Give your 1% this season – #GivingTuesday

Posted by Christopher

Today is December 3rd and it is a day coming to be known more every year as GivingTuesday. It marks the start of year-end giving cycle, following #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday which are both just about buying things. Giving Tuesday is about making a real difference in the world.

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So many people hear about global issues like poverty and disease in other parts of the world, and they want to help – they really do! – but they feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. There’s a common belief that you can only help by giving lots of your time or money.

I’m here to dispel the misconception that charity has to be costly. Like almost everything else in life, if everyone did just a little bit – something well within the means of everyone in the United States and Europe – we could not only get a handle on horrors like famine, poverty, and disease from sanitation problems, we could conquer them in short order. Practically overnight!

How much would it take from each person? $100 a month? $50 a month? Not even. 20% of your income? Maybe 10%?

Would you believe only 1%?

The truth is that as little as 1% of your income could make 100% of difference to someone in need. If society as a whole could get enough people like you to pledge donating just 1% of their income every month, together we really could bring a lasting change to the world. Take stock just for a moment: how much is your paycheck every month? If you’re at the average income for the United States, you’d be bringing home almost $4000 a month. And when you’re making that much, $40 is only like skipping a single dinner out for 2 each month. Less, even, with tips factored in.

Of course, not many of us are making that much these days. Trust me, I know. If you only bring home, let’s say $1200 a month, giving as little as $12 of that would still go so far toward fixing these problems. No one in the non-profit sector expects any one person to give beyond their means, but if everyone would pledge only one little percent toward social change – literally a penny on the dollar – we’d easily be able to solve these global problems.

Will you, dear reader, take the pledge this #GivingTuesday to donate 1% of your monthly income starting now to a worthy non-profit like SUM1? Whether that’s a $10 or $20 monthly repeating donation or a lump sum based on the last 12 months? And even if you are more passionate about another cause that isn’t ours, please still pledge to donate your 1% toward that cause and help solve these problems.

And please don’t take the pledge quietly: proclaim it loud and proud to everyone! Put it on your Facebook, Tweet it to the world. Tell others that you’re doing your part to fix these problems – your 1% – and they will be more likely to follow suit.

If we all did our part this holiday season and in the coming year, then more hungry children would go to bed with full bellies, more girls would finish school and go on to successful and well-deserved lives instead of starting families at age 15, and more mothers would not have to bury another of their babies.

Albert Einstein said “Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” That idea is something we’re really passionate about at SUM1. Even if you can’t take this 1% Pledge right now, then as a gift to us please tell your friends and family about it and send them to read this. Hopefully we can touch enough hearts this season to save the whole world.

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Could the Corporate Sector cut us just a little slack?

Post by Christopher

Yesterday I was excited to learn of a new way to send money through Square, a new project called Square Cash. It seemed like a dream come true for receiving donations for a non-profit such as SUM1. The idea of simply emailing someone money… wow!

And in light of recent tweets such as this:

I could tell many others agreed this is concept was poised to revolutionize the whole system.

And it does, don’t take this post the wrong way. It’s simply brilliant in its simplicity, and I love minimalism like this. But what I can’t grasp is what I learned next…

I wrote Square, expressing how excited I was to start using this amazing tool. I received a reply today that dropped my heart:

“1) Square Cash is tailored for non-business payment transactions. You are unable to use this service for commercial payments or for accepting donations for a non profit organization.”

Ouch! I can understand not wanting commercial use of it, companies sidestepping the necessary processing of payment transactions and the like. I can even understand/accept a small processing cost for using it to raise donations: something along the lines of 1% or 2%. I’d be overjoyed to only spend that much on processing costs, compared to what it runs right now (anywhere from 2.2%+.30 per transaction to 2.75% flat)

SUM1 is not a commercial venture. We’re not getting rich from it. Quite the contrary: like most non-profits we’re struggling to stay afloat, and to bring the necessary change that will save the lives of children and improve the health and welfare of the poorest people in the world. We donate hundreds of hours of our time, not paid a dime from what we raise for interventions. And that’s JUST RIGHT. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

But in light of two recent posts I’ve shared—the TED Talk by Dan Palotta and The Role of Business in bringing WASH Changes—non-profits everywhere really need the commercial sector to cut us a little slack! We need companies like Square and Paypal to step up to the plate!

So I’m starting a bit of a social media campaign/petition/pressure right here, right now. And I need your help…

If you’re a Facebooker, send @Square a message, asking them to allow non-profits to use Square Cash for online donations. Cut us some slack! If you’re a Twitterer =) do the same and tweet along the lines of “@Square: Cut charities some slack and let them use #SquareCash for receiving #donations!” If you do both, pressure them from both sides!

Keep it polite, keep it professional, but keep the pressure on. Most importantly of all, share this post with all your friends and followers. Be sure to put “Pls RT” in your tweets, ask your friends and family to follow suit with a quick message to the company. If enough people speak up, they may see the light and revise their stance. They may donate services to charities and non-profits by allowing us to use their system, even with a small fee.

And share with us what you said, either on FB or here in the comments. I just sent them a FB message saying “Love your product, love your work, but can you please cut charities and non-profits a little slack and let us use #SquareCash for receiving donations? I’d even happily pay processing of 1 or 2 percent… I think most of us would! Thanks for listening =)”

And on that note, dear reader, thank you for listening.


Why we don’t build pyramids at SUM1

Post written by Christopher

I read this article yesterday and it really struck a chord for me. On more than one occasion we’ve been advised from more experienced non-profiteers, urging us to change our model or to adopt these older systems. The one where you donate X, you get emails every week (or every day) asking you to donate a larger amount, and if you donate X+Y then the email asks just increase.

In the age of snailmail only communiques, that probably worked pretty well. But the world turned and the internet has changed/is still changing everything. I know pyramids don’t work because I get about 10 different non-profits contacting me weekly/daily asking to donate. Even when it’s been literal years since I last had money to give. I had to get a new email address and redirect the ones I wanted to keep to that because my main inbox was at almost 1000 unread messages one day!

People have no patience for the constant ask anymore. It will get your group relegated to the spam folder, filtered out of the rest of the email that floods into their inbox like the tide every morning and every evening. But since the internet keeps changing everything, we have better options. Like social networking, building a ring/vortex of friends and family that will help you and promote you. By curating useful information to that ring of friends so that they can learn and grow with you. Instead of spamming people, you need to entice them to want to read your posts, to feel like their a part of what you’re doing. Because if you’re reading this, you are indeed a part of it.

So, no, we’re not going to spam people just because they gave us a few dollars out of the honest goodness of their hearts. We’re not going to sell our list of donors so that we can get more money, even if for a good cause. It’s just not right, and it’s not how we should do things in the 21st century.

That said, I will appeal rather than ask. Christmas is Coming! Please remember us when you’re looking at your end of year gifts and donations. SUM1 can always use your help, and there’s a lot of work to do.

http://www.clairification.com/2013/10/29/why-we-stopped-building-pyramids-what-nonprofits-can-learn/

xmasthrone


Always changing, always growing

post by Christopher

I’m proud to announce some exciting changes on the SUM1 website that will help people keep better track of events, our exciting twitter feed — and a way to buy shwag that helps support our cause!

If it’s been a while since you looked at the site, take a few minutes to check it out and browse through the attractive merchandise you’ll find on the donations page.

http://www.sum1.org


First World Concerns vs. Real World Problems

(guest post by Christopher@sum1.org)

So, an article about Kickstarter in our local free paper was brought to my attention the other day:

http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-26-17617-kickstarter-part-2.html

If you don’t want to read it all, I’ll sum it up: crowdfunding is revolutionizing everything, and the digital world of the internet is shaping the analog world we all live in more than ever. This is some pretty exciting stuff, and something I’ve been following closely over the years as it develops. It really does promise to revolutionize entertainment, at least on the level of removing studios from the equation.

Let me focus your attention on one paragraph of that article a moment: “But the game seems to have been changed with the Veronica Mars movie project by director Rob Thomas. It raised more than $5 million, leading some people to question whether the introduction of “big fish” like this will crowd out smaller projects.” Five million US dollars.  About half of which was raised in one weekend. To film a fan movie for a tv series canceled several years ago.

Listening to the radio this morning, the on-air personalities (whom I adore, mind you) are spending most of their time talking about trivialities like celebrity pregnancies and sports doping. A tiny portion of airtime mentions international conflict and natural disasters. As a nation, we’ve been more focused on the few dozen killed by tornadoes—or the staged massacre that happened on Game of Thrones this last week—while completely ignoring the few thousand children abroad that have died in the last week from diarrhea and starvation.

I’ll say this up front: I spend more and more time each week going through my inbox, signing online petitions and tweeting about Monsanto, social security, gay marriage rights, the Keystone pipeline, and protecting rare snails in Southern Utah that are in danger of losing their habitat to coal and gas mining rights. I do in fact feel these things are important, at least in the long run. As a species, we’re a runaway train when it comes to environmental impact, and as a human being I feel all human beings deserve the same rights and freedoms. That’s my own personal stance.

I spend less time focusing on the developing world and the sheer scale of horror that comes with the death toll from something as simple and unglamorous as toilets, sewage, and drinking water. I sign petitions about those as well—things like ending child slavery in India and getting medical supplies to people in Africa and Pakistan. But far, far less of them come across my virtual desk. And I am someone who spends more than half his work week focused on a WASH charity…

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How can an average American even comprehend what poverty stricken people on the other side of the world are facing? We can’t. Human beings can only focus on the tragedy and injustices put before them. We’ve said for decades that the internet has revolutionized the world. That it’s brought us all closer together and made the world a global village, where we can talk to someone on the other side of the planet in real time who feels the same way we might about freedom, religion, love, and elevating ourselves as a species out of the mire. I still believe this is true.

But one thing the internet has definitely done is split the human race into two simple camps: those who are online and partaking in this glorious revolution—and those who are not. Those who are worried about reality television, fantasy sports teams, finding new recipes on Pinterest—and those who are simply struggling to find a little food and clean drinking water for their sick child. Who are struggling just to survive devastating illnesses. Guess which camp is bigger? And which one has all the money?

So while here in the First World—or the Flush & Plumbed World, if I may quote Rose George—we can easily raise two million dollars to make a movie or fund a music concert tour, we can’t raise a few thousand to help end the plagues and death toll of the Other World. Do you have any idea how much SUM1 could do with $5 million USD?! Take a look at the front page of Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and you’ll see projects up for a few days that have already raised thousands of dollars. But dig down to the charity fundraising projects like ours that are working to end hunger or poverty or infant mortality, and they’re struggling to make a few hundred.

I’ll tell you one thing, this modern life of ours has really mixed up our priorities. All this isn’t meant to make you feel bad. Please don’t read it as an attack. I love the internet. I consider myself a netizen more than I do a US citizen. And I’ll still play Candy Crush to kill the time and watch Game of Thrones every week. I’m not asking anyone else to stop. I just want those reading this to open your eyes to the real horror that people in the Other World are facing.

And if you’re one of the few over there in that world who can read this blog, know that the hearts and minds of those at SUM1 are with you.


Carnival Triumph and Sanitation

In February, the world watched as the Carnival Triumph cruise ship was stranded at sea. 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members were trapped on a ship with little fresh water, little food, and toilets that would not work for 5 days.

5 days.

It was all over the news, details of the deplorable conditions filled the airwaves, everyone was hoping for the safe return and health of the people on board.

Yet, every day, 2.5 billion people experience those exact same conditions. Let me write that number out for you, 2,500,000,000. That’s an awful lot of zeros. That’s larger, by 2,188,408,083 people than the population of the United States in 2011. It’s an astronomical number for most of us to contemplate, and an even bigger health problem. Not having a toilet to flush results in open defecation, the practice of pooping in an open environment without benefit of a toilet or latrine.

Yep, that’s right kids, we’re talking about poop. It’s not a subject that’s spoken about a great deal. It’s not polite, and it’s certainly not pretty. But one of the major problems the people on the Carnival Triumph faced was how to deal with human waste. It carries bacteria and viruses, exposure to feces keeps the body from absorbing vital minerals and vitamins, and well, it stinks. For developing nations without a great deal of infrastructure in the way of sewers and running water, it’s a big issue.

It’s our cause, at SUM1, because we not only want everyone to wash their hands to prevent the spread of disease, we want everyone to have access to toilets, to prevent a major cause of disease. I know you’ve read our website at http://www.sum1.org. I know, if you’re reading this blog, that you care about the state of sanitation and the health of people in the world. Did you know that 200,000,000 tons of feces go untreated every year? That’s another astronomical number. Two hundred million tons.

It seems impossible, at times, to imagine how we, a non-profit based in the United States, can solve this problem, but we believe that through our education and intervention model – teaching proper handwashing and other hygiene techniques, as well as intervening by building toilets and working with other non-profits to bring modern conveniences to rural areas – we can make a real difference, one person, one village at a time. We believe in ourselves and in our mission. We believe in our volunteers, our readers, our subscribers. We believe in health and we believe we can make progress in spite of those astronomical figures. We believe in the people we educate.


Why?

Why do I donate my time, my energy, and my effort to SUM1? Why am I so interested in the health and well-being of people half a world away from me? Why do I care?
The answer isn’t easy, but it is important. I often use quotes on our Twitter and Facebook pages to illustrate a point, or to encourage our followers and subscribers to think. One I used recently has stuck with me. Seneca said, “See how many are better off than you are, but consider how many are worse.

I’m an extremely fortunate person. I live safely and securely between four walls, my children and I are healthy, I go to school, I have a job I love, I have clean running water in my home, I don’t have to worry about death from diarrheal diseases, I don’t have to contemplate how the contaminated water I bring home is harming my kids. I’m so lucky, but for me, being lucky means I have the time and energy to think about, and help, those who don’t have the things I do. I have the time to make a difference, and I’m physically and emotionally capable of doing so. It became imperative for me to help change the way things are.

I chose SUM1 because I have issues. People laugh when I tell them that, but it’s true. I have issues, most of them related to hygiene and cleanliness. I can’t abide messes. I can’t handle being dirty. I wash my hands a lot, probably more than most people, and I’m okay with it. When I looked at the world, and discovered the prevalence of diseases related to a lack of hygiene, my OCD little heart cried. How would I live with these issues? How would I cope knowing that my children had a chance of dying before age 5? I had to take action, I had to do something. My choice was to join the team at SUM1. I felt that the work SUM1 does is vitally important, especially since SUM1 works in regions where sanitation is virtually non-existent.
So, here I am, the Social Media Director for SUM1, spending several hours a day searching for articles and information about our issues to post on Facebook and Twitter, researching items for our meetings, hoping to leave my comfort zone in the near future to help our cause, and having my heart broken every time I read the terrible statistics on death due to sanitation issues.
Why do I do this? How could I not? How could I see the information I read every day and not do something about it? How could I walk away from the mothers losing their children, the children losing their mothers and not seek to change the conditions they live in? The question isn’t “why”, the question is “Why not?”