Don’t bury me at the dump.

I just watched a video today from a leading international relief and development organization.  Powerful footage of poverty-stricken children scavenging through garbage dumps for anything of value.  Begging on urban streets.  Wandering alone in a desperate battle to survive. The footage was riveting for about 15 seconds.  Then it got really depressing.  The video kept taking me back to the dump, over and over again.  Massive piles of garbage.  Fragile little children with bare feet wandering beside huge front-end loaders pushing massive piles of refuse.  It was appalling.  I was waiting for hope.  A heroic rescue.  Even a hint of promise.  It never came. I’m depressed both for the suffering children and our ravaged environment.  The massiveness of the problem.   Even a little paranoid about my own financial condition.  Thanks a lot.  It was already a gray summer day in the Northwest. Is that really where they wanted to take a potential donor? Video is a great way to present a need with raw emotion.  But if your goal is to raise money to meet that need, don’t bury me in the garbage and leave me there.  Give me a way out.  Here are the 5 steps to get from the garbage dump to the donation you need. Bury me first.  Hit me hard with all the emotion you have.  Make me feel the need, see the hurt, smell the refuse and hear the cries for help. Then tease me with a glimpse of hope.  Don’t keep going back to the dump, re-picturing the need.  Show me where a desperate child goes next. Take me on a journey.  Let me walk with that little girl or boy on their journey toward hope.  Help me feel those first halting steps.  Assure me that we’re going in the right direction. Prove you’re their last, best hope.  Show me you’re doing what no one else is doing. Or, if others are helping, explain why your help is more effective.  Communicate this from the lips of one of the children I witnessed scavenging the dump.  Simple, direct but childlike words are the best descriptors. Convince me without a doubt that now is the best time to help.  Give me a reason or a season, or some marker that makes sense to give now.  It could be a matching grant, or a golden opportunity to reach out, our just the ethos behind Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter. Accomplish those 5 things and you’ll inspire me instead of depress me.  And you’ll have gained a partner in ministry who will probably give another gift, if you treat me right.  I could even become an advocate for your cause and a Donor for Life.  Now, that’s better than being buried at the dump — for everyone involved. -Rob Zawoysky, Founding Creative Director