In the summer of 2010, I graduated from college. I did a good course and I acquired skills over the years to build up a good résumé. I came out of college confident and ready to take on the world. But a few weeks after I graduated, I did the unimaginable. Something no one expected. Something no one understands even three years later. I started to work for an NGO (a charity). An unestablished start up NGO at the time. I was asked if I didn't get any other jobs, I was asked when I was going to get a real job. I'm still asked every day if I'm paid in money or fresh air. These were genuine questions, which were asked with the best of intentions. Everyone wondered why someone my age who has done well for herself would throw away her career. Over the past 3 years, I've been trying to understand why I was getting this reaction.
I watched a Ted talk a few weeks ago that answered a lot of my questions( Because Ted has all the answers) . NGOs and charities are looked at as the sector of society that everyone else is doing a favor for. They are at the end of the food chain. They get the crumbs from the master's table. Apparently this thinking was handed down to us from the Puritans who were aggressive capitalists but also had religious beliefs that taught them that self interest would lead them straight to hell. So they started to do 'charity' as a form of penance for their profit making. We have inherited an attitude that tells us that this is a sector that we give our bread crumbs to. This is the sector that exists to ease our guilt about being well-off. Or this is the sector exists to help us improve our karma status.
We've inherited a mindset that tells us that when we give to charity, a fuzzy feeling and a tax exemption is the most we can get out of it. This is why we don't look at a donation as an investment. We fail to see that we are investing today for our children and grandchildren to live in a better world tomorrow. We fail to see that we are, in fact, changing our world.
For this very reason, there is a lack of funds in most charities, and hence there is a lack of talent. Because the talent can make more money somewhere else. It's a vicious circle. This has crippled the nonprofit sector to a large extent, and kept it small even as it attempts to take on giant problems. Dan Pallota, in his Ted talk said "If you want to make 50 million dollars selling violent video games to children, go for it, but if you want to make half a million dollars trying to cure kids of malaria, you are considered a parasite yourself"
Isn't it tragic that human trafficking is a huge profit making industry and many people who are trying to solve the problem have been given the 'non profit' handcuffs. Somehow, we expect non profits to solve the worlds toughest problems with the least possible resources. There is a huge problem with this picture. The scales are utterly imbalanced.
So looking back, I could have gotten paid a lot more doing another job, but why have I given three years of my life to the nonprofit sector? I did because I am big headed enough believe the least of us deserve the best of us. People don't work for charities out of a lack of other jobs, out of boredom or even out of a need to stroke their feel good ego. People don't work for charities because they can afford to feed their families and they are happy with a minimal income. People work for charities because they believe in their investment. They have a gift of faith and foolishness to believe that they can change the world.
Today I'm going to do something more unimaginable than what I did three years ago. This is also something I haven't done in the last three years. I am not going to ask you to donate. I want to ask you to invest.
You will be investing in a social change. You will be investing in a better tomorrow, not just for you but for everyone. You will be investing in the fight against trafficking, investing in the education of the leaders of the future, investing in someone's much needed medical care. Even if you don't see any returns in your lifetime, your children will and their children will. And you could pass on a legacy of change to the generations to come.
My organization is running 10k next month to raise money, I want to raise 25,000 Rupees or 500 Dollars for my organization.
Because I want to change our world. Join me :)