Week #7: Meet WITNESS -> Authentic Voices for Human Rights Change

This week President Obama made a little trip to South East Asia and stopped for 2 days in my home city of Phnom Penh. In preparation for this important visitor, Cambodia has spent weeks both sweeping up the streets and sweeping all things that could make look the country look bad under the figurative carpet.

At the same time, there’s been a group of local citizens doing just the opposite- they’ve literally taken to their rooftops calling on Obama to use the opportunity of his visit to address human right issues- in particular the issue of land rights and forced evictions.

A quick Google search can link you to information on the issue and a report about Obama’s visit. But can I suggest alternatively that you actually listen to what the people affected by this situation have to say about it.

One of the most amazing things about the digital age we live in is that everyone, almost everywhere, has the power to tell their own story. Certainly in some places it can be dangerous for local level activists to do so- but it isn’t impossible.

In light of all this, this week I’ve decided to get on my virtual rooftop to tell you about an organization I think is absolutely amazing. Meet WITNESS.

WITNESS trains and supports people and organizations to use video safely and effectively for human rights change. They partner with more than 300 human rights groups in over 80 countries including current hotspots like Egypt, Syria, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Videos produced by WITNESS and partners have helped put warlords behind bars, reinstated rights of indigenous peoples to return to their lands and catalyzed laws against modern-day slavery. In fact, it was through a WITNESS video that I first learned about the land rights issue in Cambodia.

I’m thrilled for the opportunity to ask our #give10 questions this week to Matisse Bustos Hawkes, WITNESS Communications Manager, who has been working in human rights video for nearly a decade:

1. Last year we gave $10 to Witness. Can you tell us what good this has done?

Your $10 helped fund outreach to volunteer translators who translated critically needed tips and best practices for activists in the Middle East. We produced short tip sheets that could be handed out at protests – as we learned many activists do not have reliable Internet access so offline resources are crucial.

2. What project accomplishment are you most proud of this year?

In addition to helping people on the ground we also work to change the systems so activists can use video more effectively as a human rights tool. As part of this work we lobby digital platforms and our most recent success was when YouTube launched their new face blurring tool.  This came after public and private lobbying on our behalf and means activists can speak out against human rights abuses in a safer way.

3. What are you most excited about in the year to come?

We’re currently celebrating 20 years of the organization’s mission to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations and we’re hugely excited by the potential for our work right now. With billions of people now having access to cameras on their mobile phones our role is to turn these witnesses into advocates, and turn their videos in to social justice.

Over the next year we’re developing a program which will allow us to respond to crisis situations much more nimbly and effectively, and we’re also working on a project to ensure video evidence can be admitted in more human rights court cases – sounds a bit nerdy but crucial for justice to be served and people to be held accountable.

4. What is one thing you wish that the people who give to your cause knew or understood better?

I think supporters of WITNESS and human rights work around the world understand that change in policy, practice and behavior to “accomplish” justice takes a long time, sometimes decades or generations even. I believe that our supporters know this but that in our fast-moving world, there is sometimes an expectation or a hope that results will be more immediate. Accountability is important with respect to donors, and we are always looking for ways to scale our impact, but when dealing with human beings we need to be realistic and acknowledge that progress takes time.

5. What value does WITNESS bring now that everyone has a camera and can share their own footage online?

What we hear from activists and from ordinary citizens around the world is that they still want and need training about how to use video safely and effectively. The proliferation of cameras and people using them hasn’t directly translated into direct change- in fact it sometimes has put more people in harm’s way when their identity is revealed or they are targeted because they appeared in a video or filmed video on a sensitive topic.

We’re learning from these emerging use cases of video and adapting or creating new tools (like ObscuraCam), resources (like How to Film Protests video series), and training models to share our expertise quickly and in a manner that will reach the most people.

6. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?

There are a lot of charities and causes that need support and funding. The sheer number of them can be overwhelming to people. I think charities need to do a good job of explaining what they do, and how people can be a part of making change happen in order to win support. A good organization also thanks people and communicates with them frequently (according to a donor’s preferences) to update on progress as well as to get feedback from supporters.

7. What do you think is the value of the individual who can only make a small donation?

One individual can make a world of difference. Although the financial contribution may be small you never know the ripple effect: that donation can easily lead to more through motivating others to follow suit, or through donors introducing friends to our organization.

Also, our staff and partners are hugely inspired when people give small amounts because this reminds us of all the people cheering us on from around the world and re-energizes us for our work.

8. Doing world changing work isn’t free. Can you explain the model that your project uses to cover its operating costs?

WITNESS is funded through a combination of foundation support and donations from individuals like Stephanie and many of thousands of others who have supported us over our 20-year history. We have a dedicated team who craft thorough proposals to foundations in order to secure grants that in turn fund our projects from in-person trainings to online resources development (e.g. the Video for Change Best Practices I mentioned above) to keeping our website and blog running, to overhead expenses such as staff salaries and office space, etc.

9. What are three projects you would want other donors to learn about and support?

ECPAT International – Works to end sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. WITNESS worked with their US-based branch on a campaign to end the criminalization of trafficked minors.

Video Volunteers – Primarily working in India to empower community voices through video and other media training.

The AJA Project – More than a ‘give cameras to kids’ project, this organization provides photography workshops for youth in San Diego, California affected by war and displacement. They work with high schools, city agencies, art institutions and galleries to build long-lasting partnerships and have created some permanent public projects as part of their mission.

10. How can people learn more about WITNESS and donate to their work?

Visit the Witness Website: (www.witness.org) and Blog

Connect with WITNESS on social media: FaebookTwitterG+

Donations: via WITNESS online  or via Causes


week #6: In Search of Sanuk = finding fun in doing good

Several months ago I sat in the upstairs booth of a very unassuming Japanese restaurant in Bangkok. The place was modest yet awesome, and in some ways mirrored my dinner companion. This was my first meeting with Dwight Turner who started and runs In Search of Sanuk, a project that helps refugee families and asylum seekers living in the slums of Bangkok.

I’d heard about Dwight through a friend of a friend, and through a long trail of twitter connectivity, I’d been following his work. The purpose of our mini tweet-up was so I could learn more about what he was doing to decide if I wanted to support them as part of #give10.  After all, some people are good with twitter, but not legitimately good at the good they claim to be doing.

Dwight’s story was the real deal, as authentic and unpretentious as the yakisoba. He had never planned to start a project, but when he’d moved to Thailand, he accidentally got introduced to the world of refugees living in Bangkok’s slums and holding centers. When Dwight started learning about the refugees living with no means and no recognized existence in Thailand, he knew he had to do something. He looked for existing projects he could support to help his new friends, but came up empty handed. Instead of giving up because he didn’t know what to do, he heeded the advice of a friend and mentor, “You don’t need a project, get off your ass and start your own thing.”  And so he did.

Sanuk isn’t just a brand of flip flops. In Thai the word means fun, and In Search of Sanuk is on a mission to help a dozen refugee families in Bangkok rediscover the joy of having their daily needs met. The project financially support families to cover their needs of food, rent, and sending their kids to school. “Search of Sanuk isn’t a big project,” Dwight explained. “It is “micro-philanthropy”, (or fun-lanthropy as he calls it) small giving that has a pretty huge impact for the people who are receiving it”. For a stateless family that comes from a mountain village with no legal identity or papers to do any kind of work, it is a pretty big deal to have someone help them with the $60-$150 they really need per month to survive.

Give10 supported their women’s day project last year, and recently caught up with Dwight, over similarly amazing Lebanese food recently in Bangkok to find our what impact our dollars are having there:

1. Last year we gave $10 to In Search of Sanuk for your International Women’s Day project. What has this done?
We used our Women’s Day Donations to educate girls. One group of girls from the slums went to a place called Play Act where they learned song, dance and drama, and another group of girls attended lessons at a proper English school. The sucess of this project led us to develop the idea of Saturday School to provide education opportunties to kids in the slums.

2. What project accomplished are you most proud of this year?
This year we ran a Saturday School for 20+ refugee kids. We partnered with an international school and a group of 16-18 year old highschool students spent their Saturdays actively teaching the children. This was a change from our old approach of taking volunteers to teach in the slums which wasn’t financially sustainable. For kids who live on railroad tracks where it is dangerous to kick a soccer ball, it’s an amazing opportunity for them to even get to run free at a school to learn and play.

3. What are you most excited about in the year to come.
Building a stronger foundation of partnerships within the Bangkok community. The majority of our regular donors are local and we want to engage them more to build relationships with the community and families they are supporting.

4. How can a small 10$ donation make a difference in achieving your mission?
Many families don’t have as much to give as they used to, and it is overwhelming to think about one person supporting an entire refugee family. I try to encourage people to give recurring 10 – 25$ donations. Small recurring donations add up. Most of the online donations we get are small, but they add up to about 13% of our donations.

5. What is one thing you wish that the people who give to your cause knew or understood better?
I wish they understood how difficult it is to talk about what we do. Because many of the families we work with are on difficult terms with the government and lack legal status, talking about them or posting pictures of activities can put them in real danger. You connect to something you have had an experience with. I want people to see and understand what we are doing so they can understand the issue. My fear is that this makes it difficult for donors to connect.

6. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?
People see “charities” as businesses and don’t want to give to a company. They don’t want to send money off into the distance and not hear back or get a response. People want to give to something personal, something with personality.

7. What do you think motivates the people who do donate to give again?
A donor who becomes part of the narrative. If someone sees a project as ‘something that I support and a cause I am a part of” rather than “that thing I gave to once” they are more likely to be engaged with time and/or money.

8. Doing world changing work isn’t free. How do you pay for the operational costs of your project?
We are 100% volunteers including us. Everything goes to the families and kids or a cost related to supporting them.

9. What’s one question people usually ask you about your project, and how do you answer it?
People ask all the time “How can you make this project to financially assisting refugee families sustainable?” Truth is, there are a lot of things that you can make sustainable, but this isn’t one with a simple solution. There is no plan for the people that we work with, and until something changes at a much larger level they pretty much won’t officially exist and need support. Some things are things are worthwhile and need help simply because they are worthwhile and need help. We have a reasponsibiltiy to give whether the project is sustainable or not.

10. What are three projects you believe in and would recommend to others to learn about and support?
I can’t possibly pick three, there are too many. Make sure you check these out if you haven’t already:
Cause and Effect, (Adam working in Brazil’s favelas)
100 Friends (the mentor who told Dwight to ‘get off his ass and do something’)
ildi (international Leadership)- a creative space / art collaborative in BKK with focus on social good
Bangkok Vanguards – random people washing car windows to raise 1million baht (350k USD) for flood victims.
Hope Mob (a mob of people changing lives one at a time through small gifts)
Preemptive Love (amazing guys doing heart surgeries for kids in Iraq)

Learn more about In Search of Sanuk or #give10 here:
twitter @insearchofsanuk

We’re giving another 10 x 10 this year to In Search of Sanuk to see what magic they can make for familes. Want to join us and #give10 here to help them make more fun today.

week #5: Love in a Laundry Basket

Did you know that 10$ = one roll of quarters = the cost for one family to wash their clothes at a laundromat. One time.

Most of us reading this blog, I’d dare to guess, have the luxury of at least having a washing machine- if not a matching dryer, in our home. We may remember the days of the university dorms scrounging for quarters in the pockets of our jeans in order to clean our laundry, or moving into our first apartment where we had lug a laundry basket to the laundromat on the weekends so we had clean underwear on Monday.

For me this is a memory. For many families in the US the laundromat is the way clothes get clean. Every week, at 10$ a load. I have to say I was pretty surprised to learn that it takes a whole role of quarters to wash and dry a load of laundry. I live alone and probably wash at least three loads a week once I throw in sheets and towels. Imagine how the quarters add up for a large family living on a low income. The cost of cleaning clothes can become a financial burden, and sometimes when money gets low, things just can’t get washed.

A few months ago I sat for coffee in Ybor City, Florida with Jason Sowell, the founder and president of Current, the organization that runs Laundry Love- an amazing project that helps meet a very simple and felt need for low income families: clean clothes and linens.

Jason’s personal goal is to educate others on social initiatives and mobilize them to bring about change. Laundry Love is just one of the ways he’s helping people do just that.

Laundry Love aim to turn neighborhood laundromats into places of community. On designated days, families can wash their clothing at no cost, thanks to private and corporate sponsors. But it isn’t just about the laundry. “We are trying to make the world better by turning laundromats into places of relief by paying for laundry fees, visiting with the participants and entertaining their children.” Jason said.

This week we’ve decided to give 10 more rolls of quarters towards Laundry Love’s next project. We also asked Jason to #give10 answers to us about what Laundry Love did with our donation and what they think of small donors. Here’s what he said:

1. Last year we gave $10 to Laundry Love. What has this done? How can a small 10$ donation make a difference in achieving your mission?

The great thing about this project is that $10 makes a big difference. That $10 payed for an entire washing & drying of a large load of laundry for a family.

2. What project accomplished are you most proud of this year?

One thing we are super proud of is that we recently hosted two projects at two locations simultaneously and had huge support from local businesses and churches. We launched a new location with the help of employees from a local Starbucks store who helped raise funds & supplies and worked alongside a local church to staff the location with volunteers. It was so inspiring seeing local businesses partner together and begin new relationships to better the community.

3. What is one thing you wish that the people who give to your cause knew or understood better?

That their donation makes a bigger difference than just paying for laundry. Something as simple as clean laundry brings so much dignity to a person and gives a lot of hope in a way that most people take for granted. Their donation is providing hope for a family, not just clean laundry.

4. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?

I think one thing is that people feel like they can’t truly see what their money goes to. People want to see that their money directly affects people in need so if that’s not evident then people are hesitant to give. Money is tight for a lot of people and if someone is going to give they want to know that their donation, no matter what amount, is meaningful and put to good use

5. What do you think motivates the people who do donate to give again?

Seeing how their money helped. If they get a chance to see how their donation bettered the life of someone else then most people can’t help but continue to give. It becomes personal to them because they have a face to connect their donation to.

6. Doing world changing work isn’t free. Can you explain the model that your project uses to cover its operating costs?

We really do what we can do keep operating costs low. Our project/organization is mostly volunteer run. We really depend on great people who believe in the cause to give their time to administrate things. We also lean on our closest supporters to donate towards our operating budget so that we can truly put as much outside donations as we can directly into paying for a laundry project.

7. What do you think is the role of the individual who can only make a small donation?

Small donations in numbers adds to a lot of support. I think it’s very simple for the “small donation” giver. Give what you can and tell other people about it. One person can double & triple their small donation by simply encouraging their friends to give a small donation as well.

8. What are you most excited about this coming year?

We are really excited about the new locations & cities we are seeing this branch into. We are adding new cities across the country and are coaching some teams in other cities to begin their own Laundry Love Projects. We’re really excited to see what happens in these new locations.

9. What are three other projects you want other donors to learn about and support?

The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

LiNK (Liberty in North Korea)

Just One

10. How did you come up with this idea?

I wish I could say it was my idea, but I “stole” it from a friend. A friend started the idea of Laundry Love Projects in Portland for homeless people and I saw the value of clean laundry for struggling people. So we partnered up and started our own version of these projects and it’s gone from there.

Want to know more about Laundry Love? They’re hip and they’re all over the interwebs. Catch them here, and give a roll of quarters if you can spare it.

Laundry Love on the web: www.laundrybycurrent.org

facebook: engagecurrent 

twitter: @engagecurrent 

Donate your own roll of quarters to Laundry Love

Thanks for reading. Now, I think I’ve got some laundry to do.




Help Wanted: Choosing a Birthday Cause

If you’ve been around here very long you know I like to run. I like to travel. And I like to give away money to people who are changing the world.

One thing you may not know yet is that I also really really like to celebrate my birthday. I’m not the kind of girl who likes to have just a little party with hats and cupcakes. I believe in birthday events.

Lucky for you, my birthday isn’t until October. But in the spirit of event planning, I’m already thinking about it, and I need your help.

If you were here last year, you’ll remember that we used my birthday as an excuse to get a $5000 matching grant for Sak Saum’s work to prevent human trafficking in Cambodia.

Well, this year, I’m turning nearly a significant age, so I’m upping the ante. I’m combining all the things I like to do into a birthday extravaganza. I’ll be traveling to Chicago (which is pretty far from Cambodia) and celebrating the day by running the Chicago Marathon- a race I’ve always had on my non-bucket-list. And of course, what better excuse than running a grueling 26.2 miles to raise money for a cause that is changing the world.

This week, as I laced up my shoes for my first miles of training I started contemplating what cause I wanted to run for. It’s hard to pick a favorite when you love all 366. So then I thought, why not ask all of you!

Only 121 days til my birthday run. If you were running a marathon, what cause would you choose? Or better yet, if you were going to #give10 to a birthday girl running a marathon what cause would compel you to reach deep in your pockets?

Let me know in the comments what cause you’d nominate and we’ll have a vote off. It doesn’t matter if it’s a project we’ve already given to or not.


week #4: 100$ for making miracles

We’ve made it through a couple of hard-giving weeks but this week we’re back on track to hear from a cause that used our #give10 donation last year to help a child born with club feet to walk. An amazing 10$ investment I think.

When I first learned about miraclefeet’s work to provide low-cost, non-surgical treatment for children born with club feet I got really excited. You see, back when I lived on a hospital ship in West Africa I met lots of kids being treated for clubfoot. I’ll never forget the day when I visited one of these kids in Sierra Leone a couple of years later and she RAN up to give me a hug.

Seems crazy, but almost one in every 750 children in the world are born with club feet. In the world most of us live in, treatment of club feet through manipulation starts days after birth and is quickly reversible. In the rest of the world, lack of treatment means these same kids grow up with a stigmatizing disability and limited ability to walk and enjoy healthy, productive lives.

Walking is something I take for granted every single day, and I’m guessing you probably do too. I’m giving this week’s 100$ here, because there is no doubt in my mind that treating a child with club feet can radically make a difference in the world of a child.

We caught up recently with the amazing Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld, the woman behind miraclefeet who is on a mission to ensure that all kids born with club feet have access to the treatment they need to live productive and healthy lives. We asked her to #give10 answers about how miraclefeet is making a difference in the world, and how small donors like us can make a difference in their mission. Here’s what she said:

1. Tell us about miraclefeet. What is it doing to make the world better?

miraclefeet provies low-cost, non-surgical treatment to children born with club feet through 25 clinics in Brazil, Mexico, India and Nicaragua. By treating clubfoot, we can improve a child’s life and reduce the broader challenges of poverty, illiteracy and neglect that often accompany disability in low income countries.

2. Last year we gave $10 to Miracle Feet. What good has this done?

Your $10 paid for a treated child’s first brace to ensure their feet did not relapse. Without this brace the child would have dropped out of treatment. Without the brace the work done to correct the feet would have been wasted and the child would never walk properly. Your $10 prevented this from happening and kept the child on the path to fully corrected, fully functioning feet for the rest of his or her life.

3. What accomplishment are you most proud of this year?

miraclefeet’s first clinic at the infant government hospital in Managua, Nicaragua has grown to over 100 patients, many of them older children who have neglected clubfoot and have never had any treatment. The drop-out rate has plummeted since all children now get free braces, and word of mouth is resulting in many more clubfoot patients making their way to the clinic to get treatment. Training has expanded to other hospitals and clinics to establish enough capacity to treat every child born with clubfoot in Nicaragua. There is still plenty of work to be done so every child born with the condition gets referred to a clinic, but the progress made in one year is remarkable!

4. What are you most excited about in the year to come?

We have a lot of expansion plans to build our programs in India, Brazil and Mexico and also entering new countries. We are evaluating new programs in Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Liberia, Peru, Guatemala and the Philippines. miraclefeet expects to be treating over 1,500 patients within the next year.

5. How can a small $10 donation make a difference in achieving your mission?

$10 provides a cast or a brace for a patient which are critical elements of successful clubfoot treatment.  $10 is about 5% of the total cost of treating a child.  We only need 20 $10 donations to completely transform the life of a child and to ensure he or she escapes the unnecessary permanent disability caused by untreated clubfoot.

6. What is one thing you wish that the people who give to your cause knew or understood better?

Most people who give do not understand how simple and risk-free the treatment for clubfoot is and they do not always understand how terrible life is for a disabled child in a developing country. The combination of these two factors means miraclefeet can literally transform the lives of thousands of children for an investment of $250 per child. The return on that investment is amazing:  taking a life that is spiraling downwards towards poverty and humiliation and putting it back on a normal track so the child can grow up to be a productive member of his or her community and country.

7. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?

I think that people want to give, but think if they can’t give a significant amount their contribution will not make a difference.  $10 is a lot of money in a developing country, and it certainly makes a difference to the child and family who we treat.

8. What do you think motivates the people who do donate to give again?

Treating clubfoot is a simple and cheap procedure that has life-altering results for children, families and communities. Many of our donors understand that their donation has a real impact and so they are willing to give again.

9. Doing world changing work isn’t free. Can you explain the model that your project uses to cover its operating costs?

Because we’ve had two donors support our adminstrative costs for three years, every dollar we receive from donations goes directly to treating children. A small percentage (about 10%) of funding from foundations helps cover the very real costs of running our small office, paying our staff and traveling to visit the clinics and ensure the work is being done. In addition, we’ve set up our model so clinic costs decline over time and we will not have to raise funds to cover the costs of a program forever.

10. What do you think is the value of the individual who can only make a small donation?

The overwhelming majority of our donations are small donations from people with big hearts.  These donations add up quickly and allow us to continue our mission to treat as many children with clubfoot as possible.

Want to learn more about miraclefeet?

miraclefeet.org and http://miraclefeet.tumblr.com/

Facebook: miraclefeet

Twitter: @miraclefeet

Want to #give10 to Miraclefeet? They accept donations online, by mail, and in kind donations of clubfoot braces. Check their website.

Giving is Hard

I’m a few days behind on my post about “giving” this week. Instead of making excuses for how busy I’ve been, I’ve decided to go with the truth: Giving is Hard.

Yep. Hard.

Really? How hard can it be to give money away? Isn’t this blog supposed to be talking about how awesome giving is and how it is making the world better and all that?

It’s about week 60 now of my giving-palooza, and as excited as I still get about giving in my own nerdy way, I have lots of reasons why somedays I just want to quit. Here’s three:

  1. I can’t control what happens to my money and sometimes it just hard to find out how it has made an impact. (*note, I said hard, not impossible). Just a few weeks ago I promised you some answers about the difference our favorite projects from last year had made. Turns out, it’s a little bit more challenging than I thought to get answers. But we’re sticking with it and beating down doors and twitter feeds until we get some. Stay tuned. In the meantime check out last week’s interview with an amazing 6 year old behind Marbles4MS if you haven’t yet. Stories like these keep me going on my days of doubt.
  2. It takes a lot of effort to make sure the project I’m giving to is good at its mission for world changing, not just good at marketing their cause. You can’t judge a project’s success by an organization’s tally of twitter followers. I do my best to find projects that invest for impact, but sometimes I learn later that a project I loved isn’t all I thought it was. Yes, there are a few projects I wouldn’t give to again (but more on that later). When this makes me want to throw up my hands in defeat, I have to remind myself that one bad brand shouldn’t damper my drive to do good.
  3. Believe it or not, even when you’ve found a great cause you want to rally the world towards, some organizations make the process of giving incredibly difficult. While making giving easy should be a no-brainer for do-gooders dependent on donations,if often isn’t. So many cause-related websites lack links to enable online giving. It’s 2012. If you are a project that wants money, please, I beg you, make sure your donate button exists, is easy to find, and works. The world has paypal there are no excuses.

Maybe giving isn’t as hard as it feels somedays. But the only thing I can think of that could be worse than bad Giving days is Giving Up.

And since I don’t like to quit, giving up really isn’t an option. So stick with us.  One bad giving day down and 49 more weeks of Giving awesomeness to go.

 I’m sticking it out this week even though it isn’t going my way. What are you sticking out?


“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.” – Fannie Flag


week #2: mothers, marbles & fighting MS

When I remembered it was mother’s day, it wasn’t hard for me to pick which project I wanted to feature this week for #give10 x 10. Today we’re going to meet Connor and hear about his dream for his mom and how he became a world changer at age five.

You briefly met Marbles4MS when we first gave 10$ in July, and again in December when more than 1,000 of you voted on who should get an extra special donation on our 300th day of giving.

The thing I love about this story is that Marbles4MS isn’t a big organization’s fundraising campaign.  It is a five year old’s idea for change put into action. You see, Connor’s mom has MS and he wants to do what he can to help.

“Our project is raising money and awareness to cure our Mom and MS forever.  We try to inspire people to help us and we think it works.  Little kids can make a big difference, ” is how he described it.

Connor makes paintings using marbles rolled with paint in cigar boxes and sells them with proceeds going to the National MS Society so the “scientist guys can fix Mommy and everyone with Multiple Sclerosis”.  In its first year, Connor and his 9-yr old brother Jackson raised $45,000 to help find a cure.

We asked Connor to #give10 answers about his project. (no non-profit marketing spin here, just straight from the heart of a now six year old).

1. Last year #give10 gave $310 to Marbles for MS ($10 + $300 for our 300th day prize). What has this done?

The $310 donation was sent to the National MS Society.  They spend their money on scientists to find a cure and on helping people and families that live with MS.

2. What are you most excited about in the year to come. 

In the next year, we’re really excited to share our story with new people because just hearing it sometimes makes them feel better, and to see where our new adventures take us!

3. What do you think is the role of the individual who can only make a small donation?

For our charity, their role is everything.  When we sell a $2 bookmark, that sale is just as important to us as any donation.  That person helped and that’s what matters.

4. How can a small 10$ donation make a difference in achieving your mission?

In that $10 donation, there could be the dollar that finds the cure.

5. What is one thing you wish that the people who give to your cause knew or understood better?

We wish people knew how hard MS is to live with and that it’s their support that gives us the strength to keep going.

6. What do you think stops people from giving to a charity?

Maybe people can’t really connect with the cause, or maybe they think it would take more money than they have to make a difference.  But it could be their dollar that finds a cure.

7. What do you think motivates the people who do donate to give again?

When a charity tries new ideas to raise money, maybe the same people will be newly inspired to give again.

8. What did your project accomplish that you are you most proud of this year?

We are most proud of 2 things:  being invited to the National MS Conference in Dallas. We met so many people who are trying to cure this disease and made a lot of new friends.  The other thing we are really proud of is making a painting for the CEO of Valero Corporation in San Antonio.  We (Connor) told him it was going to cost $10,000 and he wrote a check to the MS Society.

9. What are three projects (other than your own) you would want other donors to learn about and support?

  • Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation because she’s like us, making a dollar at a time.
  • Small animal rescue groups since so many animals need help.
  • And we’d like people to know about Make-A-Wish Foundation.  It must be so hard to be sick when you’re a kid, so it’s important to make a dream come true for them.

10. What is one question people usually ask you about your project, and how do you answer it?

Most people ask us when we’ll be done with our project. We tell them we won’t stop until there’s a cure.


You can find Marbles for MS online and buy your own original artwork from Connor here: www.marbles4ms.org

Facebook: Marbles 4 MS

Twitter: @Marbles4MS

Youtube: Marbles4MS

I have to say, that the only thing more amazing than giving 10$ to change is giving 10$ to a 5 year old world changer. Watch out MS, the future is committed to finding a cure.

Happy Mother’s Day to Connor’s mom and the rest of you out there!