Sometimes I questions myself as to WHY on earth do I, and others like me, do dumb stuff (riding fixies across Australia is not smart – adventurous, but not smart) to raise money for those living in extreme poverty? I don’t think there is a straight forward answer to that question. It would be a whole lot easier if people just gave generously and I stayed home. Man that sounds good right now!
Here is what I have noticed over the 16+ years I have spent raising money around poverty based issues. People rarely give or give little when you rock up and talk to them about poverty and how they can help. Sometimes you win big, most times you go away with loose change. And I get that. If I hear someone I don’t know speak about their mission in life I myself rarely give. Not sure if I ever have to be honest! So I understand.
What I and many others before me have noticed though is people give for a number of reasons. Mostly I think they give when they are connected directly to the cause or to those voicing about the cause. Secondly we have noticed that people give when someone says they are going to do something that is so out of character or seemingly impossible for them. Hence endurance based fundraising events have taken off over the last decade or so, as it ticks both those boxes.
In short if a 120kg man who does not ride bikes suddenly has the urge to ride a bike a long way, his friends and networks will first laugh at him and then give to him for his cause.
Who benefits. Well the 120kg man will lose weight and be healthier. But, more importantly his cause is assisted. If poverty is his cause then real people who he may or may not know will have their lives impacted for good.
Money is not the most important tool when it comes to extreme poverty. It may not even register in the top five aspects when it comes to working within this space. But let’s just say, used well, money is required in the efforts to develop families and communities. Life costs to live.
So in this sense I am stuck within this framework of assisting in coming up with such events. Not because I necessarily enjoy it (though I do!) but because in my mind I am willing to do whatever it takes, by any means, to see the lives that I know and care about changed for the better. Monkey Fountain, Zambia is a long way from Brisbane, but I and others are in a sense forever connected to that little part of the world. So if riding a single speed bike across Australia helps change the life of a child living in extreme poverty…then bring it on!
- Reid Anderton