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50 years of good news for charitable giving

Words by Smiley Team

Charities, nonprofits, and philanthropic ventures bring together people who care about a cause and enable them to make a difference.

Without these organisations and people who give back, there would be less direct help going to people in the world who need it most. 

So how has charitable giving made a difference in the past 50 years? In Smiley's book – 50 Years of Good News – it charters the positive things that have happened since the 1970s.

Here's a selection of good news about people giving back. 

1979: ​​George Soros Establishes Philanthropic Open Society Foundations 

As one of the world’s leading philanthropists, George Soros has given away over $32 billion of his personal wealth since establishing the Open Society Foundations in 1979. The society includes over 120 national and local foundations that work to support individuals and groups fighting for justice, equality, accountable governments, freedom of expression and more.

1985: Live AID Concert Raises $127 Million in African Famine Relief 

To raise money to help fight famine in Ethiopia, music’s biggest stars, including Queen, Madonna, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, performed at a sixteen-hour concert that was broadcast around the world. Between simultaneous concerts in London and Philadelphia, organizers raised $127 million.

1985: Les Restos du Coeur Is Launched to Fight Hunger 

Founded by French comedian Coluche in 1985, Les Restos du Coeur is a charity organization that was launched to fight hunger and poverty by gathering food donations and serving free meals to anyone in need. Every year since its launch, the crème de la crème of French singers give their time and voices to put on free concerts and raise funds for charities. By banding together, their musical efforts have helped the organization serve over 1.5 billion meals and expand its mission beyond food insecurity to help those looking to re-enter society, find stable work and housing, receive school support and get access to legal advice.

1985: USA for Africa Records “We Are the World” for Charity 

To raise funds for the fight against famine and poverty in Ethiopia, musicians Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones organized a group of fellow global superstars to record a song for charity. With vocals from Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and Tina Turner, among other musical legends, the song has raised over $60 million since its release in 1985.

1987: UNICEF Forms Change for Good

As one of UNICEF’s longest-running and most notable partnerships, Change for Good works with the international airline industry to collect leftover foreign currency and donations from travelers while on board to support children in need all over the world. The program has raised more than $170 million since it was founded in 1987, the funds of which are used to purchase the lifesaving materials and services necessary for children to grow up in safe and nurturing environments.

1986: Hands Across America Raises $15 Million to Fight Hunger 

In an effort to raise money to fight homelessness and hunger, participants formed a recordbreaking human chain that stretched from New York City all the way to California, as millions of people held hands for fifteen minutes.

1987: ​​Akhtar Hameed Khan Launches Microfinance Project 

The Orangi Pilot Project – Orangi Charitable Trust (OPP – OCT) was established in 1987 as an independent and autonomous institution in Orangi, a low-income settlement of over one million people. Spearheaded by Pakistani microfinance pioneer Akhtar Hameed Khan, the program aimed to empower communities to take an active participation in their own development by providing credit in urban and rural areas.

1998: Is Launched 

With the invention of the internet and sites like, nonprofit organizations and charities have a wider ability to reach more communities in need and enlist volunteers to help them. Since its founding in 1998, has helped over 135,000 nonprofits find helping hands.

2003: The Wikimedia Foundation Is Launched 

The Wikimedia Foundation launched in 2003 with the goal of maintaining an open-source online database of content for the public free of charge. In addition to its flagship online encyclopedia, dubbed Wikipedia, Wikimedia’s portfolio also includes Wikibooks, Wikimedia Commons, Wikiquote and Wikinews, among other projects.

2005: Organization to Help Educate Girls of Rural China Is Launched 

While China launched a mission in the 1970s to lift every member of its population out of poverty, the government has acknowledged that its efforts have fallen short in certain rural areas of the country. To combat this gap in resources, Canadian NGO Educating Girls of Rural China aims to help improve the quality of education through scholarship programs, mentorship, career planning, personal development, confidence-building and mentalhealth resources.

2010: Philanthropic Leaders Take the Giving Pledge

 Founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge is a commitment taken on by the world’s wealthiest people to give back to the community from their own assets. As of 2021, more than 220 individuals and couples from 27 countries had signed on, including Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, with a total combined pledge of more than $600 billion.

2010: GoFundMe Is Created 

The for-profit crowdfunding platform allows those launching a campaign for donations to reach anyone around the world to help fund their celebrations and challenges alike. Since its founding, over $5 billion has been raised on the platform from over 50 million donors, cementing its legacy as one of the world’s greatest fundraising platforms. Notable campaigns include “The Official George Floyd Memorial Fund,” which raised $14.7 million, and the ongoing “America’s Food Fund,” which has raised $45.1 million.

2011: Goteo Founded in Spain

Goteo is a free, open-source crowdfunding platform with a civic purpose, committed to fostering transparent and collaborative online networks. By donating money or volunteering their time, members can harness their resources—human, economic or technological— to benefit projects in their communities.

2011: Global Citizen Is Launched to End Poverty 

Global Citizen is an international education and advocacy organization with the goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030, defending the planet and demanding equity. The public can participate in the organization’s events as “Global Citizens” and give back to the community. In 2020, the organization partnered with Lady Gaga to produce a streamed concert called One World: Together at Home and raised a total of $128 million for charities. Pharrell performs at Global Citizen Festival in New York City, 2019.

2013: Batkid Transforms San Francisco for Make-a-Wish Cancer survivor 

Miles Scott became Batkid for a day when he wished to be Batman’s sidekick through the Make-a-Wish foundation. When the request went out, thousands of volunteers, city officials and supporters turned San Francisco into “Gotham City” for a day as Batkid took part in several pre-planned crime scenarios. He ended his day of crime fighting by receiving the key to the city from San Francisco mayor Ed Lee.

2015: Tencent Creates the 99 Giving Day 

Every year, from September 7 through September 9, Tencent Charitable Foundation hosts its annual “99 Giving Day,” when it partners up with numerous charitable foundations, philanthropists and celebrities. The public can join via various social-media platforms or participate in person in activities such as “99 Steps Donation,” where organizations will donate money on behalf of a participant based on the number of steps walked.

2015: The China Global Philanthropy Institute Launches 

Founded by Bill Gates alongside other Chinese and American philanthropists, the China Global Philanthropy Institute was founded with a mission to cultivate a global philanthropic model by improving the professional standards of philanthropic education and strengthening international relations. They commit themselves towards the cultivation of talent across China and the world.

2020: One World: Together at Home Concert Raises $128 Million for Health-Care Workers

Global Citizen hosted its One World: Together at Home concert with the World Health Organization in support of the fight against Covid-19. The concert was curated by Lady Gaga and featured other celebrities, including Elton John and Celine Dion, to share the message that we are all connected at home even as we practice social distancing. In the end, a total of $128 million was raised for the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

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