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I’m writing a book and need your constructive feedback and perspective!
Would this book interest you? What am I missing? What would you like to know more about? Does the title strike you or do you have a better idea?
It’s Not My Problem – Or Is It? From Idea to Nonprofit
When people find out we have a nonprofit that works in Haiti, the two most common questions are – “How did you get started working in Haiti? or “Why don’t you work here; we have hungry people here?”
My response to the second question is typically, “You must feel called to help those people. Go for it.” What I’ve really found is that kind of question is most often an excuse for doing nothing – here or there or anywhere.
I’ve also found many people living in the U.S. really don’t understand what poverty looks like in third world countries. A man once told me that he would never give to us because during a period of his life he had to eat out of dumpsters. He didn’t like my response, which was, “At least you had dumpsters to eat out of, they don’t exist in Haiti.” The people in Haiti also don’t have food stamps or soup kitchens or regular food giveaways, with many living daily on the edge of starvation.
On one of our trips to Haiti we were walking to a worksite and my interpreter stopped a little girl along the path. He tried to hand her a granola bar. It took a lot of coaxing for her to take it before she scampered down the road. When I asked why this girl he said, “Because she’s a restavek, a child slave.” When I asked how he knew he responded, “Because I was one too.” These are lives and realities that most of us know little about – hard work, little food, and no chance to go to school.
It’s not my problem – or is it? How can we not do something? Are we being nudged to a call and into a call to action? I believe it’s our responsibility to care for a corner of the world and we need to go find that corner.
What will be in the book?
My own perspective was changed when I spent three months in Ghana, between my junior and senior year of high school. It changed me at the core. While I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with that experience, I fundamentally knew that I needed to help others. As do we all.
If your family income is around $100,000 – you are among 10% of the wealthiest people in the world. We’ll take a glimpse into poverty, the realities of daily life for Haitians, and how a little care can make a huge difference.
Then the book will explain how a traumatic experience led to a ministry in Haiti. With Haitian Proverbs and impactful stories, the book will outline how an idea and helping in small ways grew to building a nonprofit that supports a K-8 school, two clinics, an annual Christmas program, giving out school supplies, feeding the elderly, and now constructing a Women’s Village.
While not every idea needs to grow into a nonprofit, I’ll review the process of how a surprising conversation led us to become a 501c3 organization. We’ll walk through some of my observations on engaging supporters and serving others through a nonprofit:
• Set your mission and focus and make sure they drive your decisions.
• Don’t make planning a crutch for inaction. Know where you’re headed and go do something.
• Start small, tell the story, and expect big things.
• Focus on extreme accountability.
Transition and sustainability are key issues for a nonprofit. Growth produces its own challenges. Finding and encouraging the right people to be donors and leaders on your board. How does the nonprofit continue to have a life beyond us as founders? What is the lifecycle of doing good?
The path has not been easy or without discouragement and disappointment, times when I’ve wanted to walk away from the entire adventure. There have also been too many times to count when I thought, “We have no money for that.” And then a check shows up.
Helping is not someone else’s responsibility, it’s all of ours. Alongside doing something is the inherent unfairness of helping. Stories will demonstrate the range of emotions when you help – the funny and touching, alongside the tragic and disparaging.
This book will be designed to provide encouragement for you to begin in your corner of the world! Now go do something.