$300 Billion to Change the World

A billion dollars is a lot of money.

Three hundred billion dollars is even more staggering.

It is more than the gross domestic product of Hong Kong and Egypt combined.
It is equal to what the U.S. Government spends each year on tax subsidies.

But this extraordinary number is not a line item on anyone’s budget. It is exactly what the reports say Americans donated in 2006, according to CNN.

That says a lot.

Most inspiring is that Americans are the most generous people on the planet. No other group of people give at this level. No one. It shows a deep commitment to a lot of things – our churches, our health and, in many cases, our children.

It seems we could solve a lot of problems with $300,000,000,000 (it seems so much larger when you realize there are 11 zeroes in that figure).

Where does all this money go? Why don’t we see certain issues all but disappear with that level of giving?

My point exactly.

There are too many charities with too much overhead and too little accountability. Think about it. If you contributed $35-$40 – the average individual donation to a charitable cause – you probably don’t have either the time or the inclination to track where it ends up. After all, you have a life and it is only $40.

However, if tens of thousands of people are donating $40 each, the dollar amount becomes staggering – an amount well worth holding someone accountable for. Suddenly, it seems silly not to know where $40,000 or $400,000 or $4 billion went.

That is the problem we’re trying to solve. We believe someone should be watching where the money goes. We feel that programs and projects should be checked out in advance and watched over the duration. You see how it works, research the need, find people who care and are able to help, define real costs and real timelines and then report back to generous donors on the programs they can trust.

And then you follow the money all the way through. If there is supposed to be a building or a playground or a daycare center at the end of the project, let’s go see it, touch it, celebrate it and share it with the donors whose $40 donation combined to make a big impact. A project where all $40 went to the project, rather than a percentage going to pay for office supplies or vacation days for the administrators.

That is the way giving should be. Maybe then, the $300 billion in donations will change the world.

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Filed under Initiative: Charitable Giving & Accountability

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