Skoll Foundation


How Skoll Awardees are Using Crowdfunding for Fundraising Success

August 8, 2013 by

We’re noticing an increasing number Skoll Awardees using crowdfunding for specific projects, and wanted to share more details in case you’re contemplating doing the same.

In June, Landesa launched its first crowd-funding effort with In this pilot effort, they featured their legal aid project in Andra Pradesh, with a goal of raising $10,000 to train and support 30 paralegals in the program. Those paralegals can, in a given year, help 1,000 families gain clear title to the land upon which they rely.

Landesa successfully raised the $10,000 needed.

In July, Search for Common Ground raised a little more than their $10,000 goal to launch a TV web series of their signature show, “The Team,” in America. See their Kickstarter promotional video, above.

“Although crowdfunding seems to be everywhere now, nonprofits were actually some of its earliest adopters,” writes Scot Chisholm, CEO & CoFounder, StayClassy (a crowdfunding site). “In the early days, nonprofits tied crowdfunding to their offline events, like runs, walks and rides.”

We at the Skoll Foundation partnered with the Huffington Post and CrowdRise, a crowdfunding site, on two campaigns and plan on doing one more. The first, called JobRaising, was geared toward creating jobs for America and raised $1,469,116 in donations to organizations who help support jobs.  82 percent of  those donations were less than $100.

Announced in March 2013, JVS Los Angeles (which provides job training, mentoring, expert career coaching, job placement and retention support) beat the field with $254,100 raised and received an additional $150,000 from The Skoll Foundation.    read more


Sonidos de la Tierra Film Goes Viral

July 31, 2013 by

An orchestra of Sonidos de la Tierra, a Skoll Awardee which played at the 2008 Skoll World Forum, is being made into a film. Called “Landfill Harmonic,” the film (which hasn’t been completed) is running a very successful Kickstarter Campaign receiving many Twitter and Facebook mentions (13,000 on Facebook alone). So far they have surpassed their $175,000 goal needed to complete two main production trips. The Orchestra of Recycled Instruments, which the film follows, may be the most widely known group of musicians to arise from Sonidos de la Tierra. More from the press release:


Hopes To Fund Film, Movement & Worldwide Tour of The Recycled Orchestra

 “Too many children in the world are born into lives with little or no hope”.

Landfill Harmonic reveals a mind-boggling, inventive effort to change that – musical instruments made from trash. In the barrios of Paraguay, a humble garbage picker uses his ingenuity to craft instruments out of recycled materials – and a youth orchestra is born. Music arises and children find new dreams.

A film about “The Recycled Orchestra”, a group of children from a Paraguayan shanty town who play instruments made entirely of recycled garbage. It is a heartfelt & moving story of how instruments made from recycled trash bring hope to children whose future is otherwise spiritless by the transformative power of music. Landfill Harmonic also highlights two vital issues of our times: poverty and waste pollution.

In November of 2012, the online teaser went viral, garnering nearly 3MM views and 100,000+ Facebook Fans overnight. People from all over the world were suddenly fascinated and inspired by a youth orchestra that was not known and playing with recycled instruments. read more


In Celebration of Nelson Mandela Day

July 18, 2013 by

“Mandela Day calls upon us all to care, to come together, to give of ourselves to one another. How we do so is up to each of us. But make no mistake: it is acts of compassion and good will, whether small or grand, that ‘bend that long arc of the moral universe toward justice.’” —Sally Osberg, CEO, Skoll Foundation

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.” —Nelson Mandela

July 18th is Mandela Day, a day to help build a better world by giving back.

Nelson Mandela devoted 67 years of his life to combating injustice and fighting for human rights. In 2009 the United Nations honored his legacy by officially making his birthday ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’. Every year on July 18, people around the world mark the day by dedicating 67 minutes of time to volunteering and helping others.

The Elders, of which Sally Osberg and Jeff Skoll are advisory council members, celebrate Mandela Day each year and encourage others to do the same. “We want to inspire the conviction that we all can make a difference,” says The Elders Deputy Chair Gro Harlem Brundtland. “We can all take steps towards a better future.”

Last year, a group of Elders celebrated Mandela Day in London by visiting two local charities providing young people with support and training. Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson also co-hosted an event with grassroots organizations, encouraging people to pledge their time to a charitable cause.

Watch the video above and see the Elders live blog at


Sally Osberg’s Rotman Magazine Piece: How Social Entrepreneurs Unleash Human Potential

July 5, 2013 by

Sally Osberg’s 4-page Rotman magazine article, “How Social Entrepreneurs Unleash Human Potential,” has hit newsstands. Below, we have included some highlights.

On Ambition: 

“Without ambition, I would argue, dreams risk remaining ethereal and untethered to reality.  Ambition moves human beings from wanting to improve their lives to taking the actions to do so.  Social entrepreneurs harness that force, creating ventures explicitly designed to help people help themselves.  For the disadvantaged populations served by most social entrepreneurs, tangible goals—more income, good jobs, and the dignity that comes with improved social status—matter.”

On what defines social entrepreneurs:

“As Roger Martin and I argued in “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition” [Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2007], social entrepreneurs see and seize opportunities to crack the code on systems that hold human potential in check, setting their sights not just on incremental improvements to a status quo, but on equilibrium change.”

On Tim Hanstad of Landesa:

“Tim Hanstad is under no illusions as to the scale of global poverty.  Landesa, the organization he leads, has done the math and carried out the analysis: of the estimated 2.47 billion barely scraping by on less than $2 a day, three quarters live in rural areas and are dependent upon land they farm to survive.  More than 1 billion of these subsistence farmers, however, are not in control of the land they cultivate, a condition that perpetuates their poverty and exacerbates their vulnerability.  For families as for markets, uncertainty quashes ambition.  Faced with the real possibility that their property can be seized or redistributed, farmers won’t risk investing even the tiny sums needed to diversify crops or increase  yields.  But with title comes security and with security a more stable foundation for development. For four decades, Landesa has partnered with governments throughout the world in order to secure land rights for the rural poor, knowing that title is catalytic, setting in motion a virtuous cycle of development.”

On ambition as key to social entrepreneurship:

“Ambition can seem invisible, but its energy is undeniable.  To social entrepreneurs like those featured herein, no resource is as vital to prosperity as that of human potential.  Throughout the world, the ambition of women and men seeking freedom, self-determination, and opportunity is gathering force. Social entrepreneurs grasp the enormity of this momentum, appreciating the vast human potential underlying every data point on poverty, disease, environmental degradation and human suffering. They know that in the decades to come, this veritable tsunami of ambition will change countries, transform societies, and remake the world.”

Read the full article:


Wide-Ranging Businesses Support President Obama’s Climate Plan

June 25, 2013 by

Today we share a press release from Skoll Awardee Ceres:

A broad range of businesses and investors from across the country are offering strong support today for President Obama’s climate plan. The businesses are all signatories of the Climate Declaration, a statement calling on U.S. policymakers to capture the American economic opportunities of addressing climate change. The campaign, endorsed by major companies such as General Motors, Nike, Intel and Unilever, was launched this spring by the business network BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy), which is coordinated by Ceres.

“American business leaders have been clamoring for action on climate change through initiatives like the Climate Declaration, and we are pleased to see President Obama heed their call. The President’s climate change plan provides much-needed policies and guidelines that will strengthen our economy for the long term. Less pollution from power plants, stronger more-resilient towns and cities – these are standards that any business will welcome, and they set the nation on the right course for economic growth.” – Anne Kelly, director of BICEP, a project at Ceres

“People often ask whether we can afford to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt society to climate change. But I think the real question is can we afford not to? Nobody can tackle climate change successfully on their own. We need to have a partnership, which includes governments at all levels working hand in hand with the private sector. This is why we applaud this announcement by The President. This year is Swiss Re’s 150th year in the risk management industry and we view the threat posed by climate change as a very real one. As a society we need to act now and not stick our heads in the sand.” – Mark Way, Head Sustainability Americas, Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company read more


Sally Osberg Speaks, Leads Discussion at Annenberg Alchemy Gold

June 13, 2013 by

Today, Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg is serving as a discussion leader at Annenberg Alchemy Gold, a collaborative of 30 Los Angeles-area grantmakers dedicated to strengthening the Los Angeles nonprofit sector. She is focusing on capacity building that can scale impact. Alchemy Gold is a learning collaborative and unique opportunity for philanthropy practitioners that’s  strategic and comprehensive, and offers a venue for dialogue and problem-solving. Partners convene quarterly to learn from experts (such as Sally Osberg) in capacity building around fundraising, leadership development, board governance and other topics. They also engage in facilitated conversations and identify best practices, methodologies, and tactics to increase the sector’s effectiveness and impact. In the photo above, she’s with Annenberg Foundation Director of Operations Sylia Obagi. Learn more:


Sally Osberg Speaks at Arianna Huffington’s Women’s Conference + Raise for Women Winner Announced

June 7, 2013 by

Yesterday, Sally Osberg spoke on “Giving Back” featuring Moderator Lesley Stahl and panelists Cathy Isaacson and Paula Zakaria. Here’s the press release:

On June 6, 2013 in New York, hundreds of influential men and women in media, business, politics and entertainment gathered at The Huffington Post’s first-ever women’s conference, “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money and Power,” to discuss a more humane and sustainable definition of what it means to be successful.
The Conference was hosted by Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, and Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Panel discussions included topics such as Leadership and Wisdom, Wellness and the Bottom Line, the Connection Between Giving Back and Well-Being, and Millennials Leading Us Into the Future, among others. read more


Raise for Women Announcement to be Made Today Before Sally Osberg’s Third Metric Panel

June 6, 2013 by

Today, Sally Osberg is speaking at the Third Metric women’s conference at Arianna Huffington’s New York City home. At 5 p.m. EST, the winners of our Raise for Women contest will be announced. Then, the panel, called “Giving Back,” will commence, featuring Moderator Lesley Stahl and panelists Cathy Isaacson, Sally Osberg, Jill Van Den Brule and Paula Zakaria.

Read the live blog at and follow the conference on Twitter at #thirdmetric. See photos at


Jeff Skoll’s Conversation with Elon and Kimbal Musk

May 14, 2013 by

Late last month, Jeff Skoll had a future-looking conversation with brothers Elon and Kimbal Musk. Elon Musk is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX and CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors; Kimbal Musk is the co-founder of The Kitchen Community. They discussed the inspiration, motivation and business processes behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, the Kitchen and the Kitchen Community. The conversation, now available on video above, covers what drives the Musk brothers in their groundbreaking work, whether pioneering online payments, sending the first private rocket to the International Space Station, building electric cars with robots or rolling up their sleeves and partnering with students and educators to build gardens in impoverished communities. With Jeff Skoll, they uncovered the richness of their creative process and discussed how to make a profit, create jobs and contribute to the broader community at the same time.


Mother’s Day Inspiration from Skoll Awardees

May 8, 2013 by

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, so we thought it fitting to share parts of some awardee messages:

From Kiva:

There are nearly three billion adults worldwide who lack basic financial services, and most of them are women. Take Clenda from Litein Town in Kenya: she is a 24-year-old mother of two who has been in the farming business for over 6 years. Through one of Kiva’s partners, Juhudi Kilimo, Clenda received a $300 loan to purchase a dairy cow that allows her to sell milk in the local market. She uses the extra income to pay for her children’s education and help increase the overall quality of life for her family.

By lending as little as $25 on Kiva, anyone can help offer opportunity to women worldwide. This Mother’s Day, help spread the word about how, the world’s leading microlending platform, gives us all a chance to make a big difference for women, families and communities. Thank the nurturers in your life by giving them a Kiva Card — $25 to lend to any borrower they choose — to help individuals around the world realize their potential. Visit

From mothers2mothers (video above):

With our double your mommy campaign, you can tell your mother or an important woman in your life how special she is by making a donation to mothers2mothers in her name that will have twice the impact!  Every donation we receive for U.S. Mother’s Day will be doubled with a matching gift by an anonymous donor up to a total of $25,000.   In acknowledgement, we will send her a Mother’s Day e-card with a special video message from some of the inspiring mothers we work with or a card by mail.  It’s easy to double your mommy here. read more


Peter Hero on Modern Day Philanthropy

May 7, 2013 by

Richard Fahey, Chief Operating Officer at the Skoll Foundation and Dipender Saluja, Managing Director of the Capricorn Investment Group and Skoll Board Member Peter Hero just returned from Australia, where they spoke on a panel on impact investment. Here’s a new interview in Pro Bono Australia News with Mr. Hero:

“The modern day philanthropists in 2013 are ‘impatient’ with self-made wealth who want to see the end of big issues in their lifetime and be able to measure their impact, a high impact philanthropy event in Melbourne has been told.

Photo: Daniel Mendelbaum

Peter Hero, founder and principal of the US-based Hero Group, told the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation 100-person delegation that giving tends to peak at around the 50 year mark, as opposed to 70 back in the 20th century.

‘They are giving their money away earlier,’ Hero said.

‘They want to give it away in their lifetime.’

Richard Fahey, Chief Operating Officer at the Skoll Foundation and Dipender Saluja, Managing Director of the Capricorn Investment Group also spoke at the event focussing on Social Investment & High Impact Philanthropy.

The wealth of 21st century philanthropists is predominantly self-made at 93% across the United States, according to Hero. This shift differs from 40 years ago when 50% of wealth was inherited and the mindset of giving was different.

In an interview with Pro Bono Australia News, Hero explained that modern day philanthropists in California’s Silicon Valley are more interested in giving money to solutions, not to problems.

‘They are compelled to action by plans and ideas to solve problems,’ he said.

Read the rest:‘impatient’-21st-century-philanthropists#


Jeff Skoll, Skoll Centre, Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship — in the Financial Times

May 6, 2013 by

The Financial Times just published a series of articles on social entrepreneurship. Here are excerpts from two of the pieces.

The first one focuses on the meaning of the word social entrepreneurship.

“What is social entrepreneurship? The past decade has seen a growing interest in the subject and MBA programmes that include an element of social entrepreneurship are on the rise. But what exactly constitutes a social entrepreneur? While some describe it as doing good while making a profit, others place it firmly in the not-for-profit sector.

‘Social entrepreneurship is entrepreneurship carried out for societal benefit. Social entrepreneurs are every bit as innovative, disciplined and driven as business entrepreneurs, but their ventures focus on solving entrenched social problems: poverty, environmental degradation, lack of access to healthcare, inadequate education and more. Just as entrepreneurship helps advance economic progress, so social entrepreneurship moves humanity in the direction of a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.’

Jeff Skoll, philanthropist, former president of eBay, social entrepreneur and founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation”

Read how others define it:

The second one focuses on the fact that social entrepreneurship is on the rise:

Business schools are responding to a surge in demand for education that equips students to become social entrepreneurs. But the structure of those organisations that are ‘doing good‘ is changing rapidly and these changes have implications not only for schools’ positions in rankings tables but also for how students will fund their business education.

‘In the 1980s there was almost no talk at all in business schools about anything that we might now call social entrepreneurship,’ says Peter Tufano, dean of Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. read more


Richard Fahey at Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network

May 6, 2013 by

On May 3,  Skoll Foundation COO Richard Fahey and Managing Director of Capricorn Investment Group Dipender Saluja spoke on impact investments at the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN)  lunch in Melbourne.

They shared the granting and social investment practices of the foundation.

More from the AEGN:

“The Skoll Foundation works across many sectors, but their work in supporting sustainable markets is particularly relevant to us.

The Skoll Foundation believes that today’s markets do not reflect the real costs of degraded natural resources and unjust labor practices or the hidden opportunities for long-term value creation. Governments and civil society cannot win this battle alone; markets need to mobilize resources to speed this transformation, with supply and demand geared toward sustainable products, services, and practices.  The Skoll Foundation advance innovations that harness the power of markets to drive change by considering all costs and opportunities with a long-term perspective.

Impact investing is primarily distinguished by its intention to address social and environmental challenges through deployment of capital. This event comes at a time of growing interest in impact investing in Australia with the Federal Government recently releasing a major paper on the issue.

Richard Fahey, Chief Operating Officer

Richard Fahey leads the Skoll Foundation’s financial and operations functions.  He has more than 20 years of experience in financial and operations management with Hewlett-Packard, most recently as Finance Director for HP Services, where he was responsible for global financial policies and compliance in areas such as revenue recognition and expenditure controls.

As a Research Analyst with the Federal Reserve Board, Richard modeled the relationship between interest rates and inflation expectations.

Richard earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and history from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.

Dipender Saluja, Managing Director, Capricorn Investment Group

Dipender Saluja oversees investments in energy technology, cleantech, IT and emerging markets. Dipender is also President and CEO of Automatiks, a Capricorn portfolio company developing energy management platforms. Previously, Dipender was Chief of Staff at Cadence, and prior to that worked at Data General (now EMC), Honeywell and ROLM (now IBM). Dipender serves on the boards of Sunpreme, AST, Embrace, Liquidity, Automatiks and CalStart.

This event has been made possible by the generous support of the Lord Mayors Charitable Fund.”


Sally Osberg to Receive Scripps Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award

May 3, 2013 by

CEO Sally Osberg will receive the Scripps Distinguished Alumna of the Year tomorrow at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif.

First presented in 1978, the Scripps College Distinguished Alumna Award celebrates the notable achievements of Scripps alumnae and is presented each year during Reunion Weekend. Foremost consideration is sustained growth and distinctive achievement in the nominee’s chosen field.

Sally earned her M.A. in literature from the Claremont Graduate School and her B.A. in English from Scripps College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  Besides tomorrow’s award, Sally has received the John Gardner Leadership Award from the American Leadership Forum, been inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, and been named by the San Jose Mercury News as one of the “Millennium 100″ for her role in shaping and leading Silicon Valley.

Congratulations, Sally!


50 or 100 years from now: check out what Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, Premal Shah imagine might happen.

April 29, 2013 by

CEO Sally Osberg just posted the opening video that played at the Skoll World Forum on her Huffington Post blog, where it’s featured on the front page of the Huffington Post.

She just added her own introduction to the video, saying:

“Anniversaries are always a time to reflect. But for the 10th anniversary of the Skoll World Forum, we thought that the opportunity was really to look forward. So we asked friends, folks who’d been part of the Forum community for many years, to join us in imagining what the future might be.”

In the video, you’ll  hear the insights of Arianna Huffington, Skoll Awardee Premal Shah, new energy entrepreneur Elon Musk, Creative Commons chief executive Joi Ito, Skoll Awardee Afghan Institute of Learning Founder Sakena Yacoobi, collective intelligence strategist Shaifali Puri, neuroscientist Sarah Caddick, theoretical physicist Geoffrey West, and science prodigy Tanishq Abraham.



Portfolio Director Alex Sloan at 6th MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition

April 26, 2013 by

This week, our portfolio director Alex Sloan was a judge, and later a keynote speaker, in Doha, Qatar at an incredible event, which you can learn all about above.

At around the 2:50 mark in this video, you’ll hear him talk about his experience: “It’s been a fantastic week here in Doha. I come from Silicon Valley, and I am feeling very comfortable here in terms of the innovation and the entrepreneurs, and I am very excited for the things to come.”

In their coverage, here is what the organizers wrote about his speech:

“Alex Sloan, the portfolio director of the Skoll Foundation, started his speech by stating that ‘There is no more important or urgent place and time to change the world than in this region, right now, and by you. There is no better time to change the world than now.’  Sloan discussed Social Entrepreneurship and mentioned that the entrepreneurs in the Middle East are just as talented as those in Silicon Valley if not more. Sloan continued by stating that social entrepreneurship is a team effort and that social entrepreneurs work hard to change the systems they work in.  Focusing on the idea that companies can’t ignore the social aspect of doing business, Sloan mentioned common characteristics of success which he has observed in the ways entrepreneurs work:
•    They are unsatisfied with the status quo and seek to address a customer pain point, with a NEED to have, not NICE to have, solution.
•    They match large scale challenges with big ambition.
•    They seek to innovate around product, partnership and revenue model.
•    They seek to realign available assets in a new and compelling way.
•    They are willing to try and fail, versus, never trying at all.
•    And with the pressures of impatient investors and customers, Entrepreneurs learn to fail fast, iterate and improve.”

Read who won the competition and more.


Sandy Herz and Neal Baer on Social Entrepreneurs and Storytelling

April 25, 2013 by

The Skoll Foundation’s director of strategic alliances, Sandy Herz, joined acclaimed screenwriter Neal Baer (best known for ER) on HuffPo Live today.

During the second half of the show, which you can watch above, Neal and Sandy talked about how they help social entrepreneurs such as APOPO tell their stories. Neal excitedly shared how APOPO’s Hero Rats sniff out landmines, adding, “The Skoll Foundation funds dozens of these organizations and they are changing people’s lives.”


Muhammad Yunus Presented with Congressional Gold Medal Today

April 17, 2013 by

yunuscongrCEO Sally Osberg snapped this photo today at the United States Capitol, where  Congressional leaders presented  the founder of the Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus, with the Congressional Gold Medal.

“It takes genius to do something simple, and Muhammad Yunus is a genius,” Sen. Dick Durbin said during the ceremony.

Yunus was honored because of his “efforts to combat global poverty,” and has also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Peace Prize. Those are besides many other awards, including our Global Treasure Award just last week at the Skoll World Forum.

Here’s a new interview with Yunus from the New York Times’ Fixes column: “Yunus is best known for his work pioneering and spreading microfinance. Today, microfinance providers reach about 200 million clients globally. In Bangladesh, the Grameen Bank has 8.4 million borrowers, 96 percent women. Yunus has also developed many other enterprises that offer an array of products and services to the poor, including Grameen Phone, the largest cellphone operator in the country. Over the past two years, his work has come under attack by the government of Bangladesh, which we have reported on herehere and here in Fixes. Below, in an interview conducted a few days ago, Yunus reflects on his life, the role of social business, and the importance of imagination in creating a poverty-free world.”

Read the rest:


Sally Osberg in Forbes: How Social Entrepreneurs Deliver New Solutions to Global Problems

April 16, 2013 by

CEO Sally Osberg mentions eight Skoll awardees as examples of how social entrepreneurs are delivering new solutions to global problems in her latest op-ed. An excerpt:

“Imagine that you are a mother living in a village in rural Gambia. At least one of your eight children will probably die before reaching the age of five. It doesn’t matter that there are vaccines or treatments for the disease that will take your child—measles, hepatitis, diarrhea, or perhaps HIV. What you know is that it’s a ten-kilometer walk to the health clinic. When you arrive, you’re likely to find a sign saying the nurse couldn’t get there that day.

Andrea and Barry Coleman, stars in the world of motorcycle racing, saw the problem when they went to Africa to support the work of children’s charities. It wasn’t lack of medicine or healthcare workers. Rather, what was missing were the parts, mechanics, and maintenance for vehicles taking workers and supplies to villages and clinics. The couple wept over wasted vehicles rusting behind health-ministry offices, then returned home and mortgaged their house to found Riders for Health, a reliable, scalable vehicle-maintenance system for healthcare delivery.

The story of Riders for Health is a story of social entrepreneurship.”

Read the rest:


Skoll World Forum Closing Plenary

April 15, 2013 by

Kofi Annan making us laugh.

Four powerful women.

Empowering images.

Those are some memories of the closing plenary, which Stephan Chambers so eloquently emceed, sharing his favorite moments from the Forum.


Annan, who spent his entire career at the United Nations, shared examples of UN employees who were trailblazers and innovators. “You can find innovators in strange places,” he said to audience laughter. He shared lessons he learned from his time at the UN, including: New ideas lead to resistance; give it time; the more people, the more the chance for success; and with determination and inventiveness, we can overcome the biggest barriers.” read more


© 2014 Skoll Foundation.