundation partners.  They work closely with the LEGO Foundation and the IKEA Foundation, and have collaborated with the governments of Canada, UK, Switzerland and Germany, to name a few.  They have also entered into a high-profile partnership with Liverpool Football Club and have Right To Play’s logo featured on Liverpool's kit for Champions League games.

 

When asked about COVID-19 and his concerns of how this pandemic will impact their work, Kevin notes that they have concerns about preparing their staff in the Global South for what’s coming and protecting their beneficiaries – the millions of children who they reach every year.

 

The dynamics on the ground in many of the countries and settings where they work present real challenges.  Densely populated areas, refugee camps, poor water sanitation, poor access to healthcare etc – the list is lengthy.

 

This will impact local communities in many different ways and at Right To Play they’re not only doing pre-emptive work on hand washing and social distancing but are also paying much attention to providing psycho-social support for the trauma that will ensue post-pandemic.  Mental health and wellbeing are key considerations beyond the direct viral impact of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.

 

Interestingly, Right To Play learned much from when they were doing charitable work in Liberia back in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak.  They hope that in countries that have coped with Ebola, there will be experience, expertise and insight that will help them better prepare for the imminent challenges of this crisis.

 

We hear how ‘play’ is a means to an end.  Through play, they manage to improve children's lives across many areas, including quality education, gender equality, peaceful communities, health and wellbeing, and child protection – it’s a holistic set of objectives and play is merely a means to achieve this.

 

Kevin notes that Right To Play’s name can be misleading since they don’t actually exist to defend children’s right to play – rather, play is just the mechanism that they use to drive these really important changes in kids’ lives. It’s a powerful force in children’s lives.

 

Play can convene children so they come out to whatever programmes you’re running and to teach them active experiential gamified learning – there is very strong research that shows this is how kids learn best.

 

Impact is at the core of their activities and they’re incorporating RCTs (randomised control trials) wherever possible into their programme design.

 

We hear how building local capacity is key to Right To Play’s model.  RTP employees don’t work directly with children. Instead, they always train local partners to run those programmes on the front lines.  They train and engage with diverse stakeholders, from community organisations and teachers to prison guards in children’s correctional facilities.

 

Historically, Right To Play were keen to enter whatever countries they had funding for. Today, however, RTP tries to go deep into the countries where they have an existing presence. That being said, they have recently announced with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada a joint partnership bringing Right To Play to Senegal.  This is an exciting addition to the work Right To Play is already doing in Mali, Jordan, Thailand, Mozambique, Burundi, Pakistan, Ghana and several other countries.

 

When asked about what success looks like in the next 10 years, Kevin remarks that: It’s not about achieving some headline number. Rather, they want to continue to serve more and more children in the run up 2030 -- the target year for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They want to get to more kids to protect, to educate and to empower them.  They’d like to engage with other international organisations that may already be working at large scale across 50 or 100 countries; they’d like to explore how such global organisations can become delivery and distribution partners for the evidence-based work Right To Play is offering.  Scale and reaching more kids really matters.

 

Kevin’s key takeaway: Speaking within a COVID-19 context, Kevin notes that leaders can get hit by these crises that you never see coming and you can be stunned and left wondering what do I do next. But he notes that it is precisely when the world is changing super rapidly like this that actually new opportunities are emerging – opportunities to serve new populations, or born out of necessity, to invent new and disruptive ways to innovate and to deliver impact. New opportunities to get into relationships with people that up until now you hadn’t been talking to. There are huge opportunities to leapfrog on strategy, on delivery methodologies, on organisational structure.  Ask yourself, how can I make this crisis a force for really progressive and positive change for our organisation.

 

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Apr 13, 2020
Founder of Canopy, Nicole Rycroft, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the greening of the Harry Potter series; making industry more eco-friendly + working with the likes of Stella McCartney, H&M and Zara
37:35

Canopy is focused on protecting the world’s forests, species, climate and helping advance community rights.  They do this by harnessing the power of the marketplace.

 

Nicole launched Canopy 20 years ago with a small budget of $1,800. Today, they work with 750 large corporate customers, including H&M, Zara and Kimberly-Clark by helping them to develop and implement environmental policies.

 

They aim to change behaviours at a societal level. They approach this by working with the top 1,000 to 2,000 senior decision-makers who work within clothing companies, e-retailers and publishers.

 

The sheer size and purchasing power of the companies these individuals work for means they have incredible economic and political influence to incentivise forestry companies and governments to change business-as-usual practice. 

 

Nicole notes that Canopy is probably best known for ‘greening’ the Harry Potter series, which we hear was a lot of fun to do. 

 

Back in the early 2000s, they were working with Raincoast Books – the Canadian publisher of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the 5th instalment of the series. They worked to get the book published on environmental paper – free from ancient and endangered forest fibre.  Nicole underscores that both JK Rowling and her agent were very supportive of the initiative.

 

Then, fast-forward to the 7th book in the Harry Potter series where the book was printed on environmental paper in 24 countries and became the greenest book in publishing history.

 

The sheer volume of this endeavour provided proof to the industry that you really could publish high volume work on environmentally friendly paper.

 

Canopy’s work also tackles fast fashion, and the environmental and social footprint of the whole fashion industry. We hear how fashion is a major driver of deforestation and forest degradation. There are 200 million trees today disappearing into fashion annually; into viscose, into rayon, and modal fabrics. And this number is slated to double within the next decade.

 

Canopy have been proactive in engaging with industry leaders and they started reaching out to brands and designers, icons within the fashion industry: Stella McCartney, H&M, Eileen Fisher, Levis – working with them to develop environmental policies that commit to eliminating the use of viscose and rayon fabrics originating from ancient and endangered forests and, also, to prioritise and help drive next-generation solutions.  

 

They publicly launched ‘Canopy Style’ six years ago and now have 213 brands on board that represent $260 billion in annual revenues. This has enabled them to get similar commitments from most of the world’s viscose producers and, consequently, enabled them to start transforming the industry. Canopy drives change through collective action and convening; they help corporate clients through key services such as developing policies, tools and systems.

 

Interestingly, Canopy does not enter into financial relationships with any of the brands they work with. They feel this helps protect the integrity of their work – they’re keen on long-term, transformational relationships. Nicole feels that when a cheque is slid across the table, the whole relationship can become more transactional. Therefore, Canopy relies on a more traditional philanthropy model whereby most of their income comes from Foundations (60%) and major donors (30%).

 

Nicole’s key takeaway: We’re at a critical junction as humanity. Our time is calling us to be more audacious and to take risks. We can’t just keep doing the same things and feel frustrated that we’re not shifting the dial fast enough. We have to be bolder and we need to be willing to be uncomfortable.

 

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Apr 06, 2020
COVID-19 threatens to decimate the developing world. CEO of ActionAid UK, Girish Menon, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss strategic preparations as the novel coronavirus spreads into the Global South
33:00

COVID-19 threatens to decimate the developing world. CEO of ActionAid UK, Girish Menon, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss strategic preparations as the novel coronavirus spreads into the Global South. 

Girish notes: "We have no idea how it's going to unfold, we have no idea when it's going to end, we have no idea of how the new normal will be defined."

ActionAid is an international charity and human rights organisation that works with women and girls living in poverty and aims to end violence, foster women's economic empowerment and protect girls' and women's rights. They work in approximately 40 countries in the Global South, in Asia, Africa and Latin America and have a keen interest in helping girls and women in humanitarian crises.

The conversation with Girish focuses exclusively on the devastating impact this global pandemic could have in the developing world and is framed in light of "The Global Impact of COVID-19 and Strategies for Mitigation and Suppression" report from the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team published on 26 March 2020.

While populations in low-income countries tend to be younger, they also tend to experience poorer health, live in larger households where the elderly would struggle to self-isolate and often live in highly concentrated environments -- including refugee camps and urban areas.  Moreover, a lack of clean water, poor sanitation and health infrastructures that lack capacity and sophistication all point to a highly disturbing scenario whereby mortality rates and economic impact could devastate societies.

We discuss ActionAid's strategic thinking and manoeuvring in the face of COVID-19, and the challenges faced by NGOs, and their chief executives, in terms of decreased funding, strained operations and governments that are struggling to cope.

We also consider how women and girls could be disproportionately impacted by this global pandemic since in low-income countries two thirds of informal sector workers are women -- compounded by the potential for increased domestic violence that we have seen before in moments of crisis.

ActionAid's largest fundraising market is the UK, which constitutes 1/3 of the funds they raise globally. Therefore, any reduction in UK income could have a highly detrimental impact on ActionAid's work. We discuss ActionAid's Southern Africa Food Crisis Appeal, which they launched two months earlier -- 45 million people are facing one of the worst food crises, impacting the poor and most vulnerable the most. While attention now focuses on the coronavirus, a key point worth underscoring is that these themes are deeply intertwined. 

During this time of acute crisis, Girish notes how he's been in daily contact with his peers in other organisations. ActionAid maintains close co-ordination and communications with other leading organisations through its membership of 'Bond' -- the UK network for organisations working in international development -- and the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee). Girish mentions how they have already started considering deploying a global fundraising appeal as the pandemic hits the Global South. 

Girish's key takeaway for NGO leaders and CEOs: Stay mission-focused and be true to your culture. Don't be distracted from your mission. Focus on what you can control and manage because the world is unpredictable.

 

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Mar 29, 2020
CEO of Transcendental Meditation organisations, Dr Tony Nader, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the TM movement, how to start practising TM and why it can benefit your mental and physical wellbeing
32:28

CEO of Transcendental Meditation organisations, Dr Tony Nader, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the TM movement, how to start practising TM and why it can benefit your mental and physical wellbeing.

 

Tony sheds light on his personal journey, from PhD research on cognitive sciences at MIT to leading the Transcendental Meditation Programme across the globe.  He explains how this simple technique can give you energy, strength and make you feel rejuvenated.

 

We hear what makes TM unique and learn some of the overarching principles that underpin it. For those who are curious, there is an explanation of what practising TM actually looks like and why it has the potential to improve mental and physical wellbeing. 

 

Tony is clear that TM is not a religion, nor a philosophy, nor a belief system and, indeed, there are individuals from all faiths who practise TM.

 

Transcendental Meditation was launched in the mid-1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And, while many people may associate TM with celebrities, Tony remarks that TM has a presence in most countries around the world and has 12 million people practising it. He describes it as a grassroots organisation – a big family that is open to everyone.

 

Tony’s key takeaway: we are fullness within; every one of us is wholeness. And, there is something very beautiful, very deep within ourselves. It is our consciousness that is an expanded field of being that we can reach, that we can experience; know the beauty of who we are, know ourselves and the real depth of what we are and live life in fullness and wholeness and perfection. This is the birthright of every human being. And, it is not a hope or a wish, it can be achieved systematically, scientifically and repeatedly.

 

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Mar 23, 2020
CEO of the Social Investment Business, Nick Temple, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their quest for impact and the various ways in which they support social enterprises and charities
31:13

The Social Investment Business (SIB) has been around for approximately 20 years.  From 2002 to 2010 they did £320m worth of investments into a whole range of organisations.  More recently, they’ve added grant-making and business support to their range of activities.

 

Their world has changed over the past 20 years, with many new players active in this field compared with just a handful that were active when they first launched.  Nick notes that this is a good thing – the space is more mature and there are a higher number of specialist funds out there and more support available that is better targeted and specialised, based on things such as geography and thematic areas of operation.

 

The Social Investment Business provides debt/loans, grants and business support – they always try to find the right blend. While, traditionally, most of their investments have been in the form of debt, more recently they’ve been doing grants, including grants for business support.

 

Nick sheds light on the nature of their various funds and the debt, grants and support they provide. He then proceeds to delve into the ‘Spectrum of Capital’ – from social investing and impact investing to ESG-integrated investing and traditional investing. [NB: ESG = Environmental, Social and Governance]

 

There is still much work to be done in terms of improving definitions in the world of social and impact investing.  There is also a healthy degree of scepticism when talking of impact investing: Nick referenced instances where ESG funds have simply been re-branded as 'impact funds', while in actual fact nothing had changed except for their name.  There’s a need for standards, and there is an obvious risk of ‘impact washing’ – as there was with ‘green washing’. Nick shares very useful insight on impact and how to interpret it.

 

Nick’s key takeaway: increasingly we’re thinking less about scaling individual organisations as part of what SIB does and more about scaling impact across the board. And so he thinks, increasingly as times are hard, people should be thinking about sustainable prosperity and strengthening organisations to make them resilient for whatever happens . He thinks that imposing scale on individual ventures and organisations may be something they look back on and slightly question why they had been doing that.

 

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Mar 15, 2020
Chair of 360Giving and member of the Sainsbury family, Fran Perrin, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the importance of data-sharing and transparency in the world of philanthropy
32:20

Fran explains how working on 360Giving has been an absolute joy and a bit of a roller coaster.  It came out of her experience both as a philanthropist, starting off at quite a young age, and from her experience as a technology nerd. She is a massive video game fan and has always been fascinated by the Internet and the potential for knowledge to change lives.

 

In her earlier career, she worked as a civil servant in the UK government and was in the Prime Minister's strategy unit under Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown. Back in 2007, she was lucky to be put on a project reviewing the power of information and how the government can use information and data.

 

This hugely inspired her and got her thinking about future trends in data and where that could be used for public services and public good; not just for commercial ventures.

 

She set up her foundation when she was just 18 and at that time she knew very little about how to give well and what other donors were doing. So, she wanted to learn from other donors but it was clear that there wasn’t much data readily available on what others were doing in the world of philanthropy.

 

There was no good reason for this lack of data -- there was no technical problem, it's not a complicated type of data regarding who has given what money to whom.  So, Fran decided to give this idea of getting foundations and philanthropists to share information a try. Interestingly, it wasn't a core part of her strategy as a philanthropist at the time.

 

She had always had a sort of 90/10 Rule, which was: 90% should be focused on clearly strategic grants, while 10% should be around the more emotional, reactive and experimental work. Because, as she notes, if you exclude the possibility of just trying something non-strategic you often miss the passion and the fun that can come through philanthropy.

 

When asked whether some philanthropists and/or foundations are sometimes a bit timid about sharing their data, perhaps for fear of being put under the spotlight or of being ridiculed, she notes that things can be complex.  

 

There is a complex set of reasons of why some do share information while others do not.  It's very different for different donors. She initially was reticent about being public about her own giving. The fact that she had inherited her money; the fact that the press in the UK don’t always view the philanthropy sector in a positive light – these things made her nervous.

 

Fran also remarks that a lot of donors don't realise that being transparent or open is a good thing to do and that it would be of interest to others.  In actual fact, being open with your data is one of the most powerful ways to help charities.

 

Fran was keen from the start to make things simple and accessible to foundations of all sizes. If you go to the 360Giving website you will see loads of guidance with everything that you need to do in order to publish your data.

 

What 360Giving asks is simply for foundations put their internal grant-making figures (figures they’d need for their financial reporting anyway) in a standardised format – the 360Giving Standard – and then to publish this data online. It can be published on a foundation’s own website and the foundation can then simply send 360Giving a link to that information.

 

So, 360Giving is not so much a platform as opposed to a registry that draws together all those different sources of data and allows people to search them in one place.  Even the tiniest foundation just needs to change a few column headings, re-engineer the data and be willing to put it online with an open licence.

 

Many foundations are great at publishing annual reports and have lots of facts and figures and case studies. Which is wonderful. But if you're a charity, an academic, or a donor you don't have time to print off hundreds of annual reports to read through. No one has that time and we are wasting time as a sector doing that. However, just by changing the format of data it makes it possible to search it and that is the magic of open data and the Internet – we can make it so much easier for anyone to find information.

 

Fran explains that when she was trying to learn about how best to do her own philanthropy she was lucky to come across ‘The Philanthropy Workshop’, which was very helpful for her.  She found out that actually there is a way to do philanthropy well; there are skills one can learn; and there is a community of learners that are all asking similar questions.  Aspiring philanthropists can benefit by identifying their peers in the space they’re interested in and also by gaining the skills required to be good at grant-making.

 

Currently, 360Giving have 115 different foundations in the UK publishing their data fully. Fran explains how the data provided is simple and useful. They’re looking for the absolute simplest data. (i.e. this foundation gave this amount, to this charity, on this date, in this geographic location – all accompanied by a text description of the grant in question) They’re not making any judgement or data statement; there are no averages, no trends, it is just the basic facts, which can be immensely useful.

 

Fran hopes that in the next 10 years, they will have really made some measurable change in increasing opportunities for donors to improve their work; to learn from others; to work with others.

 

The key takeaway Fran offers at the end of the episode is particularly for donors, philanthropists and foundation staff.  If we value the role of philanthropy in a modern society we have to be willing to open up and work to constantly improve our practice. She celebrates philanthropy and notes that it’s not always perfect. We make loads of mistakes but, overall, she thinks it’s a force for good in the world. She wants more people to give, and to give more, but she also wants to constantly ask what does it mean to give well.  And, if there isn’t going to be real external accountability and levers for change, then we have to do that ourselves; we have to scrutinise each other, encourage each other, and then hopefully society can judge that what we’re doing is worth continuing.

 

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Mar 08, 2020
Founder of Girls Not Brides and Vow, and serial entrepreneur for social change, Mabel van Oranje, joins Alberto Lidji in the run-up to International Women’s Day to discuss eliminating child marriage
34:53

Founder of Girls Not Brides and Vow, and serial entrepreneur for social change, Mabel van Oranje, joins Alberto Lidji in the run-up to International Women’s Day to discuss eliminating child marriage.

 

Mabel sheds light on the issue of child marriage and the two organisations she has founded: Girls Not Brides and ‘Vow’ – the Vow to End Child Marriage. She provides great insight into the causes and consequences of child marriage, underscores how it is very much a global problem and expresses her dream to see child marriage eliminated from the globe by 2030.

 

Girls Not Brides is active in 100 countries and has around 1,300 member organisations – all of who aim to eliminate child marriage. It’s an umbrella organisation open to every non-governmental and civil society organisation working to tackle and eliminate this problem.

 

Girls Not Brides was launched in 2011 with just 50 member organisations. Today, they provide many services to their member organisations, including information sharing, convening, working to raise awareness and change policy and legislation, ensuring governments place child marriage high on their agenda.

 

More recently, Mabel launched ‘Vow’ – the Vow to End Child Marriage – an initiative to make sure that more money goes to local, grass-roots organisations that are focused on child marriage. Vow aims to mobilise the entire wedding industry (think of everyone who is involved in any capacity, such as the companies that produce wedding dresses, the caterers, photographers etc, and the couples themselves and their families, too.  Getting everyone “to come together, as Vow, and to basically say ‘when a couple in the rich West says I DO, they make it possible for girls elsewhere in the world to say I DON’T.” The wedding industry in the US alone is worth $100 billion. Vow generates income in various ways, such as taking a commission on wedding gift registries, selling ‘Vow’ products and encouraging couples and wedding guests to make gifts to Vow.

 

Mabel sheds light on the current state of affairs pertaining to child marriage, and highlights that globally there are approximately 12 million girls getting married before the age of 18 every year.  When girls get married, they often have to leave school, are exposed to abusive situations; their physical and mental health suffer.

 

Mabel provides listeners with a glimpse into her childhood and the surroundings that led her to become a serial entrepreneur for social change.

 

Mabel grew up in a middle class family; her father used to travel to Latin America for work and would see much poverty there. It created a sense of injustice in her. She wondered why is it that she enjoys great healthcare and education while other less fortunate people in other countries do not; she holds the belief that geography should not determine destiny.

 

Mabel’s dream today is to see child marriage eliminated by 2030, the target year of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Mabel’s key takeaway: while change needs to happen locally we can all make contributions. Push your lawmakers in your country if 18 isn’t the minimum age of marriage without exceptions, and do go to Vow to End Child Marriage and make sure if you’re getting married you Vow your wedding; if your friends are getting married make sure they Vow their weddings. Everyone can make a difference, but nobody can do it alone. If you want to create big change, and that’s what she’s trying to do, you need to create an enormous wave of change. And, never forget that a big wave is composed of millions and millions of drops of water. Each one of us is an individual drop and, together, we can create that wave of change.

 

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Mar 01, 2020
CEO of Dubai Cares, Dr Tariq Al Gurg, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the global education agenda, the RewirED global summit on education in Dubai 2021 and much more
40:38

CEO of Dubai Cares, Dr Tariq Al Gurg, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the global education agenda, the RewirED global summit on education in Dubai 2021 and much more.

 

Dubai Cares is playing a key role in helping achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 , which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning by 2030, by supporting programs in early childhood development, access to quality primary and secondary education, technical and vocational education and training for youth as well as a particular focus on education in emergencies and protracted crises.

 

Dubai Cares is a global force driving forward the education agenda.  It was founded in 2007 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

 

Since its inception, Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has been working towards providing children and young people in developing countries with access to quality education through the design and funding of programs that aim to be integrated, impactful, sustainable and scalable.

 

As a result, the UAE-based global philanthropic organisation has successfully launched education programs reaching over 20 million beneficiaries in 59 developing countries.

 

We hear how Dubai Cares tackles education in a holistic manner, going beyond schools and looking at health, nutrition, gender equality and education in conflict settings.

 

Dubai Cares is open to exploring collaboration with everyone. They are aware that risk-taking is part of the conversation and that organisations both old and new deserve a chance.

 

Shortly after Dubai Cares launched, Bill Gates came to Dubai and signed a 4-year partnership with Dubai Cares, focused on school, health and nutrition.

 

At the time Dubai Cares was new and didn’t have the global reach or recognition that it has today. But, because of Bill Gates’ signing, Dubai Cares’ standing increased and many doors were opened.

 

Today, Dubai Cares believes that they, in turn, now need to provide their weight to bring other NGOs to the fore and to help nurture nascent organisations into great partners.

 

The podcast conversation is wide-ranging. From advice to new philanthropists to insight on preventing frontline programmes from vanishing during periods of political transition.

 

We hear how on 17-19 March 2021, Dubai Cares will convene stakeholders from across the globe in Dubai for the RewirED Conference – the world’s largest summit on education.  The three focus areas: (1) youths and skills, (2) financing in education and (3) innovation in education.

 

The key takeaway: more investment is required in education. Many stats are listed but arguably the most poignant one is that only 2.5% of global humanitarian funding goes to education. Without education, nothing is possible – no internet, no healthcare, nothing.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links.  Please subscribe and share widely if you enjoy this podcast -- thank you!

 

Feb 24, 2020
Twitter’s ex head of EMEA, Bruce Daisley, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss succinct messaging on climate crisis; workplace culture; and insights from the ‘Joy of Work’ & ‘Eat Sleep Work Repeat’
31:40

Twitter’s ex head of EMEA, Bruce Daisley, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss succinct messaging on climate crisis; workplace culture; and insights from the ‘Joy of Work’ & ‘Eat Sleep Work Repeat’.

 

A spontaneous conversation full of energy and insight.   We start by hearing how Bruce has recently left Twitter to explore a future that is quite the opposite of highly prescriptive.

 

His passion for the environment shines through early on. We hear how he was involved with Greenpeace at the age of 15 and how tackling the climate crisis is a key focus for him as he explores how best to leverage his skills post-Twitter.

 

We also gain insight into his 8 years at Twitter, growing operations in Europe from zero to £500m. His three focus areas were: (1) the reputation of Twitter; (2) growing the audience; and (3) ensuring growth in advertising revenue.  If you get the first two right, the third naturally follows.

 

Messaging is key and Bruce’s skills on this front are well honed.  He notes that there is a need for more clarity in the message being projected by those seeking to tackle the climate crisis. It is important to tell the story in a more succinct way.

 

Bruce is unequivocal that social media has given a voice to the voiceless and that it is a force for good. On the question of what makes content go 'viral', he notes that on twitter it is generally because someone is highlighting something that isn’t about them but, rather, is more about the wider world.

 

It was during Bruce’s time at Twitter, that he launched his podcast: Eat Sleep Work Repeat, which subsequently yielded a book by the same name in the US – in the UK market the book is called the Joy of Work.

 

He explores what is it that makes some companies attractive places to work in and others less so.   There’s an old truism when it comes to management: manage people in the way that you’d like to be managed. However, the sad truth is that a lot of people forget that.

 

On the topic of excessive use of emails: yes, it can be very frustrating.  Likewise, too many meetings, open plan office settings, 200 daily emails and more can lead to overload.

 

However, there is much value in face-to-face human interaction between team members; working remotely isn't the panacea many would expect. We hear some interesting research and anecdotes on this.

 

Bruce’s key takeaway: small acts of kindness matter. He strongly believes that if you can make someone’s life happier and better at school, at work, or wherever you might be, then that transforms one person’s life and it can be incredibly powerful.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share widely if you enjoy The Do One Better! Podcast -- thank you!

 

Feb 16, 2020
CEO of The Fore and The Bulldog Trust, Mary Rose Gunn, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss seed funding for small non-profits and transforming the funding landscape and processes involved
42:45

CEO of The Fore and The Bulldog Trust, Mary Rose Gunn, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss seed funding for small non-profits and transforming the funding landscape and processes involved.

 

The Fore is a collective of individuals and businesses coming together to enhance the philanthropy market. The Fore is a seed funder for small organisations in the charity sector in the UK and, if one were to draw parallels with the private sector, one could say they align themselves with the angel investor and venture capital world.  The Fore is part of The Bulldog Trust. 

 

Mary Rose notes that at The Fore, they wish to empower people who have come up with great ideas to address a pressing social need and to provide them with funding and expertise to help them create real change.

 

The Fore only has two criteria to identify those organisations that are eligible to apply for funding:

 

(1) Applicant organisations need to have an annual turnover of under £500,000

(2) And, they need to be registered in the UK as a non-profit

 

When asked what the merits are of investing in small organisations – as opposed to larger ones where scale and efficiencies may be more pronounced - Mary Rose replies that nobody would argue in the private sector that there is no merit in having and backing small ventures in the market.  

 

And, the same applies in the social sector: if you really want to have strong innovation, and if you really want to have efficiencies, then you’ve got to let the markets do some of the work. 

 

A lot of the inefficiencies in the charitable sector have arisen because there isn’t enough competition.  Mary Rose notes there are criticisms one could direct towards a charitable market that has large players who are constant fixtures for decades or longer.

 

At The Fore, the grants they make are up to £30,000 for a period of up to 3 years. So she notes these are not huge amounts of money.

 

These grants are structured in line with the needs of the charity in question. Therefore, a grant might be made entirely up front in year 1, or it might be spread over a number of years; or there might be some other structure that is more appropriate for the circumstances in question. Even though these are grants, Mary Rose does draw parallels to small business loans.

 

Interestingly, deal flow origination at The Fore is actually not a challenge; quite the opposite.

 

Mary Rose notes there are 165,000 charities in the UK and of those around 90% have got income of under £500,000. Therefore, the universe of eligible applicants is quite large and it is quite easy for The Fore to spread the word and create awareness of their available funding.  They run three funding rounds per year.

 

They try to ensure applicants don’t have to be unnecessarily burdened by preparing funding applications.  Mary Rose mentions that many people don’t have the experience nor the expertise to write a solid business plan, but that doesn’t mean they’re not incredibly entrepreneurial.  It’s about plugging these organisations at the right point into a bit of money and into a bit of expertise, and to help them with impact measurement.

 

At The Fore, they work with diverse partners, such as philanthropists and businesses that wish to improve the world around them by having employee engagement programmes or corporates that simply don’t have the bandwidth to work with numerous, small non-profit organisations.   

 

The Fore can provide a vetted pipeline to such partners.   They don’t charge a fee to such partners, but such partners need to bring some resources to the table. As part of The Bulldog Trust, The Fore is a non-profit.

 

Mary Rose would like to see an intrinsic change to the philanthropy space in the years to come.  They want to get funders to think differently about how they fund and to think about the impact of their processes and practices on the organisations they’re looking to support.

 

In great part, success for The Fore is indicated by whether the philanthropy space is moving in a more positive direction. Mary Rose references a recent study by the University of Bath that found that £1.1bn annually in the UK alone is spent on applying for grant funding and, out of these applications, 63% are unsuccessful.  That’s around £700m per year – and she notes this is a completely wasted, inefficiently spent resource.

 

Mary Rose’s key takeaway: It is important to trust people.  If we want to change society we have to give people the agency to change their own circumstances.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links.  Please subscribe and share widely if you enjoy the podcast -- thank you!

 

Feb 09, 2020
Director of LSE’s Marshall Institute, Stephan Chambers, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss research on philanthropy, social entrepreneurship; their Masters in Social Business & Entrepreneurship and more
32:50

Director of LSE’s Marshall Institute, Stephan Chambers, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss research on philanthropy, social entrepreneurship; their Masters in Social Business & Entrepreneurship and more.

 

The Marshall Institute is a research centre, a place for teaching and a driving force for convening diverse stakeholders.

 

They tackle hard problems such as how to make our world sustainable and how to cultivate altruism.  Stephan provides context for these challenges: we misallocate resources, we don’t understand the real effect of incentives on human behaviour, we don’t price bad things properly, and we don’t reward good things properly.

 

During the podcast, we have a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation, ranging from Stephan’s career trajectory and personal drivers, to the Marshall Institute’s Executive Masters in Social Business and Entrepreneurship and their key research focus areas: altruistic capital and the hybrid economy.

 

Many interesting questions are explored, such as how do we encourage the population to be more philanthropically engaged?

 

When looking at what would constitute success in the next 10 years, Stephan notes: there’s a slight frustration with the hubris associated with our ‘movement’… he hears all the time that we are going to solve climate change, end poverty, and create sustainable food security.

 

But, we know these problems are continuous and that we don’t end them. Rather, we address them more or less successfully, but we don’t end them.

 

So, success is modest and bounded: he cares about accelerating the impact of his own students, and he also measures success on the effect these students and the Marshall Institute have on this system within universities. If what is being done at the LSE is replicated elsewhere, and if in 10 years’ time lots of other universities are producing courses similar to what’s being offered at the Marshall Institute, he would consider this to be success.

 

Stephan’s key takeaway: we used to think of entrepreneurship and philanthropy as things that were discretionary or elective. You could choose to do them if you were that way inclined.  His argument is that the state of the world is such that neither of these things is elective anymore.  Neither of these is discretionary anymore.  Unless we – all of us, all the time – make common cause with the rest of humanity, we’re in big trouble. Unless all of us, all the time think of our roles in the world as different; as necessarily challenging and innovative; unless we are all prepared to create new rules, we’re finished.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful resources. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast – thank you!

 

Feb 02, 2020
CEO of LEGO Foundation, John Goodwin, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about $100m grants in support of young children in refugee settings; the value of learning through play; and achieving systemic change
45:47

CEO of LEGO Foundation, John Goodwin, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about $100m grants in support of young children in refugee settings; the value of learning through play; and achieving systemic change.

 

A fascinating episode taking listeners from the LEGO Foundation’s origins in the 1980s to the present day.  We hear how the LEGO Group supports the Foundation and how the Foundation is focused on redefining play and re-imagining learning.

 

Learning through play is increasingly gaining traction. It is important that the activity in learning through play is meaningful for the child, that it is iterative, that it actively engages the child, and that it is socially interactive and joyful.  

 

The LEGO Foundation's grants are impressive. Over the past two years, the LEGO Foundation has made two grants of $100 million, each in support of early childhood in refugee settings.

 

In late 2018, the LEGO Foundation made a $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop to bring the power of learning through play to children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises.

 

And, in late 2019, it made another grant to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to bring learning through play to children impacted by crises in Ethiopia and Uganda. The CEO of the IRC is David Miliband and close collaboration with the relevant governments is important.

 

We also hear how much of the thinking at the LEGO Foundation was triggered by an earlier $100 million grant made by the MacArthur Foundation and how insight from this helped shape their approach.

 

Is this $100 million grant-making which happened in late 2018 and late 2019, due to become an annual tradition?  John provides the answer and interesting context.

 

Throughout the conversation, John also sheds light on the LEGO Foundation’s work in Bangladesh, collaborating with BRAC, and its engagement with implementation partners such as Plan International, War Child, Ubongo, BIT (Behavioural Insights Group) and IPA (Innovation for Poverty Action), to name a few.

 

John's personal narrative is equally fascinating. He provides insight into his career trajectory, from engineering and accounting, to two decades at P&G and, subsequently, to the LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation. An interesting journey that will inspire others who seek purpose in their lives.

 

There are two key takeaways John would like to share with listeners:

 

(1) No individual chooses to be displaced; they don’t choose to be a refugee. Yet, much of the narrative, unfortunately, that surrounds refugees and displaced individuals is one of negativity towards the individuals that are displaced. All of us that work in the aid sector need to ensure that we are – alongside the terrible plight that these individuals often find themselves in – also presenting to the wider society that there is hope and there can be positivity out of this, if society is more receptive to their fellow human beings. So, trying to talk about this situation in a positive light and change the narrative slightly to incorporate the opportunities that are possible if we all look more with a lens of embrace.

 

(2) There’s a wonderful richness that can come if we are able to break down our silos and embrace the opportunities that present themselves to bring our expertise and knowledge in a collective way, such that we can draw on the strengths of the private sector, we can draw on the strengths of the aid sector, we can draw on the strengths of the philanthropic sector, and we can draw on the strengths of academia. None of us believes that any one silo has the best solution, but that by coming together we can optimise and create something new that will have that systemic impact that ultimately we seek.  John encourages everyone to collaborate in a non-silo way and come at it with the open, curious mind that we advocate and espouse our children to have through learning through play.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links.  Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast -- thank you!

 

Jan 27, 2020
Google's first employee, Craig Silverstein, and Mary Obelnicki, join Alberto Lidji to talk about philanthropy, Echidna Giving (their Foundation) and signing The Giving Pledge
38:53

Google's first employee, Craig Silverstein, and Mary Obelnicki, join Alberto Lidji to talk about philanthropy, Echidna Giving (their Foundation) and signing The Giving Pledge.

 

We hear how Echidna Giving looks at educating girls in the developing world. It’s the main vehicle to do Craig and Mary’s philanthropy. They aim to invest their money over the course of their lifetime and make a real difference in this field. They are not looking to set up a foundation in perpetuity. 

 

Craig and Mary look at foundations that try to live in perpetuity and they see that many issues arise when those foundations’ Founders are no longer around. Other people then try to interpret what the Founders’ wishes were. 

 

In the case of Echidna Giving, Craig and Mary believe very much in being focused in girls’ education and they’re sticking with this for the next 40 years. They note that they want to be personally responsible for Echidna Giving’s work during their entire lifetimes.   They hope to be around for another 40 years and they’re committed to funding approximately $700 million over that time frame.

 

Craig and Mary are relatively young and they’re juggling many things, including a young family, work and many other activities. It has been difficult for them to include philanthropy in a professional manner in their lives and they’ve been very strategic about it.  They treat this as a full-time commitment; not a hobby. So, they’ve also made a strong effort to hire a great team of professionals. They have a lean team that allows them to make decisions quickly and they’re willing to take risks.

 

They got into philanthropy early on and it was not as a consequence of their peers. Actually, many of their peers had not been involved in philanthropy at the time – in part because it’s difficult to get started and to do philanthropy right.

 

Craig made a lot of money very early in his life and he had much more money than he needed. He notes that: “I don’t believe philosophically in giving it all to my children. I want them to have enough money that they can do anything they want, but not enough money that they can do nothing”.  So, there’s a narrow band of how much money that is and it’s a lot less than the money that Craig and Mary have and so what do you do with the rest of it?  For them, it was obvious that the best use of their money was to try to make the world a better place.

 

Craig and Mary talk about their Theory of Change – which ultimately ends with World Peace! – and Craig explains his thought process in the podcast. 

 

He wanted to focus in an area that would make sustainable change. Girls’ education is one of those areas where you don’t need a pre-requisite to make sustainable change.  Over time, he feels if they focus on girls’ education they can truly transform entire communities, and he explains why that is.

 

When Craig started out in philanthropy he thought it was really just about the money and he thought he could just do it anonymously.  Therefore, at the point when Craig and Mary signed The Giving Pledge there was a conscious choice to say this is us, this is us doing it intentionally because they were trying to be explicit and maybe trying to create some expectations around what other young people – especially those in Silicon Valley – could be doing.  There is so much money in Silicon Valley and so many start-ups with money.  Mary notes that they “were trying to say ‘hey guys step up, here’s what we’re doing, what can you be doing’?”

 

Craig mentioned that ‘budget’ is a key area for their strategic thinking.  Initially, Craig wanted to remain anonymous and one of the reasons for this was that he didn’t want to be bombarded with ‘asks’. Now, in reality, that hasn’t happened too much – it was something he was worried about unnecessarily.

 

But what gave him the comfort to be more open and visible about his philanthropy is to think about a budget and a clear framework for evaluating each ask that came through the door.  Both Craig and Mary explain that the key for a budget in philanthropy is that there’s a goal for spending; not a cap. The aim is to deploy that capital into whatever issue you care about.

 

They embrace a mechanism to handle social asks versus more strategic asks – they have a pool of money for their strategic initiatives (girls education) and a separate pool of money that is for personal giving. They drill into the details of this during the podcast.

 

They also have a predetermined ‘minimum’ sum in mind to deal with those emails many of us receive whereby someone asks for support for running a marathon etc. There’s a certain amount they say ‘yes’ to no matter what. So whatever ask it is, there’s a minimum for them that gets the green light pretty much automatically. Craig notes that this ‘minimum’ sum is $250 and they have around 100 slots for such asks whereby the first 100 people who ask for support at this level get a positive reply….  Mary jumps in in a good humoured way at this point and notes: “Craig this is a public podcast!”… a bit of laughter ensues. “We need to know you personally!”

 

On a separate note, they point out how surprised they were at the value of re-granting organisations that are highly professional and help make their philanthropy more efficient.

 

When they started in philanthropy they started giving to re-granting organisations. So they were focused in the developing world but knew nothing about these local communities in which they really wanted to see change happen. They were outsiders, they weren’t able to evaluate proposals nor evaluate outcomes so they went to re-granting organisations that are based in the US or the UK or somewhere in the developed world, but they are the ones who evaluate grants and outcomes and have people on the ground in local communities in the developing world.

 

Initially, they went into it thinking that it was a waste of money to involve a middleman. But they found out that it’s actually a big money saver to involve these middlemen because if they had to go and evaluate these things themselves and fly out to these communities it would take a long time to do and be very inefficient. It’s actually much better to be working with an organisation that can afford to have someone living in these local communities; or ideally someone from that community.

 

So, spending money in these re-granting organisations was money well spent and they had not expected that going in – they had initially thought it was money they would have to spend but not money they would actually appreciate having spent.

 

Craig goes on to mention that one thing that was very hard for him when he was getting started in philanthropy was hiring good people. How do you find them, how do you find out if they’re the right fit for you and how do you delegate responsibility to them. This is really hard. The hardest part is the first hire – the first person – and they really have to be aligned with the way you’re thinking about the world.

 

One reason people don’t get into philanthropy earlier, or why they treat philanthropy as a hobby for so long, is because they don’t know how to go about doing that first hire.   Interestingly, the first person they hired didn’t know about girls’ education or the developing world, but that wasn’t important to them, rather the person they hired needed to have the flexibility and willingness to learn about these areas. They don’t need people to hit the ground running; rather they need them to be committed and to stick with it long enough so they can gain the expertise and to have the necessary skills to learn.

 

Mary notes that successful business people often think they can solve major social problems on their own. However, are most really willing to spend as much time on their philanthropy as they did in building their companies? If not, then you need to bring in a professional CEO. One of the best skills such people can bring from their business career is the ability to identify talent and to delegate.

 

Mary continues by expressing that part of the challenge is “if you’re not deliberate, if you don’t have your own staff, you’re not going to execute your own strategy. So, if you have your own strategy you need your own staff and you need to professionalise it.”

 

For her, one of the biggest takeaways from working in the developing world is to really think about the privilege of ‘access’ that wealthy organisations and wealthy communities have. And, as a philanthropist, who has access to you to make the ask easiest. It’s their friends and their families who can text them, ‘please support my organisation’ – well, if they’re their friends and from the community, they’re probably doing well financially. It’s very reinforcing, this privilege of access. And, the communities that need you the most and can benefit the most from your money are many, many social circles away from you. And, so how do you jump that gap?  Well, you need to go looking for them; you need to put in the effort to find those organisations. You can’t expect them to come to you.

 

Was it a difficult choice to make when you decided to sign The Giving Pledge?

 

Craig notes that the public element was the hardest part of their decision to sign The Giving Pledge. Actually deciding to give the money away was easy – it was a decision he had already made. He could have kept more money than he’s planning on keeping and still have been able to sign The Giving Pledge.

 

However, the ‘going public’ was very difficult. Mary notes that it’s always on their mind, how much does anonymity protect them and protect their kids. So, signing The Giving Pledge really needed to have an upside – what was the benefit of being public, and they talked much about this; about inspiring others in similar situations to theirs.

 

Success in the next 10 years: they know what needs to be done to ensure girls’ education succeeds and what makes girls successful in school. So, when they look at the next 10 years, they want to see a state of affairs where the programmes and techniques that work are actually being embraced and implemented widely.

 

Social Emotional Learning (SEL), often referred to as ‘life skills’ can make a big difference in academic success. So, most of their investments right now are in SEL and trying to figure out what are the key components of this and when does it matter. 

 

So, in secondary school it’s really obvious these gaps between girls and boys; so if it’s obvious at this stage then it must have started earlier. So, right now they’re looking at SEL in adolescence, because it’s an important time when the brain changes, and also in early childhood – another time when the brain architecture is being formed.

 

Craig and Mary’s key takeaway: Mary notes that they actually have three key takeaways!

 

(1) Start and be humble and learn as you go.

 

(2) Be deliberate and have a budget – track it and don’t be reactive.

 

(3) The people with the greatest need don’t have access to you to ask.  Craig notes: “if your goals is museum construction, that’s fine. If your goal is poverty alleviation or something else where the communities you’re serving are very socially removed from your own social network then you must do the work to go against … the existing privilege of access.”  Mary continues: people will acknowledge that the dollar or the pound can go further in the developing world in terms of impact “and so they should reflect to themselves, well if that’s true why aren’t I investing in those places now?”

 

What was it like being ‘Employee No.1 at Google’? 

 

Craig replies by asking whether we know of the film ‘The Social Network’. And, then goes on to say that “it was almost entirely not that!”. He realised things were getting big when people came up to him to let him know they’d ‘heard of this thing called Google’… and then you find out that they did not actually hear about it from your mom.’ He started doing Google because he really believed in the power of making information available and he believed Google was the best at it. He’s delighted it turned out to be so successful but the fact is he did it because he really believed in the mission of the company and he loved working there.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast -- thank you!

 

Jan 19, 2020
Chief Executive of UnLtd, Mark Norbury, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social entrepreneurship and ways of backing social ventures and entrepreneurs
33:33

Chief Executive of UnLtd, Mark Norbury, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social entrepreneurship and ways of backing social ventures and entrepreneurs.

 

UnLtd is a UK-based organisation that supports social entrepreneurship. They’ve helped out about 20,000 social entrepreneurs since 2002; they have an endowment of £150 million, a turnover of £8 million and a team of 75 staff.

 

They support social entrepreneurs in a variety of ways, including advice, networking, coaching, practical support and financing.

 

It’s important for them to find and back individuals who are very rooted in the issue each one of them is trying to address – this is something Mark calls ‘lived experience’. People who have lived through, discrimination, poverty and other issues.

 

When asked to define what social entrepreneurship means to UnLtd, Mark notes that they’re very relaxed about the actual type of legal structure one may have and rather, for them, it’s about whether your organisation has social impact, a sustainable business model, and that you have a growth mind-set. 

 

UnLtd really cares about leadership, mission, impact and sustainability, and they back a wide range of organisations in diverse ways.

 

UnLtd is always happy to hear from philanthropists and they do accept funding from external sources. Every year, UnLtd is trying to raise approximately £3 million from external sources, such as corporations, foundations and high net worth individuals (HNWIs).

 

Mark provides insight into Harry Specters luxury chocolates, a successful organisation UnLtd has supported that provides gainful employment to autistic individuals and, in the process, adds  value to people’s lives, the market, and the UK economy.

 

Success in the next 10 years for UnLtd: they’d like to continue the core of supporting social entrepreneurs and would like to further break down the barriers these individuals face, such as access to capital and access to expertise. They’d like to shift the systems in which these barriers exist, though policy, education and developing a supportive infrastructure.

 

Mark’s key takeaway: bring together leadership, impact, sustainability and purpose, in whatever realm you’re in, and you’ll give it your best.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast – thank you!

 

Jan 13, 2020
Executive Director of B Lab UK (B Corp), Chris Turner, and Co-Founder of Grantbook and UnWrapit, Peter Deitz, join Alberto Lidji to discuss the B Corp movement and social entrepreneurship
38:23

Executive Director of B Lab UK (B Corp), Chris Turner, and Co-Founder of Grantbook and UnWrapit, Peter Deitz, join Alberto Lidji to discuss the B Corp movement and social entrepreneurship.

 

B Lab UK is the non-profit organisation in the UK behind B Corp. The B Corp movement is a global movement of more than 3,000 businesses that are all acting as a force for good around the world. There are 250 B Corps in the UK, and the movement has been around for 10 years.

 

At the heart of the movement is the ‘Certification’ process, which involves two commitments:

 

1) to score highly on a B Impact Assessment (80 points or more are required) – this means a candidate company has taken a deep look at governance, workers, environment, community and customers.  Those companies being assessed accumulate points for the positive impact they’re creating.

 

2 the second commitment is more symbolic and relates to the governance of the business – it differs depending on the jurisdiction, but in the UK it means that a B Corp amends its articles of association and changes the duties of the directors of the business to essentially give equal weight to people, planet and profit. It puts this triple bottom line principle at the very heart of a business.

 

Certification lasts for three years once it’s awarded. 

 

Peter is a social entrepreneur who has already gotten one of his ventures, Grantbook, B Corp Certified and, now, he’s in the process of getting UnWrapit certified as well.  He notes that the certification process itself will help an organisation’s development – looking at things such as governance, employee positions and policies, how you involve yourself in the community and so forth.  

 

There are many benefits of being a B Corp – whether it’s internal such as attracting great people and retaining them, or external, such as attracting investment, sending the right signals to the market, procurement and more.

 

Peter’s key takeaway: If your company is a meaningful place to work for your employees and you’re creating opportunities for formative experiences, and potentially for ownership in your company, then you’re on the right path. B Corp and the B Corp assessment will help you create that meaningful environment for your employees.

 

Chris’ key takeaway: At the end of the day businesses are a collection of people. Chris encourages business leaders to think about what motivates people. The inspiring business leaders are those who have a real point of view in terms of what their business is for, the role it plays in society, the way in which the people in that business can all contribute.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links.  Please subscribe and share if you enjoy the podcast -- thank you!

 

Jan 05, 2020
New Year's Special with Alberto Lidji - Key Takeaways from 2019. Philanthropy, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship.
26:28

New Year's Special with Alberto Lidji - Key Takeaways from 2019. Philanthropy, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship.

Handpicked takeaways for your reference as you embark on improving the world around you in the New Year and beyond.

Thank you for making The Do One Better! Podcast such a success in 2019. Please subscribe and share with others -- your support, feedback and engagement are invaluable and truly very much appreciated.

Visit Lidji.org to get involved.  Happy New Year!

 

Dec 30, 2019
Chief Executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), Carol Mack, joins Alberto Lidji for a wide-ranging conversation on the dynamics facing foundations today
38:36

Chief Executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, Carol Mack, joins Alberto Lidji for a wide-ranging conversation on the dynamics facing foundations today.

 

The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) represents UK-based foundations and grant-making charities, it has 380 organisational members that represent £50bn in assets and annually grant out £2.5bn.

 

ACF is a member of DAFNE (Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe) and Carol explains how she interacts regularly with her counterparts in other countries across Europe and globally.

 

Carol explains how it’s an increasingly challenging context for foundations.  Whereas in the past foundations were met with civic gratitude, today we’re increasingly seeing, globally, a rising trend for distrust of institutions and growing scrutiny of philanthropy and of foundations.

 

Society is in general asking more questions of philanthropy. People want to know where a foundation’s money comes from, where a foundation is investing, and where a foundation is giving its funding. So, ACF supports foundations as they address these challenges and helps them to be the best they can be in their pursuit of social good.

 

A good example of this is their Stronger Foundations initiative, launched about 18 months ago, to help foundations examine their own practice and welcome scrutiny positively. It’s a member-led initiative with over 80 members involved. They have 6 working groups looking at different aspects of foundations’ practice, from strategy and governance to funding practice and intentional investing.  Each working group looks at what excellence looks like in their specific topic area.  This information is available on ACF’s website and it can be a useful resource for people who are interested in foundations practice.

 

The first working group to report back was looking at diversity, equity and inclusion. ACF published the findings of this. Carol observes that, overall, the UK charity sector is disproportionately homogenous, it doesn’t reflect UK society, and foundations are even worse than the wider charity sector. Approximately a year ago, ACF commissioned some research into foundation boards and found that, in the sample, foundation boards were 99% white, two thirds male and only 3% of those boards were under the age of 45.

 

Carol sheds light on the immense financial resources at foundations’ disposal, yet notes that foundations still are a very small part in comparison to government resources.

 

Increasingly, there’s an interesting interplay between what the state will fund and what foundations will fund. The traditional model was always that foundations would fund the innovative practice – proving the need, proving an intervention that works – and then government would roll it out.  This worked well at a time of an expanding state spending, but it’s not what we’re seeing in the UK, where government has been reducing the types of services it is willing to fund. This poses some interesting challenges to foundations.

 

On the topic of social impact investing: yes, Carol notes that it is an area of much interest to foundations.  However, she suggests that, arguably, foundations have always done social impact investing, noting that if you look back at some of the charitable activity in the 1400s, some of that was about providing loans to enable people to enter a profession – arguably, that’s a form of social investment. 

 

A recent initiative that ACF has been involved with is something called the Members Policy Forum, whereby they bring together foundations with government officials on particular issues – this has been helpful in increasing the level of knowledge around particular issues across sectors.

 

When looking at success in the next 10 years, the climate crisis is front and centre in Carol’s thinking. She asks: how do we as a global community do what it takes to tackle this issue.

 

Carol’s key takeaway: what you do really matters, there are so many challenges out there, and you in foundations particularly have resources through which you can do something about these challenges and opportunities. So, be thoughtful, be intentional in what you do, and treat your role with respect. Look at all of your assets and how these can be deployed in furtherance of your own mission, whatever that is.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast -- thank you!

 

Dec 22, 2019
CEO of Mercer (Sweden), Johan Ericsson, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss diversity and inclusion within the corporate space
29:13

CEO of Mercer (Sweden), Johan Ericsson, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss diversity and inclusion within the corporate space.

 

Johan has been with Mercer since 2001, a global human resources advisory firm with 25,000 employees operating in 130 countries.

 

Johan notes that diversity and inclusion have been gaining importance in recent years. There are also more jobs in this field and those jobs are to be found in more senior levels within organisations.  Diversity and inclusion is now often a function in its own right, as one would find a head of legal or head of IT; it is no longer a sub-role in the margins.

 

Mercer have 30,000 clients globally; many of these clients are multinationals with subsidiaries in a large number of culturally diverse countries. In essence, some clients approach Mercer because, for instance, they might be operating in Sweden where auditing for diversity and inclusion is often required.  However, in other instances, clients come up to Mercer simply because they take the challenge of diversity and inclusion seriously and want to learn what best practice looks like.

 

When Women Thrive – is an annual piece of research by Mercer done in conjunction with the World Economic Forum that looks at diversity and inclusion and how individual countries can ensure they fully leverage all of the brain power in a country.

 

We hear how cultural context is important, too. It isn’t simply a matter of telling companies to be diverse and inclusive.  Cultural realities in Norway are different than in the Middle East, and this impacts how companies within these countries embrace diversity and inclusion.

 

Ultimately, Johan notes that business performance is better in diverse more inclusive organisations; more innovation and creativity, easier to hire and retain talent, the reputational angle as a good employer – there are many reasons.  Moreover, diverse and inclusive organisations can be more fun, you meet people from different walks of life, and you learn more too.

 

While change is happening in the right direction, the pace is too slow.  The vast majority of clients want to accelerate this agenda because they want to drive long-term sustainable and profitable growth. This is very important to them. It’s also important from a cultural point, in terms of the people they want to attract and retain – they need people from all backgrounds.

 

Johan’s key takeaway: building a diverse workforce is going to improve your productivity, efficiency and your profits, and at the same time you’re going to have more fun, you’re going to learn much more, you’re going to meet fascinating people and it’s going to increase your team’s engagement levels – do it because it makes sense in so many ways.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast – thank you!

 

Dec 15, 2019
Co-Founders of JustSpace Alliance, Lucianne Walkowicz and Erika Nesvold join Alberto Lidji to discuss space ethics and an inclusive and ethical future in space; and implications here on Earth
36:51

Co-Founders of JustSpace Alliance, Lucianne Walkowicz and Erika Nesvold join Alberto Lidji to discuss space ethics and an inclusive and ethical future in space; and implications here on Earth.

 

Lucianne and Erika start by dispelling the notion that space is a ‘blank canvass’. Humans bring their own perspective and history into the equation.  However, when people think about systems here on earth, these can often feel very entrenched. By contrast, when one thinks about space, much more creative thinking can prevail.

 

JustSpace Alliance is a new organisation and has just celebrated its first anniversary in November 2019. During this time, they have partnered with likeminded thinkers, convened diverse stakeholders and organised insightful events.

 

In one such recent event, they explored governance in space, looking at existing legal frameworks for space and considering how these might need to be changed or expanded.

 

As the conversation progressed, more and more ethical issues started coming to the fore around diversity and inclusion, environmental protection and medical testing, to name a few.

 

Erika pondered: when we explore space, are we going to be bringing a perfectly representative sample of society? Probably not; so what are the implications?  And, is space only for those who can afford the ticket or should it be accessible to everyone?

 

The topic of European colonisation arose during the conversation as well, with both Lucianne and Erika underscoring the need to learn lessons from this past as we look to engage with extra-terrestrial life in the future.

 

They note the environment is a consideration in space as well, not just here on Earth.  We hear how the Moon and Mars are often looked at as potential sources for natural resources – don’t we have a responsibility to look after these bodies as well?

 

An ethical issue that’s present right now pertains to medical experiments in space. Those who fly into space are essentially taking part in a medical experiment.

 

We hear how in space, one’s health changes – eyesight changes, bone density changes etc.  So, what does this mean for the provision of consent; what does it mean for one’s ability to withdraw consent while in space?

 

Likewise, we have no idea what the impacts are of radiation and microgravity on a developing foetus; and if we want to find out then that requires experimentation on pregnant women and foetuses in space.  There is an abundance of ethical red flags that need to be addressed.

 

When asked where exactly does space ethics reside, the answer is unequivocal: space ethics resides everywhere.

 

At JustSpace Alliance they convene and foster a cross-pollination of ideas and opinions across diverse fields. Creating opportunities for this kind of dialogue to take place is one of the key reasons why Lucianne and Erika decided to launch the JustSpace Alliance.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast – thank you!

 

Dec 09, 2019
CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), Marcus Walton, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss inclusive grant-making, racial equity and the sharing of best practice across 600 organizations
36:30

CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), Marcus Walton, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss inclusive grant-making, racial equity and the sharing of best practice across 600 organizations.

  

GEO is a 20-year old organization based in the US, which helps grant-makers make better decisions and be more effective. They have 600 members and are supported by some of the world’s best-known foundations, such as the Ford Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

It’s a membership organization creating a space for funders to come together and build their network, learn of the latest philanthropic trends and engage with each other.

 

At GEO they consider how philanthropic practice actually translates into the impact grant-makers are aspiring to achieve with their investments.  They catalogue case studies, publish great insights and convene thought leaders.  Every year they publish a ‘smarter grant-making’ publication.

 

But Marcus notes that having access to this information isn’t enough. Now, the question is also about how do we actually use this information, to understand it in context, to extract lessons, and to interrogate these insights together to inform practice going forward — the emphasis is on application. 

 

In GEO’s ‘Strategic Direction for 2018-2021’ plan, one of their focus areas is on integrating racial equity into their vision for smarter grant-making. Marcus’ background includes a 10-year track record in racial equity training, within the philanthropic sector in particular.

 

Marcus notes that when talking about racial equity one is talking about the historical impact of policies and practices that have created conditions that face us today. With that analysis, it means that in everything grant-makers do, there needs to be a consideration of what have been the decisions that contributed to how things are now; how do institutions reinforce some of the disparities and inequitable conditions that keep some groups disadvantaged and that actually provide advantage for others — advantage to access resources and opportunities — and then how does one think about one’s work in a way that improves conditions for all of the groups involved. Understanding that we have different needs, that we’re all facing different challenges, and that we bring a variety of resources to the table that can be leveraged or intensified with a really intentional investment strategy.  That’s how GEO is able to support the field in terms of embracing a racial equity focus.

 

Incorporating racial equity into grant-makers’ thinking means bringing an intentional practice; it means that every time you develop a program, you engage with the communities that you are intending to serve. It’s an inclusive, collaborative approach to grant-making. It’s the opposite of a more paternalistic, institutional approach that says ‘we know what you need’ — instead, it says, ‘we’re creating a space to be a thought partner with you, to respond to some of the persistent needs, perhaps the most persistent challenges that have faced this community’.

 

GEO brings thought leaders to its members. They organize conferences, webinars and peer-to-peer learning opportunities for CEOs, Trustees and executives.  Marcus notes that conferences are invaluable — there aren’t enough places where likeminded folks can come together and learn from each other and from thought-leaders alike. One week out of every month, Marcus is in a different community in a city or state across the USA with a co-host who is a member organization or stakeholder to learn about their issues, who are convening their colleagues from around the region, listening to local leaders who are driving the work, and Marcus is flying in to provide a national point a view to inform the conversation that’s around those priorities and then from those conversations, elevating those conversations to the national discourse, through their national conferences, through their virtual tools and resources, and really providing a different kind of a platform for leaders.

 

It’s interesting to note that Marcus started off as a community organizer and that, today, he views himself as an organizer of philanthropic resources, not as an executive officer inside of an institution.

 

Marcus’ key takeaway: he notes that we’re in a moment in time where the changes we want to see are accessible and there’s a call to action for us to apply those things that we’ve learned – the principles and the tools and the resources that we’ve learned in order to mobilize our spheres of influence and to participate in change; to activate change; to be a part of actively transitioning organizations from one state of existence to another. The time is really now, we are global and we are all in this together. Our collective genius is so much broader than any of us knows or can imagine when operating in isolation.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast -- thank you!

 

Dec 01, 2019
Facebook’s head of Social Impact (EMEA), Anita Yuen, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how they’ve raised $2 billion for good causes, connected blood donors to those in need and innovated at global scale
35:16

Facebook’s head of Social Impact (EMEA), Anita Yuen, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how they’ve raised $2 billion for good causes, connected blood donors to those in need and innovated at global scale.

 

The conversation explores how Facebook is using its tremendous global scale to drive forward social impact and social good.

 

There are more than 2bn people on the Facebook platform, which in many respects can be viewed as a global community of advocates, volunteers and donors.  Combined with the fact that there are millions of non-profits active on Facebook, this provides a great opportunity for these organisations to engage with their community in a genuine and authentic way.

 

Anita explains how there are various tools on Facebook, such as Groups and Blood Donations, that are being effectively used by non-profits and those in need. 

 

The Blood Donations product was developed in 2018 and it came out of what Facebook were observing in India. They noticed that when people where due to head for surgery in India, people would post on Facebook and ask their friends and family whether they could donate blood. This is because in some parts of India, when people have to go in for surgery they often have to bring in their own blood in case they need a blood transfusion. There is a global shortage of blood.

 

After observing this, the team at Facebook asked themselves how might they be able to make this process to facilitate blood donations easier. 

 

The Blood Donations product has now been rolled out to various countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan and Brazil.  As of today, Facebook have over 50m people who have volunteered to donate blood.

 

Anita speaks with passion and is particularly excited about the sheer scale they are able to enjoy whenever they decide to pilot and deploy new, innovative products.  There aren’t many companies where one can engage with millions and millions of people globally.

 

Facebook also have created a donations tool that allows people and organisations to raise money for causes they care about.  You can create fundraisers, go out to your Facebook community and ask them to make a donation.

 

Anita provides useful insight into specific case studies.  ‘Ocean Cleanup’ is a Dutch-based organisation with a focus on cleaning the word’s oceans and rivers.  Anita notes they build amazing tech to clean the ocean.  They are a relatively new organisation and have been using Facebook’s tools for approximately the past year and a half, and have already been able to raise millions of dollars by having people create birthday fundraisers for them. So, two weeks before people’s birthdays, they’re asked whether they’d like to donate their birthdays to the Ocean Cleanup – and this approach has worked extremely well.  Anita is very proud to have them on the Facebook platform.

 

Another organisation Anita mentioned is a UK-based outfit called ‘Help Refugees’, which was started by an individual who wanted to do something about the refugee crisis and bring supplies to refugees in Greece. They’ve used Facebook’s donations tool to buy supplies; people have created fundraisers for them; and they’ve also encouraged folks to do fundraisers for them.  Anita drilled down and provided insight into a particular instance when Help Refugees were in Calais, France, and experienced their truck breaking down; and they didn’t have enough money to fund its repairs. So, they went onto Facebook and created a special fundraiser just for this. Within a week they were able to fund the repair of the truck.

 

The community angle is key. Non-profits who understand their community and are able to speak to them in an authentic and genuine way are achieving amazing results on Facebook – people are looking for meaning and an understating of the impact of the causes they’re supporting. Anita explains how the Facebook platform has been very powerful in helping them reach new audiences.  Community engagement is invaluable and can revolve around moments of global crisis, just as it can around small moments, or diaspora communities scattered across the globe.

 

Anita sheds light on Facebook’s Social Impact Team – a diverse and highly motivated team including a group of engineers mainly based in California who are behind innovations such as their Blood Donations tool, crisis tools, fundraising tools, volunteering and all kinds of social impact products. They also have marketing, communications and partnerships specialists in the team.   Anita remarks that many folks are surprised to hear that they have people working at Facebook who focus only in the social impact space.

 

We hear how the team at Facebook work very closely with partners. These partnerships help inform Facebook and help them produce new products and ensure their relevance.

 

Scale is a theme that comes up during the conversation repeatedly. Indeed, Anita is very excited about scale and she notes that in many respects the journey has only just begun. 

 

For instance, the Blood Donations tool is only available in 5 countries at present, but they want to make that global. The same applies to their donations tools, which are only available in just 19 countries.  They’re constantly asking themselves how best to scale such products.

 

It may be counterintuitive but scaling up a digital tool to new countries isn’t as straightforward as one might think – it’s not about merely flipping a switch.  For instance, to expand their Blood Donations tool, they need to establish partnerships with governments, with NGOs on the ground and with blood banks – you need to get this right on many levels.

 

Remarkably, their donations tools are only available in 19 markets but, as of September 2019, Facebook have raised over $2bn for good causes and individuals.  Anita invites listeners to imagine what these sums could look like if they were to scale this globally, and the good this could do.

 

A bit of information Anita underscores very clearly is that Facebook do not take any fees at all for any of the donations they’re helping raise. Anita notes how 100% of what is raised for a charity goes to that charity. Facebook don’t take any transaction fees; they cover the credit card fees of donations.  Facebook has not taken any fee at all for the $2bn that they’ve raised thus far.

 

When asked about what success looks like in the next 10 years, Anita notes that they’d like to continue to do what they’re doing, in the sense that when they think of their approach to social impact partnerships and product, they’re really observing what is happening on the Facebook community on the platform; what do people want to be doing, and how can Facebook facilitate that in an easier way. They look to the Facebook community and to their partners to say, well, ‘what can we be offering that is genuinely and authentically useful’ and so if Facebook continue to do that Anita feels that they’re going to see their work in this space go into all sorts of different areas., with a focus on scale.

 

Facebook, Instagram, WahtsApp – these platforms are all part of what Anita calls ‘Facebook Inc’. They are looking to ensure best practice and innovative tools from one platform are deployed across other platforms. In July 2019, for instance, they launched Donation tools on Instagram.  So, they’ve taken learning and best practices and experience from their Donation products on Facebook and are now beginning to build these things out on Instagram.  You can expect to see more innovation on instagram.

 

Facebook has been on this journey for social impact for quite a while. They launched their donation tools in the USA in 2015.  And even before that, ‘Safety Check’ – one of their crisis tools – came out of the Fukushima disaster in Japan back in 2011.

 

Anita sheds light on the impact the ALS Bucket Challenge had on Facebook’s thinking.  The ALS Bucket Challenge took place back in the summer of 2014 and out of that Facebook saw essentially the world’s biggest viral fundraising campaign take place on Facebook.  All of these videos were being uploaded to Facebook, people were tagging friends, and so the whole thing was actually happening on Facebook but at the time Facebook didn’t have a way for non-profits to take in donations. But because of that experience Facebook started to see that there was actually a need, and a willingness, for the Facebook community to give to good causes. So, after that, they had a couple of engineers in California start to work on creating a donation button. And, that donation button was the start of what has now become a set of tools that the entire sector and the Facebook community are using.

 

Anita also explains how the tsunami of 2004 was one of the first major disasters when people actually gave at such a scale but they did it online. Anita remembers that well, because she saw this as a turning point in philanthropy, where non-profits recognised the power of online giving.  Things back then happened quickly but nowhere as quickly as today. If a tsunami happened today they’d be able to move in minutes or seconds, not days as was the case back then.

 

Anita’s key takeaway for listeners: she starts by letting listeners know she has been thinking about ‘purpose’ lately, and goes on to note that people sometimes may feel unsure as to how to begin supporting a cause.  She explains that now more than ever is a time when everyone can do good. Everyone has a voice. Everybody can use their voice and do good things.  She encourages listeners simply to “just jump in”. Small acts of kindness are amazing. Now more than ever people can have a voice and take action.  If you see something that’s wrong or you see something and you want to do something about it, just jump right in!

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy the podcast – thank you!

 

Nov 24, 2019
IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) VP for Global Corporate Responsibility, Catherine Dolton, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss sustainability and value creation across 5,800 hotels in 100 countries
32:08

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) VP for Global Corporate Responsibility, Catherine Dolton, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss sustainability and value creation across 5,800 hotels in 100 countries.

 

IHG has 400,000 team members, numerous brands and their biggest market is the USA, followed by greater China.

 

Over 75% of their hotels are run by third party franchisees; they have a broad and diverse international stakeholder base and it is important for IHG to work very closely with all of them.

 

Sustainability can align very well with strategic objectives and, as Catherine points out, if you cut waste you cut costs. Sustainability and good performance go hand in hand.

 

Plastic waste is a major consideration and IHG recently announced they’re getting rid of all the mini amenity products across all their hotels – single use toiletries, such as the individual shampoo bottles and conditioners one is accustomed to finding in hotel bathrooms. 

 

Food waste is another key area being tackled by IHG.  Efforts are being deployed internally to help their 5,800 hotels measure, monitor and track food waste.

 

Catherine explains how IHG has numerous partnerships helping them become more sustainable.  In Australia, for instance, they’re working with OzHarvest  – an organisation that collects unused food from their hotels that can be used charitably instead of going to waste.

 

There are many challenges when it comes to reducing plastic and other types of waste, especially when one considers the sheer number of brands, markets, hotels, rooms, suppliers etc. Health, sanitation, operational procedures -- they all present challenges that need to be considered and overcome.

 

In North America, they have an initiative called Renovation Donation where items such as TVs, beds and furniture that are no longer needed following a hotel’s renovation are donated to non-profit organisations.

 

IHG are also members of the Circular Economy 100 (CE100) Network from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – a place for learning, knowledge sharing and collaboration.  They also recently announced a partnership with Junior Achievement, which focuses on preparing young people for future employment.

 

They value global partnerships but also recognise they need a tailored approach to local markets. In the last month Catherine has been both to their Atlanta and their Shanghai offices, and it brings home that you really need a different approach to different markets because you have different business and operational issues.  Therefore, you need to have partners locally that know individual markets very well.

 

The big players in the hotel industry also collaborate and share insights; many are members of the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), where they embrace specific goals for 2030 and collaborate in various ways. 

 

Moving from single use toiletries is a monumental task. There are a huge number of suppliers across many markets; you have to find the right bulk product and brand in an individual market.  There are many practical considerations in individual hotels, too. Even installing a fixed shampoo bulk dispenser in place raises questions:  what are the procedures for refilling these bulk bottles to make sure they’re clean and to the right standards? How often do you refill them before replacing them? Even housekeeping carts need to be changed since they’ll need to carry bigger bottles, not small ones.  Financially, there’s an up front cost for these fittings.  Essentially, there are many angles that need to be considered.

 

Suppliers are not only moving in line with IHG, but they’re also completely on board and coming up with many new and interesting ideas for sustainable solutions.

 

Scale is very important.  The big game changer for Catherine revolves around how to bring on new hotels in the future at very low or even net zero carbon. A big challenge is how do you redesign these mainstream brands so that their environmental impact is next to nothing.

 

IHG’s senior management is very involved in driving sustainability forward. Earlier this year they established a responsible business governance committee, which meets quarterly and  brings together key areas, such as environmental, social, community impact, diversity and inclusion, human rights, responsible procurement, cyber security etc.

 

Due to the sheer volume of guests, IHG are in a prime position to drive behavioural change on a global scale. The move from having towels washed daily versus every x-number of days is a case in point. Catherine is very excited about the ability to make a difference at such scale and recognises there is much potential going forward.

 

 

Catherine’s key takeaway: it’s all about collaboration. The scale of the challenge for the industry when it comes to environmental sustainability is huge. And it’s about collaboration not just within their own organisation but also collaboration within and across industries. This isn’t about competitive advantage, rather, it’s about finding those solutions that are really going to make a difference.

 

Visit Lidji.org for episode notes, guest bios and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy the podcast -- thank you!

 

Nov 17, 2019
San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors ex-head of philanthropy and community relations, Joanne Pasternack, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the power of athletes and sports to improve the world
39:05

San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors ex-head of philanthropy and community relations, Joanne Pasternack, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the power of athletes and sports to improve the world.

 

The conversation is wide-raging, from Joanne’s initial foray into figure skating and her introduction to the Special Olympics when she was just 14 years old, to her work leading the philanthropy and community relations and outreach at the San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors – two of America’s best known professional football (National Football League – NFL) and basketball (National Basketball Association – NBA) teams.

 

We discuss philanthropic engagement at the individual level, the team level and the league level and explore specific case studies, such as an instance when the San Francisco 49ers worked closely with the New Orleans Saints following a devastating natural disaster in Louisiana.

 

We hear of individual players who demonstrate high degrees of generosity. Joanne mentioned Kevin Durant – a world-class basketball player – who donated $10m to create an after school education program in his hometown outside Washington DC.

 

She also sheds light on a partnership she worked on between the San Francisco 49ers and the Chevron Corporation to build out a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) leadership institute at a local school near the 49ers’ stadium. 

 

There is a need to ensure the right alignment between personal philanthropic preferences and engagement in the most appropriate thematic areas.  Fleshing out what is important to someone and exploring how they can leverage things to improve the world in that specific area is an important task, which gets explored during this episode as well.

 

Professional athletes are unique in many respects. Many achieve great notoriety and wealth at a very young age. They tend to have a short shelf life at top-level sports and, then, need to adapt to their post-career life accordingly. This can be very challenging – a topic Joanne sheds light on within the context of professional basketball and American football.

 

Joanne’s key takeaway: she focuses on the power of listening to what others have to say.  ‘Listen’ … just listen.  She let’s us know that her personal mantra is: find a way to say ‘Yes’.  It’s easy to come up with excuses of why you can’t do something.  So, where possible, find a way to say Yes.  And, if you have to say ‘No’, don’t just say no. Instead, say ‘No but’… here’s another resource for you or, No, but here’s a way that we can help.

 

Visit Lidji.org to view guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this episode -- thank you!

Nov 11, 2019
Chair of the Children’s Movement of Florida, Dave Lawrence, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss advocacy, politics and coalitions in support of children in Florida and beyond
32:06

Chair of the Children’s Movement of Florida, Dave Lawrence, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss advocacy, politics and coalitions in support of children in Florida and beyond.

 

During the episode we speak about Dave’s efforts to drive forward legislative change and mobilise individuals at local and national levels to encourage investments in children’s early years and improve their outcomes.

 

Dave retired from his role as publisher of the Miami Herald 20 years ago to focus on children’s ‘early years’. He is Chair of the Children’s Movement of Florida which aims to make children the number one priority for investment in Florida – the 3rd biggest state in the US, and the 17th largest global economy, if it were a country.

 

We hear how there has been much progress in Florida over the past 20 years and how, today, every 4-year old in Florida is entitled to a high quality kindergarten experience. There has been support from voters, the Governor’s office and city mayors across the state; including a successful campaign called #100Mayors for early childhood.

 

Dave has mobilised resources in Florida and engaged with politicians across the political spectrum at local, state and national level. He has also lectured internationally on the benefits of investing in early years.

 

In 1996, former Florida governor, Lawton Chiles, asked Dave to join the Governor’s Commission on Education to look at education in the next millennium. Dave led the taskforce on school readiness and, in the process, learned an extraordinary amount about children’s early years – so much so that he decided to retire from his post as publisher of the Miami Herald and work full time on issues focused on early childhood.

 

On the topic of driving forward legislative change, Dave notes there’s much power at the local level.  Dave wants people to be excited about supporting children and to talk about it often. He notes that numerous US presidents have been vocal in their support for early years, irrespective of their political affiliation, and he notes their power comes in using their presidential platform to be highly vocal about supporting children.

 

Dave remarks that, yes, just about everybody loves children; but too many don’t understand the practical imperatives about this.

 

He notes that in the US, despite its position as the world’s leading economy, 3 out of 4 young people aged 17 to 24 cannot enter the US military – they can’t join because of criminal records, substance abuse, academic problems etc. This is an unacceptable state of affairs.

 

Only real quality in education brings positive outcomes; it’s not about simply having a spot for a child in a classroom – it’s about actually learning something, about being engaged and being exposed to brain-stimulating activities.

 

The importance of play – and learning through play – should not be underestimated. Play is really important – you learn a lot about getting along with other people. We need to develop the full human being – it’s not about drilling 3-year olds in numbers. Nothing is more important than a nurturing, caring, knowledgeable, loving parent or caregiver.

 

Ultimately, to improve the reality for children, one needs to push on many fronts; communicating with parents; engaging with the legislative process, connecting with diverse stakeholders.  Dave wants to get the local community involved, including many who would not usually be classed as the usual suspects in the field of early childhood, including the faith community, business actors, the civic community, the political community etc – he wants them all to work on this issue.

 

Dave notes that a major moment in Florida happened a few years back when the Florida Chamber of Commerce – the principal business organisation in the state – decided that early childhood is a major business imperative, impacting the future of their workforce and talent pool in Florida.

  

Dave briefly discusses his book — ‘A Dedicated Life: Journalism, Justice and a Chance for Every Child’ – and underscores the point that all proceeds from sales go to support the Children’s Movement of Florida.  The book is partly traditional memoire and partly about what’s happening in the field of early childhood and what else still needs to be done.

 

Dave’s key takeaway: he notes that within each of us is an ability to make something happen and, ultimately, he shares the sentiment that it would be a shame for one to die before having had won some battle for humanity.  There is so much to be done all over the world and so many ways for people to drive change.  At the end, we ask ourselves, ‘what did your life mean’?... the answer won’t have much to do with accumulating resources. What difference did you make in an individual life and in larger ways? That’s the joy of life. Combine that with lifelong learning and you have a life where you can feel pretty good about yourself. 

 

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Nov 03, 2019
CEO of World Child Cancer, Jon Rosser, and paediatric oncologist Prof Lorna Renner in Ghana, join Alberto Lidji to talk about their UK Aid Match campaign and work in the developing world
29:10

CEO of World Child Cancer, Jon Rosser, and paediatric oncologist Prof Lorna Renner in Ghana, join Alberto Lidji to talk about their UK Aid Match campaign and work in the developing world.

 

World Child Cancer supports and helps children with cancer in low and middle-income countries.  Jon Rosser notes there’s a large disparity in childhood cancer survival rates in the developed world – where it’s approximately 80%-85% -- versus the countries they work in, where childhood cancer survival rates are closer to just 10%.  In many cases children die without even getting a diagnosis.

 

At the time of this podcast’s airing (27 October 2019) World Child Cancer were running a UK Aid Match campaign up until 21 January 2020, whereby every £1 donated by UK-based donors was being matched 1:1 by UK Aid.

 

World Child Cancer was founded 11 years ago and today works in approximately 12 countries in the developing world, including Cameroon, Ghana, Mexico, the Philippines, Indonesia and Kenya.

 

They focus much of their efforts in twinning hospitals in developed countries with hospitals in the developing world. They also get doctors and nurses to volunteer and travel to the frontlines.

 

Prof Lorna Renner notes that in Ghana they work closely with local stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health, and World Child Cancer’s approach is collegial and in tune with local needs – it’s not a top-down approach. Rather, they listen careful to the needs and opinions from local partners and stakeholders.

 

She goes on to say that in Ghana there is a population of 29 million people – 40% who are under 15 years old. They expect at least 1,000 cases of childhood cancer to report a year, but they only have 2 comprehensive childhood cancer centres in the whole of Ghana, and between these two centres they only see approximately 300-350 children a year, so there’s a very large portion of children with cancer who don’t even reach these centres.

 

Geographical distance is a problem.  And, out of those who have cancer and who do come for care, they also face the challenge that childhood cancer is not covered by the national health insurance scheme in Ghana.

 

So, World Child Cancer helps with funds for diagnostics, treatment costs, transportation costs, and various other aspects of supporting children with cancer. They also focus much attention in raising awareness and engaging with political stakeholders. They provide awareness training for health workers in Ghana so they can better detect the early warning signs of childhood cancer and improve the likelihood that children with cancer are detected early.  The provision of funds to help children and their families travel for treatment is also incredibly important – many have to travel, repeatedly, for hundreds of miles.

 

Jon notes that working in partnership is important. Hospitals and doctors in-country are key partners. This year, World Child Cancer have also started a partnership with UBS, who have been very supportive – enabling them to build a project in Africa to train new paediatric oncologists and specialist nurses. They’re now starting a regional training hub in Africa.

 

World Child Cancer identifies doctors in developed countries who are at the top of their profession and encourages them to volunteer and provide their skills and expertise. This can take various forms, from providing diagnosis remotely via online sharing of information, to travelling to the developing world for week-long trips.

 

By travelling to the frontlines, doctors learn much of what can be achieved in resource settings that are much more constrained than what’s available in the developed world.  Travelling to the frontlines also helps them exchange knowledge, provide training, mentoring and engage in peer-to-peer support.

 

World Child Cancer also works closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO), who have just announced a new initiative for childhood cancer aimed at increasing childhood cancer survival rates in the developing world to 60% by 2030, the target year of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Key takeaways: Lorna notes that together we can offer children with cancer the opportunity to achieve their potential and live life to the full. And, Jon adds that because childhood cancer is very often curable, it is a moral imperative that we get treatment to all the children who currently die from it who could be cured.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, full episode notes and useful links.  Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast -- thank you!

 

Oct 27, 2019
CEO of Aga Khan Foundation UK, Matt Reed, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the Aga Khan Development Network, its $5.5bn of annual operations and relationships with 40,000 civil society organisations
40:40

CEO of Aga Khan Foundation UK, Matt Reed, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the Aga Khan Development Network, its $5.5bn of annual operations, relationships with 40,000 civil society organisations and much more.

 

The Aga Khan Foundation is one of 10 development agencies that together form the Aga Khan Development Network, founded by His Highness the Aga Khan.  They work across all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aim to:

 

  1. Improve the quality of life, in all its dimensions, in all the communities where they are active
  2. Promote pluralism
  3. Enhance self-reliance and civil society

 

They’re active in approximately 20 countries across central and south Asia, east and west Africa, and the Middle East. They focus on the poorest of the poor, in some of the most remote regions of the countries where they’re active.

 

Across the Network, they employ between 80,000 and 90,000 people – excluding the communities and volunteers they work with – and the Foundation itself works with approximately 40,000 civil society organisations annually.  Annual operations across all 10 agencies is roughly $5.5bn.

 

When the Foundation started 50 years ago, the idea was to understand the communities where they were going to and to ask them what matters most to them in terms of development priorities (as opposed simply to taking a top down approach to solutions and strategies).  Matt notes the importance they place on ensuring their development work is truly long-lasting – they believe that people themselves need to be the agents of change and that it is important to create local ownership. 

 

They form representative groups at the local, village level, composed of men and women from all faiths and backgrounds; they facilitate conversations with them to help develop an understanding of what works, and what doesn’t, and to gain insight into local communities’ most pressing priorities.

 

Matt explains that his role in the UK is to represent not only the Foundation’s work but also the work of all 10 development agencies across their Network to European development partners and, to a lesser extent, to development partners in Asia and the Middle East – always in consultation with their people on the ground, in the field, who are doing work across their various countries of operations.

 

They have two universities: the first is the Aga Khan University, which was founded approximately 35 years ago and is primarily based in Pakistan, with some operations in Afghanistan; and with a network of campuses in east Africa – in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Its initial focus was teacher training and nursing.

 

The second university is the University of Central Asia, which was established in 2000. It is a four-way, public-private partnership between the Aga Khan and the governments of Tajikistan, Kirgizstan and Kazakhstan. It was established within a post-Cold War context following the fall of the Soviet Union, and was designed to address the human capacity needs of central Asia and aims to create regional exchanges and a regional knowledge base.

 

Matt’s key takeaway:  he wishes for listeners to keep in mind the long-term nature of the work being undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network in improving the quality of life in all its dimensions and in promoting pluralism. They want to work, and do work, with everyone – and in today’s world this message is as important now as it has ever been.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this episode -- thank you!

 

Oct 20, 2019
CEO of Giving Compass, Stephanie Gillis, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how combining philanthropy and technology can help a broad audience learn, connect and take action
30:07

CEO of Giving Compass, Stephanie Gillis, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss how combining philanthropy and technology can help a broad audience learn, connect and take action.

 

Giving Compass is a philanthropy knowledge hub.  Its origins were driven to a great extent by Jeff and Tricia Raikes – two early Microsoft employees who were fortunate to accumulate considerable wealth.  As Jeff and Tricia were exploring how best to give away their wealth, they realised there was a lot to learn about philanthropy.

 

Jeff subsequently became CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2008-2014) – a period which Stephanie light-heartedly describes as Jeff getting his PhD in philanthropy. 

 

As they embarked on their own philanthropic journey, they noticed many people were approaching them for advice.  However, they realised that this approach was not scalable and that maybe there was an unmet need for philanthropy expertise and content to be disseminated through innovative technology.

 

As they were researching what such a solution could look like, they interviewed nearly 200 individual donors and they realised that many people simply didn’t know where to go for philanthropy information and, when they did find some information, they didn’t know whether that information could be trusted.

 

Giving Compass was essentially a content aggregator in its early stages.  Today, it’s a website that aggregates and curates high quality content for donors who want to give with impact; it’s also a community of people who care about leaning into their giving and learning and growing as donors. Information-sharing happens in all forms, from Giving Compass disseminating outward, to their incorporating third party information, to encouraging bilateral and multilateral knowledge-sharing among donors and networks.

 

They set out to blend the best of technology with the knowledge of philanthropy, and to support donors on their journey – helping individuals learn, connect and take action

 

Giving Compass users tend to be people who spend a lot of time trying to learn and improve how they go about philanthropy.  Giving Compass works mainly with individuals but, also, works with staff at family offices and others who are trying to support donors.

 

While their presence has traditionally been US-based, they are increasingly building significant audiences outside the US, which now includes the UK, India, Canada and the Philippines, for instance.

 

When asked about what exactly ‘impact’ is, Stephanie recognises the word can take on many different meanings and definitions. She notes that they used to say that impact is in the eye of the beholder.

 

For Stephanie, much has to do with the ‘how’ and the best practices of how people give.  She believes it’s important to approach philanthropy with humility and with a beginner’s mind. Collaborating and working with others matters, too. Indeed, one should never stop learning – giving is a journey and philanthropy is a joy.

 

The team at Giving Compass is growing. They initially started with just 4 staff; then 6; now 10. This growth trend continues.  Stephanie is heartened by the fact the team has experts from both the philanthropy and technology sectors. 

 

Besides their philanthropy expertise, the technology side matters. Indeed, in terms of exciting initiatives, Stephanie is keen to note the significant opportunities to personalise and customise according to individual users’ thematic areas of interest and degrees of philanthropic sophistication. 

 

They’re creating a knowledge hub and aim to ensure information is targeted and delivered intelligently – they’ve already aggregated over 25,000 pieces of content.

 

At Giving Compass, they want to help users learn, connect and take action. They aim to achieve this through the provision of a multi-faceted offering where information flows are multi-directional, where users’ engagement can take many different forms, and where partners engage in diverse ways, too.

 

Users can learn from each other and, equally, they can avail themselves of Giving Compass’ content to identify issue funds, intermediaries, collaboratives – diverse platforms helping donors enhance how they give, and facilitating giving through innovative channels.

 

Even for someone who has never been involved in philanthropy, Stephanie mentions that subscribing to their newsletter is a useful exercise. It’s a first step to finding out about different causes and gradually home in on what resonates most to a particular individual.

 

While Stephanie referenced some of their existing partnerships – such as Fidelity Charitable, Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society and the UN Foundation – she encourages potential partners to get in touch and underscores the point that there are many different ways for partnering up.

 

Stephanie’s key takeaway: Giving with impact can happen regardless of how much you’re giving – it’s a mindset and it doesn’t have to feel daunting.  There are a lot of networks and resources out there that can help you. It’s up to you to take the initiative!

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, useful links and episode notes. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy the podcast – thank you!

 

Oct 14, 2019
Founder & CEO of Co-Impact, Olivia Leland, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the global collaborative she launched and how it aims to achieve impact at scale in education, health and economic opportunity
31:02

Founder & CEO of Co-Impact, Olivia Leland, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the global collaborative she launched and how it aims to achieve impact at scale in education, health and economic opportunity.

 

Co-Impact’s core partners include Bill & Melinda Gates, the Rockefeller Foundation, Rohini and Nandan Nilekani, Jeff Skoll, the ELMA Foundation and Richard Chandler.

 

Olivia explains that Co-Impact is a global collaborative focused on systems change to improve the lives of millions by advancing education, improving people’s health, and providing economic opportunity.   It connects philanthropists and social change leaders from around the world who share a vision of driving change at scale.

 

Their grants are typically USD $10-25 million over 5 years, accompanied by non-financial support, and are customised to provide programme partners with the operational flexibility needed to achieve impact.

 

Rather than scaling the direct service work of individual NGOs, Co-Impact supports systems change plans that are designed and executed with partners critical to long-term success at scale, including community groups, government, other NGOs, and the private sector.

 

Olivia introduces listeners to Co-Impact’s recently published ‘Handbook’, which seeks to inform funders, program partners and all interested stakeholders on what Co-Impact does, who they are, what they stand for, how they work and, indeed, what to expect when partnering with them.

 

Co-Impact is currently working on their second funding round, which is focused on early childhood development; and on jobs, skills and livelihoods. Olivia explains how they recently had an open call for applications, where they received 445 concept notes.  These were reviewed internally and, also, by external examiners.  They’re currently conducting due diligence on a smaller set.

 

When asked about what success looks like in the next 10 years, Olivia framed the answer within the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Ultimately, Olivia would like to see tremendous progress against the SDGs and see increased philanthropic participation to achieve impact at scale.

 

Olivia’s key takeaway: she is unequivocal that ‘the time is now!’ There’s amazing work happening now and we need more philanthropy to be focused on efforts that drive impact at scale -- so let’s come together to do that!

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast -- thank you!

Oct 06, 2019
President and CEO of CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their support of 3,600 academic institutions and 92,000 advancement professionals globally
34:27

President and CEO of CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their support of 3,600 academic institutions and 92,000 advancement professionals globally.

 

CASE was founded in 1974 and has its origins in alumni relations and public affairs. Today, it supports schools, colleges and universities across their external engagement work advancing education to transform lives and society.  CASE’s scope is much broader than fundraising; focusing also in marketing, communications, alumni engagement and even government relations – they drive forward integrated advancement.

 

Sue notes that CASE is heavily involved in research and have launched a resource called ‘AM Atlas’ that provides educational advancement-related metrics, benchmarks and analytics. It’s comprised of several member-based surveys, as well as custom and funded research on specific topics.

 

Among some of the trends Sue is witnessing, she specifically references that philanthropy and the scale of giving is increasing for higher education across the globe.  Interestingly, they’ve recently launched a survey that highlighted for the third time that British universities raised over one billion pounds. The drivers for this are likely a combination of investing in leadership and the generosity of philanthropists.

 

A few weeks ago, CASE launched a survey that will, for the first time, be tracking alumni engagement metrics, globally, in a comprehensive manner. Instead of focusing exclusively on the proportion of alumni who give back, this new survey will include volunteerism, mentoring, advocacy, career advice, internships and helping with governance, to name a few.

 

When asked about public attitudes towards universities, Sue noted that it’s important for universities to build a strong public understanding of the important work that universities are doing in areas such as research and community engagement – beyond education. Indeed, while there is much to be proud of, Sue notes there is also much to be done in terms of public attitudes and public perception around higher education – especially in light of current conversations around social mobility and state funding.

 

Some of the focus areas for Sue and CASE right now include enhancing their digital offering, continuing to develop great research and streamlining the organisation’s governance. Recently, CASE launched a new website that hosts a wide range of resources and they’re looking at building out their e-learning offering beyond the webinars they’ve been doing for many years.  Sue goes on to underscore the importance of their data and research offering – under the banner of AM Atlas – and  notes it’s critical for institutions to be able to dig deep, benchmark, learn from others and understand what success looks like.

 

CASE has three main sources of funding: (1) membership model from the 3,600 institutions it supports; (2) income from the more than 120 in-person institutes and conferences they run annually in 20 countries – last year they catered to 20,000 participants; and (3) income from philanthropists and educational partners (such as for-profit consultants, search firms, and research agencies).

 

Volunteering is a key component of CASE’s operations. They have about 4,000 people who volunteer for CASE annually in some capacity, such as by mentoring others, teaching on programs, speaking at CASE conferences, and helping with governance and key strategic initiatives. Indeed, it was through volunteering that Sue found herself as a contender for her current role at CASE.

 

Key takeaway: Sue takes the opportunity to thank and recognise advancement professionals and philanthropists for their transformative work and impact; she encourages them to look for ways to communicate the impact of the academic institutions they’re affiliated with and to do so in succinct and powerful ways.

 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you enjoy this podcast -- thank you!

 

Sep 29, 2019
Executive Director of Compassionate Atlanta, Leanne Rubenstein, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the Charter for Compassion and what it means to be a compassionate city, business and individual
31:21

Executive Director of Compassionate Atlanta, Leanne Rubenstein, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the Charter for Compassion and what it means to be a compassionate city, business and individual.  

 

Leanne’s professional experience has a strong footing in the refugee resettlement space and she notes that she’s in her comfort zone when working with people who came from all over the word.

 

The Charter was the wish of Karen Armstrong – winner of the 2008 TED Prize – and aims to bring people to the centre of morality; to treat others as you would like to be treated. It has been endorsed all over the world, including by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

 

Leanne notes that the Charter encourages people to ‘teach your children about other religions, traditions and cultures’. Because once we know each other it’s much harder to dislike one another – it’s about finding a common humanity.

 

Globally, there is an international charter office and approximately 500+ different chapters across the world; 197 of these chapters are located in the USA.  It’s a grassroots movement and every chapter looks different and is independent.

 

What is compassion? Well, for some it might be compassion for the Earth, or compassion for children and youth, or compassion for people who are incarcerated. Leanne notes that compassion has many faces.

 

Part of her job and that of Compassionate Atlanta is to listen to the community and look to them for guidance. There’s one program they’re running with the Sierra Club looking at compassion and climate.

 

When asked what it takes to start a local chapter in one’s own community, Leanne points listeners to the Charter for Compassion website, where one can sign up and find out more – there are ways of engaging for cities, businesses and individuals. Indeed, some cities can twin with each other and mentor one another.

 

Compassion is overarching and it’s for everybody. Yes, there is a strong interfaith component but, also, there’s an appreciation that faith itself can be divisive. Compassion is for people of all faiths as well as for those with none. Representing people of different faiths is just as important as representing the secular community.  It’s about everyone coming together.

 

Leanne likes to focus on similarities rather than differences. This is particularly important in today’s politically divided and polarised environment.  Her advice: start by tackling the conversations that are easy and make progress from there. There’s no need to start by talking about people’s voting intentions. Why not start by exchanging preferences and experiences about food, film, the arts? Build a rapport and take it from there.

 

Being compassionate isn’t just good for individuals and cities in communities across the world. It is also important for businesses and, as Leanne points out, can have a positive effect on customer service and employee retention; it can lead to happier and more productive employees. She specifically references the CEO of LinkedIn, who has spoken about compassion in a corporate setting.

 

Leanne recognises that sometimes businesses don’t like the word compassion because it may feel ‘soft’ but, actually, she remarks that compassion is really ‘strong’.

 

In a business setting, compassion takes many forms and can be facilitated by getting employees around the table, being inclusive, having fluid communications and simply asking employees what makes them happy in their job. It’s about small incremental changes and can have a positive influence across the whole organisation. 

 

Leanne’s Key takeaway: Treat others as you wish to be treated; and treat others as they wish to be treated. Know that you can make an incredible difference and that one person can really shift the world for another.

 

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Sep 23, 2019
The Clerk (CEO) of the Worshipful Company of Coopers, Stephen White, joins Alberto Lidji to shed light on the world of livery companies, the history of the Coopers’ since 1298 and their philanthropy
30:35

The Clerk (CEO) of the Worshipful Company of Coopers, Stephen White, joins Alberto Lidji to shed light on the world of livery companies, the history of the Coopers’ since 1298 and their philanthropic work.

 

The Coopers’ livery company has a long history, first mentioned in a public record back in 1298.  Today, they have approximately 350 members and are very much open to everyone. They have a strong focus on fellowship, charitable work and business activity.

 

Many people outside of the UK are not familiar with the world of livery companies and, even within the UK, there is often a lack of understanding on what livery companies do, how they’re governed and the process to join one.  Stephen does a wonderful job of taking listeners through a multi-faceted exploration of the livery company world and the Coopers’ in particular, of which he is CEO.

 

Today, there are 110 livery companies in England and, since the 1970s, approximately 30 new livery companies have been established. 

 

There are three main types of collaborations between different livery companies. There is a collaboration between ‘The Great 12’ livery companies (these are the top 12 livery companies based on their wealth ranking back in the 16th Century. Today, these 12 may not necessarily be the wealthiest but the tradition of the Great 12 stands); then there is a collaboration between companies that have a ‘hall’; and lastly there’s collaboration between those companies that have no hall and are not one of the Great 12.

 

Livery companies in the UK are amongst the largest philanthropic donors in the country.  In addition to supporting members of the coopers trade (cask makers), the company also supports two schools in the UK and makes grants based on the funding applications it receives from interested parties.

 

Stephen notes how the coopers trade is witnessing something of a renaissance in England, now that the country's sparkling wines are increasingly being recognised for their quality on the international stage. It’s an exciting time for coopers / cask makers in England.

 

Stephen’s key takeaway for listeners: he refers to the Company’s motto -- Love is Brethren – and laments consumerism and greed.  He would like to see people with abundant resources be more philanthropic and spread their wealth more generously. Give back to society as much as you can! 

Visit Lidji.org for guest bios, episode notes and useful links. Please subscribe to the podcast if you enjoy it. Thank you!

 

Sep 16, 2019
CEO of United World Schools (UWS), Tim Howarth, joins Alberto Lidji to shed light on their 200 schools in Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal and to celebrate their 2019 WISE Award for educational innovation
38:27

CEO of United World Schools (UWS), Tim Howarth, joins Alberto Lidji to shed light on their 200 schools in Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal and to celebrate their 2019 WISE Award for educational innovation.

 

UWS is one of 2019’s WISE Award Winners (World Innovation Summit for Education). They were presented a WISE Award for their innovative approach and scalable model; they have had 30,000 schoolchildren through their schools in the past 10 years; they have strong public/private partnerships; and they’re extremely focused on empowering local communities.

 

UWS started off as a small family charity in the UK and over the past decade has built 200 schools in communities across Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal that previously had no access to education – they embrace a model that is low cost, scalable, replicable and simple; a typical school has approximately 150-200 children and is located in remote areas of their respective countries, where local communities are often ethnic minorities that do not speak the national language. Furthermore, these communities are usually at or below the poverty line.  UWS are unequivocal in their stance: local communities need to be empowered, they need to be part of the solution and they need to be involved as new schools are built.

 

When asked what prompted UWS to enter and operate in Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal, Tim mentioned this was driven by a mix of strategy, fit and opportunity. They initially had connections in Cambodia, which presented a good opportunity to enter that market.  Subsequently, as they began to scale up successfully they considered what other countries might be in need of their work and that took them to Mynamar and Nepal.  Could Vietnam or other countries be next? Indeed, that may well be the case in the years to come.

 

Tim and the team at United World Schools have ambitions to grow, reach many more schoolchildren, expand geographically and help achieve Goal 4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all.

 

Tim’s key takeaway: Be absolutely focused on delivering your mission – use it as your North Star!

 

Visit Lidji.org for full episode notes, guest bios and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you like this podcast. Thank you!

Sep 08, 2019
Executive Director at Innovation Edge, Sonja Giese, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their impact investment platform and innovative strategies in support of Early Childhood Development in South Africa
33:15

Executive Director at Innovation Edge, Sonja Giese, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their impact investment platform and innovative strategies in support of Early Childhood Development in South Africa.

 

Sonja joined the podcast from Cape Town, South Africa.  Innovation Edge is focused on early childhood development (ECD) investments in South Africa. They’re a platform designed to promote innovation in ECD (ages 0 to 6) set up to try to bring innovation in to tackle the multiple challenges preventing children from thriving.

 

Sonja notes that the reality in South Africa is that more than half of children are starting school without the right learning foundations in place.

 

Innovation Edge was originally set up by a group of funders who had a shared interest in ECD and had been investing in this field in a traditional grant-making way. But they were facing intractable problems and were interested in finding new ways to tackle them. They each put funds into a pooled fund and Sonja was tasked with sourcing investments that were a good fit for that fund.

 

The funders had to be very aligned; moving away from traditional grant-making and realising that there is a very high degree of risk in this type of fund, since they source very early stage ideas, often even before there being any proof of feasibility or proof of concept.

 

This is critical if you’re going to drive innovation in such a nascent area – the funders had to have similar risk appetites.  All the funders and Sonja agreed that if they weren’t failing enough then they weren’t pushing the boundaries of innovation enough. This is something Sonja found very inspiring.

 

When asked whether deal flow origination was difficult, she replied that indeed it was “hugely challenging”. Sourcing deals is difficult and Innovation Edge continue to experiment with different sourcing strategies -- they need to be very active and, at times, even co-create ideas.

 

The team at Innovation Edge is diverse. Interestingly, out of a team of 8, Sonja is actually the only one who comes from a traditional development background. Others come from entrepreneurship, start-ups; impact investing, financial instruments.  They want people who have diverse experiences, networks and ways of thinking.

 

They struggle to define the exact label for the investments that they do; and whether they’re labelled as impact investments, social investments, ESG-integrated investments really is influenced to a great deal on their target audience. They spend a lot of time trying to find “the label”.

 

At Innovation Edge, they like making very unlikely connections between people and ideas – connections that would otherwise not come together were it not for Innovation Edge.

 

As far as the types of investments they make: they like to think of themselves as an “impact first investor”. They do both investments and also traditional grant-making, if appropriate. There are instances when they’ve taken equity in some start-ups and, also, experimented with outcome-based models and other variations. They try to bring flexible resources and a flexible approach to resourcing.

 

Sonja describes their core fund as an ‘evergreen fund’. Any returns that are made are reinvested back into that fund. So, none of their investors in that core fund expect a financial return.

 

However, what many of these investors may have is a particular preference for investing in one or many of the diverse initiatives that come down Innovation Edge’s deal flow pipeline, and then they have the opportunity to make direct investments into some of these and they can then negotiate the terms of that directly.  Irrespective of the various approaches, Innovation Edge aims to stay engaged to ensure that the investment remains mission-aligned; and indeed investors may well need to be willing to forego some financial returns in order to maximise social returns.

 

Different funders have different appetites for risk. Some funders are not prepared to put in funding for something that hasn’t been proven. So part of the challenge is in connecting funders to the right opportunity. Thematically, some investors may be more interested in investing in EdTech (education technology) while others may care about other types of investment areas.

 

Sonja introduced listeners to their “Think Future” conference, which happens every two years and is due to take place later on in 2019.  She explains that at Innovation Edge, they look at their activities in three buckets:

 

1 – Commissioning Innovation (i.e. how they find and make investments) 

2 – Communicating Innovation (i.e. what they do; what they’ve learned; what tools they can share with others)

3 – Connecting for Innovation (this is vital --  they have a number of strategies to make these connections.

 

Think Future is their flagship event and characterises their approach to making these connections.

 

The first Think Future conference was held in 2017; the second is coming up in late 2019. It curates a program that stimulates unusual thoughts and links between concepts and participants. They’ll be hosting 250 participants from 20 countries in South Africa. Interestingly, half of those who will be attending don’t work in the early childhood space. The conference is about bringing new and disruptive ideas to bear on the challenges facing early childhood development. At Innovation Edge, they want people to leave the event with a fresh perspective on how they can do things differently and apply their thinking to make an impact.

 

Over the years, Innovation Edge has developed some invaluable internal tools, which revolve around the strategies they’ve used to source and stimulate an ecosystem in ECD; tools for tracking the progress of their investments – they have a tool that tracks investments from source to scale – which has 7 steps with a set of questions that must be answered in every step.

 

At Innovation Edge, they view these tools as a public good – they’re more than happy to share these tools with others across the globe. “it is an absolute delight” to share these tools with others. Part of the rationale is that when others engage with Innovation Edge’s tools and give feedback, it helps Innovation Edge grow, learn and add value. They welcome collaboration at all levels and from every geographic corner.

 

Some of their main international funders include: the Omidyar Network, the UBS Optimus Foundation and ELMA Philanthropies. (NB: you can listen to The Do One Better! Podcast interviews with both the heads of UBS Optimus and ELMA Philanthropies at Lidji.org). Despite Innovation Edge’s focus on making investments in South Africa, Sonja notes that international funders help foster a cross pollination of ideas.

 

When asked what success looks like in the next 10 years, Sonja noted that there are two things that they’re hoping to achieve:

 

1 - Pipeline: they want to really demonstrate their ability to take highly impactful innovations from source all the way to sustainable scale. This is very challenging to do in a field such as ECD.

2 - Purpose:  this focuses on target 4.2 of the SDGs (UN Sustainable Development Goals), which tracks the percentage of children who are developmentally on track before they enter school. For Innovation Edge, they’ve really aligned their goals to that specific SDG indicator. They’d really like to see many more children starting school with the right foundations for learning. 

 

They’ve commissioned a tool to track child outcomes to answer this question. It’s now been standardised for the South African population; it’s available in all 11 languages and it’s been widely used. The other thing they’ve done is to partner with business and with the South African Government to motivate the use of this tool to actually establish an ‘Early Years Index’.  They’d like to do a national sample of children every 3 to 5 years to be able to track whether over time they’re getting progressively close to the ideal of having 100% of children starting school on track.

 

The tracking of returns on investment is challenging. They’ve developed some metrics that they believe can be generically applied across a diverse portfolio. Over the past 4.5 years since they’ve been making investments they’ve made 36 investments and these are focused in three types of things:

 

1 – Product / service

2 – Platforms that are already at scale where they leverage the platform for social impact

3 – Data tools and insights

 

For each one of these they have clear targets of where different types of investment should be at different stages of their cycle. These can be targets around prototypes – having a good working prototype – a viable revenue or funding model, a strong team in place etc -- and ensuring that over time they’re moving to becoming sustainable and scalable.

 

On the topic of Social Returns and Outcomes, Sonja notes they focus on:

 

1 – Achieving greater efficiency / effectiveness in government systems. If you achieve this you could have potential to impact the lives of millions of children. 

2 – Impact to shift the ways in which ECD practitioners or teachers are operating in the classroom; or the way parents are engaging with their children. Actual change in behaviours that will improve outcomes.

3 – Child outcomes – they look at 7 developmental domains and they look at the way their investments have improved these outcomes.

 

The team at Innovation Edge work closely with management teams and this can be very time consuming. An interesting observation is that the financial investment is actually the smallest part of the ‘value-add’. Typically, their investments are not very big; they give around $80k in an initial investment round and then they can do repeat investments but typically the value they bring is much more hands on, by sitting on boards, helping organizations navigate complex government dynamics and relationships, business modelling, legal support, networking and strategic support. Sometimes they really are very operational and that’s why they don’t ever anticipate their portfolio growing very large -- they aim to make 6 to 10 investments per annum.

 

Sonja’s key takeaway for listeners: It’s important to find those connections between what you’re good at and what’s needed.  She notes that people tend to compartmentalize their lives. For instance, one might be a very successful business person and then in their spare time they might do some work for a charity that is completely different from the skillset they’ve developed in their business careers.  At Innovation Edge, what they’re trying to unlock is the way to connect these different things – where she sees that people can really add value is in that ‘aha’ moment between what their core competences and skillset are and the desperate need that there is out there. It’s at this point that people can really make exponential contributions.

 

Visit Lidji.org for full episode notes, guest bios and useful links. Please subscribe and share if you like the podcast -- thank you!

Sep 01, 2019
CEO of Özyegin Social Investments, Ayla Goksel, sheds light on challenges and opportunities in driving philanthropic operations in Turkey, and dynamics between international and local organisations
37:21

CEO of Özyegin Social Investments, Ayla Goksel, sheds light on challenges and opportunities in driving philanthropic operations in Turkey, and dynamics between international and local organisations.

 

Özyegin Social Investments is a group of different organisations started or supported by the Özyegin family. These include: ACEV (the Mother Child Education Foundation); the Özyegin Foundation; Özyegin University; and then various other smaller initiatives.

 

Their investments are 90% in education. And, approximately 70% to 80% of Özyegin Social Investments’ funding comes from the Özyegin family.

 

The organisation was founded by Hüsnü Özyegin, who’s a highly philanthropic, self-made billionaire in Turkey. They have deployed $525m in philanthropic funds in Turkey and directly impacted 1.5m lives.

 

Ayla explains how she’s very fortunate to manage both an international foundation and local charitable activities on the ground as well.  She sheds light on the contrast and peculiar dynamics between international organisations and local NGOs; and also highlights the implications of being a family foundation – especially one where the Founder is still alive and active.

 

She notes that, indeed, there are differences between working ‘on the ground’ locally vs working ‘in the Boardroom’ internationally.  On the international level, it is very easy to get removed from reality – especially in over-professionalised organisations where, perhaps, there’s too much mimicking of a private sector approach. Nevertheless, a global outlook is important and there is much value to be derived from the global insights, trends and experience that global foundations and international organisations can bring to the local market.

 

Ayla mentions that dialogue between these various types of organisations is key and, importantly, it needs to be on equal footing. There is often a power imbalance due to financing and political clout – and it is up to the leaders in philanthropy to foster a collegial environment of information-sharing and appreciation for what other parties bring to the table.

 

Ayla specifically references the high number of Syrian refugees who have arrived in Turkey and how that has impacted philanthropic and NGO operations on the ground; and the relationships between international organisations, government and local NGOs.

 

International organisations not only need to take time to identify good local delivery partners on the ground but they also need to have good intentions to share control with these local partners – something that doesn’t always happen. Sharing control with local partners makes operational sense and, also, can help build valuable political capital.

 

Relations between international organisations and local stakeholders in Turkey have not been optimal, particularly around communications, sharing control and exchanging information. This comes at a cost both to international organisations and local NGOs alike. Some international organisations have not been able to to complete registrations to continue operations in the country; and many local NGOs could have benefited from credible international supporters who could have helped local stakeholders improve their advocacy – there could have been much better integration of projects.

 

Ayla observes that risk tolerance becomes low when dealing with politically volatile situations -- the civil space has gotten smaller in the country.

 

This has had a direct impact on her operations, which they have been able manage by adapting, thinking creatively and moving outside their comfort zone. For example, they have started seeking partnerships with municipalities and local NGOs; as opposed to their traditional central government relationships. They have also started to explore collaboration with local, loosely formed initiatives.  In other words, these challenges also brought opportunities for them and there is a bright side to how they’ve managed these developments. 

 

However, not all organisations have had such a positive outcome. Ayla notes that there are many organisations that have been shut down in Turkey.

 

Ayla looks at the context with optimism, highlighting that this fragile situation can also be an opportunity for creativity and for doing things in a different way and, indeed, for appreciating the smaller wins one has.

 

Ultimately, if what you’re offering meets the needs of your constituents and communities, then you’ll get somewhere. In the case of Ayla’s work, what they offer in terms of education, training and childcare all resonates with people. Their organisation is apolitical and they focus on meeting local needs – adaptability is key.

 

When asked whether it helps to be a Turkish organisation when operating in Turkey, she was unequivocal: yes, of course it helps.  Working in Turkey as a foreign organisation can be very difficult. She laments that there aren’t many foreign organisations in Turkey since there is much that international organisations and local NGOs can learn from each other.

 

Ayla’s key takeaway: have perseverance as you pursue what you believe in. Change rarely happens overnight. If you believe in it, just keep going. Don’t give up, change does eventually happen.

 

Visit Lidji.org for episode notes, guest bios and useful links. Please share and subscribe if you like the show -- thank you!

Aug 27, 2019
President of J.B. & M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, Janet Froetscher, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss investing $1 Billion to achieve dramatic change; and why no one is interested in marginal change
40:58

President of J.B. & M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, Janet Froetscher, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss investing $1 Billion to achieve dramatic change; and why no one is interested in marginal change.

 

The J.B. & M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation was founded by J.B. Pritzker, who’s the current Governor of the State of Illinois, and his wife M.K.

 

The Foundation aims to invest $1 billion in the coming years to improve the realities in three key thematic areas. They have clear and highly ambitious goals for each one:

 

(1) Pritzker Children’s Initiative focuses on prenatal to age 3. The goal: in the next 5 years a million more children will have access to high quality services.

 

(2) Pritzker Community Health Initiative. The goal: in the next 5 years they’ll reduce the number of uninsured children in the City of Chicago by half; and will reduce unintended teen pregnancies by half in the next 5 years.

 

(3) Human and Civil Rights. The goal: in the next 7 years they aim to reduce the number of women in prison in the State of Illinois by half.

 

The Foundation is unequivocal in its pursuit of big, audacious goals. They aim to be catalytic and create long-lasting, dramatic change. They aim to partner up with others pretty much in everything they do, at national, state and local level, and across all of their thematic areas of focus.

 

When asked what advice she has for potential philanthropists who may be tempted to get involved but aren’t quite sure exactly how to go about it, Janet draws parallels between private business and philanthropy. Just like in business, you need to back opportunities where you have confidence in an organisation's CEO and believe in the organisation's strategy and expected returns.

 

This isn’t surprising considering Janet has an MBA from Northwestern and initially worked in the private sector before moving into the non-profit world.  She always knew she wanted to get into the non-profit world but, at the time of completing her MBA, she was advised to get into the business world first and, only then, explore the non-profit space.

 

Prior to joining the Foundation, Janet was the CEO of the Special Olympics International.  Running a foundation is very different than running a global NGO. The Special Olympics is active in 170 countries and as CEO you need buy-in from around the world.

 

She has a lot more freedom now, especially on the resource deployment side. The Foundation is very nimble and they can deploy resources quickly, as soon as an interesting opportunity is identified. Consequently, they’re usually the first funder to go in, and they’re the ones who usually entice new partners on board.

 

The beauty of philanthropy is that you can be catalytic – making a dramatic and concrete impact and achieving tangible, sustained change in a big way.  Recently, they’ve created the Child & Family Research Partnership at the University of Texas -- a centre that links research, policy and programs.

 

Janet’s key takeaway for listeners:  Think big. No one is interested in marginal change, frankly.  Investors aren’t; donors aren’t; government isn’t. Marginal change with the types of problems we’re dealing with will get us nowhere. There will always be excuses about why we can’t do it that big, and why it can’t happen that fast. And, you just cant’ accept that.  I don’t want to know why it can’t be done; I have no interest in knowing why it can’t be done; I can list for you why it can’t be done. Instead, I want to know how it can be done. The conversation I want to have is about dramatic change. How can we do it.

 

Visit Lidji.org for full episode notes, guest bios and additional resources. Please subscribe and share if you like the show -- thank you!

Aug 20, 2019
President of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Jessie Rasmussen, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their investments in support of children's Early Years
41:15

President of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Jessie Rasmussen, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their investments in support of children's Early Years.

 

Approximately 20 years ago, Warren Buffett decided to give a substantial amount of his Berkshire Hathaway stock to his three children, as well as to the Gates Foundation, to be used for philanthropy. 

 

His Daughter, Susie, subsequently launched the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and, today, they are a leading force investing in early childhood (1) practice, (2) policy and (3) research.

 

Jessie Rasmussen is President of the Fund and she explains how they believe these three key investment areas are essential to help achieve their goal of ensuring every child in the youngest years and months of their lives has access to effective quality services – and it is the interaction between these investments that makes a difference.

 

The Fund is a strong financial backer of two leading thinkers who drive forward research and articulate the strongest neuroscientific and economic arguments in support of early childhood investments: Prof Jack Shonkoff at Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child and Prof Jim Heckman at the University of Chicago, respectively.

 

Not only does the Fund drive forward research but they also aim to connect leading researchers, such as Shonkoff and Heckman, to key policymakers so that policymakers are well informed on what the latest research is saying.  

 

The power of collaboration: the Fund’s philanthropy is done almost always in partnership with others. For instance, along with other funders they’ve helped establish the Alliance for Early Success, which is mainly a state-wide organisation, and the First Five Years Fund, which is a federal organisation.  They engage different stakeholders but share a common theme.

 

Jessie shed light on a funding collaborative they’re currently involved with that encompasses 8 substantive foundations who are focusing on highly consequential areas such as 'workforce' in Early Years.  She explains how the collaborative came about, how it grew and how it operates today.

 

There are various funding and collaboration mechanisms that one can embrace. Jessie explains the dynamics involved in parallel funding and, also, in setting up a unified investment vehicle backed by all collaborative members.  Ultimately, irrespective of whether they’re deploying funds via parallel funding or as a unified fund, they tend to agree on a single reporting requirement, which simplifies things for the grant recipient.

 

The Fund does not accept unsolicited funding applications and for the most part they’re investing in major systems change and long-term sustainability of effective programs. They have a team of experts who identify great opportunities to improve the lives of children -- team members approach early childhood development from different vantage points based on their diverse experience in the field.

 

Jessie explains that “when Warren gave his three children funds to start their foundations, he wrote a letter and gave them advice.  And, one piece of advice was ‘take risk’, invest in things that nobody else will invest in […] because it’s when you take risk that you learn what works and what doesn’t work.” Jessie goes on to say: “I love having that direction provided for us”.

 

Jessie’s key takeaway for listeners: Do your homework. Don’t assume you have the answers. Do your homework and know what’s going on right now. She also encourages listeners to take the time to think about doing things in partnership with other funders because that's where you’re going to have the greatest impact.  

 

Full episode notes, guest bios and links are available at Lidji.org  -  Please subscribe to the podcast if you enjoy it. Thank you!

Aug 12, 2019
British Ambassador Designate to South Sudan, Chris Trott, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss conflict resolution, power sharing agreements, Ebola and working in the frontlines
38:21

British Ambassador Designate to South Sudan, Chris Trott, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss conflict resolution, power sharing agreements, Ebola and working in the frontlines.

 

Chris talks about his career trajectory and the rewarding challenges of being posted to South Sudan, Afghanistan and other precarious settings. He explains why this is important to him and provides advice to others who may be drawn to similar postings while having to juggle family commitments.  Chris is motivated by wanting to make a difference in a conflict environment.

 

He is quick to note that despite the challenges of being posted to South Sudan, these pale in comparison with the hardships the South Sudanese population has to endure.

 

Chris sheds light on the state of affairs in South Sudan and the region. He provides statistics on the death toll from the conflict, along with staggering numbers pertaining to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). 

 

He then proceeds to discuss the challenges of securing – and maintaining – power sharing agreements and the difficulties of bringing enemies to the negotiating table.

 

Chris notes that the statistics around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in South Sudan are horrifying. He talks of girls’ education and explains how a girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in child birth than complete secondary school.   The country has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world.  This is but one element of the myriad of problems facing the country, from high rates of sexual violence in conflict to lack of adequate healthcare, malnutrition, the threat of Ebola and more.

 

Chris notes that “it’s really, really important that we focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, because they are a long way from achieving them here”. 

 

Chris’ key takeaway: The international community has a hugely important and supportive role in trying to help address crises around the world – we need to find ways to offer that support in a way that empowers local partners, local governments and other key stakeholders.

 

Full episode notes, guest bios and useful links are available at Lidji.org  -  Please subscribe to the podcast if you enjoy it. Thank you!

Aug 05, 2019
Founding Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, Kat Rosqueta, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social impact, strengthening democracy through philanthropy and knowledge sharing
48:16

Founding Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, Kat Rosqueta, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social impact, strengthening democracy through philanthropy and knowledge sharing in philanthropy.

 

Kat speaks passionately about the power of philanthropy and notes that high impact philanthropy is not about how much you give but, rather, it’s about how you give. 

 

She sheds light on her career trajectory and the origins of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice. 

 

Her team at the Center is highly multi-disciplinary, which Kat notes is essential.  You need the best thinking from diverse actors and disciplines to improve and change the world.

 

At the Center, they focus on different thematic areas. An interesting – and highly topical – area of research they’re currently pursuing looks at how philanthropy can strengthen democracy.

 

At the Center, they decide which thematic areas to focus on by determining whether there’s a high potential for social impact; whether they have the funding; whether they think they can quickly assemble a team that can generate answers quickly and well; and whether there is clear funder interest globally for such research. 

 

She adds that it’s essential to have clarity of thought on what, exactly, is the social impact goal you’re trying to achieve; ensuring decisions are informed by the best available evidence out there (both academic and practical); embracing an attitude of learning, measuring and managing progress; and ensuring there is value for money.

 

The Center is keen to provide guidance on philanthropy to a wide audience and to ensure research can be accessed freely, across diverse platforms. They publish the ‘High Impact Giving Guide’, which provides tips, examples and useful resources for donors.

 

Moreover, the Center has partnerships with the likes of Fidelity Charitable – the largest Donor Advised Fund (DAF) – who mirror some of the Center’s guidance on giving, and also with Giving Compass, who add some of the Center’s guidance content on their own website. 

 

Kat is clear that one can be a philanthropist without having to be a high-net-worth individual (HNWI). She lightheartedly distinguishes between ‘high input’ philanthropy where you do need a lot of money and ‘high impact’ philanthropy where it’s not about how much you give but, rather, how you give.

 

Kat also introduces the concept of a ‘social impact portfolio’, which is a useful way for individuals to balance out how much they may want to give philanthropically, or allocate towards impact investing or, indeed, spend by making sustainable purchasing decisions through conscious consumerism.

 

The conversation then moves into a policy exploration on philanthropy itself; its accountability (or lack thereof); its freedom to take on risk; its track record and ability to tackle social issues where for some reason neither government nor the business sector have mobilised.

 

An interesting point to keep in mind is that the pools of philanthropic funds available globally are still relatively small – despite all the media coverage on the topic. Kat notes that even the Gates Foundation’s endowment – the largest foundation out there – wouldn’t be able to pay for two years’ worth of public education in even one state alone, in the USA. 

 

Kat’s key takeaway for listeners: now, more than ever, any individual can practice high impact philanthropy. High impact philanthropy is not about how much you give but, rather, it’s about how you give. If you’re unsure of where to start your philanthropic journey, you should simply just start and take the first step. Use the wealth of resources available at the Center and elsewhere that are publicly available and get excited about the impact you can make over a lifetime.

 

Full episode notes, guest bios and useful links are available at Lidji.org  - Please subscribe to the podcast if you enjoy it. Thank you!

Jul 30, 2019
General Manager of PBS America in the UK, Richard Kingsbury, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss educational TV, impartial reporting and the value of public media
31:28

General Manager of PBS America in the UK, Richard Kingsbury, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss educational TV, impartial reporting and the value of public media.

PBS America (Public Broadcasting Service) was founded in 1969. There are more than 300 PBS channels in the US and 85% of their income comes direct from philanthropic donations; 15% comes from the government.  

In the US, PBS has been voted the most trusted institution for 10 consecutive years running.

PBS is a non-profit organisation, with a strong focus on educational TV. In the UK, some of the more prominent programs are Nova (science), Frontline (current affairs) and the American Experience (history), alongside high-quality documentaries.

Viewers of PBS in the UK tend to be intellectually curious and have a desire to learn -- not just relax -- as they watch TV. Richard notes that PBS programming is dense with information and insight.

PBS also serves a cultural exchange function, bringing programming with a strong American flavour to British audiences, while broadcasting many British shows to American audiences in the US.

Richard notes that many British viewers generally formulate their view of the US from Hollywood and, therefore, part of the appeal of PBS in the UK is that it brings in-depth, real-life stories that give British audiences a much more rounded picture of what America is like.

The impartiality of PBS is something Richard underscores clearly and he notes that public media exposes all sides to the debate and, therefore, has a real value at a time when many individuals tend to have a disproportionate exposure to likeminded views.

The key takeaway for listeners: Richard drives home the message that there is real value in public media and we need to appreciate its role in allowing people to come to informed and rational decisions. 

Full episode notes, guest bios and relevant links are available at Lidji.org  -  Please subscribe to the podcast if you enjoy it. Thank you!

Jul 21, 2019
Chief Executive of the Scouts UK, Matt Hyde, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss inclusivity, growth and why Scouting transforms lives in 193 countries
49:48

Chief Executive of the Scouts UK, Matt Hyde, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss inclusivity, growth and why Scouting transforms lives in 193 countries. 

Matt Hyde introduces listeners to the global Scout movement and to the Scouts in the UK.  Scouting was set up in 1907 and today has approximately 50 million Scouts in 193 countries.  The organisation aims to prepare young people, aged 6 to 25 (exact ages vary in different countries), with skills for life. 

In the UK, there are 460,000 young people participating in the Scouts and 160,000 adult volunteers. Interestingly, there are currently 60,000 young people waiting to join the Scouts in the UK – this waiting list is due to a need for additional adult volunteers. 

Matt sheds light on how to join the Scouts, what it entails and how it transforms lives.  He gives listeners visibility into his own personal journey in the Scouts.  He got into the Scouts as a young child, which set him on a leadership development path and, now, he finds himself as the Chief Executive of the Scouts in the UK.

Matt also provides insight into their corporate strategy.  We hear how the Scouts in the UK are considering expanding their provision into the ‘Early Years’ for participants aged 4 and 5. Encouragingly, they have received funding to run 40 pilots from diverse funders. 

For the next four years, the Scouts are looking to add another 50,000 participants, reach out to and engage with people living in deprived areas; inclusion is of vital importance and they want to ensure that Scouting in the UK represents modern British society on all fronts -- gender equality, LGBT+ issues, race, ethnicity and more.

When defining success for the next few years, Matt is focused on growth, inclusivity, ensuring that the Scouts are shaped by young people, and achieving substantive community impact.

Full episode notes, links and guest bios are available at Lidji.org -- Please subscribe to this podcast if you’ve enjoyed it. Thank you!

Jul 14, 2019
Grant Gordon, philanthropist and Founder of the Reekimlane Foundation, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss high-net-worth (HNW) family philanthropy and responsible stewardship of wealth
35:08

Grant Gordon, philanthropist and Founder of the Reekimlane Foundation, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss high-net-worth (HNW) family philanthropy and responsible stewardship of wealth.

Grant encourages global listeners who are interested in philanthropy to take the first step and connect with likeminded individuals who are attracted by philanthropy.

Grant founded the Reekimlane Foundation, which grants out approximately $1m annually.  The foundation is a grant maker and also acts as a conduit for various other philanthropic endeavours launched by Grant. 

Child poverty and community regeneration are two thematic areas close to Grant’s heart.  Currently, he’s also exploring early childhood development as a potential area for more philanthropic engagement.

When asked about what prompted him to get into philanthropy, he notes that, for him, it’s about values. Grant grew up in an affluent family and he was brought up knowing that there are certain responsibilities associated with having wealth. Philanthropy came naturally to him.

For those individuals who are thinking about getting into philanthropy, but haven’t done so for one reason or another, he simply suggests one start by having a look around to see what issues resonate most so that what one really cares about is identified.   He references the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a good starting point -- Goal No.1 is about tackling poverty.

Everyone is different and determining how much money and resources one should donate is a personal decision. In Grant’s case, there’s an ongoing family discussion on what it means to be a responsible citizen which, in turn, helps him and his family decide what works best for them.

There are two key insights Grant brings from his private sector experience: one is the importance of ‘mission’ and ensuring that all Trustees on your board are fully aligned; the other pertains to leadership, where one needs a CEO who’s not just passionate but also who has the skills and resilience to do the job.

Grant’s takeaway for listeners: as a philanthropist (or potential philanthropist)  never regard yourself as being on your own. Go out and talk to others!

Full episode notes, links and guest bios are available at Lidji.org – Please subscribe to this podcast if you find enjoy listening to it. Thank you!

Jul 08, 2019
Club Director at Wimbledon's All England Lawn Tennis Club, Martin Guntrip, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about their Foundation and the inner workings of this prestigious Grand Slam tennis tournament
31:31

Club Director at Wimbledon's All England Lawn Tennis Club, Martin Guntrip, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the Wimbledon Foundation and the inner workings of the world's most prestigious Grand Slam tennis tournament.

The Wimbledon Foundation was founded in 2013, and the All England Lawn Tennis Club has been involved in charitable work for many years prior.  One could say the Foundation was a way of formalising a philanthropic undercurrent that has been an important part of the Club’s ethos for many years.

Wimbledon wholeheartedly embraces gender equality and every aspect of the tournament is equal irrespective of gender. Interestingly, over 50% of those coming through the gates to watch the Championships in person are women.  About 40,000 visitors per day come in to watch the Championships during the two weeks.

Martin speaks candidly about the inner workings of the world’s most prestigious Grand Slam tennis tournament – we hear how tennis stars’ entourages are getting larger, how ice baths are now a default feature and how the strict dress code is a key differentiator that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

There’s a constant drive to improve the Club and the Championships.  We hear of the ‘Grand Slam Committee’, where representatives of all four Grand Slams engage with each other to exchange notes and improve how things are done. Indeed, Martin attends most Grand Slam tournaments every year.

Martin has been in the world of tennis for most of his life; having played in the Championships during the early 1980s.  His passion for the sport, and for the Wimbledon Foundation’s philanthropic work, comes through loud and clear.

The Wimbledon Foundation is active locally, nationally and internationally. They have established fruitful partnerships with the likes of WaterAid and Magic Bus. Most of the funding comes from the Club, the Championships and from members. 

Locally, through their ‘Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative’, they introduce approximately 14,000 children to the world of tennis annually – they work closely with primary schools in the boroughs of Wandsworth and Merton and make a point to support local causes – over 50% of their giving is local.

Sustainability has also become a key consideration. Last year, the Championships removed all plastic straws and this year their partner, Evian, is launching a 100% recycled water bottle.

Martin notes that the All England Lawn Tennis Club has 500 members and he jokes that the easy way to become a member of the All England Lawn Tennis Club is simply to win Wimbledon. 

Interestingly, many people don’t know that the All England Lawn Tennis Club is active throughout the year, as are most regular tennis clubs – not just during the two weeks of the Championships – and players like Andy Murray can be seen practising there throughout the year. Martin notes that sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing playing tennis when you have Andy Murray hitting balls in an adjacent court!

The 'Key Takeaway' he shares with listeners: find out what’s unique about you or your organisation and find a way to give whatever is special about you to others.  People are very appreciative when you do.

-- For full episode notes, guest bios and useful links, visit Lidji.org  Please subscribe to this podcast if you enjoy it. Thank you!

Jun 30, 2019
CEO of the Smollan Group, David Smollan, joins Alberto Lidji to share his thoughts on managing a global workforce of 80,000 in a caring and sustainable manner
31:18

CEO of the Smollan Group, David Smollan, joins Alberto Lidji to share his thoughts on managing a global workforce of 80,000 in a caring and sustainable manner.

Being a mindful employer is important. David wants large-scale employers to think about “how mindful are we about the sustainability of human capital, and how we treat people, and how we develop them?” 

The Smollan Group employs 80,000 people in 50 countries.  The firm was founded in South Africa back in 1931 and has grown from modest beginnings into a successful venture representing some of the world’s best-known brand owners. David joined the firm in the early 2000s and he spotted an opportunity to deliver services around the world – not just in South Africa.

When the firm ventured into India, they noticed that in that market everything was being handled by manpower companies that provide labour to brand owners – these brokers simply charged a fee to brand owners and handled payroll. But, there was no consideration given to individuals' career progression, nor to their training, nor their development. 

This was in stark contrast to how the Smollan Group had been operating in South Africa, where those individuals providing field services where actually employees, who were receiving training, who had a career trajectory – this was a different type of engagement and led to different performance.

One of the biggest concerns when employing 80,000 people is the need to think beyond wages and to think about employees’ welfare, their future, their career development and their career trajectory. 

Treating people well and believing in people leads to increased staff engagement. We’ve all been in a relationship where someone made us feel engaged and we gave more; and we’ve also all been in a relationship where someone made us feel less engaged and we gave less. Think about how much more you’re willing to give people because of how they make us feel.

He expresses the view that the business of sustainability is a long-term game and that human capital results take time – you have to have patience.  Financial results are a lag indicator for operating results, which are a lag indicator for human capital results. If you have the patience, the will and the heart then the results will be there.

On the topic of why he is so passionate about sustainability, David is candid: we all do things because we get pleasure from them. He intrinsically finds sustainability satisfying and it makes him feel good.  He notes that: “it’s too small an achievement to build a commercially successful business, I think the real challenge is to build a business that is commercially successful, that is kind to the planet and is impactful on communities. That for me is the definition of great achievement”.

David’s key takeaway: for those listeners who have children, think about what the world will be like when these children have their own children; think about these little people who you really love and care about, and think about the challenges we have today with inequality and the environment – that should be enough inspiration for you to want to make meaningful change.

-- Full episode notes, guest bios and links are available at Lidji.org  Please subscribe to this podcast if you’ve enjoyed it – thank you.

Jun 25, 2019
Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, Vikas Pota, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the Global Teacher Prize, Ed-Tech and universal access to quality education
36:09

Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, Vikas Pota, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the Global Teacher Prize, Ed-Tech and universal access to quality education.

Vikas is passionate about quality education, advocacy, education technology (Ed-Tech) and political engagement. The Varkey Foundation is the driving force behind the Global Teacher Prize, which awards $1 million every year to an outstanding teacher.  They have made five annual awards thus far.

Moreover, the Varkey Foundation also convenes key stakeholders via their high-profile Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai, where last year around 50 education ministers from around the world were in attendance.  

The $1 million award was presented by the well-known actor, Hugh Jackman, and is aimed at inspiring and increasing the status of teachers in every country. 

Advocacy is key and Vikas feels the philanthropy sector does a terrible job at communicating.  As a sector he feels there’s a need to step up and ask how do we capture people’s imagination – “communication is critical to everything that we do”.

The Varkey Foundation is a global foundation, which has been around for approximately 10 years. They’ve gone from being a CSR arm of GEMS Education, to being a corporate foundation and, now, to being a family foundation. 

Internationally, they engage with policymakers and key stakeholders on the ground. In Argentina, for instance, they have implemented a leadership and innovation program where nearly 6,000 school principals and directors have taken the course themselves – this is in partnership with five provinces in Argentina and Vikas notes it has been hugely successful.  

When asked whether ‘workforce’ was one of the key problems, Vikas replied that in the UK for example there is a recruitment and retention crisis. Teachers don’t want to stay in the job. UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 4 focuses on the provision of a quality education for all – Vikas notes it requires the recruitment of an additional 69 million new teachers to deliver SDG4 globally. 

While at Davos a few years back, Vikas had a discussion on whether teachers would be replaced by robots. Encouragingly, he notes the conclusion was that teachers’ jobs would not be replaced by robots – and that’s why it’s important to invest in capacity building for the teaching profession. However, Vikas recognises the tremendous potential of deploying education technology to improve outcomes.

In addition to being the Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, Vikas is also the CEO of Tmrw Digital, a for-profit vehicle aimed at education technology.  

On the Ed-Tech front, he recognises that the challenges are significant. He believes we don’t really understand the true potential that technology has in transforming lives in classrooms.  

While meeting Ed-Tech entrepreneurial start-ups and innovators every day to learn about productivity, personalisation etc, what he notes is: “the thing I found most interesting is how woeful the state of affairs is when it comes to ed-tech entrepreneurs, who actually treat ed-tech or the education sector just like they would treat the financial services sector, which is as a market place.”  His message to them is for them always to speak in terms of learning outcomes.  

He asks Ed-Tech entrepreneurs to show him the actual impact their solutions would have.   When he poses this question, three quarters if not more of entrepreneurs just drop away and that is why he has been “sorely disappointed with the state of start-ups” in this space.  

One of the key areas he feels requires our attention is political leadership: one of the challenges is in the way that schools and education systems procure products. Often the high cost of acquisition of a student is so high because one has to go from school to school individually, and that becomes challenging as a business model for Ed-Tech. He feels procurement shouldn’t be thought of simply as how many whiteboards are being purchased but, rather, those making the procurement decisions should think about how to procure the best numeracy apps, how best to bring in personalisation into the classroom.  This more enlightened type of conversation is happening in Brazil, it is also happening in the UK but, unfortunately, it is not happening in much of the world. 

On the topic of philanthropy, he views philanthropy “as courage capital”, to invest in areas where the public sector in particular will just not be able to. And by doing so he feels that philanthropy can strengthen the public sector – research, programming, knowledge-sharing etc.

He sees convening as being exactly the use of courage capital. Convening is very expensive and because it costs so much not many people do it, and they don’t do it well enough. That’s why the Varkey Foundation is keen to bring people together and getting them to talk about education.  At the last Global Education & Skills Forum, they had nearly 50 education ministers from around the world, 100 philanthropic leaders from around the world, teachers, academics – bringing a multiple range of perspectives. This leads to conversations that drive the field forward. Importantly, they invite and host those representing the whole spectrum of views, from teachers’ unions to for-profit private education providers, and everything in between.

On the question whether private, for-profit education providers have a role to play:  Vikas notes that over the years he has witnessed many ideological fault lines in education and, indeed, scepticism regarding the role of private, for-profit actors is one of them – one of many.

The answer lies on whether classroom outcomes are improved, whether kids end up doing better. If you keep this in mind then whether it’s private, public, not-for-profit, it really doesn’t matter, in his view. He observes that the conversation has matured over recent years and people do appreciate the private sector has a role to play. 

On the topic of political engagement, Vikas provides interesting insight, noting that there are only a few countries in the world where the education minister they have actually wants to be the education minister; as opposed to using that position as a staging post for something bigger or actually exiting a government. He sees it usually as a job on the way up or the way down. 

Because of this, they explored (and are exploring) the idea of having a Best Education Minister Prize. There is a need to show people what good education leadership looks like.  He prompts any interested listeners to get in touch if this is something they’d like to explore.

Vikas’ key takeaway for those in the education policy, foundation and Ed-Tech space: in education, nothing starts or ends without teachers. So, make sure you actually consult teachers and involve them in the design. These are the sort of conversations that he has found to be the most fruitful and eye-opening. 

-- Full episode notes are available at Lidji.org including useful links and guest bios. Please subscribe to this podcast if you find it useful and informative - Thank you!

Jun 17, 2019
Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Michael Feigelson, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss political engagement, diversity of leadership and support for Early Childhood Development
37:34

Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Michael Feigelson, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss political engagement, diversity of leadership and support for Early Childhood Development.

Michael speaks passionately about engaging with global policymakers and diverse stakeholders in support of Early Childhood Development. We hear of Michael's early days as a consultant at McKinsey & Co, his non-profit work in Mexico and his subsequent rise to lead one of the world’s earliest and most effective advocates of Early Childhood Development -- the Bernard van Leer Foundation has been active in this field since the 1960s.

When asked about the tension between scalability and high quality in Early Childhood Development programs, he quickly points out that this tension isn’t confined to the world of Early Childhood Development exclusively; it is a general theme in life, in business, and in philanthropy.

Michael goes on to talk of their high scale work in Brazil, in conjunction with government and with the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation.

He is candid that along with scale there certainly are many quality issues being identified, but this should not prevent one from aiming to scale.  Michael’s view is to go fast and go for scale, and work for quality in the meantime. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good – “the reality of scaling anything up is that it’s messy, and you’re going to have problems, and it’s going to fail in different parts.”

Michael notes that when driving forward programs at such scale and dealing with governments, you need to keep in mind that political contexts are fluid, and you need to get your program to a point -- in your window of opportunity -- where it’s irreversible and that means you need to get it big enough, so there’s a large enough number of people and constituents, from parents, to policymakers, to politicians who are invested in it. From “a political standpoint, pace matters, speed matters”.

Two tips from Michael if you’re looking to engage with governments:

(1) Government is a huge entity in any country with thousands of people. There’s a tendency to think about government as a sort of homogenous entity but like any institution of that size it’s not at all. It’s filled up with people, thousands of different types of people with different interests. In Michael’s experience there are always people inside government who deeply want to do something for babies and toddlers. And a lot of the work is just finding those people who are committed and passionate about Early Childhood Development -- it’s not about creating the leadership; it’s actually already there but just needs to be supported and augmented.

(2) Ensure there’s a diversity of leadership. You don’t want the program to be tied to a single political party; you wanted it to be tied to all of the political parties. You don’t want it to be just the national government; you want it to be the state an local government, too. You don’t just want it to be the public sector; you want it to be the private sector and civil society as well. So, you’re really trying to create a broad group of leaders who will all be advocating for Early Childhood Development in their own way.

 

As far as getting ministries to work with each other, Michael notes there is this insistence on having all the ministries talking to each other, and policies across all the sectors and somebody co-ordinating everything. Yes, once in a while this happens but more often than not, what he looks for is a good anchoring point to start with – either for a platform that already exists, or for a ministry that can act as the anchor, or for the top authority in the country to take the lead (ie the prime minister) and that’s the best way to get co-ordination.

The latter part of the conversation focuses on their Urban95 initiative, which aims to look at cities and urban planning from the vantage point of the height of a child – 95cm.  If you could experience a city from 95cm, what would you change?  Urban95 is active in more than 10 cities globally.

An interesting observation is that air quality came up as a key topic. About 93% of the world’s kids breathe air that is under the WHO standard today. And the exposure to polluted air doesn’t just have an impact on a child’s health today but also on their lung growth and brain function in the long-term. Moreover, the air is dirtier at 95cm (as opposed to an adult’s normal height); and to add to that babies and toddlers breathe about four times as frequently because they have shorter breaths than adults, so they’re taking in more dirty air than adults and they can’t filter it as well.

The key takeaway from Michael: Set goals that are far too big for you to reasonably achieve by yourself, because that’s what’s needed in the world and it forces you into a collaborative mode.

For additional links, guest bios and resources, visit Lidji.org  -- please subscribe to this podcast and recommend it to others if you find it enjoyable. Thank you.

Jun 10, 2019
Founder of Ethical Angel, Alex Fahie, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social entrepreneurship and his platform connecting corporates & employees to good causes around the Sustainable Development Goals
26:00

Founder and CEO of Ethical Angel, Alex Fahie, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social entrepreneurship and his platform connecting corporates and employees to good causes around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Alex is a social entrepreneur and regular listener of The Do One Better! Podcast. 

He explains how Ethical Angel aims to create valuable experiences for individuals, and to mobilise the private sector and employees in ways to find challenges and causes that are trying to make the world a bit better. In the process, providing them with an easy conduit with ways to action them.

Ethical Angel is a young firm and recently went to market at the start of 2019. Their almost 20 clients are currently based mainly in the UK but, out of their 190 prospects, there’s a wide global footprint. Ethical Angel aims to serve a global client base.

They’ve raised approximately £230,000 from angel investors thus far. Alex talks candidly about the invaluable nature of his peer network in supporting him as he faces self-doubt and endures the emotional peaks and troughs.

The firm has attracted experienced and skilled individuals to their Advisory Board and as Ambassadors of the firm.  Their Ambassador Board initially formed around Sir Stephen O’Brien, who was the Founder and first CEO of Business in the Community. Other Ambassadors include Lord Michael Hastings who is KPMG’s Global Head of Citizenship.

Alex isn’t shy in letting us know Ethical Angel was initially meant to be something quite different.  The original idea was for it to be a fund for angel investors keen on ethical investing.

However, Alex noticed there was something much more valuable in trying to create a platform that brings the goodwill and resources of the private sector and tries to connect these with pressing social causes that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Ethical Angel platform creates individual experiences for companies and their employees. There is an appreciation that interests and skillsets are unique, and the platform reflects this. It not only serves to connect but, importantly, it also captures data – currently approximately 30 metrics – that help to inform individuals, managers and corporates alike; demographics, geography, areas of engagement, tangible reach and impact numbers.

Alex concedes that in order for success to be achieved, Ethical Angel’s business model needs to tick several boxes for clients. Indeed, the benefit to clients stretches beyond doing good and ticks boxes around corporate optics, the bottom line and human capital retention as well.

Alex notes that for him success is about affecting as many individuals as possible with valuable experiences that result in a highly positive social impact. He’d love to be in a position where he’s able to present Ethical Angel’s data on what global businesses have done through their people to make a real difference in the world.

For episode notes, Alex’s bio and relevant links, please visit Lidji.org  Please subscribe to this podcast if you’ve enjoyed it – thank you.

Jun 03, 2019
Secretary General of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, John May, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss international growth, non-formal education & their 1.3 million global participants
50:55

Secretary General of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, John May, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss international growth, non-formal education and their 1.3 million global participants.

John May became a head teacher in the UK at the age of 28 and he is passionate about the value of non-formal education.  He’s quick to note that what happens in the classroom is only half the story and believes the Award provides young people with many of the things employers are looking for: resilience, communication skills, the ability to plan and to commit to things.  He explains how the Award recognises and celebrates young people’s achievements outside the classroom.

The Award is growing quickly. While it has a presence in virtually every Commonwealth country, some of its most robust growth is in eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. It is also offered in the USA and most recently there was interest expressed from people wishing to set up the Award in Uzbekistan. John enthusiastically notes: “you just never know where we’re going to pop up next”.

When asked whether there’s a winning formula for successful international growth without jeopardizing standards, John replies that there is. The Award tries to use the disciplines of social franchise in order to grow and reach as many young people as possible.  They’ve spent much time looking at what good governance in non-for-profits looks like on an international scale, and how to ensure a sustainable business operation.

They have a host of different tools to help management teams (national operators) in different countries build capacity and ensure quality.  They appreciate that well-meaning but inexperienced management teams need support and they work with such teams to help them achieve realistic multi-year strategies that take into account the need to scale up beyond start-up mode.

They also started providing management training through a certificate of business administration and, interestingly, they are about to launch an MBA for those running the Award across the world who would benefit from enhanced management skills – unlike most traditional MBA programs, this one puts the running of non-for-profit organisations firmly at the centre of the course.

They’re also embracing technology to cater to various parts of the organisation.  Their Online Record Book (ORB) is a bespoke software platform that helps participants track their progress. There’s also a sister app for Award leaders (those who work with young adult participants as they pursue the Award), and an off-the-shelf extranet solution available to all adults in the Award.

On the topic of employability, John notes that while employers want technical competence from ‘first jobbers’, the reality is that most of all they want someone who’s ready to enter the job market and understand what being employed is all about. Communication skills, empathy, sticking with something – grit, resilience – and an ability to operate comfortably intergenerationally are key.

On the intergenerational point, John notes that: “when you think about it, we spend the whole of a young person’s education putting them only in contact for most of the day with people of the same age as themselves, and then they come into the workplace and they’re expected to operate comfortably with somebody who may be the same age as their parent, and they’ve had no experience of doing that. Well, the Award through the volunteering that young people will do often does bring them into relationships with a wide range of ages and so I think that really, really helps.”  Non-formal education helps young people learn how to communicate effectively in ways that are often lacking in formal education. 

Interestingly, the Award is not just delivered in schools. Far from it. There’s a firm belief that it should be available wherever young people come together for whatever reason. And, we hear of how the Award is successful in correctional facilities and juvenile detention centres.

John notes that “some of our biggest successes over the last few years have been in facilities where young people have the least opportunity to undertake those sorts of activity, particularly correctional centres and juvenile detention centres. In South Africa, our work with the correctional services has been, I think, genuinely life changing for young people. I was listening this morning to a report from New Zealand on New Zealand Radio of young people in the correction centres in Christchurch receiving their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. And, these young people being interviewed and saying this was the first time in their lives that they had felt in control of choice as to what they were going to do, and that they were developing skills and behaviours and attitudes that would lift them from crime. That’s pretty cool.”

When asked about his personal career path his answer was clear: he has had no career plan.  John notes that: “all the time, as far as I’m concerned, my development as an educator and as a leader has been down to two things: the first would be another individual who has been kind enough to recognize in me some kind of quality that they felt could be developed; and my willingness to carpe diem – seize the day --  and make the leap that was being offered to me. And, I think you put both of those together and you end up with the opportunities that one can then take advantage of. Unfortunately, too many people plan their lives too carefully and miss the opportunities that are put out in front of them because they don’t quite fit the direction that they think that they have positioned themselves for.”

John’s key takeaway for listeners: ‘do the right thing’. In everything he does, he always asks himself what is the right thing to do.

Full episode notes, useful links and guest bios are available at Lidji.org - Please subscribe to this podcast if you enjoy the content. Thank you.

May 27, 2019
Director at Galileo Watermark, Kenny Harmel, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss sustainability in the airline industry, ocean plastics, the Waste Hierarchy and more
29:09

Director at Galileo Watermark, Kenny Harmel, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss sustainability in the airline industry, ocean plastics, the Waste Hierarchy and more.

Galileo Watermark is a sustainability-focused firm that supplies British Airways, Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, Air New Zealand and other leading airlines with ‘aviation product’ – all the items one finds in an airplane cabin that are neither bolted on nor edible.  They manufacture cutlery, blankets, cosmetic amenities and various other products – from economy to first class cabins – and focus their efforts on making these products more sustainable.

Kenny Harmel notes from the outset of the conversation that “sustainability is an obligation rather than a choice”.   

Airlines are exploring how best to achieve affordable sustainability and we hear of innovation and successes, including Qantas Airways’ recent ‘zero waste’ flight – the first ever commercial flight to produce no landfill waste.   None of the cutlery, textiles or other in-cabin amenities were sent to landfills or incinerated, as would normally have been the case.

The majority of plastic cutlery one finds onboard an economy airplane cabin will be a virgin plastic product, made from polystyrene or polypropylene, and because of existing contamination regulations it will be sent to landfill or it will be incinerated. A number of airlines are looking at alternative solutions, such as compostable cutlery, and some are investing in stainless steel alternatives – although the latter has weight implications that impact fuel consumption and require additional water for sanitation. 

Compostable cutlery is a hot topic in the airline industry right now, with the potential to reduce greatly the industry’s impact on the environment.  Kenny is quick to note, however, the misconception many people have when they think of compostable cutlery’s properties.  Many imagine something akin to a banana skin, which you can simply toss out into your garden and watch it compost naturally.

However, this is not necessarily the case since there is a difference between items that are home compostable and those that are industrially compostable.  Unless a compostable product is specifically labelled as home compostable, it is compostable only under the right conditions of temperature, moisture, oxygen and, in actual fact, if the material is not intercepted, collected and treated in the right way, it can be almost as harmful as regular plastic.

In a broader context, Kenny observes that we, as a society, have been driven by convenience and cost, and we haven’t been thinking about the implications of this choice. 

He provides detailed figures on the state of affairs – figures that are alarming by most measures. International politics factors into the conversation as well, and we hear how China’s role as a destination country for plastic waste has changed radically since the end of 2017. Up until that time, about 50% of the world’s plastic waste was exported to China.

China’s more stringent regulations in relation to the sort of plastic waste that is allowed to be exported to the country means that other countries are now having to deal with this problem – many are simply not equipped to do so.

Unlike Germany and Switzerland who have sophisticated expertise and very high rates of efficiency in terms of recycling plastic. Many of today’s recipient countries have neither the infrastructure, expertise nor capabilities to recycle such material.

We hear how even in the UK, different regions and different councils have different levels of recycling ability where, consequently, there is an asymmetric ability to recycle different types of material.  This challenge is aggravated by the fact that most consumers aren’t well informed on precisely what can and can’t be recycled.

Kenny sheds light on the “waste hierarchy” framework, aimed at helping organisations and individuals minimise waste. The hierarchy: (1) reduce, (2) reuse, (3) recycle, (4) reclaim.

On a global level, just 2% of the plastic we manufacture is recycled. There are variances on this figure across countries, whereby countries such as Germany and Switzerland are well into the double digits but other countries quite simply are not. Countries such as Indonesia and Thailand aim to recycle but they don’t have the expertise to recycle to the same levels; and even in the UK there isn’t an ability to recycle to the same level as Germany and Switzerland.

Touching on the topic of plastic waste in the world’s oceans, Kenny notes that “the situation is so bad now that if you take a net and you dip it into any part of the ocean in any part of the world you’ll find traces of plastic”.

In 2017, he co-founded and launched the OCN initiative, which aims to work with organisations around the world to collect plastic waste from the world’s beaches, coastal areas and waterways, so as to give it a second life or multiple lives. This requires not only dedicated volunteers across the planet but, also, an understanding of the chemical challenges posed by the diverse types of plastic waste in the oceans.

He explains how the ‘intrinsic viscosity’ (IV) levels of different types of plastic waste, constrain what one can and can’t do with it once retrieved from the ocean. The challenge is that if you go to the beach to collect plastic it’s not all going to be the same type of plastic. OCN aims to find a way to give a second life or multiple lives to all the plastic one collects, irrespective of the type or quality of material; irrespective of its intrinsic viscosity. 

The conversation goes beyond plastic, and Kenny references a fact many people are unaware of: the textile and clothing industry is the second biggest polluter, right behind the oil industry. And, here again, the waste hierarchy is suggested for sensible guidance. Consumers should think carefully how they handle clothing they no longer wish to use. (i.e. don’t simply throw your old clothes in the garbage/rubbish).

Going back full circle, Kenny observes that “air travel is never going to diminish, it’s only going to grow as the global population grows and globalisation increases”. Keeping the scale of the challenge in mind, we are advised that it’s important not just to do things better but, rather, to do better things.

Kenny’s key takeaway: the key thing is to be mindful of the materials you interact with day on day. Try to eliminate or reduce use of these materials where possible and try to understand where these materials go.  Don’t throw things away and completely forget about them. Think about the end-to-end lifecycle of these materials since that’s the only way we’re going to achieve substantial change.

For full episode notes, guest bios and useful links visit Lidji.org

Please subscribe to this podcast on Apple iTunes, Spotify or your preferred platform -- it makes a world of difference in helping others find this podcast and benefit from the insight shared by our guests. Thank you!

May 19, 2019
CEO of UBS Optimus Foundation, Phyllis Costanza, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social finance, philanthropy, blockchain, innovation, the SDGs and more
43:28

CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation, Phyllis Costanza, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss social finance, philanthropy, blockchain, innovation, the SDGs and more.

UBS Optimus was founded 19 years ago in Switzerland, and today it is overseeing about 175 projects in approximately 20 countries. The Foundation started off supporting children and now has broadened its portfolio to include a range of thematic areas, from slavery to health and innovative finance. In 2019, it expects to grant out $80m and next year is aiming for $100m. 

Phyllis thinks this is only “scratching the surface”.  She notes that UBS, the bank, has roughly $2.5 trillion assets under management, so “even if we could just get half a percentage point [deployed for philanthropy], that’s $12.5 billion”.

UBS Optimus does not have an endowment, nor does it wish to establish one; 100% of the money that is donated by clients is deployed for programs.  Phyllis notes that UBS Optimus’ strategy has not been to grow an endowment. The money “does us no good sitting in a bank, which I know is anathema to how bankers think. Our goal is to get the money in and to get it out as quickly as possible.”

UBS is actively supporting philanthropists. A lot of high-net-worth individuals don’t know where to start their philanthropy work, and many who are already on the journey don’t feel satisfied. 

UBS did a survey of its clients, which revealed that more than 90% of their large clients are giving philanthropically but fewer than 20% are satisfied they’re making an impact, which as Phyllis notes is pretty extraordinary. 

She sees really interesting trends globally:  99% of UBS’s clients in Hong Kong want to give back to mainland China, consequently, UBS Optimus has become the largest international grantor into China, which “is a bit of a scary position to hold because giving in China is incredibly complicated". Their European clients primarily want to give into Africa and some to South East Asia, whilst out of their American clients, 96% of philanthropic giving stays in the US, where there’s an appetite to give domestically.

UBS appreciates the value of peer-to-peer interaction and tries to connect their clients through different platforms.  They’ve developed the ‘Global Philanthropist Community’ – a network of clients who identify the key thematic areas they’re interested in supporting, such as early childhood development, the environment, culture – UBS then connects the dots. They convene key stakeholders at their annual UBS Philanthropy Forum and have insightful gatherings across the world, from Detroit to Shanghai.

An interesting observation is that many trillions of dollars have been committed to charity as a consequence of ultra high-net-worth individuals signing ‘The Giving Pledge’, however, many of these people don’t know how to deploy these funds in a meaningful philanthropic and impactful way. She’s convinced that many clients actually come to UBS because of the bank's strong philanthropy offering.

There is an increasing number of financial options available for philanthropists, from traditional charitable giving all the way to impact investing.  Strategic philanthropy and social finance falling somewhere in between the two. Social finance still falls within the philanthropy category because you’re getting concessional returns, as opposed to market rate returns. 

Phyllis is passionate as she talks of a “really cool instrument”… “a really interesting, innovative debt instrument” called the ‘Social Success Note’.  In the podcast she explains how it came about and how it was structured to support an organization called Impact Water. In this instance, the Rockefeller Foundation was ‘the outcome funder’ who collaborated closely with UBS.

Collaboration is essential, and UBS Optimus’ whole strategy is based on collaboration. They rarely go at it alone.  There is increased cross-sector collaboration and acknowledgement that you’re not going to reach your goals if you go at it alone. She specifically references the collaborative platform Co-Impact, “which is doing extraordinary work with people who have signed The Giving Pledge to bring them together to solve really systemic problems in countries.” 

Phyllis was involved in launching the first Development Impact Bond (DIB). She explains how the DIB worked to support an organisation called Educate Girls. UBS was the investor and collaborated with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) to get this off the ground.

Impact measurement: randomised control trials (RCTs) are considered the gold standard of evaluations. However, an RCT is expensive and extremely time consuming and you don’t need to run an RCT for everything. Therefore, UBS Optimus are exploring things that may not require RCTs while still ensuring strong evaluation.  On the innovative front, they’re looking at how blockchain might be used to verify outcomes for DIBs – and Phyllis notes “the potential there is tremendous”. Smart contracts are also being explored.  In essence, what they really want to do is scale this process and look at how one can reduce the time it takes to bring these things to market and reduce the transaction costs currently involved.

As we delve into the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Phyllis talks enthusiastically about their recently launched ‘TogetherBand’ campaign, in collaboration with BottleTop and the UN Foundation – a campaign aimed at raising awareness of each of the 17 SDGs. The campaign was launched in April 2019 and will last 17 months – each moth focusing on a different goal of the SDGs.

Phyllis is optimistic while realising there’s still much work to be done in the run-up to the 2030 deadline of the SDGs. Yes, we have to do a lot to achieve the Goals but the direction of travel is good.  We’re seeing a reduction in the mortality rates of children under five years of age, poverty rates are going down, child marriage rates are going down; but we still have a lot to do. She thinks that when we look back in 2030, we’ll be proud of what we’ve achieved.

Not all SDG thematic areas are moving in the right direction, however. Phyllis is currently focusing on SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and notes that, still, women spend about three times as many hours as men in unpaid domestic and care work – unfortunately, “we don’t seem to be making a dent in that”.

The key takeaway Phyllis shared with global listeners: “challenge everything, that would be my message, especially in philanthropy. And really push. If something doesn’t look right, if something doesn’t seem right, you think you can do more; challenge it!” 

Please subscribe to this podcast. For full episode notes, guest bios and useful links, visit Lidji.org

May 14, 2019
CEO of the Sutton Trust, James Turner, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their work in improving social mobility and tackling inequality in the UK.
38:51

CEO of the Sutton Trust, James Turner, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss their work in improving social mobility and tackling inequality in the UK.

The Sutton Trust was founded in 1997 and is focused on improving education, social mobility and fighting inequality. They have a wide portfolio of research and program activity, focused on children from their very early years all the way up to young adults in university, workplace and access to the professions.

The Sutton Trust differs from many others by combining research and policy advocacy work alongside practical programmatic work. These two aspects build on each other and help inform and establish credibility. The Sutton Trust reach circa 6,000 people each year, and through policy and working with government they have a much bigger impact beyond that.

They’re particularly interested in social mobility on the high end; looking at who are the future leaders in society and who are taking the top jobs, the most prestigious and influential jobs. This is because the people in these strata of society have such an impact on society that it really matters that they are representative of society at large, as opposed to representing the wealthy and affluent.

It’s important not only to support research into these policy areas but also to put effort into ensuring this research gets strong coverage in the media, since this helps get policymakers interested and engaged. The Sutton Trust have never been afraid to ruffle feathers or be controversial or provocative when necessary.

When James got into this space, the term ‘social mobility’ was very much a technical term, used almost exclusively within academia. It is only more recently, since the early 2000s, that it has entered mainstream discourse and, now, it has really become much more prevalent and visible in government strategy documents and press releases – even to the point where it now almost suffers from being used too much.

Intergenerational mobility and transfer of poverty: James notes there is a broadly embraced view that social mobility in the UK is not as high as it should be and it’s not as high as in other countries. Education is a key driver for this and what one’s parents do, how much they earn, what occupation they have, unfortunately, has a big bearing on what their children go on to do.

James notes there’s a bit of an arms race in social mobility. Education is such a currency that, understandably, well off parents do all they can to give their young people an advantage, so it’s getting harder for the state to compensate against that.

The Sutton Trust has been charting the rise of paid-for private tuition. How much your parents earn dictates a lot what school you go to; on top of this you have a burgeoning private tuition market, which further accentuates this advantage; and now you see this in tertiary education as well – where more and more students are getting degrees – so it’s now about ‘have you obtained a master’s degree, have you obtained a PhD, have you done an internship?’ So, the barriers are increasing.

Besides the educational attainment angle, the Sutton Trust has a strong interest in the aspirational and guidance piece so that young people are informed on all the career choices and educational opportunities at their disposal.

The advice and guidance teachers give is crucial. Many young people don’t submit applications to some of the top universities because of misperceptions, or because some teachers may not advise their students to apply to some of these top universities for fears they may not fit in – fears which are often unfounded.

Part of the challenge is in getting students to submit an application in the first place. James observes that many of the students from disadvantaged backgrounds who end up going to top universities tend to do just as well as their peers and thrive in those environments.

Yes, it can be overwhelming to go to Oxford University or Cambridge University if you’ve come from an inner-city state school, so part of the work is on preparing such students for the experience.  Also, universities are now much more aware of this and they do try to support such students when they are at university. Things are changing and moving in the right direction.

Early childhood matters and education inequality sets in early: research shows that by age 4, children from disadvantaged families are almost a year behind their peers. There are gaps in development, in vocabulary and other factors. And, once children enter the system, these gaps often tend to widen rather than close. The importance of trying to intervene early is crucial.  There are various ways to address this and the Sutton Trust is looking at parental engagement as a key factor. What happens at home -- not just in the classroom -- is highly consequential. The quality of the education itself, not just the fact that young people are in school, is also vitally important.

The Sutton Trust are looking for partnerships and supporters. They are a very outward looking international charity looking to exchange notes with interested parties and organisations across the globe. There is much insight that can be shared.  They’ve had a longstanding collaboration with the Carnegie Foundation in the US, for instance.

The Sutton Trust have learned a lot from the US experience.  They’ve also worked with foundations in Australia and Canada as well; they’re always looking at what’s beyond the British Isles and what they should be learning from other countries.

James' key takeaway for listeners: he notes that quite often we focus on the negative; on the low social mobility, on the high inequality. But what the Sutton Trust has shown is that change is possible and there are many, many examples of young people who have done incredible things.

For full episode notes, guest bios, links and more, visit Lidji.org

May 06, 2019
CEO of ELMA Philanthropies, Tom McPartland, joins Alberto Lidji for a broad discussion on their impact in Africa, strategy formulation, co-funding platforms and much more
56:06

We explore how ELMA manages its investment portfolio, embraces partnerships and transforms the landscape in the areas in which it operates.  ELMA is a low profile organisation but its philanthropy is right up there with household names in this space.  They have a strong collaborative spirit and Tom is unequivocal that partnership is key to success.

 Much of ELMA was built by successful business entrepreneurs, so they embrace a financial and investment management approach that very much adheres to private sector standards.

Tom argues that one needs to assess potential grantees in a holistic way, analysing beyond program activity and giving due consideration to core functions such as operations, accounting, and command and control processes.

At ELMA they do everything from funding very small community organisations to very large, multi-year, multi-million-dollar grants that seek to engender some kind of systems change at a national or multi-country level.  ELMA is perfectly able to make grants along the lines of peer institutions (e.g.  Gates, MacArthur, Skoll) and also perfectly happy to make small grants where the situation calls for these.  

They are heavily involved in Africa and it is interesting to hear Tom speak with great passion about the South African Constitution and how that country’s state of affairs and wellbeing impacts the broader continent and context.

He believes partnership and collaboration are invaluable.   However, he cautions that collaboration doesn’t come naturally for everyone; nor does everyone necessarily know how to approach collaboration, and the administrative, managerial and logistical complexities it entails.

Part of the challenge in coming together is often a lack of experience in harmonising reporting systems; harmonising one’s own grant-award agreements, and there being little or no experience in defining key measures of success in a collaborative setting with other funders.  Most foundations’ experience is typically derived from addressing these issues on a one-to-one basis with their implementors.

We hear from Tom how there is no single right or wrong way to approach collaboration.  In some collaborative platforms there’s an arrangement whereby everybody roughly agrees that initiative “X” will be funded/supported but each backer will do it in their own specific way, with one of the partners stepping forward and taking on the role of co-ordinator in a semi-official way.

In other instances, though, a third-party collaborative platform may be involved (Tom references Co-Impact, for instance) whereby there is a dedicated fund manager allocating financial resources.  The question for some who may be considering this approach, however, is whether funding partners feel comfortable delegating autonomy on how to deploy capital to a third party.

Tom encourages family offices and sophisticated business stakeholders to think creatively about how they provide their support.  He notes that the quantum of capital is there; that is not the challenge. What’s not always present, though, is a way of deploying funds efficiently and effectively at the right time, at the right place. 

He notes there is a need for family offices to deploy their business acumen and expertise in business management, financial management, partnership management, project management, business development management etc etc – this is precisely the stuff that the philanthropy field is often lacking.  It has the money and it has somebody who knows how to treat a child, but it doesn’t always have managerial expertise.

Even though many family offices have a high degree of sophistication in these areas, what often happens is that they leave all of this expertise at the door opting, instead, simply to sign a cheque.  What they should be doing, though, is brining all of these other skills to their philanthropy.

When asked what he thinks global listeners should take away from this podcast episode, Tom replies: “the power of one”. Do not get hung up by the scope and scale of the challenges that exist, or the magnitude of the inequities that define our world.  No matter how big the problem is that relates to your interest area, believe that you can create a momentum that really engenders significant systems change . You just have to believe in the possible. Engage and you will be satisfied with the impact you achieve.

Full episode notes, links and Tom's bio available at Lidji.org

Apr 29, 2019
CEO of 100 Women in Finance, Amanda Pullinger, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about their invaluable peer network, educational initiatives and philanthropy
44:54

CEO of 100 Women in Finance, Amanda Pullinger, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about their invaluable peer network, educational initiatives and philanthropy.

In this episode, Amanda provides insight into the work of 100 Women in Finance and shares her thoughts and observations on the need to inspire young women and to improve the numbers of women who hold senior positions in the finance industry – particularly in investment roles.

Founded in 2001 (originally known as 100 Women in Hedge Funds), it is a global network of professionals in the finance and alternative investment industries working together to empower women at every stage of their careers.  They have a focus on peer engagement, philanthropy and educational initiatives.

The organisation enjoys royal patronage from Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, who first became patron of 100 Women UK Philanthropic Initiatives in 2009, and from The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry who also became patrons in 2012. 

More than $50 million have been raised by 100 Women in Finance events in support of philanthropy.

A key focus is 100 Women in Finance’s Next Generation initiative. Amanda notes that the percentage of women who are fund managers hasn’t really shifted for the past 20 years.  There are many reasons for this but she realised there was a need to overcome some of the myths about the finance industry and some of the negative press the industry has received. Indeed, while some criticisms about the industry are well founded, much of the negativity is overstated and isn’t actually accurate.

An approach of 100 Women in Finance is to showcase successful women in the finance industry and, through the use of role models, get into schools, universities and business schools, so the next generation of young women can see that there are some fantastic opportunities in the industry.   

Demystifying what the finance industry does is a critical factor for the next generation – the reality is very different from what one sees in films such as the Wolf of Wall Street. There is a need to change how young women perceive the finance industry and to make them aware they can actually make a positive impact by working in finance.

Irrespective of gender, attracting millennials to the finance industry requires much more than simply underscoring how intellectually interesting or lucrative this field can be.  The next generation want to know they’re making a difference to everyday men and women, and underscoring the increasing prevalence and importance of impact investing, ESG-integrated investing and sustainable investing is important in this new context.

When asked how the inclusivity landscape has changed over the last five years, Amanda provided a very telling anecdote: this year she was invited to attend 8 events in London related to International Women’s Day (she was a speaker at 4 of them) and “it felt this year like it was International Women’s Day on steroids”.

Amanda feels we’re talking about the issues more but she’s not sure that we are actually doing as much as we can to provide solutions to the issues.

A lot of what’s happened over the last 5 years is that there have been the headlines and there have been the statistics and the focus on the data, but what’s interesting is that with all the studies that have come out saying that diverse teams produce better results – across industries and across sectors – the numbers still haven’t really changed.

She worries that people are going to get bored, thinking here we go again with the unconscious bias training; and her worry is that people will tire of the talk.  Consequently, Amanda’s focus has been on finding solutions and exploring how to activate these solutions so the numbers really do change.

Full episode notes and additional resources are available at Lidji.org

Apr 22, 2019
Ex-McKinsey & Company Global Director of Sustainability and Social Impact, Dorothée D'Herde, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the business case for acting sustainably, new value pools and key trends
37:49

Ex-McKinsey & Company Global Director of Sustainability and Social Impact, Dorothée D'Herde, joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the business case for acting sustainably, new value pools and key trends.

Dorothée was at McKinsey for almost a decade and whether you’re a corporate CEO, a well-meaning consumer or simply trying to understand the latest thinking in this space, you’ll find this episode highly informative.

Dorothée gives listeners a succinct and powerful definition of sustainability, which simply put is about ensuring there’s “enough, for all, forever”.  

Much of the conversation can be boiled down to meat, plastics and money.  Diets are changing, awareness of key issues is more pronounced, and we’re about to experience the biggest intergenerational transfer of wealth – the next generation of investors are aligning investments and sustainability much more robustly than before. 

What do you think of the ostensible tensions in sustainability adherence between the developed and developing world?  Well, Dorothée is quick to point out she dislikes the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mindset – we are all in this together.  We all need to take action; hope alone is insufficient.

She notes that at McKinsey, much attention was paid to the ways in which CEOs can derive value from sustainability: looking at key areas such as safeguarding your license to operate; cutting your costs by using less water, less energy; and finding new ‘value pools’. 

There is a strong business case for being sustainable, and this is highly encouraging.

Dorothée references the Better Business, Better World report where business opportunities and new value pools derived from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are identified to the tune of $12 trillion. Opportunities are wide-ranging, from food & agriculture and cities, to energy & materials, and health & wellbeing.

What should you do if you want your business to align with best practice in sustainability? Where do you start and who do you go to? There’s no single answer but by listening to this episode you’ll have a better idea of what your next step should look like. 

Full episode notes and additional resources are available at Lidji.org

Apr 14, 2019
CEO of ActionAid UK, Girish Menon, joins Alberto Lidji on “International Women's Day” to talk about improving the lives of girls and women globally
01:10:19

CEO of ActionAid UK, Girish Menon, joins Alberto Lidji on “International Women's Day” to talk about improving the lives of girls and women globally.

Learn and be inspired by the candid observations of Girish Menon, CEO of ActionAid UK. If you ever wondered how international development organisations actually work and what it takes to be a CEO in a complex organisational landscape -- where lives truly are on the line -- you'll enjoy this episode and take away several key pointers.  

The Do One Better! podcast is hosted by Alberto Lidji, former Global CEO of the Novak Djokovic Foundation, and aims to inspire listeners to be more philanthropic, to think more about sustainability and to embrace social entrepreneurship.  Full episode notes and additional resources are available at Lidji.org 

 

Apr 03, 2019
Marks & Spencer’s Director of Sustainable Business, Mike Barry, joins Alberto Lidji to share key trends in sustainability and identify “the single most important, most profound change”.
24:59

Marks & Spencer’s Director of Sustainable Business, Mike Barry, joins Alberto Lidji to share key trends in sustainability and identify “the single most important, most profound change”.

Mike Barry is a trailblazer in the world of sustainability and leads sustainability at M&S, one of the world's great food and clothing retailers.  

We hear him explain how “just making old capitalism less bad ain’t good enough” and gain invaluable insight as he clinically points out “the most important things that a Marks & Spencer's can do" to make the most difference in reducing carbon footprint.  The shareholder base is definitely more energised and rest assured, disruption is coming!

The Do One Better! podcast is hosted by Alberto Lidji, former Global CEO of the Novak Djokovic Foundation, and aims to inspire listeners to be more philanthropic, to think more about sustainability and to embrace social entrepreneurship.  Full episode notes and additional resources are available at Lidji.org 

 

Apr 03, 2019
Managing Director of the Jacobs Foundation, Sandro Giuliani, joins Alberto Lidji to shed light on how their $7bn endowment and strategic operations improve the lives of children and youth globally.
43:35

Managing Director of the Jacobs Foundation, Sandro Giuliani, joins Alberto Lidji to shed light on how their $7bn endowment and strategic operations improve the lives of children and youth globally.

If you ever wondered how global philanthropy works, this is the episode for you.  Sandro Giuliani, Managing Director of the Jacobs Foundation, explains what it takes to achieve long-term, sustainable, system-wide change and sheds light on co-funding, intellectual partnerships, impact investing and private/public partnerships.

The Jacobs Foundation has a $7bn endowment, a robust portfolio of philanthropic initiatives, and strategic partnerships with global foundations, national and local governments, and several of the world's leading academic centres of excellence, including Berkeley, MIT, Wharton and Oxford. They drive knowledge and research forward through an incredible Fellowship program and, ultimately, focus on children and youth.

The Do One Better! podcast is hosted by Alberto Lidji, former Global CEO of the Novak Djokovic Foundation, and aims to inspire listeners to be more philanthropic, to think more about sustainability and to embrace social entrepreneurship.  Full episode notes and additional resources are available at Lidji.org 

 

Apr 03, 2019
Chairman of Ernst & Young’s EY Foundation, Patrick Dunne, joins Alberto Lidji to talk social entrepreneurship, impact, employability, education in Africa and helping disadvantaged youth.
32:52

The Chair of Ernst & Young’s EY Foundation, Patrick Dunne, joins Alberto Lidji to talk social entrepreneurship, impact, employability, education in Africa and helping disadvantaged youth.

Patrick Dunne is Chair of Ernst & Young's EY Foundation and Chair of ESSA (Education Sub Saharan Africa), as well as being a serial social entrepreneur. Hear his personal story and learn from his business experience -- a journey from humble beginnings that has led to leadership positions at some truly remarkable philanthropic organisations and social enterprises. 

Clarity of purpose, getting the right people and appointing first-time CEO’s – he shares plenty of tips for  you to take away.

If you’re at all interested in diverse social enterprise models; helping children and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds break through and running programs in sub-Saharan Africa, this episode is for you.

The Do One Better! podcast is hosted by Alberto Lidji, former Global CEO of the Novak Djokovic Foundation, and aims to inspire listeners to be more philanthropic, think more about sustainability and embrace social entrepreneurship.  Full episode notes and additional resources are available at Lidji.org 

 

Apr 03, 2019