22 January 2010

roots to branches

Two of my favorite non-profits (Invisible Children (IC) & To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA)) were up against each other this week for $1Million from Chase. Both organizations were top five. Facebook members voted for their favorite charity over 3 rounds. I didn't enter the voting until the final round. Voting ended at midnight (EST) tonight. I would have been stoked if either won. During the last hour or so, TWLOHA (which was going steady in third place) began soliciting votes (via twitter and facebook) for IC. It was a truly selfless act. They even went so far as to change their profile pictures to a image that read "I voted for Invisible Children."

IC graciously thanked and applauded TWLOHA as the voting wound up and Invisible Children was revealed as the $1Million winner. TWLOHA (as a top five contender) won $100,000 in the competition. What's really remarkable to me is that these two organizations were up against some pretty big hitters (as far as charities go). I think the difference for them is that the venue (facebook) mirrors the way these two organizations have grown since their beginnings.

IC, in the beginning, was just a couple of guys who filmed some crazy stuff in Uganda and started sharing the video with anyone who would listen. They had no intention of starting a non-profit organization, but were compelled to help the (invisible) children and people of Uganda. It's always been promoted by word of mouth. I heard about it from a friend. We watched their documentary and couldn't help but want to help and inform others of the atrocities happening in Uganda. Anytime I wear the shirt I own that says "Invisible Children" I am questioned about it and I get to spread the message even further.

TWLOHA started as a group of young people showing compassion, friendship and support to a young girl who suffered from addiction and self-mutilation. The story of this experience spread from person to person and was eventually built into an organization that raises awareness and provides help to those who struggle with addiction, depression and other issues. Many indie bands took up the cause and began wearing shirts that said "To Write Love On Her Arms" and passionately promote the cause at their concerts and on their websites, blogs and twitters. Additionally (mostly) young people from all over the country and around the world tirelessly promote and support this organization by wearing their apparel and talking about it on myspace and facebook.

Both IC and TWLOHA were started and mostly supported/promoted by younger people. It's amazing to see the youth of our nation be passionate and compassionate. The youth are speaking up and thankfully they are being heard!

These organizations may have started with grass roots, but it seems they have grown into strong oak trees with wildly magnificent branches reaching in many directions.

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