Minhee and I are bracing ourselves for the long, hard, exciting and hopefully, fruitful work ahead as we attempt to lay some groundwork for the humanitarian organization we’re envisioning and its work with global poverty. We are awaiting word and documents [any day] from the State of Washington and will then move forward with revealing the name, raising some initial funds, and other steps. We may be stupid idealists but there is something within us that believe we can be catalysts to a global grassroots movement to help raise funds to fight global poverty.
But before we begin sharing and working in the weeks and months ahead, I wanted to take a post to answer the questions I have received from friends, acquaintances, church community folks, blog readers, and strangers that read an earlier post regarding the public announcement of our family’s decison to give up this year’s salary and additional funds to invest in starting this organization.
In some form or another, the question I want to address has been similar in content to this from a thoughtful blog reader:
…Why are you announcing to the world that you’re giving away your salary for the next year? Why not quietly do it and then after a year or two or however long, share what has happened as a result? You can still launch your new venture, and when you take your sabbatical next year, you could be 1/2 way into your year of giving your salary away.
I’m just struggling with the oh-so-public announcement which grates me somewhat. Do it quietly…
It’s a great question – one my wife and I wrestled with before going public and certainly after going public. There are three things that I’ll share in response to why we’ve decided to go public and be “loud”:
1. There’s a bigger picture. Our goal is not simply to give away $100,000. If that was the end of our goal, it would have been “easy” and we would have gone about it quietly since it is simply a personal decision. But our goal is much deeper and it is a goal we can’t reach without the partnership and support of thousands of others. Our goal is to raise $2million by 2010, $5million in 5 years and $20million+ in the next 20+ years. Ideally, our goal is to raise $50+ million over the course of our remaining years before we die and redistribute 100% of those funds to the men, women, and children that are already on the ground doing significant work that 99.9% of the world has no idea about. We are not doing a new thing. Hardly…we are simply joining the work…
2. We want to lead by example. We can’t ask people to give when we’re not willing to give. We can’t ask people to care if we’re not willing to care. How can we? My personal philosophy is that people will be drawn to the stories and people that model both integrity and sacrifice. We have made a choice to place ourselves in that light – in hopes that we can divert people not to us but to the larger issues of mercy, justice, and compassion. In my church and in the larger culture where it’s easy to be consumed by well…our consumerism…we want to challenge ourselves and others to make a simple sacrifice that when joined by thousands of others…can make an impact. Nearly half of the world’s population [3 billion] reportedly lives on less than $2 dollars/day. 1 billion live on less than $1/day. Approximately 30,000 children die every day due to the complexities of poverty.
3. We need accountability. We have been struggling with this conviction for couple years but have not had the courage and guts to make the sacrifices to make the financial numbers work. We are not “wealthy” but God has certainly blessed us. We are blessed not only to enjoy those blessings but challenged to bless others. But it’s so tempting and easy to simply hoard these blessings. These past two years, I have been reluctant to move forward. And honestly, these past couple months since sharing with my church leadership and blogosphere of our promise to give, there have been numerous times I’ve kicked myself in the ass and wished I hadn’t. Why? Because I would have preferred to just keep and enjoy my stuff…well…for me, myself, and I. But I can’t because people keep emailing to ask how they can help, how they can pray, how they can give, how they can hold me accountable, etc. This is why we needed to publicly share because I am a coward.
And while I’m certain that some may misunderstand our motivations or intentions, I am sincerely asking folks for grace as we stumble along to start this grassroots organization. It has begun and we’ll be using the next several months to ramp up to our offical launch. While we’re not ready to yet reveal the name of our organization, this is our goal:
Our hope is to create a grassroots, global, and viral movement by integrating three key elements: human relationships, compassion & justice, and technology & creativity.
Our goal for the organization and website is to create a global community for the purposes of: 1) information and education, 2) collection and distribution, and 3) collaboration and innovation. Our goal is to give away 100% of all donations to small organizations and partners around the world that are already fighting extreme poverty. While not exclusive, our vision is to focus on small NGOs and CBOs (<$100k budget) around the world and engage in larger grants of microfinance, and granting seed money for future ventures.
In these recent years, our hearts have been regularly broken over the painful stories and realities brought on my extreme global poverty. Every time I examine poverty statistics, I sometimes just see numbers and forget that these are people – like you and me, my children, your children, etc. And more often than not, I am simply overwhelmed because I don’t quite know what to do. While we may not be able to ”fix” all of the world’s problems, we need to still do our part. Generosity and philantropy is not reserved for the rich and famous…we don’t get a free pass. Each person has a God given right to live their lives as God intended for humanity. Anything short of that is simply, an injustice.
This is why we have decided to make this decision public and loud. This is our motivation in starting this new non-profit international organization to fight global poverty. We share this not to boast of our altruism but to convey that we are not asking you to consider giving without us first making a sacrificial commitment. We are able to give not because we are wealthy per se, but because we have the greatest privilege. That privilege is called CHOICE. We can choose to help, make decisions, sell items, refrain from goods, etc. And while we have this privilege of CHOICE, there are many that do not…