By AJ Chalom, Humanist Giving Program Coordinator
In 2013 we decided to revisit some of our early beneficiaries. As our membership and donations have grown, our grants to beneficiaries have increased almost ten-fold. We also wanted to introduce our newer members to the work of outstanding previous beneficiaries.
Our Challenge the Gap Encore, Buddhist Global Relief, concentrates on helping communities that tackle food and hunger issues. BGR uses Buddha’s statements that “hunger is the worst kind of illness” and “the gift of food is the gift of life” as a guide to their hunger relief work.
Innocence Project of Texas is a groundbreaking organization that fights for the wrongly convicted and for the use scientific forensic evidence in trials in Texas. Their model for reforms should be a model for our country.
EcoHealth Alliance made its Encore appearance as our Natural World beneficiary. Their concentration on animal health in tandem with human health makes their approach unlike that of many other Natural World charities. Their work with bats is a great example of that approach.
Roots and Wings International, our Education encore beneficiary, is a small and effective rural education program working with indigenous people in coffee-growing regions of Guatemala.
While we support all of our beneficiaries with the same enthusiasm, there are always a few organizations that are game-changers against which we measure our future beneficiaries. This year, three organizations fit that bill.
The Citizens Foundation, an education organization in Pakistan, has created an incredibly efficient system to build not only schools but curriculum, teacher training, and gender equality in communities. They employ almost all women, for positions from cook to teacher. They work with families to encourage the women to work. A van picks up the teachers to take them to work, so that their husbands can be comfortable with the arrangement. At least 50% of their students are female. This organization is funded at least 50% within the country, and was founded by industrialists within Pakistan who wanted to fix a problem. They have found success.
One Acre Fund uses a market-based model and superior farming techniques to teach residents to create productivity and self-sufficiency in their efforts. Once One Acre Fund enters a community, they stay to provide continuing support and to ensure that the program is effective.
Apopo is a human rights charity that is almost unbelievable in its accomplishments. Significant science-based studies were employed before they launched their program. Apopo’s HeroRATs are trained to locate buried landmines. The rats are so light that they don’t set off the landmines, but they signal to their trainer the location of the mine, and it is then diffused and removed. If that was not enough, after a tuberculosis outbreak in an area where Apopo was working, they discovered that with a little training the rats could also identify patients with a high probability of having tuberculosis, much faster than blood tests, therefore allowing for proper isolation and treatment of patients. This is not fiction—it is real. Foundation Beyond Belief has created a kids’ guide to Apopo and their work.
By the Numbers
While we try to measure our impact in success stories and increased productivity and the ability to help others, and not just in terms of the dollar amounts raised, here are the exciting numbers we achieved in 2013. This year, we have been able to give individual grants of more than $10,000 for the first time. In mid-July, FBB reached $1 million in donations since its inception in 2010 (including donations to our Humanist Giving program, our Humanist Crisis Response drives, our Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light The Night international team, and donations to FBB itself).
In 2013, FBB’s Humanist Giving and Crisis Response programs distributed approximately $255,000 to 28 deserving organizations. (This includes donations allocated for the fourth quarter of 2012 that were distributed in January 2013.)
Our community’s continued support of FBB allows us to make these life-changing grants. Our year-end drive has raised more than $14,000—thank you! If you would like to contribute, click here.