I swear, this is not what I typically spend my weekend nights doing. Really.
I swear, this is not what I typically spend my weekend nights doing. Really.
Today’s the day! It’s World Water Day, and I’m totally #PUMPED.
The water crisis issue is one that I’m extremely passionate about, probably more so than most other issues.
Because it’s not a complex issue on the surface. It’s water. Our earth is filled with it. But for some reason, nearly 900,000 million people lack access to clean, potable water. I’ve only experienced a sliver of the detriments of this lack of access, but it’s been enough for me to know that something needs to change. There is no reason for 4,000 children dying each day due to water-related illnesses. With a death toll of 3.5 million a year, the water crisis takes more lives each year through disease than any war claims through guns. It kills more young people than AIDS, measles, and malaria combined.
So we have some great organizations like Lifewater International building wells for communities and training people on how to maintain good health through sanitation. Love that.
Another organization I love, of course, is The Adventure Project. Co-founder Becky Straw was checking in on water wells in developing countries when she realized that an absurd amount were broken shortly after being built.
And so she began TAP, which has a water-focused program that doesn’t go in and build wells though; it goes in, hires local men and women, and trains them to become mechanics. Simple. One mechanic oversees 50 wells, which provides clean water to 5,000 people.
Sustainable access to clean water for these communities. No more costly and disappointing breakdowns. Just empowered men and women, healthy communities, working water.
Help support The Adventure Project in its movement towards sustainable clean water.
Between being really sick for the past 24 hours, trying to still work today, and having some valuable discussions on the IC controversy, I didn’t get around to acknowledging #IWD on the blog!
This world is filled with some really amazing women and girls doing some really amazing work with great social impact. I can’t give every individual and organization a shout out, but I do encourage people to check out the following:
The International Rescue Committee: Wake Up
As most of you know, I’ve always respected this organization and am a huge fan of their work and the integrity with which they do it. Recently, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with some of their staff (who aren’t even on the program side), and I can see the integrity, diligence, careful thought, and passion with which they work.
Below is a video from their Wake Up campaign, which seeks to educate people on the violence and injustice that women face around the world. I think the statistic is 1 in 3 women globally will have been raped, beaten, coerced into sex, and/or abused in her lifetime.
The Wake Up campaign was listed today in Mashable’s “5 Social Media Campaigns Rocking International Women’s Day.” Makes me glad!
The Adventure Project
Yeah, I know you all are probably sick of me always talking about TAP, but the vision that Becky Straw and Jody Landers have is incredible: to eliminate extreme poverty, not through charity but through job creation.
TAP wants to educate Americans on smart giving. Donating to an organization is a social investment, and the women of TAP believe that investing in economic empowerment programs, training programs, and job creation for women in developing countries is an investment in sustainable solutions to poverty, hunger, the water crisis, and global health issues.
This is an old video from over a year ago, but it highlights one of the projects in one of the communities that they partner with: training women mechanics in rural India to repair the broken wells in surrounding areas. Love their projects so much.
(On a side note, co-founder Becky Straw was invited to speak today at the UN on International Women’s Day and women’s empowerment through social business.)
Camfed fights poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa by educating girls and empowering women to become leaders of change. The organization began in 1993 with a goal to improve the lives of two million children by 2013, and is currently at over 1,400,000 impacted.
“When rural girls and young women graduate from high school, they enter an adult world of massive unemployment.”
What I like about Camfed is that it doesn’t just stop at education; they continue to walk alongside young female graduates by providing seed money (microloans) to help them develop their economic skills and launch small businesses.
Okay, I think it’s time for me to pop some meds and get some rest. But let’s continue celebrating women and girls (not just on March 8th)!
The reality is that I know nothing about Africa. I have never even stepped foot on the soil of the continent (yet). Therefore, I do not pretend to be knowledgeable in matters I am not well-versed in.
And also therefore, it’s important to hear from the voices of people who are actually tied to these countries.
TMS Ruge, founder of Project Diaspora, writes an honest and real post about the #StopKony campaign, African agency, and respect for the people of central and east Africa.
“Let me be honest. Africa is not short of problems, epidemics and atrocities. But it is also true that it is not short of miracles, ingenuity, and a proclivity to surprise. We as Africans, especially the Diaspora, are waking to the idea that our agency has been hijacked for far too long by well-meaning Western do-gooders with a guilty conscious, sold on the idea that Africa’s ills are their responsibility. This particular affliction is called “white man’s burden” in some circles. Please don’t buy into this. Africa’s problems are our own.”
While I don’t believe in absolutely no aid or collaboration with any non-Africans, I do agree that more local/grassroots empowerment is needed to bring any real change.
Ugandan journalist, Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire, made a video response to this Invisible Children debacle. She takes a very calm and diplomatic approach, I think, but gets the point across that what the IC video represents isn’t going to cut it for the people of central and east Africa.
Rosebell implores us to focus on “intelligent campaigns” that are geared towards “real policy shifts rather than a very sensationalized story that is out to make one person cry, and at the end of the day, we forget about it.”
She adds that how the story of Uganda is told might be more important than the story being told:
“If you’re showing me as voiceless or as hopeless, you have no space to be telling my story. You should not be telling my story if you dont believe that I have the power to change what is going on.”
Great trailer on How To Be A Philanthropist In The 21st Century. This short clip gives a general overview of where philanthropy is heading in our lifetime.
The creators write, “Despite us still being in the midst of a global recession, the number of super-wealthy individuals is on the rise, increasing by 8 per cent a year for the last 10 years, according to Merrill Lynch, and there are now 450,000 millionaires in the UK alone.”
(That seems to make basic sense to me. Money leaves one place, it must go somewhere else, right? Or maybe not. I’m no smartie pants.)
But even for the average non-millionaire, we need to really assess how we’re giving. As one woman (Dame Stephanie Shirley) says in the video, it’s not about how much we give, but how we give.
“Billions are wasted on ineffective philanthropy. Philanthropy is decades behind business in applying rigorous thinking to the use of money.”
- Michael Porter
People get offended when I criticize or question (tactfully!) an organization. But the truth is, we need to be wise when it comes to investing in a better world — or else we just end up throwing money and effort at the world and hoping it sticks.
(I originally just titled this “On being wary of NGOs and aid organizations.”)
So a number of my friends are working together to support a major international aid NGO. I have to preface that I don’t dislike this organization. I think they do decent work with good intentions, but as many of us know, good intentions are not always enough. I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly investigate this organization in recent years, but based on its past I do know it’s not the first organization that I would want to throw money at. I’d rather invest in an organization that focuses on long-term impact and in which I value its efforts 100%. Growing up, my parents and I supported said NGO, but between our mediocre experience with it and my continual education on aid and development, we’ve ceased giving money quite a number of years ago.
Because my friends, whom I care for quite a bit, are working so hard to give support to this NGO, I’ve just been keeping my mouth shut about my feelings on its efficiency or effectiveness. I kind of slide out of the conversation whenever it comes up and try to just politely be a bystander. (I do plan to support in some manner, if possible, without going too much against my beliefs.)
However, recently I got cornered. One girl directly asked me to support in a major way. Initially, I made up some other excuses, as I had before when general requests were made to our social circles, but somehow she squeezed out of me the truth: I’d support in a small way (like giving some money to show support for my friends’ efforts), but I couldn’t go and actually advocate on behalf of this NGO or participate in one of the programs that I don’t strongly support.
I was pretty quickly told that I was hard-hearted and arrogant, with implications that I also am closed-minded and enjoy being negative. Despite the fact that I was being antagonized, I was the one that ended up feeling bad. This girl looked like she was going to cry (and punch me). I tried to be diplomatic and tactful, but it didn’t matter. I simply was not as good of a person as I claimed to be because I didn’t want to be a champion for an NGO that gave money to little poor children in Africa. Apologies if that sounded crass.
(I have other theories on why the conversation went so sourly, and it has little to do with the actual NGO, but that’s not something I will blast here.)
Anyways, that conversation made me realize how difficult it is to have the average American really understand what development and social impact really looks like, and how charity and “doing good” needs a huge overhaul.
I’m not super knowledgeable or experienced in this by any means and have much to learn myself, but I do know we need to be investing our money and efforts more wisely. We need to question the institutions through whom we are channeling our giving, and we need to demand more transparency, efficiency, and long-term impact.
I swear I’m not a snob. I just care.
“Happy valentine’s day, lil lady!”
“Happy Valentine’s Day to you too. And Generosity Day!”
“It’s Generosity Day!”
“Saint Generosity? Never heard of him.”
Real text conversation at 8:00am this morning.
I’m not super savvy on my saints, but I’m going to say that there is no St. Generosity. But that doesn’t mean today can’t be rebranded as Generosity day.
Evidently, at last year’s Social Media Week (held around Valentine’s Day), Katya Andresen of Network for Good, Sasha Dichter of Acumen Fund, and Ellen McGirt of Fast Company all sat on a panel for a session called “Nonprofits Using Social Media To Close Doors For Good.” The panel was introduced by Scott Case of Malaria No More, who led the session in brainstorming ideas and solutions for social entrepreneurs and non-profiters in the audience.
Afterwards, Sasha was discussing his “Generosity Experiment” with Katya, in which he said YES to everyone who asked him for help for an entire month. The discussion inspired him to take back Valentine’s Day and celebrate a different kind of love. He launched Generosity Day 2011, utilizing social media platforms, reaching out to his network, and partnering with Network for Good. The inspired Sasha then inspired others to rebrand their Valentine’s Day to Generosity Day by “doing good.”
And this year, Generosity Day is back. Individuals and organizations worldwide are spreading the word and showing some love, not just to significant others and special loved ones in their lives, but to their neighbors, their communities, and even strangers on the street.
Below is another video, made by the interns at Pencils of Promise: “#GenerosityDay Fail.” The part about holding the door open has happened to me more than once.
And one more video made by Jason & the crew from Jubilee Project: “What is Love?”
Enjoy, and happy loving!
It’s Valentine’s Day!
Oh. You forgot.
But they’re not just e-cards, of course (when are they ever “just” anything with The Adventure Project?) — they’re e-cards that add venture and impact lives.
Show your love online (yes, we’re green like that) by sending a simple e-card with a major impact. Just choose from one of their four cards (each one supporting one of their four projects: Health, Environment, Water, Hunger) and include a note to your special someone. And The Adventure Project will send it out to your loved one at some point today. Simple and sweet.
Your gift will arrive on time, show that you care, and change lives. Can’t get much better than that, right?
About 15 minutes ago, DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers announced the launch of a new initiative to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn Of Africa. In partnership with The International Rescue Committee, Save The Children, Mercy Corps, and the Justice League itself, the “We Can Be Heroes” campaign seeks to combat the worst hunger crisis in 60 years and bring assistance to over 13 million people in need.
I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan (X-Men wins it all for me), but I have to say kudos to DC for launching a really amazingly done campaign and for giving a 100% match in donations. This is spectacular from a corporate alliance standpoint.
Note: I know that most of my social circles have no idea who she is. It’s okay. She’s only awesome.
So yesterday, I woke up, got ready, and hopped on an extra early train since it was my first day with Good Scout. I arrived far too early though, so I decided to loiter outside and give B a call. In the middle of telling him something, I spotted a woman walking across the cobble stone streets just down the block from where I was standing.
“I’ll call you back. Sorry.” Hung up on my own boyfriend.
Thankfully I wasn’t wearing my extra tall heels when I dashed over to her.
“Excuse me??” I said (or squealed, maybe).
The woman looked at me and replied, “Yes?”
“Are you Jacqueline Novogratz???”
I felt like a teenager who had just spotted Justin Bieber. I’m pretty sure when she said yes to that, my mouth dropped a bit and I blanked for a second. I don’t approach “celebrities” often, but when I do my communication skills (or my overall ability to form coherent thoughts) clearly flies out the door. Not a great track record so far.
Good thing Jacqueline is incredibly nice and down to earth, and was able to overlook my bright-eyed idiocy (seriously, when did I get that way?)
I started telling her how I loved her work and how I loved Acumen Fund. I also added that I literally was just reading her book The Blue Sweater a few minutes ago on the train. I considered pulling it out and showing her, but remembered all the junk in my bag…and pictured everything spilling out in a tangled mess as I attempted to show her that I really was carrying her book…and thought about the awkwardness of bending down in my heels and trying to pick up everything off the ground while doing a juggling act…and became utterly horrified at the potential of such embarrassment…and so I decided not to pull it out. (This entire image and decision happened in less than a split second.)
She kindly searched through her bag for a business card as she recommended that I check out the New York chapter since the Acumen office/Google building was right down the block from my office. (Glad I didn’t try to take that book out. I don’t think they let spazes join their meetings.)
Anyways, since I had the honor of speaking with Jacqueline for a brief moment, I decided that I should share one of her TED Talks. Below is one called, “Inspiring A Life Of Immersion.” It was the first one I had seen of her, though I think it’s the most recent one she’s done.
Check out more TED Talks from her too.
Also, she tweeted me back and wished me good luck! Nice people rock.