Why We Love These Charities

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By the Fool HQ Foolanthropy Committee
October 28, 2002

(This was written in 2000, for our 2000 Foolanthropy drive, but the sentiments remain the same.)

As a committee, we spent a lot of time looking into our chosen organizations and discussing them. In the process, the more we learned, the more passionate we became about them and the amazing work they do. We realize that you're probably not as familiar with them as we are, though, so we thought we'd share some of our thoughts and try to make these charities as real and exciting for you as they are for us. Enjoy!

"Ever since I first learned of the Grameen Foundation's model, I have loved it. The notion that my gift and your gift becomes a loan that will be loaned out, repaid, and loaned out again and again over time fully realizes the vision of Foolanthropy as a sustainable solution. The only challenge to the model is if and when the money is not paid back. Foolanthropy expects, as we say. Fortunately, with Grameen-related organizations, the default rate remains very low." -- David Gardner

"Last year a group of Fools volunteered at the D.C. Central Kitchen, the Community Kitchen affiliated with America's Second Harvest. I worked beside a woman who had been homeless and was now working toward getting a food handler's certificate so that she could work full-time in her son's Head Start facility. America's Second Harvest feeds people; but through its Community Kitchens, it also provides training to folks who need a chance to start over. See if there's a food bank or community kitchen in your area!" -- Chellyn Rinehart

"It's hard not to get inspired by Heifer. All those ducks, and chickens, and pigs, and fish, and goats! It's so simple and so elegant (and, OK, so cute!)." -- Kelly Bowers

"The business cases presented by these organizations are simply too strong to ignore -- a lifetime of safe drinking water through Lifewater; a sustainable source of food and income through Heifer; the chance to earn a livelihood with one's own skills, hard work, and determination offered by Grameen Foundation; the opportunity to transform revolutionary ideas into revolutionary actions provided by Ashoka; and a simple, nutritious meal for those most in need, prepared by people learning job skills through America's Second Harvest. These are benefits that many of us can take for granted in our own lives. But, just imagine how important and impossibly wonderful they would seem if they were not available to you. These organizations give you the opportunity to have a meaningful, long-term, positive impact on people's lives at very little cost. For many, that little bit makes all the difference in the world." -- Ed Morehouse

"Have you ever had your water supply cut off unexpectedly? Yikes! You turn on the faucet and out comes some rust-colored fluid, or nothing at all. You can't shower, wash a load of clothes, do the dishes, refill the Brita pitcher. Imagine that this goes on for a week. You and your neighbors exhaust the local grocery stores' water supplies. You drive to a friend's house across town just to get a shower and wash your clothes. You call the landlord every day, the water company, city hall. A few days later, the water finally comes back on. Well, that mere inconvenience is nothing compared to one-fifth of the world's population who lack safe drinking water. Lifewater works to provide the training and resources for those in need to operate their own well-drilling and pump-maintaining shops, along with necessary sanitation. Together, these provide sustainable solutions, while making the recipients self-sufficient. Lifewater does this for about $4 per person, for a lifetime. Wow. Go Lifewater." -- Julieta Stack

"What amazes me about all of these organizations is how they transform what is such a small sacrifice for me into something that can have such a huge impact on other people's lives. One less latte a week for me (at Washington, D.C. prices) and Lifewater can give someone a lifetime of drinking water. Heifer will provide a family with a goat for $120, the cost of getting my hair highlighted just once at a really chi-chi salon. I don't need lattes or highlighted hair, and if anyone asked me to name the top five things that bring me joy, these wouldn't make the cut, not even close. What I do need more of is a sense that I am making a difference." -- Elizabeth Brokamp

"I volunteer once a month with a group that distributes food to homeless people living on the streets. Sitting in that van once a month, handing out sandwiches, soup, cookies, and whatever else the food kitchen could put together that day shows me the real face of hunger in America. I see how far a group like America's Second Harvest can go with very, very little. I'm enormously grateful that they exist." -- Kelly Bowers

"My family members are asking me for my Christmas list this year, and for once the list is simple. I want ducks from Heifer! They're easy to buy -- and what a difference a duck can make! A sweater I will wear for a year or two costs $20. But, for $20, some ducks can help change lives in an entire community! And, I don't even have to feed, water, or ship the ducks!" -- Chellyn Rinehart

"Heifer not only provides the fish, it provides the pole, line, reel, more fish to breed, and the training to keep them all healthy and breeding. That, and quips during our meetings such as 'Show me the ducks!' got me excited about Heifer. Ashoka and Grameen Foundation take such similar, yet different, approaches to the same basic idea and goal. Seeing the images of women who look like something out of an issue of National Geographic selling time on their cell phone was a lot of fun. Lifewater -- well, you know, you never think about it until you don't have it. And if you've never had it. I thought Louisiana tap water was bad." -- Kaiti Trimble

"I was totally blown away by Lifewater's ability to provide a lifetime of clean drinking water for one person -- for just about $4." -- Diane Vidoni

"What impresses me so much about all these organizations is the math. Each of them does such an incredible amount of good with so little money. Grameen Foundation, for example, takes whatever you give them and loans it out over and over again, countless times. Heifer starts chains of livelihood-providing animals reproducing all over the world, endlessly. Ashoka can set in motion a movement to significantly improve a whole country with just a few thousand dollars. One Lifewater drilling rig can drill wells to supply 25,000 people with clean water. America's Second Harvest operates incredibly efficiently, leveraging modest gifts into millions of pounds of food. The investor in me is wowed by these numbers and these organizations' massive returns on investment." -- Selena Maranjian

"Ashoka excites me. Investing in the people with the ideas and the drive to make serious change makes me feel like I'm truly making a long-term investment in the future of my world. It also makes me feel like a real philanthropist (like a Getty or a Carnegie!), even if I can only contribute $25. I rarely have those kinds of big ideas myself, and when I do, I sure don't have the drive and energy to make them happen. So, if someone else does have the idea and the energy, I want to do my part to make sure they bring those ideas to life." -- Kelly Bowers

"Street children -- homeless, alone, and in danger. I have always been interested in organizations that help these children, and Ashoka sponsors several fellows working in Central and South America and Indonesia who are helping keep street kids safe and developing viable futures for them. I love sending money to support an individual who is working on something they believe in -- someone right in a community who sees what needs doing and just does it!" -- Chellyn Rinehart