Thursday, March 30, 2006

Last chance

Everyone who has ever taught me anything about fundraising has said that the most important thing to remember when approaching potential partners for a mission is that you need to offer them an opportunity rather than beg them for money. The best example that I've seen of this are the billboards that I've seen around Chicago that point out all of the little ways that we deviate from our personal ethical codes, then offers a solution for how to equalize the karma. For instance, one says, "You lied about your weight on the treadmill." Another says, "Your dog thinks you'll be right back." I think they're pretty funny but, unfortunately, can't think of the organization that was offering me the opportunity to make up for my shortcomings by giving them money.

So, I have chosen instead to walk in the Shamrock Shuffle this Sunday and to raise money for kids in poverty. I'd like to offer you the opportunity to help kids, too. I mean, who doesn't like to help kids, right?

I walk for World Vision because World Vision uses your money to change the causes of kids' poverty by empowering the people who live in targeted community to strengthen their infrastructure, with some support from World Vision staff. They do not simply hand out food and relief supplies unless it is part of the first step in making sure that a community will be able to provide these supplies for themselves one day. They work both here in the US and around the world. Although it is a Christian organization, World Vision does this for communities regardless of their dominant religion.

You can partner with me in a couple of different ways. The obvious way is to give me money by going to this secure website. I am a big fan of Captain Obvious and you should go ahead and use this donation option without fear that you will be mocked for lacking subtlety. If your Luddite tendencies are acting up this week, you can also send a check made out to World Vision. Let me know and I'll send you an address. The less obvious but equally rewarding partnership is to keep me in your thoughts on Sunday morning or to pray for me. Better still, pray for the kids and their families. They need it more than I do. 29,000 kids die EVERY DAY from hunger and preventable diseases. Countless others have their childhoods stolen by being forced into gangs, prostitution, being child soldiers and any number of other terrible things. Here in the Austin community on the westside of Chicago where I work doing community development, over 6,000 families live below the poverty line. 15% of kids in this 7-square mile neighborhood test positive for lead poisoning. Lead poisoning! That causes brain damage in toddlers and we're finding in the US? It makes me mad. So, I pray and I walk.

World Vision has started a campaign called One Life, which seeks to remind us that we talk about these kids as part of a big group of similar situations but that each of them only has the one life they are experiencing, just like each of us looks out at the world as an individual with unique opportunities and hardships. Can I tell that some days at work are exhausting because I am surrounded by the needs of these kids?

But it's good work and it's worth doing. If you want to help, I'm happy to have you along. If you're making the world a better place some other way, keep doing it. Let me know how I can help you and I'll try. Thanks for all that you do.

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