David Aylor | Philanthropy

David Aylor is an experienced attorney and dedicated philanthropist

Tag: Philanthropy

Earth Day

The Top Organizations to Give to for Earth Day

April 22nd marks an important day each year for the protection of planet Earth. Since 1970, Earth Day has come to signify a time of action for changing human behavior and provoking policy changes. The day was first established in the United States and is currently observed in 192 countries. People are worried about their planet, and online donations have been reportedly increasing for environmental causes. Some of the finest and highly-rated organizations to support this Earth Day include the following:

Environmental Defense Fund. This is one of the largest organizations globally that works hard to stabilize the world climate with a focus on energy, food safety, abundant oceans, and clean air.

The Nature Conservancy. Their mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth. That means protecting the lands and waters they need for survival.

Sierra Club Foundation. The successful, community-based organization has always focused on three key areas that include climate solutions, conservation and building a powerful environmental movement.

Natural Resources Defense Council. The council works to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. The organization boasts more than 3 million members and online activists.

There are also excellent, smaller environmental groups that are contributing to the cause through innovative projects:

Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. This environmental advocacy organization based in Atlanta, GA, features an exciting program that has attracted 40,000 school students. It’s a floating classroom along Lake Lanier. Children board a catamaran and learn all about lake ecology.

Ecotrust. The Portland, OR, forest initiative assists landowners in maintaining a robust forest products industry while providing high-quality habitats for native fish and wildlife and producing clean and abundant water.

The Wetlands Initiative. The Chicago-based non-profit is dedicated to restoring the wetland resources of the Midwest for better water quality, increasing wildlife habitat and biodiversity and reducing flood damage.


How Millennials Are Bridging The Gap Between The Non Profit And For Profit Worlds

How Millennials Are Bridging The Gap Between The Nonprofit and For-Profit Worlds

For decades, for-profits and nonprofits have had conflicting goals. The goal of all for-profits has been – of course – to make money. The goal of nonprofits, however, has been to effect change, often with very limited budgets. The founders of nonprofits have also had an uphill battle as the idea of needing “charity” is often considered a weakness in self-sufficient America. Millennials, however, have been raised watching the coke-fueled excesses of the ‘80s, the 70-hour weeks of the ‘90s and their home-ownership dreams go up in smoke with the collapse of the mortgage industry in the 2000s. Millennials have had enough, and they want something more than just a big paycheck. As a result, the gap between for-profit and nonprofit is slowly narrowing.

By 2020, Millennials will be the largest demographic in the workplace, and that gives them a pretty powerful voice. They are also poised to become the most generous generation in history. This is also somewhat shocking considering they are generally saddled with more student loan debt than any other generation in history and have to wait significantly longer to make large purchases like a home or a new car.

In spite of that, however, Millennials don’t just want a big paycheck. They also want to know that the work they do matters and that they are making a difference in the world. This means that they expect even for-profit businesses to have a social mission and aim. Conversely, however, they also place greater expectations on organizations in the non-profit and charitable world to engage in greater transparency and deliver a significant ROI on charitable contributions.

This makes sense when you consider that the average college graduate in 2017 walked out into the world already roughly $40,000 in debt. When you have that much debt but manage to carve out a charitable contribution, you tend to want to know exactly what that money is being used for and that it is being put to good use. This is perhaps why organizations like Charity: Water are thriving, whereas larger, more established non-profits with a history of poor donation management are floundering. In the for-profit world, Millennials just can’t get enough of businesses like Apple and Starbucks that both have strong social missions that prove they aren’t just all about making money.

America's Top Philanthropists

America’s Top Philanthropists and Their Favorite Charities

Many of America’s top philanthropists are probably familiar names to most people because some of them also happen to be the wealthiest billionaires in the United States. Icons such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg are not only famous for their wealth and their phenomenal companies, but they’re also top-notch when it comes to helping those in need. In fact, 40 of the highest givers are in the top 400 list of wealthiest Americans. This might come as a surprise to people who view rich people as misers or “Scrooges.”

For the fourth year in a row, according to Forbes, Warren Buffett is number one in total donations given in a single year. In 2017, he gave a total of $2.8 billion. Of this enormous contribution, $2 billion was given to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The rest was split between his own foundation, which was named after his late wife Susan Thompson Buffett, and three foundations that were established by his children.

In second place are Bill and Melinda Gates. They gave $2.5 billion in 2017 to a number of charities. The biggest donations went to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and the Gates Medical Research Institute. Bill and Melinda have donated over $35 billion through their foundation since 1994. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now the largest charitable organization in the world.

Third on the list is Michael Bloomberg who is famous for his influential financial information company. He also happens to be a former mayor of New York City. He gave over $702 million in charitable contributions in 2017 and has donated a total of more than $5.5 billion throughout his career. Some of his donations include efforts to support U.S. mayors, an initiative to reduce worldwide coal usage and other endeavors to support the arts and women’s programs in Africa.

The Walton Family, founders of the enormous Walmart company, are in fourth place for top philanthropists. Sam Walton established his charitable foundation in 1987, which was the 25th year after the Walmart stores were founded. His two children and three grandchildren currently oversee the foundation. The organization contributed $193 million in 2017 toward education and $146 million toward environmental and other local programs in Arkansas.

How To Give Back On Giving Tuesday

How to Give Back on Giving Tuesday

How can a giver make their donation go further? It’s easy to get lost in options, especially during the holidays. Fortunately, cooperation, planning, and understanding boost all donations.

Work Cooperatively

Although giving a homeless person a few dollars is a selfless act; it won’t provide that person shelter, safety, or even the certainty of a second meal. Supporting homeless shelters, halfway houses, and other critical service providers make a greater difference. Giving in coordination with others makes an even greater impact.

Social media makes it easier than ever to work as a team, even with strangers from the other side of the world, and projects like Giving Tuesday epitomize this. Giving Tuesday is a global organization helping people give back to their local communities the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. By providing local charity directories and resources for potential donors, Giving Tuesday makes it simple to coordinate holiday giving in a powerful and effective manner.

Have a Plan

Carl Richards of the New York Times suggests potential donors manage their giving by making a plan. This helps donors maintain control over their finances and give with the head as well as the heart. By planning for events like Giving Tuesday, donors can see how much they can keep on hand for the mall Santa while also contributing to organized events like giving trees, food drives, and special collections. It’s important to note that, although seasonal giving is wonderful, regular, reliable donations help charities accomplish a lot more in the long run. Holiday giving through organizations like Giving Tuesday may even help donors find an organization they feel comfortable supporting more often.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Many visitors see the plaque by the library door celebrating the millionaire who donated the building and wonder, “Why bother?” This is not a practical, personal approach to philanthropy. Few givers can provide the land for a park, equipment for a homeless shelter, or a new youth center on their own.

The thing is, they don’t have to. Small donations make a huge impact. If they didn’t, the Salvation Army wouldn’t populate the malls with bell-ringing Santas every year. Organizations like Giving Tuesday do not necessarily target billionaires, after all. They call on everyone to give a little to make a big difference.

David Aylor—Corporate Philanthropy

Stories From The New Age of Corporate Philanthropy

Businesses, whether recent startups or established corporate giants, are no longer the faceless entities they used to be. In an age of information, where skepticism is the norm and data about companies can be uncovered with a little digging, companies are now placed under increased pressure to both be transparent and give back to others.

The culture of corporate philanthropy is very much at odds with the desires of investors, with their heavy emphasis on the bottom line and improving profits. However, any business can take steps to improve its corporate philanthropy programs and make an impact in an effectual way that does not detract from their financial interests. I’d like to take the time to talk about some companies that are doing philanthropy right.


Despite an ill-fated commercial that many criticized as trivializing activist movements, Pepsi has a number of philanthropic initiatives that have hit the mark when it comes to social change. The company has embraced the trend of donation matching its employees, matching even higher if the employee in question is a frequent volunteer. Their list of causes are tailored to their organization, including sustainable agriculture and access to food and water.

Some of their projects have aimed to directly improve communities, such as Mother Water Cellar, aimed at bringing water purification and storage systems to residents of rural areas. At home, Pepsi spearheads the Food For Good Initiative, a program that serves free meals to inner city children.

The Nerdery

Proof that philanthropic projects can go beyond directly giving to disadvantaged groups, The Nerdery software company addressed a need for better web resources among nonprofits. The Overnight Website Challenge is a 24-hour event in which volunteering web developers work to remake a lackluster nonprofit website—and there are many in existence.

Oftentimes, due to limited resources, nonprofits are not able to dedicate their time and funds to setting up a good website. The Nerdery helps alleviate these concerns, giving organizations a vehicle with which to best deliver their message.


Bill Gates is no stranger to philanthropy, falling behind only Warren Buffet in terms of charitable spending. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that Microsoft has also promoted giving back. The company has come a long way since 1983, when employees raised $17,000 for nonprofit organizations. Since then, it has donated over $1 billion, in part because of their gift matching program with employees.

In addition to distributing funds, Microsoft seeks to improve the technological capabilities of nonprofits by donating computers to worthy organizations. These gifts span 125 countries and are tailored to an organization’s needs with the intent of modernizing their programs.

Reed Construction Data

Part of an effective corporate philanthropy program is leveraging a business’s unique talents and capabilities to make a difference. Nobody understands this more than Reed Construction Data, who, in addition to more traditional charitable giving, takes time every year for an event called a “blitz build.” During this time, a collection of volunteering construction professionals work to renovate a shelter or nonprofit facility in a deserving community.

The company takes particular pride in working to give veterans the means to land on their feet. Recent projects have centered around helped veterans as well as those displaced by the recent series of hurricanes.

David Aylor—Embracing Philanthropy

Ways Entrepreneurs Can Embrace Philanthropy

For anybody running a business, prioritizing anything but the bottom line can be difficult.

However, the idea of corporate giving makes it necessary for any business, from a fledgling startup to a multimillion dollar company, to consider what they can do to give back to others. It’s a much more prominent concept now than it was years ago, and there are ways other than simply writing a check that entrepreneurs can leverage their businesses for good.

In fact, writing a check may be one of the least effective ways to approach philanthropy. There’s a lot of overlap between entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Both seek to find solutions to problems in society, and as a result, entrepreneurs should be well-suited to using their creative energies to contribute to others.

And, for entrepreneurs, philanthropy is a great way to build a brand. The primary mission should not be good PR for the company, but philanthropy can help an organization live by its values and give the public a sense of what it stands for. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about some of the ways that entrepreneurs can make philanthropy a part of their businesses.

Start Local.

New startups can easily become celebrated in their hometowns with a bit of networking. Even in large cities, it’s always about who you know. Entrepreneurs looking to involve their companies in philanthropy should rein themselves in at first and start at the local level, reaching out to charities in the area to form partnerships. This is a great way to become acquainted with the giving process, and, like any business, you’ll be able to scale up later.

Involve Your Audience.

A big part of a modern company is the increased ability to connect with an audience. Corporations are simply no longer as faceless as they once were, so take advantage of this and get people that are already interested in your company interested in your charitable work as well! Social media is a great way to spread the word, but be cautious about falling into the trap of raising awareness—that is, talking about a problem without offering solutions or a call of action for anybody that may be interested in helping.

Invest in Long-Term Impact

If you’ve established yourself as a successful entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to use your time, resources, and creative prowess to make a difference. One of the best ways to do this is by starting a foundation in service of a specific cause. This can often be a part of your company, and it allows you to tailor a nonprofit organization to solve problems that you’re passionate about, which is a great position to be in for any philanthropist.

Foster Passion Among Employees.

Your own efforts can often feel hollow if you don’t have the support of your company. Give them a voice when it comes to which causes to donate to, or go the extra mile and allocate some donation funds for them to give as they see fit. Philanthropy should be integrated into all aspects of your company, and it only makes sense for everyone to be involved. Volunteering efforts are also a great way to build company bonds, establish a community presence, and make an immediate difference for those in need.

David Aylor—Philanthropy in Law

Philanthropy in Law: Pro Bono Work Among Lawyers

When Mildred Loving penned a desperate letter to then-attorney general Robert Kennedy asking for help, he sent her to the ACLU, who chose to take the case pro bono. Mildred, a black woman, and her husband Richard, a white man, were imprisoned in the state of Virginia for breaking the state’s long-standing anti-miscegenation laws, and as a part of their punishment, the couple had to leave their pastoral home in the countryside for twenty-five years. Mildred hated life in the city Washington, D.C., and longed to return home to Virginia, so she enlisted the help of the ACLU, who referred her to novice lawyers Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop. The two took on the case pro bono, and in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that any and all miscegenation laws were unconstitutional.

Lawyers have often used pro bono work advance social progress and contribute their skills to the greater good of society heavily since the 1960s. Unfortunately, public defenders are usually too swamped with cases to take on much if any pro bono work, but those in the private sector often choose to balance their heightened bills with free work for those in need, often for civil liberties cases.  According to a 2012 ABA survey, lawyers who work for themselves and those in large firms do the most pro bono work — each group averaging over sixty hours of pro bono work per annum.

Elite law schools train lawyers specially for pro bono cases that they suspect could alter future interpretations of the law by means of a Supreme Court appearance. Throughout US history, lawyers have utilized a handy shortcut through the legislative branch via a Supreme Court decision. The NPR spinoff podcast More Perfect delves deep into the history of SCOTUS rulings as a means of rewriting laws in a congressional composition unfriendly to an idea. Some of the biggest cases that the Supreme Court has ruled on, from issues of same-sex relationships to desegregation to gerrymandering, have drawn intense criticism from commentators and legislators alike claiming that the Court was overstepping its bounds. Since the infamous case of Baker v Carr, SCOTUS has ruled on more and more political and legislative issues, which has only spurred more impetus for lawyers to take on pro bono cases.

Both left- and right-leaning lawyers in training enroll in “clinics” on how to prepare a potentially-monumental briefing for the Supreme Court.

In recent years, lawyers noticed that middle-income citizens were falling through the cracks in terms of the need for service. The same way that social safety net benefits cut off before recipients are earning a living wage, often those who need lawyers appear on paper not to need the same intense level of assistance that the poorest of the poor need. As such, lawyers coined the phrase “Low Bono” to describe reduced-cost services for those who can afford small fees but not the usually steep price tag of a top-tier lawyer. The phrase also describes smaller-scale pro bono work that won’t necessarily make it into the history books but will make a huge difference in the lives of the people.

david aylor-how to be a broke philanthropist

How to be a Broke Philanthropist

Common knowledge dictates that a philanthropist by definition is someone so wealthy that they can donate entire libraries to colleges or single-handedly repair an economy or pay off their caddy’s student loan debt. While many aspire to this level of wealth, you don’t have to be this loaded to practice philanthropy. Even if you make an average salary, there are lots of ways you can donate small sums of money that will make a big difference to organizations and people in need. Here are some ways you can practice philanthropy even if you’re a little bit broke.

Pledge $5 per month to your favorite organization. Many nonprofits rely heavily on donations and contributions to plan out their activities. While surprise lump-sums are wonderful, it’s helpful to such organizations to have pledges that they can count on so they can plan their fiscal years in advance. Even if the amount you can contribute is small, that “steady income” is invaluable.

Collect spare change. While it may not seem like much, a year’s worth of spare change could add up over time. At the end of a week, empty your purse or pockets into a jar, and every year or so, count it up and donate the money to a charity or nonprofit of your choice. Not only will you get to enjoy the thrill of seeing how much you’ve been able to collect over time, but can see how a little forethought can help a cause a lot.

Use your birthday to raise money for a cause. While variations on this idea have been in existence for some time, many have started harnessing their birthdays to raise money for a charity of their choice. Facebook recently rolled out a integrated way for people to contribute to a cause directly on their personal pages, and other sites offer similar services. Rather than collect a whole bunch of stuff you don’t need, you can ask your friends and family to support a good cause instead.

Always “round up.” Many retailers will ask if you’d like to “round up” your order to the next dollar so that the leftover cents go to a charity. Again, this may not seem like very much money, since it’s guaranteed to be under a dollar, but if everyone at a certain store does it, that money will add up quickly. Never pass up the little ways to give back.

Contribute portions from proceeds. There are countless apps for selling stuff you don’t need anymore. From Vinted to Craigslist to Letgo, many young people are taking advantage of such apps to purge unnecessary items from their homes and make a little cash on the side. As you sell off clothes and appliances you don’t use anymore, save a certain percentage to donate to a charity or nonprofit of your choice. That way, you’re not losing out on any money you were counting on from a paycheck, and you’re still helping out an organization near and dear to your heart.

Promoting the Modern Nonprofit—David Aylor

Promoting the Modern Nonprofit—Strategies For Reaching Out

While nonprofit organizations generally put their budgets toward fundraisers and awareness campaigns, more have decided to allocate resources for general promotion and a stronger web presence. One of the biggest problems with modern philanthropy is the sheer number of causes competing for attention at any given time. While many may be noble, without proper marketing techniques, nonprofits have no way to reliably get the message out. For that matter, the practice of raising awareness can fall flat if an organization lacks the infrastructure and good messaging to direct interested individuals to donate or otherwise contribute.

It’s worth the time and the money for nonprofits to invest in marketing strategies to be heard above the noise. Even for individual philanthropists, it’s worth considering adopting some of these tactics to best champion their cause of choice.

Provide value on social media.

Creating social media platforms is only the first step for a nonprofit looking to promote. While Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other sites are great for informing followers about events and donation drives, this is only effective if there are followers willing to give back. In order to fully leverage social media, nonprofits will need to first engage with their audience. Organizations that post regularly about their initiatives or even about the causes that they work with form a better relationship with their audience by keeping them informed and providing interesting content. Contests, polls, or other incentives to engage are also possible to keep them talking and passionate about a cause.

Tell a story.

When it comes to the type of content that organizations post online, nonprofits should be discerning and aim to frame their work in an interesting way. The best way to do this is to tell a story; each organization should ask itself about what they are aiming to accomplish and what steps they need to take to get there. Use examples of projects in the past, and use faces of volunteers to make the story personal. It’s not just about the cause; it’s about who is affected by it and who has worked to make things better.

Video is also good for storytelling, as it adds more depth to what’s being told. Consider including interviews with key individuals and live footage from recent projects.

Create a strong website.

Web development has become dominated in recent years by the idea that creating a powerful experience for visitors is key in forming favorable impressions of sites. Nonprofits can work to tell their stories on their sites as well as providing a wealth of information for anyone interested in the cause. Like social media, a website will have to provide value to its visitors; keep it updated to keep an audience coming back repeatedly. One way to do that is to start a blog about current events in the field that an organization works in. Another important website tenet for nonprofits is to include a call to action; make it explicit what you want interested individuals to do if they would like to help, and include well-marked places on your website to easily facilitate this.

Pay for advertising.

This one isn’t for everyone, but paying for online advertising can get the word out about an organization. Advertising may not be for nonprofits with smaller budgets, and working with local businesses that may be willing to strike a deal to promote an organization may be necessary. Consider talking to a professional on which forms of advertising generate the most leads, and work to create an ad that is on-brand, distinctive, and again, spurs the viewer to action.