Girl Scouts Get $85 Million Historical Donation (news)

Girl Scouts Get $85 Million Donation From MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott, known for historic billion-dollar donations continues to change nonprofits’ fortunes, this time with an $85 million donation to the Girl Scouts of USA. The donation is the single largest donation in the organization’s history since its founding in 1912, and will help the organization recoup a loss of programming and membership as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to reporting from According to the report, only 2% of philanthropic giving in the United States goes directly to programs expressly interested in serving women and girls. Youth membership in the Girl Scouts dropped nearly 30% in the first year of the pandemic.

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Rough Transcript

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[00:00:00] This week the nonprofit news feed for the week of October 24th. Almost done with October. In the biggest news of all, I turned 40 last week. So, you know, I’m, I’m far wiser, definitely older, and so hopefully the quality of all of the podcasts is gonna just go up into the right. Congratulations, George.

[00:00:46] That’s awesome. Did you do anything to celebrate? I officially launched a side project of turning my crawlspace under the house into a speakeasy. So that is a thing that happened and as one would imagine, I took it too far. So we had full branding and beer that I brewed and truly I did, I did my best to take.

[00:01:10] A side project to its extreme. However, with no formal segue planned why don’t we go into the news of the Girl Scouts getting a record breaking in terms of the history’s organization donation? Absolutely. That does sound amazing. But what is also amazing is that Mackenzie Scott, The famed philanthropist known for historic billion dollar donations that seemingly drop on a dime has announced $85 million in funding for Girls Scouts of the United States of America.

[00:01:48] The donation is the single largest donation in the organization’s history since its founding in 1912, and will largely help the organization recoup a loss of programming and. As a result of the Covid 19 pandemic according to the report, only 2% of philanthropic giving in the United States goes directly to programs expressly interested in serving women and girls.

[00:02:12] And related to the Girl Scouts youth membership has dropped nearly 30% in the beginning of the pandemic, which is extremely significant. And I love this donation because I think. Both invests in girls, which is amazing, but also the Girl Scouts are so famous for the cookies, and maybe that sounds delicious and trivial, but it’s really not.

[00:02:37] I think that door to door community interaction, the ability of nonprofits to interface with the community is great, not only for its members, but for communities. Broadly and girl scouts and boy scouts have been such main stage of the philanthropic, charitable giving world that you only wanna see them thrive, right?

[00:02:59] Cause there’s such public and visible representations of the nonprofit industry. So I think this is awesome. Yeah. Since founding in 1912, I mean, a storied history for sure. But the question is how do you, how do you maintain a 30% drop is just devastating. You know? I didn’t realize it was, it was that high.

[00:03:20] And as an institution, what you know can happen is that you begin, you know, a self-fulfilling prophecy of closing regional chapters because enrollment declines. Enrollment declines because there’s not enough regional chapters and access to the programming and it, it can go into a spiral. So this is an incredibly well timed $85 million.

[00:03:41] Donation. What’s more, I think there’s also been interesting downward pressure, I guess, or we’ll call it, increased competition from the Boy Scouts, which now admit girls as well. So you have sort of two factors happening at the same time, and not to make comment on that, but it’s, it’s just probably probably exacerbated the, the challenges that the Girl Scouts have faced.

[00:04:07] Absolutely. I agree. But we do love to see these donations. And speaking of, Large donations. We’re now going to turn to some of the, the biggest name brand philanthropists out there. And we have two stories and we’ll package them together. The first is that the Gates Foundation, or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $10 million to the Giving Tuesday organization.

[00:04:33] Giving Tuesday has been around what, for like a decade now. But it actually has an organization. Runs in markets and establishes the kind of the holiday and, and does reporting on it. So this organization itself has received a 10 million donation. And then our separate article is also about. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is an interesting article from Fortune about how the foundation is cutting funding for reading, writing and the arts in instead focusing $1 billion in math education.

[00:05:10] Which is really interesting. And that comes on the heels of, I’ve just been reading some New York Times articles about just the, the math literacy Landscape in America in our education systems are really, really abysmal right now. Exacerbated by the pandemic. So George, we have two stories here about the Gates Foundation giving to Giving Tuesday and also redirecting money within the education space.

[00:05:34] What’s our take on these one? I am a long time fan and friend of giving Tuesday. Famously a project coming out of 92nd Street. Why we’ve had Asha Curran, the CEO of giving on this podcast to talk about some of that history. I love that they’re getting this type of institutional investment to make it, again, an institution, something that I hope continues to grow as.

[00:06:04] As a cultural day of giving a priming of the philanthropic mindset as you roll into December. And you know, I, I actually, you know, was kind of surprised. I, I would’ve thought that, you know, this type of. Type of system or network type gift would’ve come from a McKenzie Scott rather than a Gates Foundation.

[00:06:26] So I was a little surprised to see that actually. It’s very much like a McKenzie Scott style of thing where, you know, you saw her funding groups that helped the back end of the non-profit industry, like volunteer match and, and that type of, that type of thing, right. So, I you know, surprised actually Gates Foundation there, and then the other side like, oh gosh, Yeah, I mean, we’ve never tracked lower in the history of math scoring for, for children disproportionately impacting black and brown students saying that they have declines more sharply than those in white students.

[00:06:59] You know, there’s high correlation to they say potential. You know, employment is measured by ninth graders ability to pass introductory algebra. I get nervous sometimes when you talk about redirecting a billion dollars in education, you’re running a live experiment because when you redirect it, it means you’re, you’re pulling away from arts, writing and reading, and so you’re doing this totally never before done experiment of saying, Well wait a.

[00:07:35] You know, it looks like, you know, sometimes survivor bias, right? The idea that, oh, kid, kids that brush their teeth are less likely to have heart attacks at age 60. You’re like, what is the correlation there? Like, Oh yeah. Because you know kids that have parents that do this, like there are so many other factors that probably go into a successful childhood development that I get nervous by saying like, Oh yeah, ignore these other very critical elements that make kid, keep kids in school.

[00:08:04] Why do you go to school? I love the art program and by the way, Ability to write May, I don’t know, come up when I need to write an email, A resume general interaction. And so, you know, do we run into a Peter and Paul problem here robbing Peter to pay Paul with regards to child education? I get nervous. I think you just write another check.

[00:08:27] That’s what I think you do. another bill. Write another freaking check if Matt’s the problem. Because there’s so little funding that goes toward, you know, something like the arts in education. And I think that’s gonna be a differentiator in a marketplace that’s gonna be dominated by frankly, AI that can do the job of, of math and find an answer.

[00:08:47] It’s gonna be about the creative synthesis and communication of information, Not like, can I do the Pythagorean Serum or a quadratic equation? Yeah, George, I, I agree with you. It’s a sticky situation. There’s an opportunity cost to this for sure, going either way. But I, I famously am as liberal arts as it gets and I in my background.

[00:09:12] But I always remember my band teacher just very overtly plastered a New York Times article on the front door talking about how music education was one of the most important. One of the most highly correlated predictors of academic success. And how rigorous that is. I don’t know, but I, I think that is a, it is a point.

[00:09:33] And I mean, to be fair to the Gates Foundation, I wouldn’t wanna be in the position of an either or maybe that’s a false dichotomy too. Cause I think they’re both important. But definitely something to think about. Yeah. Well, they held a competition in 2020. For $10 million competition to identify new approaches to teaching algebra.

[00:09:53] So, you know, maybe they came up with something innovative, creative that actually pulls in those other, you know, elements and disciplines. But I’ll just say you know, this is this, this is the nature of living in a philanthropic landscape dominated by billionaires. I hope they’re making the right.

[00:10:14] Because you’re doing a live a live experiment with how we’re distribute , basically, and how we’re distributing resources according to, to, to billionaires. Other than like, I don’t know, maybe our educational system being like, tell you what we actually needed here. You know, it’s a live experiment.

[00:10:29] Let’s see how it goes. Yeah. I agree with you. Those are big questions. Moving into another story , I don’t, I don’t have a thesis on that but I’ll move into this story. This comes from CoinDesk and this is about, it’s real interesting. This is about police complaints in an Indian district are going on the poly.

[00:10:50] Blockchain. So I guess the idea here is that you submit a complaint against the police. In particular it seems that complaints in this district have a history of corruption, manipulation, yada, yada, yada. But when it’s on the blockchain, there is verifiable record and it’s, you know, impossible to alter or falsify complaints against police and.

[00:11:15] Not an expert on the blockchain, but George, to me this seems like a really clever way to use the blockchain for accountability in a creative way and hear government, and we’ve seen other organizations doing this, for example. So, so what’s your take on this? I think this is super interesting, this.

[00:11:36] I mean, frankly, me forcing my own agenda of pay attention to the blockchain, it is a new form of, frankly, the internet. And the same thing the internet did to the social impact sector of being able to increase people’s ability to communicate, work with stakeholders, to educate, do you name it? The problem is when it first came out, I think the internet was a glorified online donate button, and it’s so much more than that.

[00:12:02] It’s so much more than crypto philanthropy. So I like finding and sharing stories like this that just bring forward the social impact potential of this platform.

[00:12:15] Absolutely, I’m with you. And I think when we were talking about George Ukraine, we were talking about the, the seismic crypto philanthropy happening there, but also Ukrainians, you know, verifying information about violence and all sorts of other really vital ways that you can create verifiable.

[00:12:39] Information that has social impact or can help governments or can help legal systems. I think the opportunities are really broad. So I think that’s a fantastic point. Yeah. I mean, it’s accountability here. And what’s also interesting now, as we covered in the past, maybe these words are, don’t mean anything to you and maybe in the back of your mind, well, what about the environmental impact of this?

[00:13:03] You know, it’s, it’s wasteful, like pause. In the last month, this is built on Ethereum. Ethereum now is essentially carbon pointless because it is proof of stake. It is no longer chewing up tons of resources. Polygon is built on top of Ethereum, so it’s using a fraction of a fraction of the amount of energy.

[00:13:27] So if your initial back of your mind response to, Oh my gosh, but it’s such a wasteful tech at what cost? No more. This is very much when we’re in a bare phase of a market time, when you’re gonna get very interesting projects built. And I hope more non-profits take notice, especially if you’re dealing with this vein of accountability to, I don’t know, say a government or a police or an industry that you imagine more transparency might help cuz it’s real hard for mold to grow in the.

[00:13:57] That is very well said, and I will not attempt to restate that, but I agree. All right. We have one more story, and this is not so much a story as much as I think interesting and relevant research you wanted to highlight. This comes from Freedom House. They are a non-profit human rights and go.

[00:14:19] Accountability research, nonprofit. And they put together every year a freedom in the world and freedom of the internet report. And they talk about internet freedom and they just release their report on internet freedom. And we wanted to highlight some of the key findings, cuz I think they’re. Really important and they center some really broad problems that as we talk about, big ideas in social impact and digital impact, I think are important to understand.

[00:14:47] The, some of the key findings and support include that global internet freedom declined for the 12th consecutive year, particularly due to clamp downs on internet and press freedom in Russia, Myanmar, Sudan, and Libya. In Russia in particular in wake of their un. Invasion of Ukraine. But also I wanted to highlight that internet freedom in the United States improved marginally for the first time in six years.

[00:15:14] It seems that the government is moving slightly and catching up maybe a little bit into understanding a little bit of the, the complexities of, of internet here. And are kind of pulling back with regards to targeted surveillance. And like agency harassment during protests which was something common that we saw with the George Floyd protests.

[00:15:33] Lots of civil rights complaints coming out of that. But then the last point here is that human rights hang in the balance amid it, competition to control the web, and you have lots of different stakeholders looking to compete for control. The web. And I think that for our American audience, maybe not as forefront in the mind, but for non-profits and NGOs all over the world this is much more pertinent and important to those organizations working much more complex political environments and digital environments.

[00:16:04] So, wanted to highlight this report for those reasons. Yeah, it’s fascinating clearly also China listed among the folks trying to fragment and restrict the world’s environment for internet freedom. You know, do do one search for Tiananmen Square on a Chinese server and be unsurprised at the lack of results?

[00:16:25] And that’s not limited to that at all. The reason why nonprofits should care is because it is, you know, harmful to human rights when you are limiting free expression, justice and accountability, privacy, security, all of these elements economic opportunity. It’s putting disproportionate power in the hands of the government.

[00:16:46] And when you know this quote from here, entrenched and aspiring authoritarian leaders sought to contain online descent by preventing residents from reaching global information sources That paints the picture that I think in general, pushing for, for internet freedom is, is a good thing. Freedom on the net.

[00:17:05] So, I’m very fascinated by this Freedom report. Take a look. It’s in the non-profit news email and also in the show notes.

[00:17:13] Absolutely. All right, George, are you ready for a feel? Good? I think I’m always ready. I’m always ready. And I put you on the task and I said, Nick, you define something. George, Boy did I find something. I have something that’s gonna gack your socks off. This comes from and we are talking about the Avo Gaden, which has struck Philadelphia.

[00:17:41] And the title of this story is One Nonprofit has Given Away. Thousands of avocados. So a Philadelphia food distribution nonprofit called Sharing Excess is handing out hundreds of thousands of avocados this week, leaving some residents saying Holy guacamole. It turns out that some kind of strange combination of surplus, even though there’s not really a surplus, cuz there’s still supply shortages.

[00:18:08] But food vendors have an incredible supply, excess supply of avocado. In Philadelphia and this nonprofit is facilitating their free distribution. There’s some quotes in here about folks walking away with crates of about 50 avocados, which is hundreds of dollars worth of avocados. And it’s kind of a funny story.

[00:18:30] This guy’s like, I use them on scrambled eggs. I use them in pasta sauce. I use them in smoothies. I don’t know about that, but you know, whatever floats your boat. But I think what’s cool here is the the organizations that are able to identify surpluses in food, food supply chains. There’s lots of startups now operating in the food surplus space and helping folks access food who otherwise might not have access, right?

[00:18:57] And reducing food waste. So I think this is a cool story. Yeah, I’ll love to see it. Yeah. The nonprofit sharing Excess was the one involved. And also shout out to Move For Hunger, which is a past client friend of the pod that also is in charge of that last mile problem. There’s food here in excess, there are people there in need.

[00:19:21] That gap is hard to close and it takes. Organizing and it takes nonprofits really because it’s hard to say like, Hey, here’s a profit, we’re gonna turn in doing this. And so it’s our service to each other. I love seeing it. And also, I mean, I had like 10 extra avocados once I was like, I dunno what to do. So I’m gonna have to go in and go and get some ideas.

[00:19:43] But also Nick, nice job on all the, the, the guac related puns. I’ll just end . I know you practice. I, I did practice not to make things goward but there was practice involved there. Oh my gosh. All right. Well, I’ll end with a bad joke simply because we’ve been adding these to the bottom of the emails because we can, Hey, Nick, why was the cemetery fundraiser so popular?

[00:20:10] I don’t know, George, Why was it Cause people were dying to get in?

[00:20:15] Perfect. That’s a good one. That’s perfect. It says though, we don’t want people to listen to the end of the podcast. This is the best part, . All right, we’ll end on that. Thanks, friend. Thanks, George.