I used to describe myself as a helper. I do like helping and I can be really good at it. There is really nothing better than seeing something or someone succeed. In fact, I think my attraction to helping is because it is a task oriented action where one has tangible proof that one has done good.
Now... now... lots of things have changed in my life over the last year an a half. Subsequently, I think how I describe myself has also changed a bit. Yes, I continue to like helping, but today I would more describe myself as a thankful person. I say this because I find my impetus for action is not really so much because I can see progress, but more because I feel I am so fortunate and blessed.
Like most everyone else in these economic times, I am concerned about the days ahead of us. If I am not careful, I can let my worries about our family's tight budget get to me. However, it is essential that we remember that we all are much more than just our incomes and expenditures.
My friend, Courtney, reminds me that we all have time, talent and treasures and they all are equally important in the whole scheme of things. Additionally, the amount of these given is of no real consequence. The act of giving, in and of itself, is sufficient and transforming.
The act of giving of your time, talent or treasure requires one to examine what they have and determine where one has been blessed. By giving away what you have, you claim areas of abundance in your life. That's right.... abundance. That lesson has transformed me--- no longer just a helper, now I recognize areas of abundance and am exceedingly thankful for them.
That's not to say that the act of giving is not scary. That is simply not the case. I always battle the idea that I am a fool for helping or giving. What happens if it doesn't make a difference? What happens if someone takes advantage of my willingness to give? What if that homeless person takes that $5 I gave him and buys a bottle of MadDog 20/20 instead of buying some food?
The great thing about giving of your time, talent or treasure is that as long as it is freely given, without agenda or expectations, it is always a win. After you give it away, how it is used reflects solely on the receiver.
With that said, what areas of life do you feel blessed or fortunate? Do you have a talent or a gift? Do you get along well with kids, the elderly or animals? Do you have a few extra hours? Do you have a few extra dollars?
Remember, it is not the amount that matters. It is the fact you act.
Where do you have abundance and how will you share it? Thanks to Suchitra Prints for the photo.
Could it be possible to eradicate
abject poverty in one lifetime? Ever since it was first asked, the
question has seemed an improbable wish – a salve for the heart,
untenable to the mind. But today, the answer is as clear as it is
The idea that every living person can have the
basics essential to human survival – and from there, begin to climb the
ladder of economic development – is a prospect within reach. It does
not require a master plan that solves all the world's problems. It does
demand that wealthy nations change their approach in ways both subtle
It also means that the world's poorest – the last billion people who barely survive on the equivalent of less than $1 a day
– must turn from lifetimes of bleak experience and look with higher expectations toward what is possible.
Today, the "average" person on the edge of survival is a child. Within the next hour, 1,200 more of them will perish. There
are no easy solutions. But there is a clear path toward progress.
At the core of these articles is a profound sense of hope that poverty can be ended. However, it is not blind hope of some magic wand solution that focuses on simple redistribution of wealth. Instead, Mr. Lange reveals his hope that endeavors to end poverty will become customized to eliminate the unique situational obstacles that keep "individuals" and communities in poverty. What he calls for is widespread action among all people (man, woman, corporation, government, NGO, UN, policy makers, agencies.. everyone) to change in whatever ways are necessary to ensure that every person has what he or she needs for survival. He also calls for the poor to also have hope that things can change and that with work on their part, it can be sustained.
In my solution-based biased view, the magnum opus of the series is today's article Practical Steps to End Poverty. Here... Mr Lange lays out exact ways our views, policies and actions must change. What he calls for is a profound renaissance in thought, word, and deed--- where we all think about things in different ways, understand how our behaviors contribute to keeping people in poverty and make the changes in our lives so that we are responsible global neighbors to the impoverished in our midst. The article passionately coveys that no one is immune to the need for change. So well crafted is his argument is that, if the warlords, dictators, slum lords, sweatshop owners, bigots, bureaucrats, the high-and-mighty, the blissfully apathetic, and the selfish believe that people are listening to Mr. Lange, I would imagine that his days are numbered.
For me--- I'm already sold on the value of microcredit and conscious giving to organizations where I know that my money is used to work toward solutions to people's poverty rather than offering beggarly "aid." However, the article has made me think that I need to be more vocal to my governmental representatives-- an area where I waffle from disgusted to enraged to hopeless to apathetic (defensive mechanism of choice). One final quotation from the article:
Eradicating abject poverty is not a utopian goal; it's the basis for
self-sustaining growth. It doesn't mean solving the entire world's
problems. It demands that we focus our attention and resources to
ensure the survival and progress of the very worst off.
...To the thousands who give of their time and skills where it most
matters, working in some of the most dangerous places in the world, we
are all in your debt. And to the citizens of these struggling nations,
we know you deserve and are capable of better. Please, tell the rest of
us what works. Let us know how we can become a more informed and
effective community of conscience.
Thank you for your thoughts Mr. Lange. I'd love for others to chime in too.
I know the February Giving Carnival just covered this, but now comes an article in the New York Times on what makes people give money. The article examines the impact of donation matching on giving behavior. Basically, it makes the case that people are not "always clearheaded about money; sometimes the existence of a financial incentive can matter as much as its size." Matching donations are a way for people to feel like they are giving double the amount ---without the financial ding to their own personal bank accounts.
The article also goes on to do some political and economic speculation that the government should quit offering tax breaks to people and companies who donate. I'm going to stay out of that--- but you can read the article if you want to learn more.
I know that I give because I want to help. As someone who has never had an employer offer to match anything, I have developed an independent approach to my giving. In fact, I treasure the fact that I can give where I want and I am not tempted to give to the big, fat and somewhat lazy organizations and can focus on giving to smaller ones, where I believe my money does the most good.
I would also like to think that the world is changing a little bit. I'm hoping that more and more people are waking up to the community and issues around them and are at least pondering ways to make it better. I might just be a hopeless optimist. Do you have any thoughts on this? Do you think there is a slow growing cultural change occuring? If so, do you think matching gifts will wane in importance or do you think they serve as an entre into giving?
As part of my 2007 Resolution, I loaned three people money through
Kiva. All year I've been following their progress as much as possible
through Kiva. I have also made a point to keep the people in my
thoughts and hoping that they were doing well-- I've never been sure
that such things make a real difference, but in the year of throwing
aside cynicism, I figured "what the heck?--- lets go all out!"
This morning I waddled to the desk to check my e-mail expecting a full spam folder and a good number of crap emails for diet pills that eeked their way into my inbox. Well-- I found plenty of spam ---but all the annoyances were washed away when I saw an email from Kiva that told me that one of the people I loaned money to had paid it back. I was so excited!
The joy grew when I realized that the person had a good 2007 and was able to pay her loan back sooner than expected. However, I was a little disappointed when I couldn't really find an update on her file and/or another opportunity to loan to her again. I also couldn't reloan the money to some other person. RATS!!!
I know that Oprah and Bill Clinton have brought attention to Kiva-- and that is great. Big voices like that really do have an opportunity to get more Americans involved in helping the poor in all corners of the world. I understand that such attention has caused a drain on Kiva's resources and that is a good problem to have. However, my selfish desire to continue to be a little person doing my own little things that make a difference has been squelched a bit.
Stepping back from my disappointment (cause honestly, it is just a selfish desire to massage my own ego at this time when I am feeling at odds -- a nice way of saying 38 weeks pregnant, fat, hormonal and self absorbed with getting this baby here), I had a couple of thoughts about this new trend (I'm hoping it eventually becomes a societal value) of giving.
First, I dream of a day when giving (in whatever form) is part of each person's life--- much like brushing your teeth, paying your rent, or eating a meal.
Life's hassles and cynicism are often the biggest obstacles to making giving a practice and discipline in one's life.
Personal cynicism can be reduced and I'm hoping that my 2008 experiences prove that it can be eliminated without me becoming naive, stupid, gullible, and airheaded.
Along with promotion and drawing attention to causes, celebrities can also help by making it possible for causes to grow/improve their infrastructure to handle the demands of all the new people coming to give/contribute/learn.
Giving is not often a discipline/practice for most people. However, it is a practice that is easily developed by providing an ample supply of genuine, feel-good feedback to reward the people who take the risk of letting go of cynicism and putting forth the effort to navigate the obstacles to giving.
Subsequently, those of us who dream of a society that is more compassionate and giving, need to understand that it should always be easy for a person to give when the spirit moves them. I will return to the Kiva website in a few weeks, but I wonder about the busy gal or guy who just read Bill Clinton's Giving and is looking for someone to help. Will he or she go back to the website?
I'm not trying to vilify Kiva. I'm just aware, as a director of a nonprofit org, that sometimes it is easy to get overwhelmed by the operation of an organization. People either fit in, find a place, find a way to help or they don't. And sometimes it needs to be that way for organizational growth.
I also think that organizations need to mourn the missed opportunities too. Afterall, we never know how one missed opportunity could have changed us for the good.
Ok--- I admit it... I'm a bit vain. I was Googling myself in search of new links to DP. We all do it, right?????
The problem with vanity searches is that they are so addicting. They take a page right from BF Skinner's operant conditioning playbook. Afterall, intermittent or variable reinforcement is the best way to keep one pressing that little lever in hopes of getting the prized food pellet. You can search regularly and see nothing new... then one day, when you least expect it... a little jewel is revealed.
That is what happened this morning. I found a NY Times editoral from March 24, 1909, by Frederick Greene called, "Dollar Philanthropists Needed." I thought I would share...
Dollar Philanthropists Needed
It is to be feared that the letter on preventable suffering in your
issue of the 20th inst. expresses the attitude of many good people,
whose aid, though small, might, if regularly given, go very far toward
relieving the suffering which they regret.
By allowing one's self to be "held back by a feeling of hopeless insufficiency of the sum he is able to spare" one does a double wrong. He stifles his own best impulses and defrauds the poor of succor which is precious even in the smallest amount and which will be mighty in the aggregate.
That one dollar which hardly seems worth sending is a great boon to the mother feverishly trying to finish five coats at 7 cents each, so that she may have 35 cents for the days work with which to feed her brood. Another dollar will provide a pair of shoes for Jimmie, a school boy, who without them would be forced to play truant.
The New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor can make the connection any day of the year between the Dollar Philanthropist and some worthy person in distress. Frederick D. Greene
While it takes a little more than a dollar to buy a pair of shoes these days, Mr. Greene's thoughts about squelching our own best nature and power of giving in the aggregate still ring profound. Suffice it to say, Dollar Philanthropists are still needed today and there are many good organizations out there who need support for fulfilling their missions.
These days I've been feeling small. Honestly, it is really doesn't make much sense. The seatbelt is tighter. I can no longer just 'squeeze' by people in the office hall. I step out of the shower each morning to see the evidence of this growing bundle of promise and hope blossoming before me. Yet, despite the physical changes to the contrary, I still feel small.
This juxtaposition is further brought to my attention by the sickening quantities of infomercials for the latest pop psychology gurus. I don't know if they actually sell books or tapes or whatever they are hocking, but they do make for some engaging, energetic programing when the insomnia (read: baby) 'kicks' in. Curiously, I've noticed a pattern. Everyone's presentation tells of how by listening to them, you can transform your life. Specifically--within just a few minutes, they begin the ancient practice of appealing to the ego and begin fervently selling you on the importance and power of "you." Here again, even in my sleep deprived and vulnerable state, I still feel small.
Then today I read an article (more, journal citation & abstract, pdf full-text from Author) about how thoughts of a higher power/ "God" or spiritual concepts increase the probability of altruistic behavior, independent of the person being a believer or a non-believer. The authors' (Shariff & Norenzayan) discussion of the findings focuses "on the hypotheses that the religious prime had an ideomotor
effect on generosity or that it activated a felt presence of
After thinking about it... while I have my spiritual side, my giving is definitely not motivated by the feeling of being watched by a higher power. Instead, I realize that my giving is out of a combination of two things that seem somewhat contractictory--- a true understanding of the fact that I CAN HELP and an existential feeling of smallness.
First, my self-improvement focus this year has been letting go of my cynicism. Subsequently, I have found empowerment--- the simple understanding of that "I Can" give of myself and make a difference. Not that I was ever confidence impaired, but I have allowed myself to fully understand that none of us can solve the problems of the world alone. Instead, we are morally bound to chip in and do our part. What I have discovered was that by believing that I can make a difference, I have found synergy with others who care about the same causes. So by doing my part-- I've been inducted into a team united with compassion and caring.
Second, feeling small makes me understand that I'm not all that special. Like every other living being on this planet, I am just one heart beat away from moving on past this plane of existence. This one notion-- unites me with everyone else.
Back to the altrusim study... Words and concepts that make people think about a higher truth or greater purpose remind people that they are small...a cog in this wheel of life... and that we all share some common experiences of living. Our mission: should we choose to accept it is ----focusing on being part of the solution rather than being apathetic and thus abdicating our responsibility of lending a hand when we are able.
A researcher at the University of Oregon recently conducted a study on the brain effects of donating money to a cause. In the study, the researchers gave subjects $100 and watched their brain activity via FMRI as the subjects were shown their money being transferred from their account directly to a foodbank's account. Then they did the same thing but allowed the subjects to choose how to spend their money. Full Text can be downloaded here.
In the automatic transfer of funds to the foodbank, pleasure areas of the brain (that are traditionally stimulated by food, sex, sweets, shelter and social connection) were significantly activated. In the second part of the study when the subject chose to donate the money, the effect was even greater.
To read the full Reuters story: Click here (Link broken) NY Times (registration required) article: Click Here
As of late, I've been pondering empowerment and prevention of the downward spiral of poverty. I suppose somewhere I heard the proverb- "Give a person a fish and they eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and they eat the rest of their lives." And for some reason, as I'vetrundled down this path of trying to dispell my cynical, easy-way-out notions of I can't possibly help and instead, try to convince myself to have the faith that small pebbles thrown into a pond can produce ripples of significant change, I've come to focus on the hope of treating people with compassion is best done when we look at providing individualized long-term solutions for the ills of the world.
In my aimless wanderings, I happened across the Modest Needs Foundation, whose mission it is to provide small grants with the aim of preventing families from entering the demeaning and degrading downward socioeconomic spiral of poverty. With the tag line: "Small Change. A World of Difference" and a 50 state reach, I knew that these folks may be able to shed some light on my current quest to convince myself and hopefully others that small actions do count --- and they count big.
To me, chasing my doubtful demons away is best done by focusing on one person/cause at a time and looking at
a way I can be part of the solution. Sometimes it is giving money.
Sometimes it is giving time. Sometimes it is writing a supportive blog
post. Other times, it is being bold (as I am pretty much an introvert) and asking questions in hopes of
proving that my skepticism is unfounded and learning to view things from a less pessimistic perspective.
Thankfully, Dr. Keith Taylor of Modest Needs Foundation, answered my email and graciously agreed to give me some information about his foundation and then be bold enough to wax philosophical on philanthropy as activity for every person.
What is Modest Needs Foundation and how did it get started?
Needs Foundation is an award-winning charity that provides grants to
hard-working, low-income families who require assistance with a short-term,
emergency expense. In this way, with a well-timed grant, Modest Needs stops the
cycle of poverty before it starts for these individuals and families. Modest
Needs’ grants are funded entirely by small individual contributions, ranging,
on average, from $5 to $100 per month.
I was a graduate student, on my limited income, I remember having to rely on
the kindness of others for unexpected bills and emergencies. When I became a
professor, I decided to repay the kindness of those who helped me by helping
others. I set up a small website and pledged 10% of my income, about $350 per
month, to anyone who needed short-term assistance. I had no idea that this
small system I had created would become so popular! Apparently, I wasn’t the
only one who wanted to help people in this way and I received many letters from
people who, like myself, wanted to give to stop the cycle of poverty for these
families and individuals.
How many grants have you dispersed? What was the average amount dispersed? Describe the average family that gets
assistance from your organization.
2002, we have helped 3,281 individuals and families. We just recently awarded
our millionth dollar grant! The average grant awarded is about $350, and we
have made grants as large as $1,700 and as small as $76. Most of the families
that receive our assistance have a single, hard-working parent as the head of
Many simply see the world as made up of people who have
enough and people who do not. Actually,
there is a process that takes people into poverty. Can you describe this process and how Modest Needs helps prevent
people from falling into poverty?
cycle of poverty often begins with a hard-working but low-income self-sufficient
family that lives from paycheck to paycheck. This family then has some
unforeseen short-term crisis (a trip to the hospital, a death in the family,
temporary loss of work, etc.) that
results in their falling behind in their bills one month and struggling forever
to catch up with that one house or car payment. At this point, any minor
financial setback can cause the family to lose their home or car, leaving them
with absolutely nothing because of one small bill that they consistently could
not catch up on.
assistance from Modest Needs, these families would never be able to recover
from this financial crisis. Modest Needs steps in before these families have
lost everything and have to rely on state or federal assistance by helping
hard-working families to remain self-sufficient and to be able to continue to
Are there any myths about poverty that you would like to
address? If so, please feel free to
clear them up here.
think the most important myth about the cycle of poverty is that people often
fall into that cycle as a result of personal irresponsibility. Five years at Modest Needs has shown me that
this is almost never the case. The
persons who come to us are hard-working, low-income folks who are doing their
best to do everything right, but who just can’t afford to cover the cost of a
question I sometimes hear in regards to persons in this position who ask for
our help– ‘Why couldn’t they have just saved up’ – is akin to Marie
Antoinette’s famous, apocryphal comment ‘Let them eat cake.’ You can’t save money if you’re a single
parent working full time for $13 an hour while you’re raising two children. The real problem is that no resource prior
to Modest Needs had existed to help these persons at the *outset* of a
short-term crisis, for example, the desperately needed car repair that a person
in this position can’t afford without foregoing his or her rent for that
is how the cycle of poverty actually begins for most people, and I’m glad we
can play a part in stopping that cycle BEFORE it starts for the persons who
most can benefit from the short term helping hand that we’re able to offer.
Are there any stories that come to mind of where the
“small change” provided by Modest Needs made a “world of difference”? If so, would you mind sharing one or two.
think my favorite story ever is that of a woman from Kentucky who asked for our
help to purchase a special pair of glasses for her son. This woman and her husband both worked full
time (one as a teacher, the other in construction) had several children, and
were making ends meet. But their
youngest son had an eye disorder – a corneal defect – that prevented him from seeing
shapes. To him, the world was a blur of
sound and nonsense.
this eye disorder is completely correctible with glasses, but the lenses are
very expensive because they must be tailored to the individual corneas that
they’ll be correcting. This person
couldn’t afford such glasses for her son (the lenses alone cost $550), and so
she applied for help from Modest Needs for $50 – the cost of the down payment
for the glasses.
explained that her son was just about to start school and had to have the
glasses and promised that, if we’d help her with the down payment, she’d get a
night job to pay off the balance due to the optician.
we decided that his person hadn’t requested enough help from us, and so we paid
for the lenses in full, leaving her to purchase only the frames. We found out later that, when this child
went to the optician to be fitted with these special glasses, he looked up at
his mother and said, ‘Mom, is that you?’
child was five years old, and he’d never seen his mother before.
you can restore a child’s sight for $550, that, to me, embodies what we talk
about at Modest Needs when we say ‘Small Change: A World of Difference’
Please describe the process that you use to evaluate each
request for assistance.
Modest Needs, we take extra steps to safeguard the integrity of our donors’
contributions. Our evaluation process is designed to ensure that the people we
assist legitimately require our assistance. Applicants first fill out a brief
online application, telling us about their financial situation and the expense
that they require assistance with. After we have initially reviewed this
request to make sure it falls within our funding guidelines, we ask our
applicants to submit documentation, verifying the information they provided in
the initial application. You can view a sample documentation packet by visiting
we have made sure that the documentation confirms the applicant’s situation, we
place them on our website for donor review and funding. In the event that an
application is funded, we remit payment directly to the creditor (we never send
a check directly to the applicant) on behalf of the applicant.
Does the donor have a place in the evaluation of requests
for funding? If so, what?
donors are not passive donors. They enjoy the giving process and like to be
directly involved the decision-making process when it comes to funding applications.
Anyone who gives even two dollars to Modest Needs can go onto our website and
‘score’ applications from 0 to 9, indicating which applications they would like
to see funded first. Our system calculates an average score for each
application. Each week, when we allocate funding, we start with the highest
scored applications and work our way down until we exhaust funding.
To date, what methods have you used to get the word out
about the foundation? Is there anything the DP readers can do to help you out
we really haven’t had to do much to get the word out. People and the press seem
to love the work we are doing and our unique approach. However, we are
registered with every local 211, which is how most of our applicants find out
about us. We have also been featured in many news articles, television talk
shows, and radio programs.
just recently joined the Squidoo community, which is a bit like Myspace for the
socially conscious. We would encourage DP readers who are interested in
supporting Modest Needs to go onto our headquarters and make a “lens” in
support of our organization. A “lens” is simply a small, personalized web page
that can be about anything at all -- movies, a pet, a hobby or interest. This
page is completely free to create, only takes about ten minutes of your time,
and generates revenue for Modest Needs.
What are top 5 items on your organization’s wish list?
we have only one major item on our wish-list at this time: more recurring (read monthly or weekly)
2007, Modest Needs is operating under a very generous matching grant that
doubles the dollar value of every recurring donation made to Modest Needs, each
month it’s made. For example, if a
person pledges $30 a month to Modest Needs this year (that’s $1 a day), the
donation is instantly matched to be worth $60 a month to our applicants. And because we have grants that cover our
operating costs, we’re able to pass all of our donors’ funding to the individuals
who have applied for help through us.
initial value of this matching grant is $300,000.00. We had a similar grant last year, and it took us nearly 12 months
to claim the entire amount. This year,
our matching donor has suggested to us that if we are able to claim the entire
$300,000.00 earlier in the year (say, by July or August), they’ll ‘up’ the
amount of the maximum possible match.
really, what we most want to do is make the most of this remarkable
opportunity, and in order to do that, we simply need more people willing to
make a small donation on a monthly basis. If people really want to help Modest Needs in a big way this year,
that’s how to do it. Interested
persons can make a secure pledge of any size in two minutes or less.
While looking through some of the requests, I saw that
someone from your office in New York was actually going to take the grant
recipient to the grocery store and purchase the food for him/her. This seems like a great way to uphold the
commitment to your donors to make sure grants get spent as intended. It also seems like a great way to get donors
and advocates involved too. Is there a
plan to expand opportunities like this to your community of partners and
we have the staff and resources to assist with expenses such as food and
clothing from people in the New York City area, expenses we normally could not
consider because we would have to provide the applicant with cash or its equivalent
in order to purchase them, we love to assist with these kinds of necessities.
my assistant is taking this grant recipient to a local grocery store to
purchase $200 worth of groceries for her. We would love to involve our friends
and partners in this type of grant-giving, provided we can work out issues like
liability and logistics (harder than one might imagine). One thing that we do have in place that provides this sort of direct involvement is an “adoption” system, where any partner of Modest Needs can adopt a specific application and personally fund it in full. We put the applicant and donor in contact with each other to work out payment arrangements.
Lastly, waxing philosophical for a moment... one of my core beliefs is that philanthropy should be a balanced
effort to provide a hand out and a hand up. Meeting a need relieves suffering. Empowerment is an effort to prevent future suffering. Would you mind sharing one of your core
beliefs about the purpose of philanthropy?
most people hear the word ‘philanthropy,’ the issue of ‘money’ immediately
springs to mind. It’s no wonder – when
you watch the news, you hear, for example, about Warren Buffet’s decision to
award the bulk of his billions to the Bill Gates Foundation. By contrast, you don’t hear much about the
guy who fed a parking meter for a stranger whose time was about to expire.
think it’s our culture’s focus on big money giving that causes a lot of folks
who genuinely want to be philanthropists to shrug their shoulders and say, ‘But
I make $10 an hour. What can *I*
do? But what most people don’t know is
that even the word ‘philanthropy’ has nothing to do with money.
from the Greek, simply means ‘Compassion for People.’ And realizing this made all of the difference for me. ‘Philanthropy’
is not just about empowering the individuals in need of compassion. It’s about empowering each of us to
*demonstrate* meaningful compassion, as we can, with whatever we can afford to
share. And to me, that kind of
empowerment, which tangibly affects both the donor and the recipient, is the
only kind of power worth having.
I love your tagline: Small Change: A World of Difference! Please expand your thoughts on this.
tagline really goes to the issues about philanthropy I raised above. The entire point is that you really don’t
have to be wealthy to make a ‘world of difference’ to someone in need of your
kindness, of your compassion.
this: Modest Needs recently made its
millionth dollar grant. But that
million dollars didn’t come to us by conventional means. We received it (mostly) $5 and $10 and $50
and $100 at a time from people just like you, just like me, just like all of us
– people who know what it is to struggle at the cusp of poverty, and who did
just what they could to help another person avoid that difficult situation.
Needs is not just about helping persons avoid the cycle of poverty. It’s about changing the way we think about
giving and our power – the power we *all* possess – to change lives simply by
acting compassionately. We may have
only ‘small change’ to offer, and we may only be making ‘small grants.’ But those small acts of compassion create
make a world of difference in the lives of all concerned.
I certainly don't mean this to sound trite... but thanks Dr. Taylor for your time and your thoughtful answers. That is just what I needed... ask and you shall receive....Now, I'm off to ponder a little and continue my 'attitude adjustments."
This is cross posted from my other blog (heathcare/social marketing). As I have two very different audiences for these blogs, I want to know what the DP readers think.
I just read a Reuters article
by Ben Herschler on the potential influence of the Gates Foundation on
the pharma industry. A quick quotation to get you started:
"The billions of dollars thrown at global health
problems by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are changing the
game in drug discovery, posing big challenges to the world's top
drugmakers, according to a report on Tuesday.
Pharmaceutical information group IMS Health Inc. said the emergence
of megabuck philanthropy was both a threat and a collaboration
opportunity for manufacturers.
"Pharma companies need to develop an explicit strategy to deal with
this phenomenon," IMS said in its annual Intelligence.360 report on
factors shaping the industry."
Now my day job is in healthcare and I've done a lot of work with the
pharma industry over my career. I have helped with clinical research,
written patient education materials and consulted on launch strategies
and professional education efforts on new treatments.
major philanthropic associations can do a lot to bolster the research
efforts of pharma. Additionally, pharma gets good karma points for
partnering with good causes. Nonetheless, one must always remember that
in economics and business, nothing is ever free. Afterall, today's new
era of empowered philanthropy, generous giving rarely means "without
Just looking forward: How will pharma handle the philanthropist's
demands for affordable prices on these new treatments that they have
helped to bring to market? Afterall, right now most new treatments are
priced based mostly on what the market will bear and competitor prices,
rather than any real analytical plan to recoup costs plus a reasonable
Or will philanthropic organizations require a "return on investment" when partnering. If so, what would this look like?
Not to leave out the megabuck philanthropies, I also have questions
for them. What happens when an ethical question comes up about the
research on a treatment? How will you ensure that your altruistic and
philanthropic missions are not compromised by a greedy and immoral few?
All it takes is one poorly designed study, one failure to disclose
financial relationships, or one questionable and tragic death to occur
in one of those studies to ruin all the good work being done.
We need only look back as far as 1933 and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study
to see how unethical research can ruin the trust of individuals who
need care. Growing up and working in the south, I have seen the
unfortunate legacy of this experiment. I have personally heard many
African Americans voice suspicions and be doubtful of treatment offered
to them. Some people going so far as to avoid doctors and hospitals at
all costs and dying because they refused to seek treatment. I can only
imagine what would happen if something similar happened in AIDS/HIV
ravaged areas. It could completely undo all the work being done and
send us tumbling toward the loss of multiple generations of people who
really deserve better.