Last week, the Poverty Busters Change Gang met to decide this quarter’s charitable donation. Each gang member contributed $25 per month, and in just three months, the small group had $425 to donate.
Poverty Busters looked at two organizations: Heifer International and Kickstart International. Both are great organizations doing important work and making a big impact on extreme poverty. Both had passed our organization review, so we knew both were worthy of our funds.
During the discussion we talked about the different approaches each organization takes. For example, Heifer International provides an animal along with comprehensive training (including veterinarian and sustainable farming practices) to a family. The family will pass on the first offspring to another family in the community, so that the whole community will begin to be prosper.
On the other hand, Kickstart International sells a subsidized water pump to rural farmers. They’ve developed a local economic structure to support the manufacturing and sale of these pumps. Local salespeople advertise and sell the pumps. Local farmers buy the pumps and increase the output and reliability of their land. As a result, they can confidently provide for their families and sell surplus produce to others. One benefit to this structure is the sense of ownership and pride a farmer has in the final result. But they aren’t providing the same sort of comprehensive training that Heifer provides.
Which one is better? We talked about the differences, what we thought were the strengths and weaknesses of each structure, and where our money could make the biggest difference. In the end, we were swayed by the matching donation opportunity at Heifer. An anonymous donor was matching the first 1.5 million in donations directed to Haiti. As a result our $425 donation became $850.
At the end of the day, my little $25 donation was multiplied by 33 times. That’s not so little, is it?
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