Philanthropic Ventures Foundation

 February 2012 


a newsletter for our donors and colleagues  


Generosity Harnessed
A guest post by Duncan Beardsley


Travelers who visit schools and villages while traveling in developing countries are often so moved by the needs they witness that they would like to help. Out of that desire came a designated fund housed at Philanthropic Ventures Foundation: Generosity in Action.

There are many ways that generosity handed out in third world countries can go wrong: the funds don't get used as the traveler intended, or the village elders were not consulted and don't buy in to the project, or simply that there isn't a passionate person "on-the-spot" to insure that things go right.  


Justica Nursery SchoolWith thirty years of travel experience and seeing how things can go wrong, I wanted to see if we could manage donations by dispensing funds to honest, passionate people who would oversee that the projects were accomplished as the traveler desired. Generosity in Action evolved and PVF understood the idea and established a designated fund for processing travelers' donations.


After nine years over $1 million have been collected and distributed to over 35 projects in 13 countries. Donors are happy that their generosity can be directed to a specific village or project that they have visited; they know where their donation is going as opposed to sending donations to country-wide charities. And the local people have even greater appreciation of the impact of travelers, ranging from schools and wells in Burma, to a clinic in Thailand, and anti-poaching projects in Africa.


The key is to have a point person in country who believes in the project. Often that person is the guide or tour company manager that handled the travel arrangements for the traveler. Here are a few examples:

 A village school in Zambia:  Bushtracks, an African tour operator has taken tours to Zambia to visit Victoria Falls. While there travelers often visit a local village and meet Ranji Chara who is the Director of Ebenezerthe Ebenezer School in Livingstone, working with orphans and street kids. Ebenezer School does not have a US 501(c)3 structure. However, once Bushtracks and Generosity in Action got together and we realized that Rangi was reliable and had a specific plan for improving the school. Bushtracks could tell their travelers how they could donate to improve the Ebenezer School and enjoy a tax deduction in the US.  For seven years travelers' generosity has rebuilt schoolrooms and helped to keep children in school.


Sanitation for a monastery orphanage in Bhutan: Two PVF donors had visited a remote monastery in Bhutan located two hours walk from a main road. The Bhutanese guide who led the Backroads Nebuwalking trip described to the travelers many needs at the monastery, which housed and educated monks from a very young age. The travelers returned home, contacted Bill Somerville and asked how they could give to the monastery. PVF called upon Generosity in Action, which confirmed that Namgay Tshering was an extremely professional travel guide for Backroads who would be a reliable point-man for travelers' projects. The first project - improving the water supply to the monastery - was accomplished in a few months: funds were wired to Namgay, he purchased all the materials and involved the community to provide the labor, and digital pictures came back to Generosity in Action which were posted to the website and the travelers could see the results of their generosity. 


An added benefit of tour operator oversight is that new travelers return again and again to sites where projects have been completed and often add their donations to take a school or sanitation project to the next level. Through PVF's Generosity in Action Fund, travelers have helped to stock school science laboratories, support a women's sewing collective, and build entire schools, libraries, wells, playgrounds, even a basketball court, in small, remote villages from Burma and India, to Peru, Niger, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. For more examples read the blog post Burma to Zambia: Projects Funded by Travelers' Generosity below. 

Duncan Beardsley is the Director of Generosity in Action and also serves as Chair of the Board of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation.

About the Editor

Bill Somerville has been in non-profit and philanthropic work for 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991 founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation where he serves as Executive Director. PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and conducting innovative philanthropy. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations in the United States, Canada, and the U.K., on creative grantmaking and foundation operations.  His primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.

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Duncan Beardsley, Chair


Generosity in Action  


John P. Carver

Retired Senior Vice-President

The Gap Inc.


William E. Green


William Green & Associates


James Higa

Senior Director

Apple Inc. 


Albert J. Horn


Carr, McClellan, Ingersoll,

Thompson & Horn PC


Bill Somerville, President

Executive Director

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation


Jackie Speier

U.S. Representative

12th District of California
Moira C. Walsh

Attorney and

Philanthropic Advisor


Colburn S. Wilbur

Trustee and Former President, 

David and Lucile Packard Foundation 

Board of Advisors

Janet Camarena

Director, San Francisco Office,

The Foundation Center


Leonard Edwards

Judge-in-Residence, California Administrative Office of the Courts


Kathy Kwan


The Eustace-Kwan Family Foundation 


Dien Yuen

Chief Philanthropy Officer,


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Philanthropic Ventures Foundation has come to depict exciting philanthropy - grassroots giving that is born out of creative thinking. If readers would like to explore new possibilities in their giving, we are ready to meet at your convenience. We believe your giving should be fun, satisfying and significant.

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PVF's Blog  

From Burma to Zambia: Projects Funded by Travelers' Generosity

Examples abound of projects supported by travelers' generosity through PVF's Generosity in Action Fund.  Coordination with tour operators and tour leaders insure that donations are applied as intended to local village projects.

BurmaWells and village schools in Burma: The people of Myanmar (Burma) place a great value on education. But the education outcomes are unsatisfactory. According to official estimates, three in ten five-year olds cannot enroll in kindergartens and only 40 percent of those who begin kindergarten finish the primary cycle. Travelers visiting Bagan, one of the most famous historical sites in Myanmar, contributed funds to build a well and replace the dilapidated here to read more !

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Telephone: (510) 645-1890  Fax: (510) 645-1892