I am sure we all look for meaningful ways to contribute back to the roots that provided us all the support we needed when we were growing up.
Recently, I come to know about Room to Read and instantly liked their model of engagement – both at the donor’s end and the recipient’s end. It is founded by John Wood who used to be an ex-Microsoft executive. He wrote his calling and how he started Room to Read in his book “Leaving Microsoft….”. In some sense, it is the “long tail” of philanthropy that has all the potential to scale and bring the systemic changes needed at the global level as macro business/technology trends continues to make this world smaller and smaller.
On donor’s end – having a transparent system with low overhead helps them know how their contribution is truly helping. No smoke screen or black hole where money goes and you have no idea who/where it end up helping. It is a great crowd puller where people can relate to the meaningful impact they are doing in the world at their own capacity.
Also, partnership model with the local community that is benefiting from the charity is a great way (possible systemic way to bring the change) to make any contribution successful. It brings their skin in the game needed to cultivate the proud ownership and a feeling of accomplishment on their part necessary to bring social change. At the end of the day charities that just hand out money to a cause without much community participation loose the luster and fail in bringing the systemic change.
I have always admired successful micro-financing model work in Bangladesh done by Mohamad Yunus. The model that Room to Read uses also reflects several similar aspect.
Bottomline – I am a believer that solving world literacy is the key to several of our modern day problems in the society today. Ironically, it is more visible in the populous part of the world. May be success of model like Room to Read has the potential to eradicate the world with such flaws.
From what I gather, Room to Read funds a girl education for a year at $250; builds a library at $2,000; builds a school in a village at $8,000. To help just reach out to Room to Read – I am sure they will be thrilled to hear.
PS: I am in no way associated with Room to Read program.