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.


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.


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.

First World Concerns vs. Real World Problems

(guest post by

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

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…


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.


guest post by Pablo Darelli

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  Though this exact phrase was popularized in modern times, its underlying philosophy has existed in some form for millennia.  Regardless of source, this bold declaration—one which is instantly recognized by our better natures and innate desire for fairness—is at the heart at what I hope will be a compelling argument to give and give freely.

As some, if not most, of you may already know, SUM1 has over the past year matured and grown from a mere collection of very good intentions and plans, to a bona fide charity with several contacts and partners in India, an ad filmed in Hindi, a slick website and two dedicated individuals who embarked last November in earnest on a comprehensive hygiene campaign for Saraiya.  This would not have been possible without the hard work of many volunteers and friends that have donated time, effort and funds towards this ambitious project.  That being said, our work is only beginning and great need in countless parts of the world will persist.  The success of future funding efforts will largely determine the ability of this organization to continue and expand the scope of its work.  This brings me back to my exhortation to give.

I understand that there are many individuals that are not in a position to donate financially to charities, and even fewer that can do so substantially.  Shouldn’t the ultra-wealthy, after all, carry the bulk of the burden for fulfilling this moral responsibility?   If they can bequeath millions to their pets — pets whose sole requirement in life is to abstain from defecating on carpets or in shoes — then surely they can be expected to donate more generously than the individual whose survival and success is (ostensibly) predicated on more than the ability to properly judge when and where to have a bowel movement.

Indeed, the declaration concerning an ability/need balance is just as applicable to those living on this continent as it is to those living on any other.  But I would like to make an important point now, just because one does not feel one can give much, or a belief that one’s donation will not have a significant impact, it does not mean that one is powerless to do anything.  By making the effort, by stepping forward with even a few dollars or simply deciding to share our mission with others, you will have transformed yourself from fretting bystander to empowered world citizen.  You will be SUM1.

SUM1 +1ndia Program Handwashing Video

This is the video we put together with a team of amazing volunteers. Our intervention educators took it with them to India in November as a teaching tool. The villagers all loved watching it!

The volunteers are speaking Hindi, many of whom learned it only that day. They are saying “I wash my hands with soap because…” followed by different phrases like “I love my child” or “I respect my neighbors.”

Going to work on subtitles for it all soon.

— Christopher

India 2012

Post by David Keifert

Welcome Ceremony

Never have I received such a warm welcome then when our 2 vehicle, 9 passenger caravan turned the corner to the charming village named Saraiya. The Muslims first performed their welcome ritual by placing fresh flower leis around our necks. The Hindus burned a substance, then the smoke traveled across us. Then they placed a dark red powder clay bindi dot on our foreheads as a blessing.


After reaching the community center the crowd had increased, with so many questions and concerns in their minds. One woman requested that we freshen up before they bombard us. However, no one left the community center.

Many people came to us throughout the week, some having traveled from very far, because they had heard we were going to be at the community center. Most came with health related questions, some had been lied to by doctors in the big cities and had been prescribed quasi-medications. On the train we rode past some slums that had heaps of garbage with smoke coming out of a makeshift chimney.

The people in Saraiya are mostly farmers and can live off of the land, the men bring their product to market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The women primarily care for their family and perform other domestic duties. I don’t know at what point, but I realized my handwashing campaign was severely inadequate to address the current health issues the people were bringing to our attention, but I remind myself it’s just a start and handwashing with soap will prevent many illnesses and diseases.


The children were very receptive to my message, eager for the knowledge and Glogerm experience. We covered the different types of bad-germs and how they enter our bodies and disrupt homeostasis. We played life-skill related games to encourage and educate children, so that the children can support each other we applauded after everyone’s turn. On the day I did laundry behind the community center, it gathered such a crowd of kids that we had to play some more games.

Flies are very prevalent here so we attempted to rig a one liter bottle into a fly trap, which wasn’t very successful. We explained that flies can land in animal/human feces and then land on us or our food and can transfer bad germs. I asked for some local help in putting up some tippy taps around the village in key locations to encourage hand washing with soap.

Upon returning SUM1 has been meeting regularly to discuss our next move in India, things that went well and still need to be done in Saraiya also  where we want to start future projects. We learned quite a lot from this trip and have adaptations to implement for our next trip.  

Travel in India + Diwali

Post by Christopher

New Delhi airport

So the team is on the ground, working their way toward the village and touring a bit of the country during Diwali. Needless to say, travel in India is not as easy as other parts of the world. Although train tickets were bought as much as two months ago, they were not allowed to board their first train. Even for just two of them, it’s been a struggle to find transportation.

Traveling during the largest holiday of the year has been a problem, as you might imagine. Diwali (or Devali) is a Festival of Lights akin to Christmas and New Years rolled into one. It celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and the slaying of the demon Narakasura by the hero Rama. Also the end of the harvest season in most of India. 

They made it to Jaipur from New Delhi and are there one more night, and tomorrow are forced to fly rather than take the train. They’ll bounce back to New Delhi then on to Varanasi, just south of Lucknow where they will meet up with the folks from KHEL. Then on to Basti and Saraiya.

Even though they’d been bracing themselves for it, they were shocked at the levels of pollution both in the air and on the ground. It’s a bit better in Jaipur than Delhi, but they’re not much looking forward to having to go back into “the thick of it” even for one night.

Monkey stole someone's lunch!

Here at home, “Mission Control” is scrambling to help when trains have failed and hotels need to be located. And when AT&T shut off Jodi’s phone because she went over roaming charges that were supposed to be changed on the 7th before they left. And there have been issues with purchases being run as Dollars instead of Rupees, which has sent personal accounts into our own little hurricane Sandy until it can be resolved. One American dollar equals about 55 rupees, so you can imagine the mess. Everyone keep your fingers crossed.

It’s been an adventure, some good and some bad. But they’re in good spirits and looking forward to reaching Saraiya and meeting the people, delivering their educational message, and helping the village. One week down, two to go. Send all your light and love to them.

Superstition vs. Science

Guest post by Christopher

One of the hurdles that has tripped me up since we started this whole grand venture, and has been a huge challenge for me to get past, is the exasperation I feel when we run up against superstition in this culture.

Don’t get me wrong, superstition is a normal human trait, and exists in every culture around the world. It’s ingrained into the human brain, I think. We have our beliefs in the West, as well, which are just as unsubstantiated as they are anywhere else. I live in America, which is often full of backwards and illogical thinking, especially surrounding politics. It’s an election year here, and I get just as frustrated by our own crazy thinking. Just this morning, I was listening to the local morning show on the radio while they spoke with a comedian going on about vaccinations being a conspiracy and causing autism. A superstition like his is caused by fear—whether fear of needles or of doctors—the same fears and irrationality that gave rise to the Black Death in Europe hundreds of years ago. Such crazy fears are giving rise in whooping cough and other diseases in my own country which had been almost eradicated decades ago.

I have been a student of mythology and religions since I was very young and I’ve studied many different myth cycles. Mostly European but I’ve spent some time with Hindu myths and legends – Hanuman is a personal favorite of mine. I enjoy old stories, and many times they give the reader valuable lessons in behavior through parables and epic storytelling. As a writer, I have to love that.

But sometimes myths can also give rise to superstition and irrational fear, or the belief that cause and effect don’t have to bear any relation to logic. I’ve been hearing many things since I started to learn about India and the causes for the problems they face with sanitation, and some have made my jaw drop and prompted me to launch into tirades. I won’t do that here, but I’d like to share some of the things I’ve heard and let you judge for yourself:

  • That newborn children get diarrhea because their parents have sex too soon after their birth.
  • The idea that your hands somehow magically get clean while you’re preparing meals, so you don’t have to wash them before handling food.
  • That feces are just harmless dirt, and you don’t need to wash your hands after handling it.
  • That flies that were just crawling over human and animal waste are harmless creatures and don’t need to be kept away from food or open mouths.
  • Stories from travelers to India of food dishes or clothing being washed in the same water that is also urinated or defecated in, and the subsequent life-threatening illness that followed.
  • That the rivers in India are so holy they cannot become polluted, which in turn leads companies and communities to use them as sewage and chemical dumping grounds.
  • Pictures of people bathing or even drinking from the same water where corpses are floating a few yards away, or where animals are relieving their bowels into the river.

These things flabbergast me. They make me throw my hands in the air and pace about. And they also highlight the fact that the people we are trying to help desperately need education, and to set aside superstition in favor of the clear light of scientific reasoning. I’m not saying they must discard their legends and myths – I am simply saying they must no longer let magical thinking continue to cause this level of illness and death due to ignorance and fear. To do otherwise is gross negligence.

In 2011 almost one-quarter of all worldwide deaths of children under the age of 5 occurred in India. That’s far more than any other country. 1.7 million children and infants. More than 4650 deaths per day.Somewhere, somehow, superstition has to stop and real learning and change must begin.