Crowd Funding

We love a good crowd fund. Something that goes viral, a story of overwhelming hardship, of incredible difficulty and of selfless commitment. It seems to be the way that fundraising is heading; giving money directly to the recipient who needs it without all the hassle and rigmarole of the charity organisation taking out their cut and slowing down the process. This way, 100% (minus the website fees of course) goes straight to the people who need it. Isn’t that what we all want?

But where does the 100% (minus the website fee of course) actually go to? Who is making sure that there is a real need for this request? Who is working out if there is a better way to meet the need or not? Who is tracking how the money is spent, if it really gets spent on what people were giving to? Who is monitoring the outcomes of this whole process? In the long run, is this process helping or is it causing more damage? Does that matter to people when they donate? Should it?

There is something to be said for a report. It doesn’t sound sexy, but finding out if you are making a difference when you donate money is surely the greatest return on your gift, rather than just assuming that you are making a difference.

Tim Costello, previous Chief Advocate for World Vision Australia, would tell the story of when someone wanted to give a large amount of money to the organisation but only if 100% of it went to the programs in Africa. Tim said ‘Sure. You hand me a cheque and I will post it to Africa for you. What happens to it when it gets there? I don’t know. But at least we will know that 100% of it went there’.

There is nothing wrong with crowd funding to help people, in fact it can be amazing, but let’s not confuse it with sustainable development and long-term growth. It costs money to work out what people’s needs are. It costs money to figure out the best way to meet those needs with respect, dignity and in a sustainable fashion. It costs money to ask the hard questions after a project has taken place to really discover if the desired outcomes have been met. All of this is not able to come from a crowd funding site…yet.

How to Measure a Human

A good set of data is exciting to some people. They love it. Their life is a spreadsheet. They are the type of people that will say, ‘I’ve got a spreadsheet for that’.

I have said that.

I am one of those people.

I love the way that information and data points can give you an understanding of so many parts of our world and, if you can measure something you can improve it. But most of all because numbers tell a story.

But numbers never tell the whole story. How can we measure how good someone’s life is going to be by using numbers? Well, the United Nations is giving it a go. They have released the Human Capital Index. This little number measures a bucket load of data points in the lives of individuals and then ranks countries on what their quality of life is. Things like adult survival rate, probability of survival at age 5, expected school years and harmonized test scores (which is a way to understand student achievement on a global scale and not, as I thought, students around the world taking tests via the medium of song).

What do we learn from these numbers? Well, not a great deal that we didn’t already know. Sub-Saharan Africa are not doing that well, with Chad coming dead last, Australia is in the top 10, sitting at number 7, behind Ireland but ahead of Sweden (I’m not sure what to make of that).

What is surprising is that in first place is Singapore, just ahead of Korea. Both of which have incredibly high Harmonized Test Scores which is the difference between them and the rest of the top 10.

But I guess, after all is added up and calculated we can see that whilst things are indeed getting better, the majority of humanity is not living up to its potential because of poverty. Imagine all the things that we are missing out on, the people, the personalities, the ideas and creativity, the families, the stories – all because of a construct we created. We must end it and we must end it now. It won’t be ended by governments or massive corporations, it is going to be ended by every person doing their bit, and it can start here.

How to have better friends, better sleep and a better life

There are numerous studies on the impact that generosity has on people. It’s almost beyond a joke now. Generosity makes you feel better, makes you feel happier, is good for your mental health and can make you live longer. What more evidence do you need?

I’m glad you asked, because, there is more…

It turns out that, as well as all the afore mentioned benefits, being generous also allows you to have better relationships with your friends and sleep better.

But, again, there is more. After gaining better friendships and waking up so well rested, if you continue on your merry way of generosity you will feel more confident and less loathing of yourself. That’s right, ‘generosity is a natural confidence builder and natural repellent of self hatred’.

How is this all possible? It really comes down to the effect that it has on our minds as we do something for someone else. That process of thinking outside of ourselves, even if it’s brief, when done over a period of time, changes our perspective on our lives, problems and difficulties, helping us see the word with clearer vision and a better sense of reality.

Having a fight with a friend? Give some money away.

Having trouble sleeping? Give some money away.

Want to build confidence and hate yourself less? Give some money away.

Now, being generous is more than just giving money away, but that is the easiest place to start. Being intentional about doing something for someone else gives you control – you take ownership of that part of your life and the effects are far and wide.

Rules of Engagement

It is easy to call someone names. It is simple to see one thing that a person does and create a story about who they are – judge them on their behaviours. It is much harder to get to know the person, understand their journey to this point, and even empathise with them as to why they sometimes behave the way they do. But isn’t that what we all want? We can be so quick to judge people around us but expect everyone to see us for who we really are, as complex human beings, rather than as the sum of some of the stupid things we do.

There are grave dangers around what we can do to each other when we are not connected, we don’t know each other and the stories that make up our identity, and we don’t understand the intrinsic value that each person carries within them. This is no more evident than with what we see online and how we behave and treat others when there is no face to face communication.

So, I have been thinking about how I engage with people and topics, especially online. Perhaps you may find this valuable.

Rules of engagement:

  • If someone has not travelled with you through your journey of crap and disfunction, if they haven’t sat with you when you are at your worst, celebrated with you when you are at your best and dreamed with you during the times in between, they have no right to offer their opinion on what you should do. People will still offer their opinions, but you only get to listen to the ones that come from the people who have earned it.
  • Keep your political and social opinion to yourself. The only time you should share your opinion is if it is not set in concrete and can be shaped by what other people think and feel. This is called a discussion. It is a wonderful place were people are free to disagree with each other, challenge thinking and behaviour and are encouraged to own it when they think they have been wrong about something. It is a place where a person’s ideals and opinions are separated from their value as a human being – meaning that a person can say something, do something or think something that some might consider not nice or unhelpful, but they are not considered bad or evil. They are, like all of us, on a journey of growth and improvement. Because, let’s face it, in a few minutes it is likely we will be saying something, doing something or thinking something not nice or unhelpful.
  • If you do not like something on television for whatever reason, don’t watch it, don’t talk about it, don’t post on social media about it. Don’t give it air to exist. Instead focus on creating the type of content that you want to see. Act out of positivity and creativity rather than out of negativity.
  • Most of all, seek to connect and engage with other people and their story. Everything that everyone does makes sense to them. If you don’t understand them yet, ask more questions.