Giving can be unconventional. As an unemployed student, I don’t have the resources to donate hundreds of dollars to charity every month. I give what I can- my love and passion for music. And this provides people with a hope that monetary gifts simply can’t. I believe music can provide joy and healing to others as it has for me and that’s why I want to give music.
charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in nations. We use 100% of public donations to directly fund sustainable water solutions in areas of greatest need.
Right now, 800 million people on the planet don’t have access to clean and safe drinking water. That’s one in nine of us.
Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.
Just $20 can give one person access to clean water.
Giving is failing because it’s still necessary. After nearly 5 decades of charity and missions and debt-relief and benefit concerts and viral video, well-intentioned non-profits like ASH are still asking for money to “fix” the problems of the developing world. As long as non-profit organizations continue to rely on the practice of asking others to give away money, we are all failing. As long as donors hold the power (6:04), giving is failing. The understated outrage of this video highlights the need for a better way: sustainable means for the poor that eliminate the need for charity altogether.
One of the most sobering lessons from this TedTalk is learning about some of the boneheaded mistakes of an organization I really admire. A look behind the curtain of a well-run and honest organization like Engineers Without Borders (EWB) reveals that good intentions and integrity aren’t enough. EWB make enough mistakes in a year that they can print a full-fledged annual report about them. Giving is failing.
Well, giving is failing, but then again failure is how we learn.
Giving is an inherently risky venture; I know this because I have to shop for my wife several times a year. For Valentine’s day last month I scoured the globe (globe=mall) looking for a pair of earrings to give her. I couldn’t decide on the one she’d love most, so I bought three. It was a nerve-wracking experience and the moment she opened the gift box and peered inside I realized how completely vulnerable I was. The act of giving is risky - we don’t always know the outcome.
In our non-profit world of good intentions and sustainable models and community empowerment, it’s time we recognize our failures. Actually, more than recognizing failure, we need to learn from it. What we suffer is not a failure to give but a lack of wisdom in how we give; ASH hopes to change that. I joined ASH because our ultimate goal is to be unnecessary. In 10 years, I hope the Wamuini Community Center no longer needs ASH to fundraise. This only happens if the condition of all community members is improved. When everyone experiences better employment and education and health, giving is allowed to fail. Charity is no longer necessary. My dream is that one day we can stop asking you to give because Wamuini has everything she needs; a thriving community of health and wealth and happiness because we learned to give the right way. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
And as for my wife and her earrings, I won’t say whether she liked them or not, but the title of this post is “Giving is failing,” so make of that what you will.
This February 14th, we’re joining in the cause to reboot Valentine’s Day and opening our hearts in a new way. Instead of your basic chocolate and red roses, we’re saying “yes” to everything coming our way. Join us today to discover a day with more meaning and connection. Let’s make a movement of individuals that say “yes” and inspire change. Happy Generosity Day!
That’s why every Monday, we’ll be sharing someone’s story—whether it’s words, a picture, drawing, video, song, you name it—about what giving means to them.
Stories might be about a gift received or one given. It might be about a defining moment, lending hand, advice, or role model. It could be about how a gift changed their day-to-day routine, their relationships, or their life.
Whatever the story, we’re hoping that it gives you a new idea about the act of giving.
So enjoy the content, join the conversation, and keep giving!