Tell us your story. How did you come to start the Global Giving Circle?
The idea for the Global Giving Circle came to me as a result of my consultant work with the Peabody award winning satellite TV station, Link TV. The channel shows eye-opening documentaries about the problems facing humanity, and the people who are doing great things to redress them. During my time at Link TV, I was privy to the myriad emails from people who saw our programming and wrote to ask how they might help in some way. It became clear to me that there are a lot of people who really want to do something to make the world a better place, but they simply don’t know how to go about it. I decided to investigate how to connect this energy to the causes the viewers felt so strongly about. I did a great deal of research on some of the brilliant alternative thinking in the field of humanitarian problem solving. I didn’t just research organizations, I researched people and met some amazing women and men who were as excited as I was about providing people of all income levels the opportunities to make a difference. When Link TV didn’t accept my proposal to create a community engagement position for myself, I left to found the Global Giving Circle.
What makes you so passionate about the cause?
I think philanthropy should be accessible to everyone. When we all look back at what we’ve done in our lifetimes, what will come to mind first are the people whose lives we’ve touched. What we’ll be proud of is the good work we’ve done in the world.
Tell us about your background? What were you doing before you started Global Giving Circle?
Before founding the Global Giving Circle I worked as a multimedia producer and photojournalist on projects that have spanned several disciplines and continents while consulting for nonprofit arts and media organizations. My last exhibition was at the Pacific Asia Museum in California entitled, Discovering Ganesh. Ganesh is the Hindu elephant-headed god, known as the Remover of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings and Patron of the Arts. During the course of the six years it took me to complete that project, I was removing many of my own obstacles. After having spent years pursuing my own artistic expression, a transformation of sorts came about and I felt the need to choose a path of service.
What’s in the pipeline for Global Giving Circle?
In February of 2010, I closed up shop with the Global Giving Circle for two reasons: I had a trademark infringement with GlobalGiving.com, and what I learned in 18 months is that events based philanthropy isn’t financially sustainable for a founder when tickets cost $25. That revelation aside, I’m really proud of what was achieved:five fundraising events were produced which brought the public together to support 18 nonprofits and social enterprises working in the areas of human rights, the water crisis, global warming, youth education and leadership with a focus on female empowerment and social entrepreneurship. In December, Global Gifts That Matter was launched, an online gift emporium which supports high impact nonprofits and social enterprises through the sales of gifts and gift donations. The work was a highly gratifying way to fulfill on my mission – to level the plane around philanthropy so that people from all income levels can experience the joy that comes with high impact giving. That said, I needed to work on a venture which could be developed so that I could be paid as well. In February of 2010 I began developing the Global Cocoa Project which grew out of the very first Global Giving Circle fundraiser.
The mission of the Global Cocoa Project is to support cocoa farmers around the globe by supplying them with tools to improve the quality of their cocoa production and basic needs for their daily lives. The secondary goal of 21 Villages is to educate Americans about the realities of the cocoa industry and leverage the power of knowledgeable, concerned consumers to help make cocoa growing a profitable and sustainable occupation for farmers.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I recommend that as far as choosing a career path goes, people invest time in understanding their passions. Ask yourself the most difficult questions about your true motives. If you want to help people, I think it’s a great idea to ask what’s motivating you. Being a changemaker is very challenging — there are many, many obstacles one has to face, perceived failures you’ll have to deal with. If deep down you are ultimately motivated by doing something that’s going to make you look good, something that other people feel is a noble pursuit, if you are soothing a sense of guilt inside yourself to “do your part/be a good global citizen” then you’re allowing your ego to drive you. There’s got to be a deeper motivation in place. When you come from a selfish, as opposed to a selfless space, you can count on many things being even more challenging and going wrong. I believe that there are so many paths to serve others — the goal is to understand what you love, where your talents lie, and how this aligns with your vision of a life of service and your deepest purpose.