Alexander Lakhanpal | Humanitarian Efforts

Alexander Lakhanpal is a committed philanthropist

Category: Alexander Lakhanpal

Ways to Bring Awareness to the African Food Crisis

The food crisis in Africa has been a global issue for over 30 years. From drought to starvation, the problems within these countries in Africa are some of the most tragic situations that the world is facing. Yet, the issues in Africa are not at the forefront of news outlets or on the minds of most people on a daily basis. There are ways to help fight the famine in Africa and bring awareness to problems not directly in front of you.


The Situation

In 2016 alone, 4.9 million people of which accounts for over 40% of South Sudan’s population, were still in need of urgent food and assistance of nutrition and agriculture. Now in 2017, the country is still facing famine caused by war and drought. 30% of the country is facing malnutrition of families as well. Sudan is not the only African country facing hard times. Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia are some of the others that are in dire need of food.


This year, the United Nations officially declared a famine in South Sudan and announced its fear that it could spread fast without a drastic intervention.


These statistics can be shocking but it is even more jarring to imagine you or your own family in the situation that these people are facing. It also beckons the question of what you can do to help others who are not directly in front of your own eyes.


The Solutions

There are resources for you to do your part in helping this extreme famine. International organizations are gearing up to do their part in contributing support to this horrific situation.

  1. Donate

There are various organizations online and across the globe that directly accept donations to send aid to the civilians living in South Sudan who are being affected by this crisis. Your donations go to those living in Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia to provide humanitarian support that ranges from urgent food supplies to farming resources that are directed towards helping rebuild the community and livelihoods of the African people.


  1.   Awareness

The crisis in Africa can not be solved alone, it will take a mass of people to educate themselves on the issue. Social media is an amazing tool to help in getting other engaged with this issue. Whether you tweet an article or post an image, the famine in Africa should not be out of mind from people across the globe.


The Benefits of Charitable Giving

Why should you give back? You may ask, “What’s in it for me?” The act of charity has always been regarded as the key to positivity and kindness that strengthens any community. Philanthropies within communities are the core of establishing and maintaining charitable acts in society. The many benefits of charitable giving range from not only personal growth but the contribution to greater societal kindness.


  1. How Does it Benefit the Donor?


Those who donate to charity are actually stimulated by the pleasure receptors in the brain, according to research conducted by the National Institues of Health2. The experiment displayed results that proved the notion that donating money can simply make you, as a person, feel better. This simple exercise of the brain and personal character is a process that any person can benefit from.


The act of giving specifically elicits a boost of dopamine and endorphins to the brain which are translated through the human experience as “rewarding.” These natural responses give the body a better feeling of “good” than a quick-fix of temporary pleasure. Another study that supports this idea was conducted by a University of Oregon professor who believes that the personal joy of increasing public good has a positive neurological impact.


  1. Why is it Important to Society?

Whether you are giving back to your community through time or money, it contributes to the overall idea of the societal contribution of good. It is dire that the general public understands that without constant support and contribution to charities, they risk losing their public trust and support that they give to a given community. Charities act as an additional safety net for individuals within a community who fall through the cracks of government initiates and general low-income situations. Certain charities also can provide support for medicine, food, and education. Most of the time these organizations have their pulse on the needs of the people and environment that they are located in.


  1. Why Does Your Donation or Time Count?

Not only does becoming a charitable individual make you feel better and improve your character, it also directly aids in providing resources for those who are disadvantaged. From the benefits of personal growth to contribute to the general good of a community and society, there is no reason to hold back from creating a relationship with a philanthropy.

Ray McGrath, SFFD captain and longtime volunteer, dies – By Sam Whiting Published 9:37 pm, Friday, April 28, 2017

Ray McGrath, a retired San Francisco Fire Department captain who stayed on as a toy drive volunteer and morale booster, sometimes walking from station to station throughout the city, has died at 95.

Mr. McGrath died Tuesday of injuries suffered in a fall at home while on his way to Mass last Sunday. His death was confirmed by Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, who went directly to San Francisco General Hospital when she heard Mr. McGrath had fallen. Already at his bedside were two nuns, a priest, and a hallway full of family members and old firefighters.

“Ray was a legend. Just a kind, compassionate Catholic man,” Hayes-White said. “He loved this city and knew the name of every street and alley.”

Though Mr. McGrath served the customary 30 years in the department, from 1947 to 1977, he was involved for another 40 years. Among the duties he adopted was as minister to injured firefighters and confidant to Hayes-White as she transitioned the department from its old-boy ways to a modern department integrated by race and gender.

In his retirement, Mr. McGrath walked 18 to 20 miles a day from his home in Daly City, up the coast, around to North Beach and back. When standing still, he worked in programs to feed and clothe the poor and in social justice causes. He was active in church sanctuary movements and even got himself arrested in Georgia, where he’d gone to defend the rights of refugees.

“He was always protesting something,” said his daughter Geraldine McGrath, a corporate attorney in San Francisco.

Raymond Stephen McGrath was born Sept. 2, 1921, in his parents’ home at 1515 Palou Ave., in the Bayview district, which was then known as Butchertown, with cattle running up Third Street to the slaughterhouses. It was a mix of Irish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Maltese, and everybody had a nickname. His was “Jiggy,” the sixth of eight kids raised in a home with one bedroom, a parlor room for Mr. McGrath’s two sisters, and a back porch where the six boys slept.

“He used to say, ‘It was cold enough to hang meat back there,” Geraldine said. But it was the Great Depression and the McGrath family had no meat to hang. Mr. McGrath and his older brother Joe were sent to wait in the food lines captured by photographer Dorothea Lange.

“These were the things he remembered when he was serving the poor,” Geraldine said.

Three of his older brothers, Joe, Art and John, had been star football players at Sacred Heart High School, but Mr. McGrath was too small to play sports. He never liked academics and intentionally flunked out of Sacred Heart as a sophomore.

He was forcibly returned to Mission High School, from which he graduated in 1939 and became a steamfitter.

With the onset of World War II, Mr. McGrath joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific theater. While away at war, he sent a photo of himself in his Navy uniform to his friend Lorraine Kerrigan, who lived one block away. Her younger sister, Barbara, known as Bobbie, saw the picture and pledged to marry him, which she did, in 1948 at All Hallows, their childhood parish.

By then, Mr. McGrath had joined the Fire Department. His file lists him as 5 feet 9 and 160 pounds, but that may have been generous. When he strove to advance from fireman to truckman, he was too short for the 5-foot-9 minimum height.

To reach it, Mr. McGrath would lie on the floor at night while his daughter held his arms and his wife pulled on his legs, to stretch him. In combination with lifts in his socks, it worked well enough for him to qualify.

Back then, firefighters traditionally stayed in one station their entire career, but Mr. McGrath transferred around, always looking for the station with the most action.

“He was a great storyteller and loved history,” Hayes-White said. “The city was literally burning in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.”

In the mid-1960s, Mr. McGrath moved his wife and three daughters from the Bayview to a split-level ranch house in the Westlake district of Daly City.

Bobbie McGrath died in 1987 and was buried in Colma. Mr. McGrath later learned that there was space available for the two of them in the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio, so he had his wife disinterred and moved to a plot near the flagpole with a view of the Golden Gate.

Once she was moved, Mr. McGrath would walk from home to visit his wife’s grave, often in the company of Al McCarthy, another retired firefighter. They’d follow the shoreline all the way around to the fireboat station.

According to Hayes-White, he liked to quiz firefighters on their knowledge of the streets, and he liked to visit firefighters injured in the line of duty.

One such firefighter is Melanie Stapper, who suffered major burns and lost most of her vision in a fatal Diamond Heights home fire in 1995. Already 20 years retired, Mr. McGrath had never met Stapper. But he took it upon himself to visit her at the hospital every day and sit at her bedside.

“He was truly here when others weren’t,” Stapper said. Once she was released from the hospital, Mr. McCarthy would regularly drive up to visit her at her home near the Russian River.

“She was a fallen comrade,” Geraldine said. “He was loyal to the Fire Department until the day he died.”

Survivors include daughters Geraldine McGrath of Hayward, Nancy Klein of Montara, and Deborah McGrath of Oakland, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A visitation and rosary will begin at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Teresa of Avila. A Fire Department color guard, honor guard and engine will attend his funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Saturday, all at St. Teresa, 1490 19th St., San Francisco. Donations in his name may be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Teresa of Avila.

Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @SamWhitingSF Instagram: @sfchronicle_art


NY Times Article – Rwandans Carry On


Top Philanthropists in the World

Warren Buffett:

Warren Buffett may be considered as one of the top Philanthropists in the world. Throughout Buffet’s lifetime he has always be one too help out the less fortunate. One of Buffett’s main ideas was creating the Giving Pledge. The giving pledge is a promise made by some of most wealthy people in world will donate half their earnings throughout their lifetime. Since he created this in 2010, it has enjoyed incredible success.

Bill Gates:

Gates is the Co-founder of Microsoft, the largest Computer Software company in the World. He too, was part of creating the Giving Pledge that has encountered so much success over the years. Gates has donated over 30 billion dollars over to charity over his lifetime, talk about generous. Right ? Bill and his wife started a foundation back in 2000, known as the BIll and Melinda Foundation. Since launching this foundation, they have had much success. The goal for this foundation is to improve healthcare and extreme poverty in America.

Mark Zuckerberg:

Zuckerberg has been a major figure in philanthropic world for quite some time. After launching facebook back in 2007, the young entrepreneur has enjoyed incredible amount of success. Recently, Zuckerberg said was going to donate 99% of his shares to charity, which is worth an astounding 45 billion. How generous is that?

Michael Bloomberg:

Former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has also done his part in contributing to society. He has currently donated 3 billion dollars and has a net worth at around $37.7 billion. Bloomberg is the founder and CEO of both Bloomberg Media Company and Bloomberg Foundation. The Bloomberg foundations aims to focus on five areas, which include the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation and education. This foundation has been successful over the years and has done an amazing job giving back to society. Bloomberg has also donated billions of dollars to his alma mater, John Hopkins University. Since he has been so committed to helping John Hopkins University they decided to rename one of the schools to Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Investing in the Future : How Shiv Nadar Gives

Shiv NadarShiv Nadar is known as many things. Anyone with the slightest interest in the tech world knows him as the cofounder of HCL technologies, this is the fourth largest software firm in India. Nadar is essentially tech-world royalty, just earlier this month he was ranked as the 14th richest tech billionaire in the world and the fourth richest in all of Asia. His net worth is estimated at $13.7 billion.

But outside of his tireless work as a tech mogul, Nadar is known for something else. Following in the footsteps of do-gooders like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, Nadar is a full-blown philanthropist.

Back in 1994, Nadar set up a foundation under the moniker of his own name, and has continued to give through that organization.

It’s estimated that Shiv has already spent nearly six hundred million dollars through various charitable acts and programs like donating to museums, universities and even allocating funds to start schools. Based on his track record, it would appear that education and preserving or developing cultural institutions and places of higher learning are a cause of particular importance to Nadar.

With such a massive budget though, it’s safe to assume that Nadar must have some methodology or plan in place when it comes to giving. It might not turn out that well if you have a billion dollars at your disposal and no plan! That being said, the tech wizard has claimed that, “Education is, and will be the most powerful tool for individual and social change and we must do all that it takes to facilitate it.”

Nadar believes in the power of education and hopes to enable and empower people with this tool. But what does that mean on a practical level?

Back in 2009, the Shiv Nadar Foundation created an initiative meant to find the top students from rural primary schools that spanned over seventy districts in Uttar Pradesh. The initiative  then offered free schooling to nearly 2,000 students. The intention behind these schools is to provide the best and the brightest from underserved rural communities in India with the tools and opportunities afforded to the students through an unparallelled academic experience.

In addition to the Vidya Gyan initiative, the museums in India run by Shiv’s wife Kiran, intend to cultivate a passion for and a knowledge of modern Indian Art. Collections from these museums have been exhibited at other museums of note like the Guggenheim, Gwanju and the Rockbund,

Although we all have the choice of how we want to give to others, there is something to be said about investing in “renewable” sources like education, culture and knowledge.


4 Tips on Integrating Volunteers Into Your Cause

Alexander LakhanpalWhile establishing a not-for-profit organization or a charitable cause presents as many challenges as developing a for-profit venture, there are some aspects unique to the organizations with a philanthropic core. When cultivating a workforce in a business, there are a number of considerations that go into evaluating potential candidates. Skill, experience, growth potential, culture fit and ability to generate revenue are all factors worth considering when looking to hire a new employee for your business. But how do the criteria for acceptance as well as the structure of your organization change when your workforce is unpaid?

In some ways for-profit and philanthropic ventures share the same desire for success and growth through a combination of expert leadership and a committed work force, but the two differ in what those metrics of success look like and how to get there.

When looking to build a charitable organization, this distinct difference in labor  should influence certain aspects of both the company and how you hire. Creating an organization with this type of workforce in place can be broken down into four steps.

Developing a vision is the first step that will guide the entire process of launching and maintaining this effort. The vision both looks outwards, defining the cause that you wish to support and focuses inwards in terms of how you see the culture, conduct and aspirational growth of your organization. Once the vision is established, it’s time to define this succinctly in a mission statement as well as through supporting information that defines organizational procedures and policies in line with both the vision and the mission.

Step two revolves around building an infrastructure. How will this organization run? What roles are necessary in order to ensure the proper oversight of different departments. What does each job entail? What structures need to be in place to support the operations of the company as well as the people who work there? These are the questions that need to be answered and addressed when building the infrastructure of a new philanthropic venture. Once the infrastructure is clearly laid out, applications, agreements and position descriptions should emerge from this.

Evaluation. Once the employees – both paid and unpaid are in place, it’s critical that the different facets of the organization are tracked and assessed. Gathering as much information as possible is necessary so that the organization can easily identify where it is excelling and where it could use improvement. When used properly, this kind of data can unlock all sorts of potential in a growing organization.  its short-comings and adjust accordingly.

Training and Orientation. Today it seems that this step can often go overlooked for a more sink or swim approach, but arming your employees and volunteers with proper training is key. Not only does training ensure that all representatives of the organization share a base level of knowledge, it also serves as a chance for you to really clarify the mission of your organization and remind the employees of why they want to commit their time to this cause. Ongoing training is a great tool too as it helps keep employees and volunteers engaged with their work, and it ensures that your company is evolving.

So for those looking to start a charitable cause, make sure that you deploy Vision, Infrastructure, Assessment and training to set your cause up for success.

See idealist for more thoughts on the subject.

Encouraging Others to Give