Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Start Spreading the Word

Posted on behalf of Deron Denton

Last year was, in many ways, the Year of Giving Big. Warren Buffet pledged $37 billion dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Clinton Global Initiative hosted a conference that read like a “who’s-who” of philanthropy: non-profit, corporate and political leaders from across the globe pooled their expertise and wealth to tackle issues of poverty, climate change, global health and education.

In 2006, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Bangladeshi man who founded a bank that helps poor people by providing them affordable loans to start their own small businesses. U2 front man Bono seemed ubiquitous: he was at the White House, in Africa, and everywhere in between. Scores of other celebrities were not only getting involved with humanitarian causes – they were talking about it. (The fact that they talked about it bugged me. But more on that in a minute.)

The same trend appears to be continuing this year…the actions of the rich and famous are being replicated by the rest of us. It is estimated that two-thirds of Americans gave to charity last year.

The friends and family who began sponsoring children since I started working for Children International 3 years ago seem to confirm this trend. Most of them, I think, already donated time or money to humanitarian causes prior to signing up for sponsorship. But when they learned about what Children International does, they wanted to be a part of it.

I know that two of those friends have provided special donations to their children’s families. One of them told me, more than once, that sponsorship has made him more aware of just how fortunate he is. The fact that we are not one of the 3 billion people on the planet struggling to survive on less than two dollars a day, he says, makes us wealthy. At least, we are wealthy beyond the dreams of half the people with whom we share this planet.

I don’t know if you can relate to this or not, but I have a tendency to not talk about the charitable endeavors I am involved with. Somehow, I think, this cheapens it. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I’ve had that notion for a long time now. So when I see celebrities talking about their involvement with certain humanitarian causes, it tends to turn me off.

But I have come to realize just how eager people are to help the less fortunate. And if we are passionate about something, that passion is contagious. Letting friends, family and co-workers know about the philanthropy that energizes us is a way to get more people involved. The more people we get involved…well, I think you get the point.

Very few of us are famous. But that doesn’t matter in terms of getting other people to hop onboard the train of charitable giving. We can still spread the word. Even fewer of us are billionaires. Nonetheless, most of us can afford to support a humanitarian cause…even if it’s just a small, once-a-year gift.

And talking about it, in terms of how giving helps the recipients – and how giving is its own reward – is a great way to further the cause.


evergreen3 said...

I agree with Deron that for me its difficult to talk about why I help others, whether sponsoring children or providing special contributions. However I'm coming to realize that is one of the most effective ways of reaching out to others.

Anonymous said...

It is a JOY to talk about the cause of Children International. Since I became a sponsor I feel like a "bragging parent". I talk about my sponsored child as though she's one of my own flesh and blood. Having her picture on my desk here at work, joining the rest of my family photos, gives me opportunities to share in the "wonder" of sponsorship. Isn't it remarkable that simple letters and communications with a child on the other side of this planet can touch the human heart. When I talk about sponsorship some people might think that I'm patting myself on my back or I'm bragging but in reality I'm hoping that by sharing my story I might touch their heart too and cause them to reach out to a child in need. THINK of THE CHILDREN who need a helping hand to lift them up....and continue to tell your story with pride and enthusiasm!

evergreen3 said...

I do the same with my sponsored children. Their photos and letters are on the bulletin board in my office, next to my own children's photos and when I have people in my office I sometimes get carried away talking about them. However, I haven't had much success in actually persuading others to sponsor a child, have you?