The Least of These

Introduction

The purpose of The Least of These is to harness the power of the Internet to help the poorest of the world. Our goal is to connect Americans with high-quality, non-profit projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia and creatively raise awareness of the importance of supporting people around the world in the greatest need.

The Internet has already transformed social networking (MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn), stock trading (E*Trade), dating (Match.com and eHarmony), politics (the 2008 presidential campaigns) and more. Now is the time to use it to take full advantage of Americans' latent interest in supporting the poorest of the world and to utilize their massive wealth to do it.

The richest 20 percent of the world's population have 74 percent of the income, while the poorest 20 percent have only 2 percent. One billion of the poorest people are struggling to live on less than $1 a day. A person living at what is considered the poverty line in America - $10,000 per year - is more than 27 times richer than these 1 billion people.

According to polls, Americans feel inclined to support the poorest of the world, but they tend not to for various reasons. Reasons include people feeling they cannot see where their donations are going, being unsure if the money is used well and typically receiving little recognition from international donating.

Additionally, the poorest are usually "out of sight, out of mind." If there is a tsunami in the headlines, Americans donate a lot. A couple of days later, though, they revert to giving nothing at all, even as the equivalent of a massive tsunami occurs daily. 32,000 people die daily in poor countries of easily preventable causes such as malnutrition and lack of immunizations.

The Least of These will address these issues by harnessing the power of the Internet to connect people directly with non-profits in the poorest parts of the world. Donors will see photos and videos of the non-profits and the people who will benefit from their support. They can also read blogs about the non-profit written by our field representatives and listen to podcasts. These things emotionally engage donors -- something which is key to increasing levels of giving and to getting the giving to continue.

Another of the many unique strengths of our model is that money goes roughly 10 times further funding non-profits based in the poorest countries than it does funding non-profits based in American locations. These comparatively costly American locations are trying to help the poorest, thousands of miles away, while paying American rents, salaries and other expenses.

Office space, for example, in a poor African country is 1/40th what it is in New York City. American companies leverage this by outsourcing work to poor countries even though their customers are in the United States. Americans donating to help the poorest, even though their beneficiaries are overseas, currently outsource the work to expensive American cities. We've dubbed this "value-lost reverse outsourcing." The sad thing is it's not companies that lose from this -- it's the poorest.

Another strength of our model is the power of choice we give. Americans prefer choice. While some aid organizations let donors choose a broad focus area such as education or health, donors usually never know where their money goes after they donate. Our site will let donors choose the exact non-profits they wish to support and will offer several hundred to choose from. They can donate within seconds and can also make ongoing monthly, quarterly or annual donations to multiple non-profits. We will have additional services for major donors.

Most international aid non-profit organizations rely on donors already having a significant awareness of extreme poverty, but as a result they reach only a tiny portion of the U.S. population. In fact, only 1.3 percent of the total charitable giving in the U.S. goes to support people overseas, even though 100 percent of the people in extreme poverty live outside of the U.S.

Our site will focus on the crucial area of raising awareness with the American public. We will do this through our innovative World Wealth Calculator that will be carried by numerous Web sites; by publishing a daily news site (modeled after DailySource.org) focusing on those in the greatest need; and in many other innovative ways.

We will also leverage the social dynamic of the Internet. Individuals, companies, schools and other groups will be to able to create profile pages, and have special fundraising project pages, where they can raise funds for projects in tandem with others. They will be able to leave comments and give praise and encouragement to their friends and family.

Also, most donors to international aid organizations get little recognition other than perhaps having their names buried in the final pages of annual reports. Part of the challenge is that the activities are overseas so there are few opportunities to give proper recognition. Our site is unique, though, in that there will be hundreds of non-profit pages, hundreds of blogs and dozens of country pages all available for sponsorship. For example, if a person donates a large amount to a non-profit, they will be featured as a high-level sponsor of it at the top of the non-profit's page.

Another benefit is that donors will be assured of quality control as our field representatives verify that the non-profits truly need the funds and have the organizational capacity to use them effectively. Our field representatives will also conduct follow-up monitoring and help advise non-profits where needed. Online progress reports will let donors know their money is being well spent, and further engage them in the process.

In addition, we will focus primarily on grassroots projects that have the support and interest of local people, so the communities receiving benefits will be more actively involved in the success of the projects, instead of just passively receiving aid. An added benefit is that by running their own non-profits, individuals in these countries will develop the organizational and interpersonal skills that are ultimately needed to foster successful societies.

The amazing thing about this is that for every $1,000 a person donates to support starting this, $20,000 in donations will be generated over the first five years, $40,000 over 10 years and $60,000 over 15 years. That is a return on a person's donation investment of 60 times in just 15 years. This is explained on the page on Return on Your Donation Investment.

The benefit of donating to The Least of These is the opportunity to have a huge impact and get "the biggest bang" possible for your donation investment. You will be able to look back in the future and say that you helped save and enrich the lives of not just a couple people, but large numbers of people. That is a legacy worth having.

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