How many times have you thought to give a little money to a charity, but then didn’t, wondering if your effort would really make a difference? Finding a trustworthy charity can be a real hurdle: the ones that work really well, usually rely on a big apparatus for administration and experts. Hence, most of the sums raised from donors and sponsors must be used to cover their functions and expertise. More than that, it’s usually the charity managing and realizing all phases of the project, start to end. The beneficiaries are left in the background and reduced to the role of walk-ons for the glorious moment of showing the investors what has been done.
Nice. But what happens next? How many cathedrals in the desert have been built and then abandoned for lack of continuity of funds and local people’s known-how? What is really left for the people who need help? We are used to give help the way we know it. But how much we know about remote and far-away places, and their colture and life-style? And how much more could be done if donations could directly go to them and they could do what’s really best for themselves, and do things their way? What if we could give them the choice to create and run things according to their values and skills, and trust their knowledge of their environment? Is it even possible?
Direct Sponsor: your money, their way
Well, yes. It is possible. Some weeks ago I started to chat with one of my contacts in LinkedIn, and I happen to know about the “Direct Sponsor” project. This is a web platform that allows people in need to find a direct sponsorship to realize their project, with no intermediaries or middlemen. It could be a family, or a small community seeking out for help. It could be about covering the education for a child or getting the resources for a water pump for the village. The project is still young and relies on a small group of contributors – with no other obligation than their free will to give something they have in excess to someone who doesn’t have it. Direct Sponsor has all the potential of accomplishing a lot, for many people, with no waste of money.
A chat with Andy
Andy, from Cork, is one of the people who had the idea of founding “Direct Sponsor”. Yesterday afternoon we had a Skype chat about the global vision of the project and to evaluate my involvement in terms of pro-bono hours as a form of contribution. I asked Andy how the idea was born. He told me that the whole thing started during a trip to the Moroccan outback, up in the Atlantis mountains, where he had the chance to understand what the local problems were and how they had been dealt. I immediately understood what he said, in relation to what I had seen and experience in my trip to the Malian outback, back in 2008. We agreed on the fact that, often, what these people get is what we think they need, based on the assumption that their needs can relate to ours. That’s partly due a cultural gap and partly to the fact that these people have no voice to express their needs. Hence, the idea of connecting the two parties directly, with no intermediaries. I liked Andy’s approach. This model allows the contributor to give some real and unconditional trust to the people he/she chooses to help. I will be happy to help Andy with “Direct Sponsor” website.
If you find this project interesting, have a look at Direct Sponsor website: http://www.directsponsor.org.