As most of my blog readers know, my wife and I [and our three children] are starting an organization for the purpose of joining the fight against global poverty. We are not the first, and thankfully, we will not be the last. People – acquaintances, strangers, blog readers and stalkers, Twitters, Facebookers, internet surfers, and our church folks have asked us questions and so this entry is our attempt to answer those questions – in hopes that it may intrigue and inspire you and also to excuse myself from answering countless personal emails.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions:
1. “Who the heck are you?”
My name is Eugene Cho. I’m 38. My wife’s name is Minhee and she’s 39. We’ve been married for over 12 years, have three children, and live in Seattle, Washington. After 10 years of being a stay-at-home mother, Minhee will be returning to grad school this fall to study Marriage and Family Therapy. I lead a Christian church called Quest Church, started an innovative non-profit café and music venue called Q Cafe. More of my personal story can be found here. For security reasons, we currently do not list the names and pics of our children.
2. “Why are you doing this?”
We’ve gone through some mid-life “reflection.” We’ve been convicted for some time about numerous local and global issues of justice and compassion. For example, 3 billion people live on less than $2/day; approximately 27K children die daily due to issues of poverty; 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean water, and the disturbing but real numbers involving people go on and on. We felt the need to do something. We know we can’t fix the world but we can do our part to help a child, a family, village, a town, a city, etc.
Global poverty is a complex and brutal reality, but one thing is clear: no easy solutions exist. Many agree that it is within our capacity to eradicate extreme poverty if governments, leaders, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and individuals work together on the major barriers as cited by organizations like UNICEF: (1) food, (2) water, (3) sanitation, (4) health care, (5) shelter, (6) education, (7) information, and (8) access to services. Governments must do their part in four major areas: debt cancellation, fair trade, decreasing corruption, and increasing aid to affected countries.
Equally important is the role of individuals. We need to be burdened by the realities of a world where so many are suffering and dying. We don’t get a free pass. We need to examine our lifestyles, choices, priorities, and sense of compassion—and act. It’s too easy and convenient to be in love with the idea of compassion and justice but not to act.
3. What is the name of the organization?
Our official name is One Day’s Wages. We were incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of Washington and are now officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization by the United States IRS.
4. What is the hope of the organization? How will you do this?
Our initiative’s purpose is to promote greater awareness about global extreme poverty, invite simple financial giving, and to strategically provide sustainable relief. Our vision seeks to change global issues of injustice effecting millions of people regardless of race, culture, sex, age, or religion.
Our strategy is simple: through the creation of a viral global movement and community, we invite each person to give for the fight against global poverty.
Human Relationships + Technology + [Vision] = Movement
Our goal is to invest 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 [Non-Governmental Organizations] and CBOs [Community Based Organizations] (<$100k budget) around the world and to engage in larger grants of microfinance, and granting seed money for future ventures. Our firm convictions are that there are men, women, children, and organizations [official and unofficial] already on the ground that fully understand their local context and community. They are doing amazing work to not only fight global poverty but building infrastructures to ensure sustainability
Our goal is to raise $1 million by 2010, $5 million in 5 years and $25 million+ in the next 20 years. Ideally, our goal is to raise as much money as possible and redistribute and invest 100% of those funds around the world in the fight against global poverty.
5. What is your personal commitment?
We are committing to give our One Year’s Salary [$68,000] to the cause of Fighting Global Poverty.
6. Why are you making a big deal of giving away your money?
Honestly, we’re not trying to. We would rather have just given away our money if that had been our only conviction. But we believe we can make a greater impact by challenging others to join us in this fight against global poverty – even if in the slightest way.
How can we ask people to give if we don’t demonstrate our own commitment to this cause? We are not asking people to do anything we are not first willing to do ourselves. In short, we are putting our money where our mouth is. You can also read more HERE about why we’ve decided to make our decision public.
7. How can you afford to give away this kind of money?
Personally, we don’t really think it’s anyone else’s business, but because people keep asking this same question, we’ll do our best to be transparent. We are not wealthy. We are your average middle-class family, but nevertheless we are blessed to be able to make choices to help start this foundation. We are in the process of selling some of our possessions to release finances to make this contribution to start this organization. While the current state of the national and global economy is making this extremely difficult, we are still trying to be creative to honor this goal.
8. How do we know you’ll really donate the money? How do we know this is legit?
You don’t. It’s our word—and our word and integrity are of the utmost importance to us. We’ve made our decision public so that we can be held accountable. We’ve told our families, friends, children, church community, and the world wide web… so it would be kind of detrimental to our character for us not to follow through on our word. We’re not legally bound but we are certainly morally bound.
9. Why did you start this group on Facebook?
Because our vision is to leverage technology and human relationships to start a global grassroots viral movement. Through blogging, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other internet venues, we hope to invite people to consider the issues of global poverty and get involved.
We don’t want people to think that only celebrities, millionaires, and Hollywood A-listers can do something to fight global poverty. Each of us are capable of compassion and able to help – even in the slightest of ways.
We will give $100,000 to the fight against global poverty regardless of how many people join the Facebook group.
10. Why start a new organization when you can give your money to a current organization that is already making a global impact?
Great question. There are many wonderful organizations and we considered this option. But the issue of global poverty is, well, so vast and global that there need to be hundreds and thousands more efficient and transparent organizations engaged in this fight from many angles and perspectives.
We believe we have something new and unique to bring to the table and can engage more people in this pursuit of compassion and justice.
11. When and how will you give away your money? And to whom?
Our goal is to invest 100% of all donations to small organizations and partners [and some current large orgs] around the world that are already fighting extreme poverty. See #4 above for more details.
By the time our organization launches in mid-2009, we’ll have identified and funded several organizations. We will be asking people [hopefully you!] that partner with our organization to help identify hundreds of other organizations to consider funding and supporting. We will conduct a thorough grant process.
12. Why do you think you can make a difference with global poverty?
Because people are already making a difference. We’re not really creating anything new. We simply want to come alongside the men, women, and children that are already taking steps to lift up their people out of poverty.
Here’s one example: The Karen ethnic people of Burma are undergoing atrocities that some find comparable to what is happening in the Darfur. Education is very important and an example not only of compassion but building sustainability for people to be lifted out of poverty. A schoolteacher’s salary? $40 per year. No, that was not a typo.
Another example: Water wells that provide clean water for a village can run from $2k-10k depending on its location around the world. We can work with people on the ground who have the technology, resources, and partners to help build these wells. Water is essential not only to survival but sustainability.
13. How do you intend to invest in sustainable projects?
Sustainability is key to the work of our organization. While compassion is what compels us to do what we envision, we also seek to invest in sustainable projects so that local leaders can help lift their communities out of poverty. We will strive hard to build long-lasting relationships and work with local community leaders to work towards that cause.
Our vision is to work with partners across the globe – both (1) those who give financially and (2) NGOs/CBOs that are doing amazing work that are not well-known. Finding efficient and effective non-profit partners on the ground is an important first step. Because keeping our administrative costs low is important, we’ll plan a few strategic site visits, but our primary strength will come from the thousands and millions of people who we hope will join our organization… and who may have made personal visits; have personal contacts; volunteered in countries, etc. Additionally, we will enlist the help of volunteers who pay their own way to various countries and relay stories, interviews, photos, videos, etc. from the field. There will also be a thorough application process for organizations to partner with our vision.
Currently, we have four volunteers in various places around the world conducting field reports on possible partnerships.
14. I’ve noticed that you’re a Christian pastor…so is this a religious organization?
Yes, we are Christians and I am a pastor. Our faith is very important to my wife and me and influences the values of our organization: hope, human dignity, integrity, compassion, justice, etc. But this is not a Christian organization. The fight against global poverty is not just a Christian issue – it is a human issue. It doesn’t matter to us what your particular confession is or is not. If you care about human suffering and are involved in the fight against global poverty, we want to partner and collaborate with you.
15. How can I get involved?
- You can join our Facebook group via http://fightglobalpoverty.com and invite as many of your friends to join. Help spread the word by sharing this group on your Facebook status or via your Twitter account. Our goal is to have at least 1,000,000 people join this group.
- You can donate to the Operations Fund to help seed the organization. If you’re interested in helping seed the organization, you can send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your donations are tax-deductible.
- You can join our Launch Team. Because our goal is to create a grassroots global movement, we need women, men, and children – around the world – to join the Launch Team. The purpose of the Launch Team is simply to help launch our organization and to build momentum so that it spreads virally around the world through many media of human communication. Email email@example.com to sign up for the Launch Team.