We as a nation have been donating to developing countries for decades. From our early years we collect Trócaire boxes, take part in sports days and even run marathons to raise money for these countries. Our parents and grandparents did the same, and throughout the generations we have retained good sentiment toward helping the less fortunate.
However, today attitudes have changed: we want to choose where our money goes and exactly how it is spent, and considering recent indiscretions our suspicions are founded. But this scepticism regarding finances has grown into a globally pessimistic view of charitable aid.
Que Bill and Melinda Gates. The couple, as co-founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, released their annual letter last week. Instead of focusing on what developing countries still need, the Gates’ have found a much needed silver lining in today’s charity sector, and in doing so have kickstarted a whole new view on charity.
Their approach is realistic, informative but optimistic. Yes, we could say ‘We’ve been helping these nations for generations, why are they still in poverty?’ Or we could ask ‘Since we’ve been donating for so long, what has been achieved?’ And the answer to this second question is as impressive as it is encouraging.
Since 1990 the amount of people classified as ‘very poor’ has dropped by 50%.
7 of the world’s top ten fastest growing economies are in Africa.
75% of African children are now in school, compared to the 40% attending school in 1970.
Child mortality rates have halved in the last two decades.
These figures are, quite frankly, outstanding and prove that the generosity of developed nations has greatly improved lives throughout the world. With a more encouraging, optimistic approach to charity fundraising the entire non-profit sector can be revolutionised. Moving away from the crossing the street to avoid the street-fundraiser or changing the channel to dodge the heart-wrenching appeal, we can give donors a goal that is possible to achieve in our lifetime. Gates predicts that “by 2035 there will be almost no poor countries left in the world” - your donations do matter and have helped.
So when speaking about developing nations, while we need to encourage donors to continue caring, we also need to thank them for their help so far and make them aware of all the good they, and charity organisations, have already done.
Read the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Annual Letter Here: http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/?cid=bg_tw_po0_012103/#section=home