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The Count to One Million

Changing the Conversation is more than a slogan or rhetoric.

I know poverty alleviation will never take center stage on the internet. I know that on YouTube watching dramatic chipmunks, listening to chocolate rain (which I love), or hearing a (guy? girl?) cry about Britney Spears will always be more popular than watching videos about global poverty.

Heck, there are videos about Paris Hilton that are more viewed than every single poverty-related video on YouTube combined. That imbalance may never change – but that’s not the point.

I started this project because I believe people would be willing to be more involved, more concerned, and more interested in ending global poverty if we change how we talk about global poverty. For too long this message has been (mostly) dominated by those that make us feel pity for the poor, guilty about ourselves, and hopeless about solving this problem.

This project is my way of changing that.

In the coming months, the total number of video views of this project will cross one million. That will put this small project (run on a shoe-string budget, helped only by the kindness and generosity of others, and assisted along only by a meager handful of family members with big hearts) in the same league as some of the biggest and most powerful global advocacy organizations.

In fact, if this project crosses 1.5 million views, it will – as far as I can tell – be the most viewed global poverty related channel on all of YouTube – and possibly all of the internet.

Let’s change the conversation – the count to one million begins.

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.]