The poverty box

Today I registered for a conference and had to check a box about my “area of interest,” so I check off “International Development / poverty.”

And then I realized why only 23% of U.S. philanthropy goes to international causes.1 We’re stuck in this box.   The one that has you pick from:  Human rights /  Conflict resolution / Women’s issues / Education /  Healthcare / Infrastructure / Policy reform / Judicial reform / Poverty alleviation (CHECK) / Etc….

The “how” is so much less important than the “why” in making people understand how urgent this is.

The box I want to check says: “I’m in the business of creating a different world, one in which the 7 out of 10 people globally who are struggling for survival can instead become artists and engineers and teachers and entrepreneurs and CEOs and judges and architects and software programmers and Presidents and mothers who don’t worry if their children will survive to age 5.  I’m in the business of realizing the potential of all of the 6.7 billion people on this earth, and not just the 2 billion who were born in the right place at the right time.”

Yeah, that’s the box I want to check.

NOTE 1: the 23% number comes from Jane Wales, and if anyone knows this statistic it’s her.  I honestly thought the number was much lower.  Does anyone have a source for this number?

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3 Responses to The poverty box

  1. Jorge Zelaya says:

    Superb post!! Let me congratulate you !! Nicely put. Keep up the good job!!

  2. Nicely put, but I dare to differ. The “business of creating a different world” sounds beautiful, but impractical to me.

    You quote: “Human rights / Conflict resolution / Women’s issues / Education / Healthcare / Infrastructure / Policy reform / Judicial reform / Poverty alleviation”. These are all interrelated fields, it seems a kind of “belief” where you think you must start.

    There’s nothing wrong with these boxes, since they give you a focus what to be knowledgeable about, and what to work on.
    You could go the other way around and choose a certain geographical area where you want to make a difference.

    But alright, there’s ofcourse a good thing in thinking BIG, like you do. As long as it comes to practice, that is.
    (FYI: I’m in the business of better use of talents; and as a volunteer for

  3. Jenn says:

    interesting because in the circles i run in, seems like international giving has been way up. (i work for a christian foundation that only gives internationally)

    a resource to learn more about global private giving…

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