America is by far the most generous society in all of history. According to a recent report on MSNBC:
- More than 70% of Americans give to charity, meaning more people give than vote
- Of the $300 billion given last year, 76% of all charitable giving was from individuals
- The average American gives 2% of their income to charity. Wealthy Americans give 9% of their income to charity.
A speaker at a conference I recently attended stated that $70 billion annually would fund all preventable diseases, malnutrition, and basic education for the entire world. As I look at this, I am amazed at where we are and further convinced of the need to mobilize more capital for social impact. This is only sustainable through investment, and only possible by tapping into new pools of capital. But, it IS possible and, more so, essential.
Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail by Paul Polak
Based on his 25 years of experience, Polak explodes what he calls the “Three Great Poverty Eradication Myths”: that we can donate people out of poverty, that national economic growth will end poverty, and that Big Business, operating as it does now, will end poverty. Polak shows that programs based on these ideas have utterly failed–in fact, in sub-Saharan Africa poverty rates have actually gone up.
These failed top-down efforts contrast sharply with the grassroots approach Polak and IDE have championed: helping the dollar-a-day poor earn more money through their own efforts. Amazingly enough, unexploited market opportunities do exist for the desperately poor. Polak describes how he and others have identified these opportunities and have developed innovative, low-cost tools that have helped in lifting 17 million people out of poverty.
Based on these findings, you can understand the importance of what we are doing and the value of our model to help the poor through grassroots, sustainable social ventures.