Monthly Archives: May 2010

Crowdrise – social networking for philanthropy

The last thing I need is a another social networking site to join.  I manage the M2M Facebook page, Twitter, blog, and website in addition to my own personal posts, tweets, blogs, and a profile on LinkedIn.  But Crowdrise is different, worth it, and totally harnesses the power for good, the energy of social networking, with a healthy dose of lowball humor thanks to founders Wil Ferrell, Ed Norton, and a whole slew of celebrities.

Their tagline captures the spirit:  If you don’t give back, no one will like you.

In their own words, “Crowdrise is about volunteering, raising money for Charity and having the most fun in the world while doing it. Crowdrise is way more fun than anything else aside from being all nervous about trying to kiss a girl for the first time and her not saying something like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.'”

So I sat down with Megan and Corinne, two of our Development Board members to figure out what its all about.  I paid them each $20 to create profiles and post donations so we could see how it worked.

You can support a charity itself (hopefully us!) or a specific project that a charity is raising money for.  You can become a team member, recruit others, and the best part?  The unique aspect of earning points for each donation you make.  Points earn you cool prizes from Crowdrise’s sponsors, like Patagonia messenger bags, ipads, and more.

This won’t replace traditional donations through our website directly or snail mail checks in the mail from the old school contingent that still don’t trust the internet.  But if you are active on Facebook and Twitter, donating through Crowdrise gives your donation a voice – by showing your friends and family you care about a specific project, and giving you the ability to recruit others, share the link on your social networking sites, and tracking how close we are to our goal.  Something not possible through a traditional website.

So our first project page is dedicated to our deaf school in Kabul.  We got land donated from President Karzai, and the primary school construction donated by Innovida, a green technology construction company.  Fabulous news!  The more fabulous news?  They are ready to build NOW and can complete the school in about a month.  But we need to build the security wall and the secondary school so that the entire student population can move into the school at the same time.

So – visit our project page, to see the project, and donate whatever you can.  The beauty of a ‘vocal’ donation?  $20 goes a long way if you can find another 10 people to give $20!  So you need to share the project page on your FB and Twitter about it!   The potential is that its viral… think the Obama campaign!  Small donations by millions of people – we can all be part of the change we wish to see in the world.  Even if we think we can’t afford it!

Help us build this school!  Visit the link, donate, share, and make yourself and M2M heard!  This way – even the deaf children in Afghanistan will hear you!

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Land for the Deaf in Kabul

Two years after Mountain 2 Mountain first dedicated itself to working with the deaf populations in Afghanistan, a breakthrough.  Land, glorious land.  Not as easy to come by or inexpensive as you may think in a war torn region like Afghanistan.  In fact its quite expensive, hard to find and even harder to get firm commitments even if you have the cold hard cash to purchase it outright.  Harder still when you are looking for a land donation on which to build a school.   Land is notoriously changing hands, it becomes a game of he who builds first, wins.  There are many stories of land being donated in a village for school, yet in the time it takes to run things past a Board of Directors and in our case, raise the money, someone else may show up with cash in hand and the land is given to them instead.

Its not surprising given the history of broken promises that the Afghans have endured during thirty-five plus years of occupation and conflict.  Reconstruction and education is key to the future of this country, and while M2M is not a building-centric organization, in some cases construction is needed.  In the case of the deaf population a sustainable and permanent structure that could house not only a school but a teacher training program for the future meant that the search must first start for land.

Several avenues were pursued, until finally, last month a second visit with President Karzai yield a solid confirmation of a large parcel of land we visited last fall.   Originally we were told we could have it for the reduced price of $60,000.  Too steep for a small organization such as ourselves.  We held fast, and this March had another meeting and secured the land for the bargain basement price of $0.

Two weeks ago an opening ceremony was held on the parcel of land to celebrate and to officially transfer over the deeds to ANAD – the Afghan National Association of the Deaf.  Government officials attended and cut the ribbon, and engineers marked out the land boundaries and marked with chalk.

Last week a small trench was dug over the chalk to ensure the boundaries didn’t get washed away from rain and wind so that we can make preparations for our next steps.   The immediate step is to raise $10,000 to build a perimeter wall on the boundaries.  This is integral for any institution in Afghanistan for safety and to protect the land demarcation.  The wall and requisite security door ensures safety for the upcoming construction of the school and more importantly for the future safety of the teachers and students.

While the wall is being constructed this summer we’ll be moving forward with design plans and raising the big chunk needed for the school construction.   An estimated $200,000 is needed to build the school and now that we have the land, we are hoping to raise that in a few short months so that construction can start before winter hardens the ground.  No easy task.

Our excitement and commitment  is with ANAD and the deaf children the future school will support!

To read more about the realities facing the deaf in Afghanistan check out our previous blogs:  Silence in Afghanistan and Hearing Literacy.

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