Philanthropy Notes: April 2016

The Obama administration gave $270,000 in taxpayer funds to the terrorist-linked U.K.-based Islamic Relief Worldwide for its health-related efforts in Kenya. The grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is designated for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s program advancing what the CDC calls “global health security as an international priority.” Israel and the United Arab Emirates banned IRW “alleging that the group supports and funds Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s military arm in Palestine,” the Daily Caller reports.

Now 10 years old, the microblogging platform Twitter, which has carried billions of messages stretching a maximum of 140 keystrokes, has become “a distinct vein of social action, activism, and philanthropy” and “the beating, real-time pulse of the nonprofit world,” left-wing philanthropy writer Tom Watson gushes in his Chronicle of Philanthropy column. Twitter is “vital to the idea of democratic philanthropy, the notion that individual citizens can play as important a role in the public causes of our time as do moneyed philanthropists.” Of course, Bill Gates “will always have more followers than you do. But on Twitter, you’re in the conversation.” After gushing over left-wing causes like Black Lives Matter that became popular largely because of Twitter users, Watson quotes his beloved Baltimore race riot leader DeRay Mckesson pontificating on the power of the medium: “Twitter was where the links were shared. It was where the images were shared. Literally, when people were told what was happening, it galvanized the nation.”

Priscilla Chan, spouse of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, told the San Jose Mercury News that her education-related philanthropy is informed by experiences she had volunteering to tutor disadvantaged young people, teaching in a private school, and as a pediatrician and mother. While tutoring, she saw a child who had been assaulted in Boston and “realized that my homework help was going to completely be futile if these kids couldn’t be healthy, safe, and happy in the place that they lived,” she said. “That really drives a lot of what I decided to do in my life and career.”

After receiving two donations totaling $30 million, George Mason University in Arlington, Va., is planning to rename its 37-year-old law school after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died at age 79 on Feb. 13. An anonymous donor gave the school $20 million; the other $10 million was donated by the Charles Koch Foundation.



A U.S. grand jury is examining whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc. misled bondholders when selling securities issued by 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB), which is entangled in a high-profile corruption scandal in Malaysia, the Wall Street Journal reports. U.S. officials are also looking at whether Goldman’s hiring practices in that part of the world ran afoul of American anti-corruption laws. The probe is fairly new, and as we go to press, neither 1MDB nor Goldman have been accused of breaking the law.

The WSJ also reports that Goldman hired the daughter of Jamaludin Jarjis, a Malaysian politician and confidant of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, as a bank analyst in Singapore in 2010. (Jarjis himself died a year ago in a helicopter crash.) The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits American companies “from giving anything of value to a foreign official to gain an unfair advantage or business favors,” the newspaper reports. Goldman refused to comment on the investigation.

Share this post!