Yes, I do realize that not just anyone can write a bestselling book and then get invited to promote said book on Oprah.
But you’ll forgive me for being more than a little blasé at the sight another journalist-cum-aid expert giving advice to NGOs about… fundraising.
In this article written for Outside magazine, our old buddy, a familiar name in the aid twitterverse and familiar face on the aid-related speaking engagement circuit, Nicholas Kristof shares a few pearls of what has the look and feel of sage advice for NGOs. Let’s take a look at some of those:
“So for God’s sake, let’s learn how we can connect people to important causes and galvanize a robust public reaction.”
That sounds lovely, but on second read I have absolutely no idea what that means. But it could be a line from a modern remake of Dr. Zhivago: “The cause needs you..”
“Hundreds of thousands of American students and church and temple members joined the Save Darfur movement, protesting, fasting, or otherwise supporting a people halfway around the world who mostly didn’t look like them, who belonged to a different religion, and whom they’d never heard of a few years earlier. For me, it was a reminder that emotional connections are possible even with the most remote suffering.”
Oh, well, hallelujah. Hundreds of thousands of Americans protested and fasted…
Yes, you can make a difference in Dafur (and also release lots of toxins) by simply fasting. Now if we could somehow link hot yoga or cross-country motorcycling to the Iraqi refugee crisis, I’d be all up in that.
“Half the Sky became a New York Times bestseller and went through seven printings before it was three weeks old. Young people particularly seem to want to move from reading about problems to addressing them, so we started a Web site for them, halftheskymovement.org. We’re also developing an online video game and television documentary to bring new people to the cause.”
In case you missed it, here’s the key message:
- Step 1: Buy my book
- Step 2: Donate to my movement online
Call me a naysayer… but a video game? Seriously?
“Many of you readers travel to developing countries, and you’re the ideal marketers for humanitarian causes. But if you’re trekking in the Himalayas, come back not with stories of impoverished villages but rather ones about a particular 12-year-old girl who, if she received just $10 a month, could stay in school. Come back with photos of her—or, better, video that you put on a blog or Web site. Make people feel lucky that they have the opportunity to assist her, so that they’ll find helping her every bit as refreshing as, say, drinking a Pepsi.”
Yes, by all means, plaster the face of some poor child up on your blog. Better still, give her name and location, so that any random person with internet access can track her down… for whatever purpose.
As well, please do just create the impression that people can help her directly. There simply aren’t enough start-up charities these days. What we really need are more amateurs mucking about in the field of humanitarian aid.
And forget Pepsi. Make it as refreshing as drinking a “Fat Tire” and I’m in…
Don’t even get me started…