If I Want to do More?
Clients that come to me wanting to do more than just support an already existing charity, often ask me about starting their own charity or social venture that would serve a developing country. I typically have one standard reply.
If you want to serve a developing country (or group of people), you’ve got two choices.
1) Drop everything you’re doing, move there, live among them, learn what they need, listen, learn, dive deep into their culture, eat their food, become one with them. Commit to at least five years for this process. Do this because you can’t fathom doing anything other than this. Do this not because you are in love with the cause, but because you are in love with the people that are suffering. They are your family, just as real and true as your own blood. Do this because this is who you are, who you were created to be.
2) Support someone else that is already doing this.
It takes a considerable amount of effort to just find someone like this, ensure their integrity and character, establish a relationship, create systems for accountability and develop a support structure. Then you have to maintain that relationship on an ongoing basis.
Don’t start another organization (non-profit or for-profit) just because you see a need. There are thousands of altruists out there that have already put in years and years of work and they understand what needs to be done much better than you could ever fathom. Honor their work by supporting them.
If you really want to “help”, either dive in or support someone that already has.
Wow – RIGHT ON. I completely agree with you, brother. You’ve done this and are a true testament to the first one….yet you added one more thing. Just because you have a “cause”, just because you love the people and choose to give your all to helping them…it doesn’t mean you close your eyes to the others who are doing it as well. You collaborate, you support each other, and you truly work together with others that are just as invested in their own cause.
What I love about what you’ve done is that you do feel that what you are doing has a cause and purpose with the people you live with and love as your brothers/sisters…but you don’t put your cause above another. What you are doing is empowering the artists in Africa by purchasing their jewelry. What another is doing is providing clean water and jobs for locals, and another is giving loans to new entrepreneurs. You highlight and support them all, and encourage others to find the ones that resonate with them. That is powerful. You are definitely an example, in my mind, of what true philanthropy is all about.
Thanks so much Ashley. As you know, I have never looked at the issues of Africa and resolved that there is one, or even a handful of solutions. There are so many facets to the problems here, just like anywhere else in the world. It’s like a relationship. There isn’t just ONE thing you do for a healthy marriage or friendship. There are hundreds of little things, and a few big ones that you constantly have to tend to. If any of them are lacking, it effects the whole relationship. Same goes for philanthropy.
If there is no Scott Harrison providing clean water, or Harper Katondolo revealing the true issues in DRC, or Partners In Health providing health care in developing countries, and so on, we’re doomed. We work as a unit, and we have to. We need each other. And any time I see someone else coming along trying to do what we’re doing with KEZA, I immediately share everything we’re doing with them and do all we can to support their efforts.
We have no competition, only opportunities to collaborate in our mission to improve the quality of life for people living in the developing world. And we’re going to need as much help as we can get to make that happen.
I honestly believe that the actual act of collaborating is part of the organic process that is necessary for us to have a more cohesive, peaceful and loving society.