One Day’s Wages – One World of Difference

Post a Comment » Written on November 16th, 2009     
Filed under: News
SEATTLE, WA (November 16, 2009) – A lengthy feature on changes in nonprofit fundraising published in a recent edition of the New York Times included One Day’s Wages (ODW), an international grassroots project started by Eugene Cho, pastor of Quest Covenant Church.

According to the Times article, “New Fame for the Everyday Donor,” charitable organizations are increasing their efforts to raise money in small amounts from more people. That approach has been essential to ODW, which seeks to help eradicate world poverty by providing grants to partner organizations – especially smaller ones in developing countries.

ODW is asking people to contribute one day of their annual wages – about four tenths of one percent – to the project, which will then give 100 percent of the money to its partners. Funds to pay for administrative costs are being raised separately.

Cho“It’s easy to be drawn to the multi-million-dollar donations, but we’re doing ourselves a disservice by not elevating the stories of the working mothers and fathers who also contribute what are significant amounts to them,” Cho told the Times.

Cho came up with idea after observing poverty overseas – and one moment in particular. While visiting a school in the jungle of Myanmar several years ago, he asked a village elder what it costs to retain teachers, and the man replied about $40 each.

“I realized he meant per year,” Cho recalled. “It hit me: $40 can make a huge difference.”

By focusing on enlisting at least one million donors, ODW also hopes to broaden the message about fighting poverty – and encourage people to become involved in various ways beyond giving donations.

The project’s website launched October 20. It includes a “wage calculator” where you can plug in the salary you receive hourly, monthly, or yearly, and it will calculate one day’s wage.

Cho laid the groundwork for ODW when he started the Facebook group Fight Global Poverty last year in anticipation of starting the project. He has used a broad range of social media to rapidly grow the project.

“We know our vision, but we also understand the importance of the medium of communicating that vision,” he says. “It’s a strategy and vision I’ve been praying and thinking about for over a year.”

“One Day’s Wages is a simple, but accessible concept. I think generosity and kindness are attractive.”

The success of the project so far, Cho says, is because, “One Day’s Wages is a simple, but accessible concept. I think generosity and kindness are attractive.

“There’s so much ‘bad news’ and one of the core strategies of One Day’s Wages is that we’re storytellers,” he adds. “We want to share beautiful stories of hope, courage, and strength in the midst of the harsh realities of extreme poverty.”

The early public commitment of Cho’s family to the project  – he emphasizes it is the family that started ODW – also has helped attract participants. When he launched the Facebook site, he pledged to donate $1 for every person who joined, up to $100,000. More than 800,000 people joined.

Cho and his wife, Minhee, 40, a graduate student in family and marriage therapy at Seattle Pacific University, did go ahead and pledge $100,000 and recently donated more than $68,000 – the equivalent of one year’s wages. They hope to fulfill their commitment next year.

Cho is adamant that he doesn’t expect people to make the same commitment. Ultimately, he says, it’s about people doing a little to make a big difference.

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