All posts in Podcasts

Mia Yonker, 8, hands out summer survival kits to homeless clients at The Stewpot in Dallas, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Amy Desler)

Helping the Homeless Beat the Heat

Tiny Spark reporter Stephanie Kuo recently visited the Stewpot, a Dallas-based social service organization that’s offering summer survival kits to the homeless. Children volunteers raise money and then assemble and distribute the kits themselves. It’s part of a program teaching them about homelessness, privilege and the importance of giving back. Kuo’s story aired on public radio’s Texas Standard.

Building a Self-Reliant Africa from the Bottom-Up

Teddy Ruge, aka TMS Ruge, has made a name for himself by pushing back against international do-gooders in Africa. The Ugandan-born writer and entrepreneur has spent most of his career questioning the very definition of international development.
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Your Letters: ‘Cultural Imperialism,’ Aid Work Advice

We recently hosted a debate about billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson’s decision to donate $400 million to his alma mater, Harvard University. We explored whether the Ivy League is a worthy cause, or if Paulson’s money could have done more good elsewhere … say, by giving it directly to the poor. After our podcast was posted on The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s website, one guest wrote in there.

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‘Slingshot’ Takes Aim at Water Crisis, Gains Ground in Cinemas

JULY 7, 2015 UPDATE – The Slingshot documentary is screening in New York and Los Angeles this month. The Huffington Post just came out with a glowing review of the film: “If you want to make an indelible gift impact on your family, your friends, your children and yourself, Slingshot is a certain success.”  Tiny Spark spoke to director Paul Lazarus last year.

July 18, 2014 – Dean Kamen is the subject of Paul Lazarus’ documentary Slingshot. Kamen created the Segway, that impressive but only moderately successful people mover. Kamen’s new invention, called the Slingshot, is a high tech solution that promises to turn even the dirtiest water into clean drinking water. Given the world’s water crisis, you’d think there would be enormous potential for this sort of device. But in Lazarus’ film, Kamen’s technology is repeatedly rejected by potential partners, which include the World Bank and United Nations, according to the film’s director. Frustrated, Kamen ends up turning to Coca Cola. Read more…

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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