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The end of a great beginning

31 Dec

There’s a great feeling of wind in the sails as we look back at our first year and forward to the second. As of December 30, 2010, our 705 humanist and atheist members have donated over $83,000 to 37 outstanding charities working to improve this world and this life.

In 2010, our members helped save a children’s home in Nepal from dissolution. We funded science education in India and in US public schools and supported efforts to fight global warming and protect biodiversity.

We put textbooks in Uganda’s humanist schools and peacebuilding teams in Uganda’s conflict areas. We supported efforts to improve access to health care for marginalized populations on four continents and in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. We helped launch a new Camp Quest in Virginia and helped build a new school for girls in Pakistan.

We added humanist voices and dollars to the fight for LGBT rights. We empowered adoptions, fed the hungry, and worked to protect the most vulnerable—refugees in war, victims of torture, women under threat of religious violence, political asylees, people struggling with addiction, and those hoping for dignity at the end of their lives.

We now head into 2011 with our own finances in fine shape thanks to the generosity of 137 donors who contributed $9,895 to the Foundation itself in our year-end drive. That’s 107% of the goal.

I am endlessly grateful to board members Hemant Mehta, Trish Cowan, and Kate Miller for advice, encouragement, and untold heavy lifting. Staff members Lindsey Paige, Ute Mitchell, and Terry Stone pitched in time and talents in our first two quarters, while Duncan Crary secured our startup grants and managed the media. Social media coordinator Claire Vinyard has done a brilliant job keeping our work and that of our featured charities on the collective radar, while blog editor Kelly Wright keeps our blog funnel full of thoughtful news and ideas.

We owe a particular debt of gratitude to Airan Wright of From Concept to Completion. Airan designed and maintains our website, created our logo, and deals with technical and creative issues with tremendous grace and skill. We are incredibly fortunate to have Airan aboard.

A SHOUT to the members!

The contributions of our members have gone far beyond donations. Many of the best ideas we’ve pursued this year started with member suggestions, including over a third of our featured charities, our Cafe Press store, and our Jumo page. Thanks also to our Charity Research Teams, who contributed countless hours vetting nominated charities. Members have also spoken to the media, conducted fundraisers, signed up for matching donations from their employers, promoted us through their blogs and social media accounts, cheered us on — and set us straight when we needed it.

Perhaps my favorite contribution of all was a suggestion from a member who’d like to be identified only as Steve. Despite his own strong opposition to supporting religious organizations, Steve took the time to think creatively about how it might be done best for those who do wish to. It was his suggestion of a dedicated, separate category for religious charities that eventually became Challenge the Gap — Different Beliefs, Common Goals, our new program encouraging cooperation between humanists and people with other worldviews.

I can’t think of a better way to capture what has become the spirit of this effort — nontheists coming together to create a space for the positive work of compassionate humanists, even those whose approach differs radically from their own.

January 1 will see the launch of our fifth slate of beneficiaries and the first steps toward an improved interface for member accounts. By summer 2011 we’re planning to introduce both a local volunteer coordination program and a rapid response donation option for disaster relief. By December 2011, we hope to triple our membership and total donations.

This is all happening because hundreds of humanists around the world not only believed it was worth doing but made it happen. We’re putting humanism to work, and we couldn’t do it without you.

dmcg

 

 

dalesign

Dale McGowan, Executive Director

Foundation Beyond Belief

 

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