An Open Letter to Solicitors

What great disapointment [sic] Mr Shawn .. All talk and no action

This was actually the fourth message I received from this person (not counting emails). At first it was just a few form letters and forwarded messages. But, eventually, the messages became more and more frequent and less and less professional. I eventually decided to block this person. Who was this person? Believe it or not, this was a founder and chairperson of a small but internationally renowned charity here in Dhaka.

I’d like to say that I got off on the wrong foot with this person… but the fact is I didn’t even have a chance to properly correspond with this person. It’s been increasingly hard to keep up with all the messages and comments people send me via YouTube, email, and Facebook. I try my best to reply to as many as I can. But, what often goes on the backburner are messages that are soliciting me to collaborate on a business (or social business) venture and/or requests to give some of the money that I have recently raised.

I know it’s important to team up with larger organization and like-minded individuals. I try and do so as often as I can. It’s just that with so many new people trying to contact me, it’s hard to keep up. Even my speaking event at the American International School in Dhaka took three months to arrange. I’m just one guy – it’s often hard to juggle everything that’s been going on as this project gains more and more interest. It’s for this reason – and my desire to avoid more messages like those I’ve recently received – that I’d like to mention a few things to any potential solicitor:

  • Please realize I can’t possibly reply to every email that I receive.
  • Please do not take my lack of response as a rebuke of your work or your idea.
  • Please understand that, even if I pursue some options with others and not you, it doesn’t mean your idea/request is not equally as valid or good.
  • Please also understand that, even though I am currently in Bangladesh, I fully intend to adhere to both US and Canadian law. This means that I have to be extra cautious when deciding who to team up with and who gets any of the money I’ve raised.

Finally, please keep your correspondence professional. As much as I’ve disappointed some people due to my lack of replies, the greater disappointment is finding out that many people believe that they are the gate-keepers for action and making a difference. Respectfully, even if I don’t pursue anything with you, it doesn’t mean I’m not making a difference.

11 Responses to “An Open Letter to Solicitors”


  1. 1 Mark

    Shawn,
    I’ve been watching your videos and reading your blog for quite a while and never left a comment or contacted in any ways. I just had to drop a few lines on this one, though: Understand that when money gets involved, greedy people come along and that people will focus more on the money than on the actions you take.

    My suggestion to you is simple: Stop receiving donations and keep doing your work with what YOU raised so far and feedback those who donated letting them know how you made a difference on their behalf. Then, call it a project and go finish your degree! You will have a great experience to mention on your masters and doctors. Meanwhile, you can keep us all updated on your next project.

  2. 2 Mark

    Shawn,
    I’ve been watching your videos and reading your blog for quite a while and never left a comment or contacted in any ways. I just had to drop a few lines on this one, though: Understand that when money gets involved, greedy people come along and that people will focus more on the money than on the actions you take.

    My suggestion to you is simple: Stop receiving donations and keep doing your work with what YOU raised so far and feedback those who donated letting them know how you made a difference on their behalf. Then, call it a project and go finish your degree! You will have a great experience to mention on your masters and doctors. Meanwhile, you can keep us all updated on your next project.

  3. 3 Mark

    Shawn,
    I’ve been watching your videos and reading your blog for quite a while and never left a comment or contacted in any ways. I just had to drop a few lines on this one, though: Understand that when money gets involved, greedy people come along and that people will focus more on the money than on the actions you take.

    My suggestion to you is simple: Stop receiving donations and keep doing your work with what YOU raised so far and feedback those who donated letting them know how you made a difference on their behalf. Then, call it a project and go finish your degree! You will have a great experience to mention on your masters and doctors. Meanwhile, you can keep us all updated on your next project.

  4. 4 Shawn

    Hi Mark,

    If you had also included a request to find a nice girl, get married, and start having kids, I would have sworn your comment was written by my mother. I see where you are coming from – but I respectfully disagree with your advice (for the time being).

    I’ve kept in touch with my friends back at Notre Dame. Most of them now have their Masters degree and are working on their PhDs. But – to my surprise – many are saying I’ve accomplished MORE than they have.

    Here’s why:

    – Academically, my writings and work are already required reading/viewing in at least one American university, have been screened in many academic conferences (including one at Notre Dame sponsored by ND’s Peace Studies Institute and one at my alma mater), and are also used academically in many high schools.

    – While I don’t have an MA or PhD, I’m not coming up short on my academic background. I have a Bachelors from the University of Toronto (with honors and distinction). I leave no student debt as I’ve had almost continuous full (or double) scholarships during my academic career. My undergraduate grades were good enough that I’m a lifetime inducted member of the Golden Key Honor Society. I also have a year and a half of course credits from one of America’s best universities and graduate programs.

    – And while I could just as easily go into the workforce and maybe work for an NGO or charity in the same field (maybe even in the same country I am in now), to my surprise, my work seems to have a bigger impact than the big name charities. To date, on YouTube, The Uncultured Project is more popular than UNICEF, UNDP, Save the Children, Oxfam, CARE, Concern Worldwide, and the Red Cross – COMBINED.

    I usually don’t mention things like this because it comes off as bragging (or worse). Don’t get me wrong. I love academia and want to one day earn that MA I’ve been working on. But, right now (as long as it is financially feasible), I’d like to see how far this project… this dream… can go.

    All the best.

    – Shawn

  5. 5 Shawn

    Hi Mark,

    If you had also included a request to find a nice girl, get married, and start having kids, I would have sworn your comment was written by my mother. I see where you are coming from – but I respectfully disagree with your advice (for the time being).

    I’ve kept in touch with my friends back at Notre Dame. Most of them now have their Masters degree and are working on their PhDs. But – to my surprise – many are saying I’ve accomplished MORE than they have.

    Here’s why:

    – Academically, my writings and work are already required reading/viewing in at least one American university, have been screened in many academic conferences (including one at Notre Dame sponsored by ND’s Peace Studies Institute and one at my alma mater), and are also used academically in many high schools.

    – While I don’t have an MA or PhD, I’m not coming up short on my academic background. I have a Bachelors from the University of Toronto (with honors and distinction). I leave no student debt as I’ve had almost continuous full (or double) scholarships during my academic career. My undergraduate grades were good enough that I’m a lifetime inducted member of the Golden Key Honor Society. I also have a year and a half of course credits from one of America’s best universities and graduate programs.

    – And while I could just as easily go into the workforce and maybe work for an NGO or charity in the same field (maybe even in the same country I am in now), to my surprise, my work seems to have a bigger impact than the big name charities. To date, on YouTube, The Uncultured Project is more popular than UNICEF, UNDP, Save the Children, Oxfam, CARE, Concern Worldwide, and the Red Cross – COMBINED.

    I usually don’t mention things like this because it comes off as bragging (or worse). Don’t get me wrong. I love academia and want to one day earn that MA I’ve been working on. But, right now (as long as it is financially feasible), I’d like to see how far this project… this dream… can go.

    All the best.

    – Shawn

  6. 6 Shawn

    Hi Mark,

    If you had also included a request to find a nice girl, get married, and start having kids, I would have sworn your comment was written by my mother. I see where you are coming from – but I respectfully disagree with your advice (for the time being).

    I’ve kept in touch with my friends back at Notre Dame. Most of them now have their Masters degree and are working on their PhDs. But – to my surprise – many are saying I’ve accomplished MORE than they have.

    Here’s why:

    – Academically, my writings and work are already required reading/viewing in at least one American university, have been screened in many academic conferences (including one at Notre Dame sponsored by ND’s Peace Studies Institute and one at my alma mater), and are also used academically in many high schools.

    – While I don’t have an MA or PhD, I’m not coming up short on my academic background. I have a Bachelors from the University of Toronto (with honors and distinction). I leave no student debt as I’ve had almost continuous full (or double) scholarships during my academic career. My undergraduate grades were good enough that I’m a lifetime inducted member of the Golden Key Honor Society. I also have a year and a half of course credits from one of America’s best universities and graduate programs.

    – And while I could just as easily go into the workforce and maybe work for an NGO or charity in the same field (maybe even in the same country I am in now), to my surprise, my work seems to have a bigger impact than the big name charities. To date, on YouTube, The Uncultured Project is more popular than UNICEF, UNDP, Save the Children, Oxfam, CARE, Concern Worldwide, and the Red Cross – COMBINED.

    I usually don’t mention things like this because it comes off as bragging (or worse). Don’t get me wrong. I love academia and want to one day earn that MA I’ve been working on. But, right now (as long as it is financially feasible), I’d like to see how far this project… this dream… can go.

    All the best.

    – Shawn

  7. 7 jolene

    Shawn,just do your best.I can share your stress.I am not about to give you a suggestion beacuse it would mean this is not what your idea on this uncultered project is but mine instead.To those who support Shawn,please do continue to support his project but don’t enforce your own ideas unto him.Please remember what is the REASON,PURPOSE starting of the Uncultered Project.

  8. 8 jolene

    Shawn,just do your best.I can share your stress.I am not about to give you a suggestion beacuse it would mean this is not what your idea on this uncultered project is but mine instead.To those who support Shawn,please do continue to support his project but don’t enforce your own ideas unto him.Please remember what is the REASON,PURPOSE starting of the Uncultered Project.

  9. 9 jolene

    Shawn,just do your best.I can share your stress.I am not about to give you a suggestion beacuse it would mean this is not what your idea on this uncultered project is but mine instead.To those who support Shawn,please do continue to support his project but don’t enforce your own ideas unto him.Please remember what is the REASON,PURPOSE starting of the Uncultered Project.

  10. 10 jess

    hey shawn,

    forget the haters.
    keep on going!

    cheers,
    jess

  11. 11 jess

    hey shawn,

    forget the haters.
    keep on going!

    cheers,
    jess

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