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Of Poverty, Slavery & Social Media for Social Change

January 21, 2008

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Can $10 bucks make a difference in the life of a child caught in slavery or poverty? The Case Foundation thinks so.

To prove it, the foundation is awarding a total of $750,000 through the Giving Challenge, an initiative designed to inspire greater philanthropy and introduce new ways to give through simple online technology. Case launched the two-pronged challenge in December by partnering with Parade Magazine to give $500,000, and with Causes on Facebook for $250,000.

The Giving Challenge is not about who raises the most money, but instead the awards will go to the charities and causes that draw the greatest number of unique donors. The minimum donation to qualify is only $10.

With less than two weeks to go in the Challenge, here are a couple of ways to help.

America’s Giving Challenge – Route Out of Poverty for Cambodian Children

The Sharing Foundation helps meet the physical, emotional, educational and medical needs of orphaned and seriously disadvantaged children in Cambodia. Thousands of Cambodian children grow up illiterate, with few educational options. The Sharing Foundation’s Khmer literacy school helps farm children learn their native alphabet and numbers well enough to attend elementary school. Its English Language Program offers village students, ages 8-18, the opportunity to learn Cambodia’s language of commerce, allowing them to obtain jobs in tourism and word processing. These students are so dedicated that some meet on their own to study on weekends

Here’s a video that blogger Beth Kanter did with her son about the project:

You can help Beth raise $50,000 by donating to this cause, and at the time of this post, that’s looking like a real likelihood.

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Not looking nearly as successful at this point is a cause I’m supporting on Facebook:

Causes Giving Challenge – Not For Sale Campaign to End Modern Day Slavery

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Did you know that 27 Million people are enslaved today and that over 50% of them are children? Many are forced into hard labor or prostitution against their will. Not For Sale (NFS) is a campaign of individuals, musicians, artists, people of faith, businesses, schools and sports teams united to stop human trafficking. This drive will help 130 children, ages 4-17, all victims of human sex trafficking, build a new life. Funds will help to build a village for Tawainese abolitionist Kru Nam and her kids. The village, Buddies along the Roadside, will have five dormitories, an arts and education center, and plenty of land for the kids to grow their own crops. The village is now over half done, but Kru Nam needs to raise another $60,000 to complete the project.

Back when the Challenge began, I saw the posted item in Facebook about the Challenge from Steve Case. I contacted David Batstone, founder of NFS and author of the book of the same title about some ideas I had for Challenge. Unfortunately, he was in China at the time and I had pretty much given up doing anything when I heard back with only 16 days left in the challenge. There are a couple of NFS causes that were already in place, but to qualify for the challenge I had to create a new cause. So I put out a message to the creators of those causes and some NFS groups to promote the challenge cause. Apparently, there was some confusion with people donating to the original causes which don’t count for the challenge. Plus, when I sought to enlist the aid of 12 stellar social media Facebook friends, the overly lengthy message I sent didn’t show as sent and I ended up sending it three times! Ouch! Understandably, that didn’t go over too well. The last thing I want is a reputation as a spammer!

However…I’m not giving up! There are almost 8,000 supporters in the various NFS causes and groups on Facebook. If even 10% of those people donated to the cause, there would be more than enough unique donors to win the challenge. I’ve spread the word within Facebook without much movement and I think I know why. Causes is the most popular app on Facebook for fundraising because it’s so easy for anyone to start a cause. This means that there can be hundreds of causes with only three or four people supporting them, including duplicates of the same cause. And just because they join the cause doesn’t mean they donate to it. It’s a great concept, but it seems like most Causes I’ve seen in the past have raised very little support. I think people associate with a cause because they want to say something about their own identity, but up until now it doesn’t seem like any major fundraising has been going on. The Challenge does appear to be changing that.

So my question is this: If Facebook is a “walled garden”, how viable is it to create a non-profit fundraising presence within the walls, and then motivate people outside the walls to come in to check it out? In other words, what would happen if enough people are motivated through other social media channels outside of Facebook to check it out? Could Not for Sale could still come from behind to win the Challenge?

My humble request to you is, would you be willing to help spread the word about this Cause and the Challenge? Blog about it, Twitter it & encourage others to do the same. I think it would make a great experiment and who knows? Maybe we can sweep in from out of nowhere and get enough buzz going to vault Not For Sale to the top to win the Challenge. What do you think? How about $10 to Beth’s cause outside Facebook, and $10 to my cause inside Facebook. Poverty AND slavery dealt a blow with a click. Donate here.


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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2008 1:25 pm

    I’m donating to your cause! That’ s an important issue in Cambodia — we address from the prevention side .. thanks for sharing your cause with me.

  2. January 26, 2008 3:53 pm

    Thanx for your support, Beth!

  3. February 14, 2008 7:08 pm

    Most people in America are not aware of these horrors and pains.

    Thank you, Dave, for raising awareness. I have heard James Robison and other ministers as they shared their valiant efforts to ease pain and suffering in various African countries. (Among other things, he drills fresh water wells.)

    Thanks again.

  4. February 14, 2008 7:21 pm

    I cannot imagine 14 million children in slavery, and the hordes of young teenagers who are enslaved to horrid sex trafficking and violent abuse. My earlier comment was too tame. It’s too shocking. Too real. Too desperate! We must each do whatever we can… Let’s all support and proclaim

    NOT FOR SALE!

  5. Dave Webb permalink*
    February 14, 2008 9:36 pm

    Thanx for your comments here, Margaret.

    Human trafficking is the third most prevalent crime in the world behind drug trade and illegal arms sales, and is growing faster than both of them.

    I just attended an event here in Colorado where they showed the NFS documentary and representatives from Polaris, Praxus and CONEHT (Colorado Network to End Human Trafficking) were present to do Q & A. It was put on at a local church by two women, Kendis Paris and Molly Wolfe who got stirred up about the human trafficking issue. They are putting together a Human Trafficking Awareness Conference on October 25, 2008. I’ll be helping them with promotion & fundraising. It is an issue that needs more awareness and it’s grassroots efforts like this that help.

  6. April 28, 2009 11:44 pm

    Cambodia relies too much on two industries: textile and tourism. These industries are particularly vulnerable to the global economic downturn. We need to focus our efforts on our natural strength, which is agriculture, not tourism or textile.

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