collaborative giving

i’m really excited about the potential of a small change-the-world collaborative effort my extended family is undertaking together. and i think it offers a raft of potential impacts and benefits that go far beyond an individual donation i would make.

here’s the backstory:

sometime last year, i heard about the (then) new book, half the sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide (i’d heard about it because my teenage friend and ys author, zach hunter, is profiled in the book). see my review of the book here. before i could read it, my wife swiped it, and suggested it for a reading group she’s part of with a couple of my aunts, my sister, and my cousin. it’s not a “christian” book, and the reading group has a couple christians in it, but also a few deeply wonderful people who are non-religious.

after reading the book, the group felt they needed some kind of collective response. so they formed “the full sky club”, a small, private response. they crafted an invitation to everyone in our extended family (there are families, including adult children and teenage grandchildren, from four sisters, my mom being one of them). they explained the need, and invited the clan into their collaborative giving project. then, once the money was pooled, they invested the funds on our behalf.

i received this email about the giving project:

Subject: The Full Sky Club donations

Thank you all for your generous donations to the Full Sky Club, supporting “turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide”. We raised $954.00 which was donated as follows:

Microloan through to Margaret K. of Sierra Leone, for her used clothing business in the anount of $350, distributed through Association for Rural Development Sierra Leone.

Microloan through to Hin P. in Srae Vong Village, Cambodia, for her pig and chicken business in the amount of $100.00, distribuated through Angkow micro finance Kampuchea.

donation to for furthering the cause of microloans throughout the world in the amount of $56.79. (we had a credit of $2.79 from a previous loan the bookclub made and repayment by the borrower has been made in the amount of $2.79)

A donation to The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia in the amount of $450.00 through the Fistula Foundation. You can look up info about the Fistula foundation at They keep 20% to further the cause of fistula hospitals and surgeries free of charge, around the world. In 2009 they gave direct support to Hamlin Fistula Hospitals in Ethiopia in the amount of $1.083 million. Dr. Hamlin started the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital .

Total of $956.79. We will periodically send you updates on the microloan repayments and reinvestments. Again, thank you so much for being a part of this- it’s very exciting to think we are in a small way helping women and children rise up from their oppression.

here’s what i’m thinking:

1. the amount isn’t huge, but that’s not really the point. certainly, the amount of the donation(s) is higher than any one of us would have likely given to any one of these causes. but even collectively, we wouldn’t qualify as a major donor. but there’s more to this than the size of the donation.

2. there’s a flywheel aspect to this — in fact, more than one flywheel. there’s a relational flywheel: this project is something we’re doing together, and it’s progress gives us reason to interact. there’s an awareness flywheel: the collaborative nature raises the water level of understanding for all of us who are involved. more people will be aware of the issues we’re giving to, and even those who pushed the flywheel to get it moving have a higher awareness than they would have if they’d merely made a donation on their own, since they’re reporting to the rest of us. and there’s an impact flywheel: this is partially true because the donations through kiva will be re-invested as they’re paid back. but since the whole effort is from ‘we’ rather than ‘me’, there’s a natural built-in impetus to take further steps, in donations or other forms of involvement.

3. everyone gets blessed. it’s a win on every front. this is always possible when giving, of course. but giving collaboratively increases both the quantity and quality of the blessing.

i think this is a model of giving that many of us should explore more, with our friendship groups, our families (extended or nuclear), our co-workers, our youth groups. what experiences have you had with this kind of thing?

3 thoughts on “collaborative giving”

  1. I love it! Please share a little about how they went about to organize “the full sky club”. Feel free to pass my email to whomever can give me more insight. Thank you for the peace of inspiration.

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