Donations Are Now Open

This project was never about fund raising – and it never will be. But I’ve talked to a lot of friends and they have all asked for the same thing: they want to be able to see where their money goes in the same way that my relatives get to see how I spend their family donations.

This kind of begs the question – why aren’t charities doing this? Even back in the 1980s (or earlier) you could sponsor a child and they would send you a picture along with some letters written by them. But come on, it’s 2008 – why can’t they send a vlog instead of a picture?

Heck, I can donate my money to my old alma mater and have a plaque on a chair in some auditorium – so I can see exactly where my money went. But if I were to donate the same amount to a charity to help build a school in the third world – I’m really left with nothing more but generic promo videos.

I believe that this is an important step in changing the conversation about global poverty. It’s in that spirit I’ve setup a PayPal account to accept donations. But please keep in mind that I’m just a private citizen and not a charity or NGO – donations to me aren’t tax-deductible.

Also, I am just one guy, your money will definitely go farther with a registered charity than with me. If you are having a hard time choosing which registered charity to give to – I have a recommended list of registered tax-deductible charities you can donate to. I’d be just as happy – if not happier – if you donated to them instead of me.

But, please, don’t take all this talk about charity and donations to mean that they are the single solution to ending extreme poverty. Political action, debt relief, and fairer trade agreements can do more than all the individual fund raising in the world.

[Full Disclosure: I should have pointed this out earlier, a few people are assuming I will be using these donations to help cover my day-to-day expenses (food, internet connection, DV tapes for filming, etc). I really – ethically – do not feel I can spend money donated to me for those purposes. It also doesn’t make sense to ask others to subsidize such living expenses. At most, I may need to spend this money on travel costs if my work takes me outside of Dhaka City. I realize that most charities and NGOs use donation money to cover their food and living expenses – but like I said, I’m neither a charity or NGO.]

4 Responses to “Donations Are Now Open”


  1. 1 hyrcan

    Having worked for a non-profit charity, I’ve seen a lot of waste (not intentional by any means but it’s there) they spend thousands of dollars on getting new donations, thousand more on mass mailings and stock photos of the child you’re supporting (yes I said stock) so in some cases only a fraction of what personal donors give actually makes it to what they are helping.

    So I’m very skeptical that my money will go that much farther with a registered charity than with you. Especially considering the impact your videos make on people by educating them as to what poverty looks like, and shining a light on the real people who bust there ass just to survive. Something we don’t see in the mainstream media here in the states.

    So don’t discount the impact you make, it’s bigger (and will continue to get bigger) than you might think.

    NOTE: Even with what I said in my first paragraph I still give to those sorts of charities, I’m not bashing any, or advocating not donating, They also make pretty big impacts, but I think Shawn’s impact is just as important, as it introduces those organizations to a new way of educating their donors/potential donors of what they are supporting and I think in the long run that change will be tremendous.

    Oh, and CharityWater may interest people too, 100% of the donations from individuals goes to the water, the overhead cost comes from grants/sponsors/privatedonors(those giving specificly to the overhead cost) etc.

    also your link to the lifestraw donation page doesn’t work, I found this though: http://www.vestergaard-frandsen.com/lifestraw-f-donations.htm incase people are looking where to donate Lifestraws

  2. 2 hyrcan

    Having worked for a non-profit charity, I’ve seen a lot of waste (not intentional by any means but it’s there) they spend thousands of dollars on getting new donations, thousand more on mass mailings and stock photos of the child you’re supporting (yes I said stock) so in some cases only a fraction of what personal donors give actually makes it to what they are helping.

    So I’m very skeptical that my money will go that much farther with a registered charity than with you. Especially considering the impact your videos make on people by educating them as to what poverty looks like, and shining a light on the real people who bust there ass just to survive. Something we don’t see in the mainstream media here in the states.

    So don’t discount the impact you make, it’s bigger (and will continue to get bigger) than you might think.

    NOTE: Even with what I said in my first paragraph I still give to those sorts of charities, I’m not bashing any, or advocating not donating, They also make pretty big impacts, but I think Shawn’s impact is just as important, as it introduces those organizations to a new way of educating their donors/potential donors of what they are supporting and I think in the long run that change will be tremendous.

    Oh, and CharityWater may interest people too, 100% of the donations from individuals goes to the water, the overhead cost comes from grants/sponsors/privatedonors(those giving specificly to the overhead cost) etc.

    also your link to the lifestraw donation page doesn’t work, I found this though: http://www.vestergaard-frandsen.com/lifestraw-f-donations.htm incase people are looking where to donate Lifestraws

  3. 3 Shawn

    hey hyrcan – thanks for letting me know about that broken link!

    And I think I should also write a follow-up post in the future about what I won’t be spending these donations on. I certainly won’t be buying my DV tapes with this donated money.

  4. 4 Shawn

    hey hyrcan – thanks for letting me know about that broken link!

    And I think I should also write a follow-up post in the future about what I won’t be spending these donations on. I certainly won’t be buying my DV tapes with this donated money.

  1. 1 Full Disclosure: The First 72 Hours of PayPal Donations | The Uncultured Project

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