Tuesday, November 16, 2010


In the spirit of Bayram and Thanksgiving, we have been reflecting on how grateful we are for your generosity and for your continued confidence in us this year.

We are thankful that with your participation and support TPF has been able to touch lives and make a positive, tangible difference in Turkey. Here are some new developments we would like to share with you:

- TPF's new grantee partner, Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi continues to contribute to the formation of a contemporary society in Turkey through education. Their signature programs, Baba Beni Okula Gonder and Kardelenler, and others, can now be supported through TPF.

- Another new grantee partner Türkiye Görme Özürlüleri Kitaplığı- TURGOK (Library for the Visually Disabled of Turkey) has launched a program to address the need for study books for the Central University Exam in Braille and audio format. They will provide not only study books but also hope for a better future for visually disabled youth of Turkey. This program is 40% funded by TPF.

- Anne Cocuk Eğitim Vakfi-ACEV (Mother and Child Education Foundation) launched its new program, The Rural Education Project, to develop and implement alternative education models in places where institutional and formal education is inadequate.

- Young Guru Academy has increased its creative libraries to 125 this year, getting one more step closer to their target of 5,000 libraries throughout Turkey. They have also launched the Remote Read-Think-Share Program to reach students they could not reach physically with the help of technology.

- Turk Kultur Vakfi/AFS (Turkish Cultural Foundation/AFS) has sent two disabled students on an exchange program to the United States, enriching the lives of the students as well as setting an example for other disabled youth in Turkey.

- TPF's first time grantee Mevsimlik Tarim Iscilerinin Haklarinin Korunmasi ve Gelistirilmesi Derneği (METIDER) provided additional training on civil rights, proposal writing and project coordination to the 25 seasonal migrant worker youth that originally attended " Seasonal Migrant Worker Youth Program." These 25 people now constitute the Youth Chapter of the organization, working to provide solutions for their community's needs.

Everything you do through TPF for these organizations makes a difference! Your involvement brings awareness to their issues, strengthens their missions, and most importantly, improves the lives of people. We hope these organizations inspire you just as much they inspire us.

Have a Happy Holiday Season!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Remembering Our Alma Maters…

Posted by Karalyn Watson

Turkish universities are on the rise, and some of their degrees are becoming globally recognized and accepted. In a recent ranking by the Times Higher Education of London, two Turkish universities made it onto the Top 200 World Universities list—Bilkent University at #112 and Middle East Technical University at #183.

On the other hand, the top five schools in this ranking were U.S. schools. One reason for this is that U.S. higher education institutions are being lifted up and forward by grateful and loyal alumni. Compare universities and colleges in the United States—which receive huge support—to Turkish ones that do not, and it becomes clear why U.S. schools usually rank on top. It’s no coincidence that U.S. universities also have the highest alumni giving rates. In 2009, Harvard and Stanford each received over $600 million in alumni donations. The alumni and friends of these schools are investing back into their institutions, allowing them to build new facilities, conduct advanced research, hire qualified professors, and purchase the best equipment, all making them world-class.

Some Turkish alumni ask: why should I give back to my alma mater? One answer is to make them world-class. Generosity abounds in Turkish culture. Giving to those in need, or to friends and family, is second nature to anyone from Anatolia. Yet, despite this culture of giving to one another, Turkish alumni do not have a philanthropic tradition toward institutions. This is especially evident in the level of philanthropy for higher education. Another reason to give is that we want our universities to improve and keep Turkey’s brightest minds in country. It is also vital to provide these Turkish schools with support so our hard-earned degrees can become stronger and more valuable on our CVs.

Additionally, we should give back out of gratitude for what was given freely to us—either from the school itself or from our parents who paid for it. This is a way of expressing our thankfulness.

It is important to understand why Turkish alumni may hesitate to donate back to their institutions, while on the other hand they may donate easily to a foundation such as Kızılay or Turk Hava Kurumu at Kurban Bayramı. One reason can be the perception that the universities are rich – that they don’t need money. Another obstacle is, due to past incidents in society, there tends to be a mistrust of authorities and funding. Lastly, in Turkey there is often a lack of the university “spirit” that is found on American campuses. Turkish universities are often missing the mascots, theme songs, insignia clothing, and other essentials that can contribute to school spirit and bond people into a community.

These obstacles can be overcome, but only with some work. School administrations could share budgetary needs with alumni and friends, allowing them to see the areas where increased funding could help the school improve. Second, the university can help by being transparent about how funds are used and staying accountable to the alumni donors. We must also cultivate a better school spirit while alumni are still students, giving them the feeling of a university family, and not just a place one attends for four years.

Lastly, the school should work through its alumni office to stay in touch with students after they graduate, keeping and updating their contact data and communicating regularly.

If alumni give back significantly to their Turkish universities, Turkey’s higher education outlook would brighten. We could decrease brain drain, improve the strength of our degrees, and watch our alma maters rise to world-class levels.
Investigate what your university is doing in philanthropy. Find out if there’s a way to give back. Start small—just $50 or $100 at first could make a big difference and help familiarize you with giving back in the future.

Karalyn Watson earned her B.A. in Journalism at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, then her masters degree in 2007 in International Relations at Bilkent University, Ankara. Since then, she has been working for Bilkent in the U.S. as the Alumni Relations and Development Director for their North America branch. There are roughly 1,200 Bilkent alumni spread across the U.S. and Canada. She is in the process of also expanding the program to the United Kingdom.

Visit TPF Website.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Young Photographers Award Exhibition: Nov. 27th in ISTANBUL

Young Photographers Award Exhibition is opening at Fotografevi in Istanbul, Turkey on November 27, 2010. The exhibition will feature the works of Nevzat Yildirim of Kocaeli Univerity, the recipient of the inaugural Young Photographers Award, and sixteen other photographers who participated in the competition. The Young Photographers Award Fund was established as a Donor-Advised Fund at Turkish Philanthropy Funds by Elisa and Haluk Soykan in 2010 to encourage and support undergraduate students of photography at Turkish universities. The award is jointly administered by The American Turkish Society and Moon and Stars Project.

Opening Reception:
Saturday, November 27th - 6:00 pm-7:30 pm
Fotografevi - Istiklal Caddesi, Tutuncu Cikmazi, No: 4
Beyoglu, Istanbul, TURKEY
Tel: +90 (212) 249-0202

Exhibition Dates:
November 27 - December 3, 2010
Monday through Saturday 9:30 am-7:30 pm

Photograph © Nevzat Yıldırım, winner of the 2010 Young Photographers Award
Tired Apprentice, 2010 | from "Producing Liberates"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Giving a Gift and Getting a Return

Published: November 10, 2010 in NYTimes

FOR retirees increasingly worried as interest rates on their savings accounts and money market funds have plunged below 1 percent, an appeal from their alma mater or a respected charity, offering a return of 5 percent or more on a charitable gift annuity, can seem like a rare opportunity.

Is it? Or is there a catch? The answer to both questions is no. But the questions are simplistic.

Better to ask yourself: “Do I want to support the charity?” and “Is a gift annuity a wise choice for me?” If you answer the first one with a yes, then you need to assess your finances and understand what charitable gift annuities are and how they work.

“Some people assume it’s like a bank account,” said Avery E. Neumark, a retirement specialist and partner in the New York accounting firm Rosen Seymour Shapss Martin & Company. “But it’s not. It is just what the name says — a gift. You give away the principal, and you get a guaranteed lifetime income. You can’t compare that with today’s money market rates. The downside is you are locked in.”

The rates, which far exceed today’s annual 1.1 percent inflation rate, might seem low years from now if inflation heats up.

For the choice to be a wise one, Mr. Neumark said, people should generally be nearing retirement and charitably inclined, have liquid assets and other income and have taken care of other needs. “I had one client who did very well,” he said. “He was 90 years old, so the rate was very high, and he lived until he was 103.”

The American Council on Gift Annuities defines the product as a contract under which a charity, in return for a gift of cash or property, agrees to pay a fixed amount over the term of either one or two lives, usually the donors’. Most reputable charities use rates recommended by the council, which vary with the annuitants’ ages and whether there are one or two. Because of the charity, there are tax benefits.

For a single life, the latest rate table called for a 55-year-old to receive 5 percent a year, a 60-year-old 5.2 percent, a 65-year-old 5.5 percent, a 70-year-old 5.8 percent, an 80-year-old 7.2 percent and someone 90 or older 9.5 percent.

Prospective donors can calculate their own rates and tax benefits at the Web site: pcalc.ptec.com/hosts/989357365/CGA. For a $100,000 gift annuity covering one person aged 65 and another aged 62, the site calculator showed an immediate tax deduction of $12,179.50 and an annual annuity payment of $5,000. Of the latter, $3,326.53 would be tax-free because it represented a return of principal and $1,673.47 would be taxed as ordinary income.

After 26.4 years, their joint life expectancy, all payments would be taxable as ordinary income.

Conrad Teitell, a lawyer in Stamford, Conn., who represents the council and a number of large charities, said donors could donate appreciated assets and avoid immediate payment of capital gains tax. The gain is prorated annually over the donor’s life expectancy, and the taxable portion of the annuity payments is divided into ordinary income and capital gains.

Donors do not have to begin taking annuity payments immediately, he said; they can defer payments for a year or more. That can be a good option for people who are employed and in a high tax bracket, but who expect to retire in a year or so.

Some states require charities to meet criteria, including initial registration, notification and annual filing, to sponsor charitable gift annuities. Others are silent. Many are somewhere in between. Mr. Teitell advised prospective donors to check on their own states at the American Council on Gift Annuities Web site (www.acga-web.org/regs/regsoverview.html).

If one’s home state does not require charities to meet any criteria, see whether a charity is authorized to offer annuities in a stricter state, and check its financial soundness at the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org/us/charity) and Charity Navigator (www.CharityNavigator.org).

A sound approach is not to become involved with a charity that does not meet the standards of a tougher state, because annuity payments are a general obligation of the charity. Though failure to meet the obligation is rare, some charities take out reinsurance, a matter worth discussing with a prospective recipient.

Paul Horrocks, vice president of the New York Life Insurance Company, which sells individual annuity policies and also works with charities on gift annuities, said donors could “accomplish the same thing in two ways,” either through a charitable gift annuity that might pay 5 percent or by dividing the amount into an outright gift to the charity and a commercial annuity that would pay about 7 percent.

Don Greene, national philanthropic product executive for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, favors charitable gift annuities. They are a way for “lower-end donors” to enter the world of “structured philanthropy,” he said, and “they offer tax advantages and a consistent level of support for a spouse.”

The gift is irrevocable, he added, but a person who is committed to charity, by including a bequest in her will, for example, might want to consider a gift annuity instead and enjoy making the gift during her life.

Please call Turkish Philanthropy Funds at 646.530.8988 if you would like to learn more about Gift Annuities and Other Planned Giving Options or visit our website for more information.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Innovation Philanthropy: Mobilizing Turkey's International Brain Power

Posted by Dr. Banu Onaral

Since 1950’s, Turkey, along with other developing countries focused on educating scientists, engineers and business professionals to spark economic growth and unleash ‘innovation ecosystems’. It was a miscalculation. Turkey created a ‘brain power’ for which its economic system was unprepared. This prompted a ‘brain drain,’ exporting its best and brightest to the West, which offered opportunities to match their skills.

This has been changing in recent years. With an estimated 30 000 to 40 000 of its scholars, scientists, engineers, medical doctors and high ranking professionals and executives living outside its borders, Turkey is starting to realize the power and the importance of its own international ‘brain network.’ Organizations such as Turkish Philanthropy Funds have started to build these networks by building bridges between those abroad and their compatriots at home. They are helping accelerate Turkey's social and economic development through transnational ‘innovation partnerships.’ It is a phenomenon that has come be called ‘innovation philanthropy.’

Also referred to as "philanthropy to build social capital," innovation philanthropy is centered on knowledge, science and technology-based social and economic development. It is founded on mutual respect and understanding gained through shared mission and equal partnership between the philanthropists and the private, public, academic and civil society sectors.

Innovation philanthropists are those who donate professional expertise, contribute strategies, share their experiences and material resources to enable their local counterparts to take charge in science and technology based initiatives. It’s ‘philanthropy through solutions,’ focusing on addressing the unmet needs of a developing society. Innovation philanthropy does not impose, rather partners to identify, to assess, to connect, to leverage the existing resources that may not yet be integrated and fills the gaps.

INOVIZ: Izmir for Health Initiative is an example of innovation philanthropy. Since March 2009, INOVIZ has mobilized human and physical resources in life sciences, biomedical technology and healthcare services so that Izmir, Turkey’s 3rdlargest city, can brand itself as a health center. The initiative has facilitated more than ten meetings, workshops and conferences and culminated in the Global INOVIZ Conference, held on May 24-25, 2010 with regional, national and international participants. Turkish ex-pats are showing interest and Izmir’s goal of becoming a health center is progressing.

INOVIZ demonstrates the importance of platforms. Change cannot happen without space and room to grow. INOVIZ provides that space, convenes the community and builds trust among sectors of the society. The trust deficit is ultimately the most challenging for the developing world. INOVIZ is a regional innovation model that helps turn the country’s ‘brain drain’ into a ‘brain gain.’ Transnational ‘innovation philanthropists’ are currently contributing to similar initiatives in Ankara, Eskisehir, Istanbul as well as other cities, each emerging from the realities of the locality to address their unmet needs as they become part of the innovation economy. This is how ‘innovation ecosystems will ultimately thrive.

Dr. Banu Onaral is H. H. Sun Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. She holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and BSEE and MSEE in Electrical Engineering from Bogazici University. Dr. Onaral’s translational research efforts for rapid commercialization of biomedical technologies developed Translational Research in Biomedical Technologies program, which brings together academic technology developers with entrepreneurs, regional economic development agencies, as well as local legal, business, and investment communities. Dr. Onaral serves on the Engineering Advisory Board of National Science Foundation's and on the board of trustees of Sabanci University. Read more.

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