Why a Crusader for Everyday Philanthropy Became a Crusader for Shot@Life
April 9, 2012 BY Wendy Smith
I have been on a personal mission to help end extreme poverty around the world since I first learned about the Millennium Development Goals about 7 years ago. I researched and wrote the book “Give a Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World” to dispel the myth that only the wealthy, large foundations and governments can generate meaningful change. I wanted to show non-wealthy, everyday philanthropists the power, magnitude and potential of their charitable giving, which in 2010 amounted to $100 billion.
Since the release of my book in 2009, I’ve had the good fortune to come to know and work with organizations doing incredible work and innumerable donors who partner with these projects through their affordable giving. Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to join a group of “champions” whose mission is to help launch the United Nation Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. The campaign aims to immunize children in developing countries against four preventable yet often deadly childhood diseases: polio, measles, rotavirus and pneumonia. When asked if I could join the initiative, the decision was a no-brainer! Of course I would join, because Shot@Life is a perfect example of the potential for everyday citizens to partner with excellent projects and generate huge ripples of positive outcomes through their affordable giving.
In the course of researching the causes and symptoms of extreme poverty, I’d learned that sick children take a tremendous toll on family’s already living in extreme poverty and often cause families to fall into poverty who’d achieved a modicum of prosperity. That is because sick kids incur medical costs that poor families can rarely afford, prevent parents from working and generating income, and keep kids out of school, thus diminishing their potential for exiting poverty through education.
In fact, immunizing kids against common childhood diseases is one of the most cost-effective ways to help kids living in extreme poverty to realize a better future and their families to exit extreme poverty. In the case of Shot@Life’s campaign the cost/benefit ratio is remarkable: just $20 immunizes a child against these four pervasive and deadly diseases, and the rippling positive effects of keeping one child healthy spread from one family to the entire community. When a community’s children are healthier, the benefits spread across many communities and ultimately generate more economically stable and peaceful nations.
I have been so inspired by the affordability and positive effects of immunization that I decided to give my friends, family and colleagues a unique opportunity to give a kid a Shot@Life for my birthday! This year, I turned 48. I realized that was approximately equivalent to two full kindergarten classrooms of children. I wanted to get 48 kids to kindergarten in 2017, one child for each candle on my birthday cake.
Although I inform folks about excellent anti-poverty projects that can use their affordable donations, I rarely ask that they donate to a specific cause, but the Shot@Life cause was an easy sell. Folks came through and by the end of the day on my birthday, we’d done it. Forty-eight kids were going to make it to kindergarten, have a much better chance of succeeding in school, allow their parents to go to work and avoid unnecessary medical costs and help their families move toward prosperity. As my mantra goes and Shot@Life proves, a little can do a lot!
POSTED IN: Champions
Leave a Comment