Seeds of Kindness

Last Reminder: Shine Together Album Premiere with Donation Matching

A new fund-raising initiative is about to launch: Seeds of Kindness: Shine Together! Like our previous iterations of Seeds of Kindness, this fourth one is going to reach out through multiple conventions, pony fandom livestreams, giveaways, and other spectacular events all throughout 2015. This year, we are pleased to kick off this fund-raiser for the Against Malaria Foundation with our fifth charity album: Shine Together.

Shine Together Release Party
Saturday, December 20, 2014, at 6 p.m. EST (11 p.m. UTC)
on events.yoursiblings.org

The album drops on December 20, and we are having a livestream party hosted by Ponyville FM to celebrate! For the limited time of the stream, an anonymous donor has agreed to match all donations up to $1,000, so tune in and donate, and it’ll count double!

The album. Shine Together is the culmination of months of effort on the part of many dedicated fandom musicians. Featuring twenty-two tracks of folk, rock, orchestral, and electronic jams recorded by charity album veterans and new blood alike, Shine Together offers over an hour of uplifting tunes.

We’re offering up this and our previous four albums for any donation at all that you feel appropriate. Because we understand that not everyone is able to donate, the album download will be freely available—a thank you to the fandom for its years of support, and a goodwill gesture to facilitate donations toward the Against Malaria Foundation.

Here, a preview of the album.

The charity. Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2012, about 627,000 people died of the disease, the equivalent of four Boeing 747 crashing every day with no survivors. On average, one person dies of malaria every minute. (WHO 2013) This has to stop.

Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) are the most cost-effective means of malaria prevention. They protect physically against mosquitoes and also kill any that try to find gaps or rents in the nets. They also protect against dengue fever, yellow fever, and forms of encephalitis.

The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) supports local distributors by funding the hundreds of thousands of nets that are needed in LLIN distributions. It stands out because of its strong commitment to transparency and self-evaluation. AMF is one of the most provably effective charities in the world.

All the money donated to Seeds of Kindness goes directly to AMF, who will use it exclusively to buy LLINs. Donations are tax-deductible in the US, Canada, and most of Western Europe. Each donation will be publicly allocated to a specific distribution, and extensive tracking, predistribution, and postdistribution reports will be published online.

For further motivation why you should donate and why you should donate specifically to AMF, here a TED talk by Peter Singer and a TEDx talk by Toby Ord, explaining effective altruism.

The newsletter. To always keep you posted of our latest charity campaigns, please visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter in the sidebar. If you’re already subscribed but didn’t get our last announcement of this event, please check your spam folder, mark the newsletter “not spam,” and add us to your contacts to be sure that it won’t get filtered again. Thank you!

Seeds of Kindness: Shine Together Charity Album Premiere with Donation Matching

Conquering malaria is a mighty undertaking. Only together we stand a chance!

The Ponyville FM premiere of our fifth charity album since 2011, Shine Together, marks the launch of our new Seeds of Kindness fund-raiser for 2014 and 2015, which is going to reach out through multiple conventions, pony celebrity livestreams, giveaways, and other spectacular events. All donations go to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Shine Together Release Party
Saturday, December 20, 2014, at 6 p.m. EST (11 p.m. UTC)
on events.yoursiblings.org

For the limited time of the premiere stream, an anonymous donor has agreed to match all donations up to $1,000, so if you tune in and donate right away, your donation counts double!

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Against Malaria Foundation Back in GiveWell Pole Position

December 1, 2014, is an early, secular Christmas for effective altruists, because today is the day the charity prioritization organizations GiveWell and Animal Charity Evaluators published their new recommendations!

Of particular relevance to us are the recommendations of GiveWell because we committed in our planning for 2015 and maybe beyond to supporting the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and did so at a time when GiveWell’s demotion of AMF for reasons of limited room for more funding had still been in effect. Our research indicated that since the time of the downgrading, AMF had successfully disproved GiveWell’s wider concerns and successfully allocated substantial amounts of its funding. Because of these developments, AMF’s exemplary combination of minimal uncertainties and extreme cost-effectiveness, as well as a few marginal factors, we’ve opted to put all our efforts into supporting AMF. Today, GiveWell has vindicated our decision.

You can donate to the Against Malaria Foundation through its website and in particular through Your Siblings’ page.

In GiveWell’s blog article on the ratings update, it now recommends that of every $7.5 given, the donors allocate $5 to AMF with the remaining $2.5 divvied up (not evenly) among the other three top charities.

One reason for this great advantage is GiveWell’s restored faith in the ability of AMF to convert large amounts of donation money into accountably distributed mosquito nets. The foundation estimates that it has potential forthcoming distributions of nets at a total value of $36 million, and GiveWell trusts that if $10 million can be raised until April, AMF will be soon able to commit them to distributions.

Another factor is AMF’s extreme cost effectiveness in combination with the substantial evidence for it. Another top recommendation, the Deworm the World Initiative (DtWI) of Evidence Action, has a greater estimated cost-effectiveness, but its impact is fairly conceptually removed from the donations it receives, and its ability to absorb donations is also more limited. GiveDirectly, on the other hand, has a tremendous scalability and its impact is as direct and robust as it gets; the downside is that the cost-effectiveness of its program, unrestricted cash transfers, is lower by a factor (or rather divisor) of 5–10 compared to AMF’s distributions of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets. The deworming programs of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) have a cost-effectiveness comparable to that of AMF, but GiveWell had some reservations about SCI’s transparency and accounting.

While GiveWell had been undecided about whether 2013 would be such a good year to donate, it is now confident, especially with AMF restored to the top list, that this new giving period is “an excellent [one] to give a substantial amount.” GiveWell might, in the future, be able to further scale up its research, but “the world is getting better and some of the best opportunities available today (e.g., deworming, bednets, salt iodization) may no longer be available 10 years from now.” So donate quickly before we only suffer from expensive diseases anymore!

Below, GiveWell’s summary table from the blog article.

Consideration AMF DtWI GiveDirectly SCI
Program estimated cost-effectiveness (relative to cash transfers) 5–10× 10–20× 5–10× (and possibly more)
Directness and robustness of the case for impact Strong Weakest Strongest Moderate
Transparency and communication Strong Strong Strongest Weakest
Ongoing monitoring and likelihood of detecting future problems Strong Strong Strongest Weakest
Organizational track record of rolling out program Moderate Moderate Strong Strong
Room for more funding (more below) High Limited Very high Limited when accounting for all donors

Besides the top charities, GiveWell has also made a return to publishing its list of standout charities, charities with particular potential to enter the top list in the future. These charities are DMI, GAIN-USI,  ICCIDD, and Living Goods.

GiveWell will update its recommendations sooner this time, so we’ll likely have an effective altruist Easter in April 2015!

Animal Charity Evaluators, meanwhile, has promoted Animal Equality to the rank of top charity. It joins the ranks of Mercy for Animals and The Humane League. The prioritization organization has published two articles, on on the evaluation process and one one the results of this process.

Last Reminder: Donate Doubly with Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson

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Charity Chitchat 2
on November 15 at 5:30 p.m. EST (10:30 p.m. UTC)
on events.yoursiblings.org
with Nicole Oliver, Ingrid Nilson,
and donation matching!

The chitchat. While a scheduling conflict prevents Maud Pie from meeting Princess Celestia and Cheerilee, all of them will meet you! Oh, and Boulder too!

Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson have agreed to join us for two one-hour interviews from 6 p.m. EST and 8:30 p.m. EST respectively to chitchat with our Ponyville Live hosts about their profession, life, and whatever other topics you suggest in the viewer chat, so be at your best behavior!

The charity. Charity Chitchat 2 will benefit the Against Malaria Foundation, who provide life-saving mosquito nets in regions ravaged by malaria. These insecticide-treated bed nets are one of the most cost-effective interventions in existence. Few other charities can save as many lives with your donation!

The donation matching. As if the charisma of Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson wasn’t enough reason to fund a few dozen life-saving malaria nets at once, an anonymous donor has also agreed to match donations up to $1,465 during the time of the stream. Your $3 donation will buy two bed nets instead of one! Both will depend on your donation—no one can donate for you!

And if anyone should still doubt that this is the right time to give to AMF, please read this description of the organization and watch this excellent TEDx talk by Dr. Toby Ord.

Charity Chitchat 2: Donation Matching With Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson

Charity Chitchat 2

November 15 at 5:30 p.m. EST (10:30 p.m. UTC) on events.yoursiblings.org

with Nicole Oliver, Ingrid Nilson, and donation matching!

The clinic project. Maud Pie would be proud: We’ve reached a new milestone! You, our generous donors, have fully funded the renovation of the house that will generate a reliable income for Child Need Africa’s clinic in Uganda! This means that now all further donations can already go to the Against Malaria Foundation.

The chitchat. And speaking of Maud Pie, she is about to meet Princess Celestia and Cheerilee! Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson have agreed to join us for one hour starting at 6 p.m. EST to talk with each other and our Ponyville Live hosts about their profession, life, and whatever other topics you suggest in the viewer chat.

Do you still remember how, in late 2011, Friendship is Madness brought to light that Nicole Oliver is the voice of Cheerilee as well? Surely Charity Chitchat 2 will be full of surprises, too!

The donation matching. As if the charisma of Nicole Oliver and Ingrid Nilson wasn’t enough reason to fund a few dozen life-saving malaria nets at once, an anonymous donor has also agreed to match donations up to $1,465 during the time of the stream. Your $3 donation will buy two bed nets instead of one!

And if anyone should still doubt that this is the right time to give to AMF, please read this description of the organization and watch this excellent TEDx talk by Dr. Toby Ord.

Musicians Wanted for Seeds of Kindness 4: Shine Together

About two months are left to the release of Shine Together, our fifth charity album!

Thanks to the tremendous work of the music community, the ongoing Seeds of Kindness 3 fund-raiser together with our three previous fund-raisers have raised about $150,000 from online donations alone, supporting various Your Siblings and Engineers Without Borders projects in Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. We incorporated a few suggestions and rule changes to make this work even better for the musicians, and we would like to ask for your help to support the outstanding work of the Against Malaria Foundation!

Soft deadline: November 22nd, 2014
Hard deadline: December 10th, 2014
Release date: December 20th, 2014

The Charity. There is no middle man. All the money donated will go directly to the Against Malaria Foundation and will only be used to purchase insecticide-treated nets (LLINs). Donations will be tax-deductible in the US, Canada, and most of Western Europe. Each donation will be publicly allocated to a specific program and extensive tracking, predistribution, and postdistribution reports will be published online.

Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2012, about 627,000 people died of the disease, the equivalent of four Boeing 747 crashing every day with no survivors. On average, one person dies of malaria every minute. (WHO 2013)

LLINs are mosquito nets, usually bed nets, that not only physically protect against malaria-infected mosquitoes but are also treated with an insecticide that lasts for several years and in that time kills any mosquitoes that may otherwise be able to find possible gaps or tears in the net. At a price of just about $3, bed nets are a thoroughly proven, highly effective means of protection against malaria. Depending on the region they also protect from other diseases transmitted by the same vector species, such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and forms of encephalitis.

The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), founded in 2004, supports local distributors by funding the hundreds of thousands of nets that are needed in LLIN distributions. AMF stands out because of its strong commitment to transparency and self-evaluation. (From Your Siblings’ summary of AMF.)

Here is a TEDx talk by Dr. Toby Ord, the founder of Giving What We Can, explaining effective altruism and the logic behind our choice to support a highly effective charity such as the Against Malaria Foundation.

What changed. This album will operate on a pay-what-you-want basis and a free download for the album will be provided, so you may release your song as soon as the album is out. For the sake of musicians who submit their songs early, there is a set release date this time around. It does mean that we will get less breathing room to give feedback and help entries that are close to making the cut, so we recommend that you submit before the “soft deadline” to make that still possible.

What you can submit.

  1. It does not have to be pony: Pony and nonpony songs are equally welcome.
  2. Remixing and sampling: No copyrighted material can be used, and we cannot accept entries that remix, sample, or cover the show either (sorry, we really can’t). Submitting a remix requires the composers’ permission. Collabs are encouraged!
  3. Theme: There is no specific theme or genre restriction besides common sense. Don’t make anything angry, creepy, or overly depressing (but sad is fine) and your song should have no problem fitting in.
  4. Length: There is no set length restriction, and most importantly, short songs are just as welcome as longer pieces are. Don’t stretch your song solely to fit a given length – this was perhaps the most common issue with entries for the previous albums.
  5. Number of entries: You can submit as many songs as you want (within reason). Two songs from the same artist can get in without any problem, but over that number (not counting collabs), we might only take the best two of them.

How to submit. Please send an email to smile.bfg@gmail.com, with the subject “[ST]” followed by your user name, and include the following:

  1. An MP3 file without the artist’s name in its title or meta data, hosted on a service that offers streaming (preferably Mediafire or Box.com). Please make sure to take the sharing link rather than copy-pasting from your URL bar. You may check your link by accessing it while logged out, e.g., using private browsing.
  2. A lossless file (preferably FLAC or AIFF) uploaded on a third-party hosting service, not sent as an attachment. We tend to see a lot of Dropbox links dying when we need them, so please be careful.
  3. Your preferred artist name and a link for credit (YouTube channel, Soundcloud, etc.).
  4. Lyrics, if applicable.

You can upload your song on YouTube when the album is released, but please do not make your song public until then. However, feel free to upload previews or ask for feedback!

If you have any questions, you can email us at smile.bfg@gmail.com or ask in the My Little Remix thread.

Seeds of Kindness 4 Charity Album: Shine Together

Calling all musicians! Bronies for Good is organizing its fifth charity album, Shine Together, and we will be accepting submissions all summer long.

Thanks to the tremendous work of the music community, the ongoing Seeds of Kindness 3 fundraiser together with the two previous ones have raised over $100,000 from online donations alone, supporting various Your Siblings and Engineers Without Borders projects in Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. We incorporated a few suggestions and rule changes to make this work even better for the musicians, and we would like to ask for your help to support the outstanding work of the Against Malaria Foundation!

Continue reading

Summer o’ Good

There are so many ways to make a difference, and so many people who are not only willing, but itching to do so. The fandom itself is bursting with positivity. When that positivity has direction, we can all accomplish quite a lot and be a force for good in the world.

In addition to our Seeds of Kindness fundraiser and the albums, convention events, and custom auctions that go with it, we would like to encourage folks to participate in a good deeds drive. Find a local charity, volunteer, give blood, talk to your friends and collect old clothes they don’t need and donate them to a charitable organization.

Sometimes the little things really do add up to make a big difference, and even though so many of us are geographically separated and may go about this in totally different ways, that doesn’t mean we can’t still shine together. That’s what the Summer o’ Good is all about.

Here’s how it works. The /good/ forum is set up to facilitate the circulation of ideas—sharing tips on how to get involved in your community. So if you have an idea, and you’re planning on pitching in in someway, hop on board and share it. Or if you simply want to chime in and tell us about an organization you plan to get involved in and how many hours of your time you plan on donating, that’s great too.

We are calling on everyone willing to pitch in this summer to get out there in a spirit of volunteerism and good will, and we will be updating you all on the progress within the community as we go, so please keep us informed.

What You Can Do

Everybody: Get involved. Make a difference. Share ideas to help others figure out how best to do the same. This really is the heart and soul of what we are trying to do, and we can’t do it without your active involvement.

Community leaders: Organize meet ups of your local brony community. Go on outings with the group, and volunteer somewhere together. Let us know about it on the /good/ forum.

Fanfic writers: Write a story that conveys the spirit of altruism and effective altruism in particular, a story that inspires your readers to lend the best help they can. We can add it to our group on FiMFiction. Telofy has written a more detailed blog post about the process.

Episode commentators, bloggers, animators, etc.: Spread the word. The more people who know about this effort the better. Don’t underestimate the power of the shout out.

Artists: Let your work inspire people. Spread the word, spread the word, spread the word. Make original art of subject matter that captures the spirit of volunteerism and good will, and add a linked Summer o’ Good subtitle on the bottom.

Musicians: Contribute to the Seeds of Kindness 4 charity album, the details for which we will be announcing very soon. Please direct any questions to smile.bfg@gmail.com.

PMV Creators: Please get in touch via the same email address, so we can coordinate your efforts with those of the musicians. That way, you’ll be able to release a PMV (possibly as a milestone prize) soon after the album release.

Craftsponies: Make and donate customs to be used as prizes for charity auctions.

This is a chance to take a very simple idea like volunteerism and really make it fun and exciting!

Seeds of Kindness Fundraiser

In a spirit o’ good, we will continue to conduct Seeds of Kindness 3 fundraiser events throughout the summer, as we make room for the Seeds of Kindness 4 album that will be announced very shortly. As always it will be a year-long event featuring music, convention events, and custom swag prizes for top donors.

In the meantime your donations are still direly needed for our ongoing Seeds of Kindness 3 fundraiser, which will continue all throughout the summer. If you have a dollar, euro, or dogecoin to spare, please go to sok.yoursiblings.org!

All Seeds of Kindness donations benefit Your Siblings, a charity dedicated to building sustainable infrastructure projects and bettering the quality of life in poverty stricken villages.

Your Siblings is a nonprofit charity organization registered in Germany that provides effective monetary aid to select Third World projects that representatives of Your Siblings have personally visited and assessed. The projects need to be themselves nonprofit, nongovernmental, run by locals of the respective country, and geared towards providing the most essential, lasting means and services to those most severely disadvantaged in society, all to ensure that the donations will have the greatest and most permanent impact. (You can also follow Your Siblings on Twitter and Facebook.)

Seeds of Kindness News from Uganda and Burundi

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We have compiled some news from the Your Siblings projects we’ve been fundraising for since 2012: Child Need Africa’s medical clinic in Uganda, Green Life’s safe haven for street children in Burundi, and Another Hope’s orphanage, also in Uganda.

With Seeds of Kindness, we are primarily fundraising for Child Need Africa’s medical clinic at the moment, because if they don’t have the means to keep an array of essential medicines in stock, their patients, who often can’t afford to go to regular medical centers, might die.

However, Green Life also has to plan the allocation of their resources very carefully because they currently have to care for six children, who have nowhere else to go. Over the course of 2014, they will try to win the trust of another ten children who are living in the streets of Gitega, Burundi, to bring them into the Green Village as well. Meanwhile, they’re always trying to find out whether the children still have families, and if so, whether the problems that have caused them to flee are solvable.

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Final Notice: The Kallisti IV Charity Livestream

Kallisti IV

After months of preparations, we’ll launch the fourth of our Kallisti art and charity livestreams on May 3 at noon EDT (4 p.m. UTC) on events.yoursiblings.org!

The 24-hour livestream—organized by Bronies for Good and GalaCon with the help of Ponyville Live—will allow you to watch famous fandom artists draw your art requests while you listen to live interviews with the talent working on Friendship is Magic. With a little luck, you’ll even be able to pose your own questions to them.

The interview guests. Several of the preeminent minds behind the show have agreed to support our cause!

  • Anneli Heed (May 3, 1 p.m. EDT): the Swedish Spike, Sweetie Belle, Cheerilee, Spitfire, Photo Finish, singing voice of Rainbow Dash, and many more
  • Cindy Morrow (May 4, 11 a.m. EDT): the writer of “Winter Wrap Up,” “Sisterhooves Social,” “Read It and Weep,” “Hurricane Fluttershy,” and many more
  • Dave Polsky (May 3, 7 p.m. EDT): the writer of “Keep Calm and Flutter On,” “Daring Don’t,” “Rarity Takes Manehattan,” “Equestria Games,” and many more
  • Jennifer Weiß (May 4, 6 a.m. EDT): the German voice of Pinkie Pie
  • John de Lancie (time TBA): the voice of Q, uh, of Discord
  • Lee Tockar (May 3, 5 p.m. EDT): the voice of Snips, Steven Magnet, and many more
  • M.A. Larson (May 3, 11 p.m. EDT): the writer of “The Cutie Mark Chronicles,” “Luna Eclipsed,” “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” “It’s About Time,” “Magical Mystery Cure,” and many more
  • Nicole Oliver (May 3, 3 p.m. EDT): the voice of Princess Celestia, Cheerilee, and many more
  • Peter New (May 3, 10 p.m. EDT): the voice of Big Mac, Rarity’s father, and many more
  • Tara Strong (May 3, 6 p.m. EDT): the speaking voice of Princess Twilight Sparkle
  • William Anderson (May 3, 9 p.m. EDT): composer of the score of almost ninety episodes of the show

Please understand that guests, especially those who have not yet been able to indicate a time, may be called away by real-life duties on short notice. We will update our copy of this release and announce any changes to the schedule on Twitter. (By the way, we also have a FIMFiction group you can join.)

The artists and community guests. So far, Adlynh, Anticular Pony, BlindCoyote, Captain64, ChuckyBB, Colonel210, DeathPwny, DerpTime, Feyrah, futzi, Garrett Gilchrist, Ikasama, James Corck, John Joseco, LeekFish, Rain-Gear, Sketchy, St-Timid, Suikuzu, Tsitra360, XTailsDudex, and Yooyfull, have signed up for the stream. However, we’re still looking for more artist guests. If you can draw, you have experience streaming your work, and you are interested in doing so for Kallisti IV, please contact us and link us your art portfolio. We’ll also need your Skype handle.

The cause. The donations are again split fifty-fifty between GalaCon—who support us with their charity auction and other charity programming—and Your Siblings’ support project for the nonprofit Child Need Africa, which runs the medical clinic in Uganda that we all have helped to fund in 2012. In order to keep up the level of life-saving medical service that they’ve been providing to the impoverished region, they need a strong and sustainable source of income for the clinic, one that will be independent of donations in the long term.

The first step to achieving this is for Child Need Africa to buy and renovate a house near the capital, so that the complete revenue from the rents can help pay for essential supplies for the clinic, especially the medication. All details of the project can be found on Your Siblings’ Permanent Income for the Clinic project page.

Now bookmark events.yoursiblings.org and set an alarm for May 3, so you can’t miss it!