SAMPLE Funding Appeal (Speech: 8-10 minutes)
This funding appeal was delivered at over a dozen events, with a combined audience of 1,000+
Let’s Create a Different World (Compassion International)
I heard a lot about poverty growing up. Helping the poor was something we did when we could. My background was modest enough to feel to pain of not having enough, so when someone had a need and we were able to share, we did. But there was always a bit of a disconnect between “us” and “them.” There was a level of pride in being the ones to give help instead of receiving it. Not because we didn’t need help from time to time, but because we didn’t usually admit when we did.
I remember the day it finally sank in that poverty has little to do with money. Poverty is better explained as a lack of options. Let me explain by telling you a story.
I was down in the Dominican Republic several years ago. Traveling with a group, we were on a bus, maneuvering our way over this winding road on the side of a mountain. One of the tour guides motioned to the mountain as we passed. “These houses have all been rebuilt,” he said. “They were washed away in the hurricane last year.”
The houses were small tin shacks. They had no foundations, and they looked about as sturdy as you would imagine a tin shack to be. They reminded me of a row of dominoes – or rather, zigzagging lines of dominoes. I imagined that if you knocked one over, all the rest would follow.
Later that evening, as we were eating dinner, a man joined us who looked to be in his early forties. He was accompanied by an adorable little 4-year-old girl. He proudly introduced us to his daughter. And then he told us his story.
He had lived in that community of shacks up on the side of the mountain we had passed earlier in the day. His house had been washed away in last year’s storms. He had been home with his son and daughter when the rains started. One by one, the houses began to collapse. As the water rose, the man grabbed a hold of both his children and started to dogpaddle, struggling to keep their heads above water.
This continued for an hour. Then another hour. And another. Finally, six hours later, the young father, past the point of exhaustion, came to a realization.
If he kept holding both of his children, they would all drown. The only way even one could be saved was if he let one go.
Tears poured down his face. We were crying too.
This is the kind of decision no parent should ever have to face. And please understand me when I say, this choice was forced upon him by poverty. He worked. He had dedicated his life to building the best life he could for his young children. But the work available to him didn’t pay enough for anything more than a tin shack on the side of a mountain. It didn’t pay enough for him to feed his children more than once or twice a day. He didn’t have access to education, to childcare, or the other resources he would need to help him change his situation.
This is poverty – and it’s ugly.
The room was quiet after our friend finished his story. He picked up his daughter and hugged her tightly, tears still streaming down his face. He missed his son, he said simply. He loved his son, so very much, and he would do anything to get him back.
Let me ask you something, my friends: Is it inevitable that we live in a world like this? How do we break poverty and its grip on the people it seeks to destroy? How do we ensure that parents, men and women like this young father, are not forced into making these types of decisions?
We don’t break poverty with money – not specifically. Yes, ultimately, the work needs resources, and that includes money. But money isn’t the point, and alone, it’s never enough.
You break the power of poverty by providing hope, and hope is wrapped up in providing options – choices – that individuals can make that will change their situation for the better.
Hope comes in many forms. At its most basic level, it’s an experience you can see, taste, touch, envision, an experience that shows you that life can change – that life can be better – for you. That last part is critically important. In a world where being invisible is often safer than being seen, you must believe that the hope of a different future is not only possible, but that it is possible for you.
To break poverty, you need to show up, every day, prepared to do really hard work. You need a team of people surrounding you who are pulling for you, equipping you, and cheering you on. This work can’t be done in isolation. Your support network needs to be sufficiently resourced, which means financially resourced, properly trained, and committed. You break poverty by actively demonstrating that there are other ways of existing in the world, and then connecting people to available resources so they can make their own choices to take advantage of those resources and change their situation.
This is why I love organizations like Compassion International. Compassion is a holistic child development organization providing direct services to over two million children in over twenty countries. They embody all of these concepts. Yes, they have to be resourced to do the work, and I am unabashedly here to ask you to partner with them. But the point isn’t the money.
Let me say that again. The point isn’t the money.
The point is to continually build, strengthen, and sustain an incredible network of professionals and non-professionals who invest, day after day, in activities and practices that dismantle poverty’s power.
I’ve been a donor and supporter of Compassion International for over 15 years. I applaud their continued dedication to breaking the cycle of poverty that has created a closed-loop system imprisoning individuals and communities, often for generations.
If you have more than you need, enough to share, would you consider sharing with someone who has less than what they need? Would you make a donation to Compassion today to support their work?
Compassion is committed to the communities where they work. In fact, they employ people who are local to those communities. Theirs isn’t a savior complex. They want to resource people who are already invested in their own communities and ready to see their communities transformed.
Compassion began working in the Dominican community where that young father lived, the one who lost his son in the floods. They helped him find a job that paid a little more, offered support to his daughter through child development programming and supplementary meals, and provided emotional support as he grieved and rebuilt his life. Compassion’s local staff became that young father’s support network, and they’re still there, cheering him on, connecting him with new resources and new options.
Would you join me in changing the world we live in? I want to live in a world where no father, no parent, ever has to lose a child the way that young Dominican father did. We are better than that. We can create a world that’s better than that.
If you have more than you need, would you share and make a donation to Compassion International today?