Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's 100 percent about giving for Brother's Brother

For 50 years, the Hingsons have used less to help more.

"I think there's a history of this," said Luke Hingson, president of the Manchester-based Brother's Brother Foundation. "Ever since my father founded the organization, we've been trying to make do with what we have. I think that's become institutionalized."

With shipments of medicine, books and shoes totaling $262 million last year and overhead costs of less than $1 million, Forbes.com recently ranked Brother's Brother as one of the most efficient charities in the country.

The foundation receives donations in bulk from companies, then ships the supplies to Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and a few places in the United States.

Rounded out, about 100 percent of what is donated to the foundation goes to its mission. Hingson, 55, of Moon said he doesn't plan to change anything heading into the busy holiday season.

"The idea being that 100 percent comes in and 100 percent goes out," he said.

Donations from companies tend to pick up at the holidays as they want to move inventory for tax purposes before the year ends, Hingson said. Medicines, however, tend to remain steady throughout the year because of expiration dates.

He said Mylan, Heinz and Alcoa are among local donors.

Brother's Brother will be distributing thousands of books to Madagascar, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, the Philippines and Jamaica in the coming month. Most of the books are textbooks.

Hingson's late father, Robert, an anesthesiologist, founded the organization in Cleveland in 1957 and moved it to Pittsburgh in 1968. The organization has shipped more than $2 billion in supplies over 50 years.

The organization operates with 10 full-time and three part-time employees, and relies on a volunteer distribution network. Brother's Brother partners with local organizations in receiving countries to deliver the products.

Dr. Chip Lambert, 46, of Sewickley, who serves as the organization's executive medical director, returned from Africa last week after taking a shipment of medical instruments to Malawi and Kenya.

Lambert traveled to Africa both for Brother's Brother, where he volunteers, and for the Medical Benevolence Foundation, for which he works full time. He works part time as an emergency room doctor at Allegheny General Hospital, North Side.

"I check the medical products that come in to see if they're viable and where we can ship them," Lambert said. "When medicines come in, they have an expiration date. We don't want to hold on to them."

It's 100 percent about giving for Brother's Brother - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review