All posts in Podcasts

How Much is a Celebrity Worth? Nonprofits Pay For Star Power

Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton have collected as much as $11.7 million for their foundation by speaking at nonprofit events. The money came from 50 nonprofit groups, including universities, health research institutions and small charities.

The reasons nonprofits paid these speaking fees “ran the gamut,” according to our guest Kenneth Vogel, the Politico reporter who investigated fees paid to the Clinton Foundation. “[The nonprofits] just thought that having one of the Clintons come and speak would be such a draw for their galas that they’d be able to raise a ton of money from donors and prospects.”
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Dhatur Sirin Tamang live with their children and relatives in a compound of 12 houses. Only one is livable now. Photo Credit: Emily Troutman

Sparking Our Interest: Nepal Relief, Big Money and Beating Hunger


We’re planning to regularly share stories with you that pique our interest. Here are a few that stood out to us this week:

Who’s Getting the Aid Money in Nepal?

Journalist Emily Troutman is continuing her work in aid transparency. She recently found that less than one percent of the UN’s Flash Appeal for the Nepal Earthquake went to organizations based in the South Asian country. Read more…

Your Letters: Aid Ethics and Business v. Philanthropy

We’d like to share some letters we’ve been receiving from listeners like you. The first is from someone seeking advice on an ethical issue. Read more…

Does $400M Gift to Harvard Support a Worthy Cause?

Harvard University recently made an historic announcement: billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson gave $400 million to his alma mater’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It marks the biggest gift to the world’s richest university, and some critics are pouncing on Paulson’s choice of a worthy cause. Read more…

Effort to Chart Global Deaths Draws Backlash

It would be an enormous challenge to figure out what people suffer and die from in every part of the world. But Christopher Murray decided he would try.

The Rhodes Scholar and Harvard-trained doctor led a 20-year effort involving hundreds of scientists and $100 million. Murray believed concrete data from his initiative would help donors better channel their aid dollars, and thus improve global health. But controversy sparked among some aid groups and institutions like the World Health Organization when the Global Burden of Disease findings were released.
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Tracking the Aid Money: Mission Impossible

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the more recent Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, billions of foreign aid dollars flowed into those countries. But figuring out how that money was spent has been enormously frustrating our two guests.

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Tiny Spark Assistant Producer and Reporter Stephanie Kuo.

Stephanie Kuo Joins Tiny Spark

We are thrilled to announce that public radio journalist Stephanie Kuo has joined Tiny Spark!

Stephanie’s work has been featured across several NPR stations in her home state of Texas, on subjects ranging from poverty and transportation to urban development. She will be based in Dallas. Read more…

A Global Detour Before College

Graduation season is here, but not all high school seniors are taking the direct route to college. In recent years, some 350 seniors have chosen to put higher education on hold for Global Citizen Year, which offers them year-long apprenticeships in Africa and Latin America. Read more…

Not If, But When: Planning for the Next Nepal

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal was the nation’s worst in some 80 years. International aid groups are rushing to help more than a million people get food and other forms of relief.

But our guest Brian Tucker says responding to crises in this way is shortsighted, costly and just poor policy. Read more…


On World Malaria Day, A Look Back On Bed Nets

April 25, 2015 marks World Malaria Day. The latest figures from the World Health Organization show 198 million cases of malaria in 2013 — which led to 584,000 deaths, mostly among children under age five. Read more…