When it comes to global poverty, I'm convinced, most people in the developed world don't suffer so much from indifference as ignorance and a sort of enforced apathy. They either don't know much about the problems, or they don't know what they can do. Efforts like The Rough Guide to a Better World are one approach to educating citizens to do more by revealing the big picture.
But sometimes direct connections are the best. That's the theory behind Nabuur, the Dutch non-profit site which connects Southern villages with Northern supporters and allies:
1. A community has an urgent question It all starts with a local community in a developing country looking for assistance. After a screening by NABUUR this community gets a Village on NABUUR.com. On this Village the representative of the local community describes the question or problem to be solved.
2. Virtual Neighbors look for solutions
NABUUR invites visitors to NABUUR.com and they become 'Neighbors' of a Village. These virtual Neighbors then start looking for solutions to the question described by the local representative. They work together and report their findings on the Discussion boards of the Village.
3. Best solutions are selected
After several solutions have been found and the best ones selected, the Neighbors present these solutions to the local representative. The local representative discusses the solutions with his or her people.
4. Solutions are implemented
If the solutions found by the Neighbors fit the local situation they are implemented. The Neighbors get to see the results (photos, stories) on NABUUR.com.
Nabuur is still in its infancy, but it seems like an amazing way to directly connect people to needs -- sort of like being in the Peace Corps, without ever leaving your living room.
(Thanks, Tom M.!)
Hm I thought I cmmented on this... oh well try again I guess.
If your trying to gather alot of charity money these days specialy for africa you need to look back at some of the horrid failures before you and make sure to the people who are going to give the money that you dont look like your gona result in the same failures all over again.
Now I never donated to african relief thingies but from friends that did I came up with a list of... backfires.
1 Be sure the village you help isnt in a war/uneasy peace with anouther village. The result of "helping" one side or the other generaly is a mob armed with guns and machetes and your helped people being chopped to bits.
2 Be sure if your donation goes to building a well and growing more food that said farms dont sit apon the migratory pathway of nomadic arabs. Nothing says pillage me like that.
3 Be sure your not donating only to one tribe or at least that someone else is donating to the other tribe if there are warring/historicaly warring tribes... Nothing brings out the war in warrior tribes like charity to one but not the other/s.
4 Be very sure the people you help actauly are nice people nothing says oopsy quite like building up the power of a bunch of mad butchers and raving canibnalistic madmen.
You may think these things are silly and cant possibly be real but the fact is they happened and depressed the kind gental souls who wanted to help make the world a better place.
You need to ensure those kind souls dont someday face the question of did I do evil trying to do good. Was it my fault. Thats why so many have turned away from frica and gone with helping elsewhere. There are places on the world where you can help not ever having to worry about it backfireing into evil. And to some saefty in knowing they will do no harm is above all else vital.