Bill and Melinda Gates: Debunking Myths Around Global Poverty

I’ve got a little quiz for you today. Answer true or false to the following statements:

  1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.
  2. Foreign aid is a big waste.
  3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation.

If you answered false to all three, you are correct! If you answered true, don’t worry. You are not alone. But after reading this post, I hope you will change any misconceptions you might have about helping those in poverty around the globe.

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Bill and Melinda Gates just released their annual letter and they are debunking the three myths mentioned above because misconceptions such as these often give people an excuse not to act.

From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

In fact, life is better for more people around the world than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives and poverty rates have been cut in half in the last 25 years. Child mortality is plunging. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. Bill and Melinda want to tackle these myths because too often they give people a reason not to act.

So let’s take a loot at these myths.

Poor countries are doomed to stay poor. In fact, many of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. Some of the so-called developing nations have already developed and many more are on their way. Progress in health and income and foreign aid has helped a lot. The percentage of “very poor people” has actually dropped by more than half since 1990. Bill Gates explains in this short video. He also predicts there will be almost no poor countries left in the world by 2035.

Foreign aid is a big waste. I hear a lot of people complaining about the amount of money the United States gives to other countries in foreign aid. In fact, less than 1% of the American budget is allotted for foreign aid, which is about $30 for every American. Foreign aid actually helps countries find the kind of economic and health progress explained in #1. This progress, of course, help countries to become less dependent on aid. Bill Nye the Science Guy explains more in this short video.

Saving lives leads to overpopulation. People have worried about overpopulation for centuries. If we save everyone, then how will we have enough food and resources to go around? It has actually been found that the countries with the most deaths are also the fastest-growing populations. This happens when girls are married off young, when couples have several children because they know some will inevitably die, and when there is lack of education around or access to contraception. Ending overpopulation actually starts with saving the poorest children, as Professor Hans Rosling explains in this short video.

I encourage you to take some time and read through the letter from Bill and Melinda Gates. While I pulled out some of the highlights, there is much more information included in the letter, and it may will open your eyes to several global issues. It’s a great read.

You can help #stopthemyth

I wrote this post as part of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls. 

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Inspired by Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter, I decided to donate to Save the Children this month, specifically to their Syrian Children’s Relief Fund. Save the Children is a partner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a partner of mine as well. My donation will provide a set of winter clothes to protect a child from the cold. You can read more about their work here.

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Philanthropy Friday: Six Lessons I Learned While Pledging to Donate Every Month

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

Today is a travel day for Philanthropy Friday. I’m sending you over to GOOD.

Are you a member of GOOD yet? You should be. It’s a community for people who give a damn.

I’m reflecting on the six lessons I learned by donating every month through my Giving Pledge. Here’s a preview:

In February of 2012, I started my very own Giving Pledge. I was frustrated by the lack of donations to worthy nonprofits on my part at the end of 2011.

The problem was that my husband and I didn’t make giving a priority throughout the year. Once the “giving season” and the last chance to get those tax-deductible donations in arrived, we simply couldn’t afford to donate a lot of money all at once. Not many people can, I suspect.

I noted that waiting until the end of the year to donate money to a good cause is a terrible giving strategy.

I should know better, considering I’ve worked in nonprofit development and fundraising in some capacity for nearly 10 years. There’s a need for money year round, not just in December.

Since I declared my Giving Pledge –  to donate to at least one nonprofit each month – I’ve blogged about whom I’ve donated to and why. My goal was for my husband and I to give to more organizations and feel better about our philanthropic efforts at the end of the year.

After two full years of my Giving Pledge, I can safely say “mission accomplished.” Compared to my 2011, my charitable contributions when up significantly in 2012 and 2013. Looking back at my donations in these two years, I learned a few things about myself and my giving habits.

Read the full article Six Lessons I Learned While Pledging to Donate Every Month on GOOD and leave a comment if you have a moment.

I hope it will inspire you to consider your own giving pledge. It’s easier than you think. I promise.

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December Giving: Small Donations with Double the Impact

This time two years ago, I was contemplating my public Giving Pledge. I was disappointed in the amount of money I donated to nonprofit organizations throughout the year.

Though December is traditionally known as the season to give and the last chance to get that extra tax write-off before the next year, I knew better. I work with enough nonprofits to know that the need is there year round.

Not long after, I pledged to donate money to at least one nonprofit every month. My first “official” donation for my pledge was in January of 2012. I am proud to say that I have never missed a month of giving. And I can honestly say that my giving has become more intentional through this pledge.

I plan writing more about what I’ve learned in the two years of my Giving Pledge – about myself and my giving – after the holidays.

For now, I am winding down and getting ready to spend the holidays with close friends and family. We have a big trip planned for New Year’s Eve that my kids don’t know about yet. I’m sure I’ll write about that one later too. (And, no it’s not Disney World! It’s much colder. Any guesses?)

This month, I made two smaller donations. While my husband and I decided that we’d have a minimum donation amount this year, I didn’t see myself making it with so much going out of my bank account this month (it always happens at once, doesn’t it?). The neat thing is that my smaller donations will equal to more than my minimum because both were matching donations.

Giving Tuesday unselfie

The first donation was to WaterAid America on #GivingTuesday. This one was a bit of a no-brainer for me because a generous donor matched the donations that WaterAid received that day. Plus WaterAid has become a favorite nonprofit of mine. Their goal was to raise $100,000. They ended up raising over $250,000! So, yes, my smaller donation made a difference.

The second donation was initiated by my 8-year-old son, G. His third grade class decided to donate money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital instead of exchanging gifts during their holiday party. There was no pressure to donate money, but it sounded like the kids really liked the idea. They talked about how any small amount would help. G decided to donate $5 of his own money, and I matched the amount. He was excited to double his amount, and it sounds like I’m not the only parent to do so. I’m not sure what the final tally was on donations, but I have no doubt it will make an impact.

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Are you willing to take the giving pledge and donate every month to a nonprofit? Grab the badge below and tell the world.

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