Foolanthropy 1999
Weekly Update #3

By Robert Brokamp (TMF Bro) (TMF Bro)

A generous Fool, who wishes to remain anonymous, has just issued a $30,000 challenge. He'll match each dollar contributed between 12/20 and 12/27 to Foodchain, Grameen Foundation USA or Heifer Project International, up to $10,000 for each charity. Another generous Fool rose to our challenge and will match donations to The Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation and The Make-A-Wish Foundation -- up to $5,000 per charity. This means that if you contribute, not only will you be giving relief to those in need, you'll be giving twice as much relief! It's an instant 100% return on your investment.


(Dec. 16, 1999) -- Five dollars for five charities.

That's the Foolanthropy mantra for this week. If each of The Motley Fool's 1.8 million monthly visitors contributed just $5 toward this year's charity drive, we would collectively raise $9 million! Doesn't that just tickle your altruistic toes? How close are we to that goal? Here are the numbers so far:

Donate to a Foolanthropy Charity. Click here.

Foodchain:                      $26,033
Grameen Foundation USA:         $36,059
Heifer Project International:   $22,530
Make-A-Wish Foundation�:        $13,358
Polycystic Kidney Research:     $13,579

TOTAL CONTRIBUTIONS:           $111,559

Number of contributions:          1099
Average contribution:           $77.69
(The preceding two numbers refer only to donations given via credit card at

Kudos and thanks to those who have contributed!

Now, an article attempting to encourage readers to contribute to charities might resort to guilt tactics or heart-rending tales. We here at the Fool consider ourselves to be somewhat unconventional -- but that won't stop us from tugging at your heartstrings and your conscience in order to raise money for some worthy causes.

Take a look at the number of contributions. Compared to the Fool's regular traffic, that number is pretty small. As noted in the first update's
Top Ten Reasons to Support Foolanthropy, The Motley Fool is a free website. If you think you're getting a good deal from us, return the favor by helping these charities. And you don't have forever; the charity drive concludes at the end of this month!

Some may think that $5 doesn't go very far these days. Au contraire! Five dollars is 10% of a typical loan made by the Grameen Foundation to help those in poverty start their own businesses. When you work with charities serving people with annual incomes of only a few dollars, a Treasury-printed portrait of Abraham Lincoln can go a long way.

Our charity drive will not only benefit the poor, but also those who are sick, those who are hungry, and those with life-threatening illnesses. But exactly whom do these charities serve? Let's meet some people.

Adwee Beuya lives in the Bashdikwi Village of Bangladesh. As is often the case around the world, she was not educated because of her gender. By age 11 she was married, and by age 14 she was the mother of three and a widow. Because she had no husband, she received only one eighth of her family's inheritance.

With no income, Adwee secured a loan from the Grameen bank. With some fruits and vegetables, she began a small trading business. She repaid the loan within a year and managed to sock some money away, as well. With additional loans, she eventually became a landlady and a healthcare worker. How much was the initial loan that began this success story? Thirty-four dollars. A $5 donation could help get people like Adwee and her children on the road to financial security.

Heifer Project International also helps impoverished, enterprising people -- but Heifer provides "moo!" rather than moolah. Blandina Bumbo of Uganda received a pregnant dairy cow from Heifer Project International. As is expected of recipients, Mrs. Bumbo gave away her cow's firstborn calf. What was not expected, however, was that Mrs. Bumbo adopted a few orphaned boys and soon opened a nursery school for 30 children -- half of whom are orphans -- with proceeds from her dairy business. These children are fed porridge each day. For some, it's the only hot meal they receive. And guess whose udder provides the ingredients for that porridge?

That cow was bought with a $500 donation. How do I know the price of this bovine bounty? Check out the catalog at Heifer's website: It's a Noah's Ark, telling you how much it would cost to buy each kind of animal for a needy family. Is a cow too rich and creamy for your blood? How about a pig for $120? Or a llama for $150? Bees in your bonnet ($30)? Charity got your goose ($20)? Perhaps you're more into flora than fauna (the donation of a tree: $60). Whatever your choice, don't duck ($20) your responsibility to share the wealth. You can even give animals in honor of friends or loved ones -- these can be nifty holiday presents!

The Make-A-Wish Foundation� grants the wishes of children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. What are typical wishes? Eight-year-old Kaeli wanted to meet Mary Poppins. Sixteen-year-old Mandie wished to see her book published. And five-year-old Robin wanted to be the boss of the ice cream man so he could drive around the neighborhood and give everyone free ice cream.

Then there's seven-year-old Chris, who wanted to be a police officer. A police helicopter flew him to the Department of Public Safety, where officers awaited to swear Chris in as an honorary patrolman. Days later, officers arrived at Chris's house to present him with a tailor-made uniform. Chris completed the uniform by earning the motorcycle wings worn by the officers (they set up an obstacle course that Chris expertly navigated in his battery-powered motorcycle). Chris was in the hospital when he was presented with his wings. Chris died the next day of Leukemia. As the only honorary state trooper in Arizona history, he was given a police funeral with full honors.

Chris's story, which happened almost 20 years ago, is the inspiration behind the Make-A-Wish foundation. Surely, helping to make a dream come true for children like Chris is worth $5.

The PKR Foundation seeks to find a cure for polycystic kidney disease, a condition that afflicts 12.5 million people worldwide. But the number of people affected by the disease is much, much higher; when one person contracts a potentially fatal disease, several lives are changed.

For a real-life example, we don't have to go any further than the Foolanthropy message board: "Because of Polcystic Kidney Disease, I never knew my grandmother; she died when my father was very young. Because of PKD, I hardly remember my father; he died when I was five years old. Because of PKD, my father's sister died in the prime of her life. Because of PKD, I've known what it is like to live with kidney failure and running my life around my dialysis appointments. Because of PKD, I and both of my children run the risk of having a higher-than-normal chance of having cerebral aneurysms (strokes), hernias, heart problems, and other polycystic organs."

As pointed out later in the post, many experts believe that a cure is within reach. Closing the gap, though, will depend on funding. An army of Fools sending in fivers will extend the long arm of the PKR Foundation.

Foodchain is a network of "food rescue" organizations that saves food otherwise destined for trash heaps. The food is donated by restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses, and distributed to social service agencies. Feeding the hungry is only part of what Foodchain does. The food preparation process serves as a job-training program.

The (Washington) D.C. Central Kitchen is a member of the Foodchain network, and was recently featured on ABC's "Nightline." Take a few moments to read the transcript of the program. It describes how a group of people -- consisting of the homeless, jobless, and substance-addicted -- are put through a 12-week program that teaches them responsibility, accountability, and marketable skills. According to the D.C. Central Kitchen, 85% of graduates of the program obtain jobs immediately.

So consider sending in five dollars for five charities. Of course, we won't stop you from contributing more. Do we dare suggest "fifty dollars for five charities"? Hmmm....

Fool on!

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