...but it shouldn't have to.
Yes, because of my Cambodian restaurants - The Elephant Walk - and Cambodian partners, Cambodia anywhere in the news always draws my interest. But, because of the principle behind my Benefit Restaurant Project, a recent NY Times blog post by Nicholas Kristof - "Does Haiti's Earthquake Hurt Cambodia" - pierced me through the heart.
Of course, when I learned of it, I immediately feared that the Chilean earthquake with diminish ongoing relief efforts in Haiti. But - shame on me - I didn't connect the dots all the way around the world the way I would have expected. Instead, in the Kristof piece a gentleman who runs a Cambodian AIDS patient relief foundation very eloquently shared his experience with our collective, global giving being largely fixed, bringing me back to first principles of the Benefit Restaurant Project:
In the world today, unfortunately more giving to one cause or crisis means less to others, because the "giving pie" is more or less fixed in size. If one organization takes a larger slice, that means smaller slices for everyone else. The unspeakably horrific Haitian earthquake rightfully attracted tremendous resources and attention - but away from Cambodia, and everywhere else. Now, the Chilean earthquake almost certainly will draw resources and attention away from Haiti.
Digging a tad deeper, said the Kasumisou Foundation's Mark Rosasco - the gentleman I referred to above: "...the school kids, the church groups, the women's clubs, etc. - in short, the very groups on whom small foundations like mine [depend] shift their attention and fundraising energies to... the calamity of the month." I live in the business world where we live through seasonal demand cycles - busy in the spring and fall, slow in winter and summer. But imagine what the boom>bust, feast>famine cycles must be like in the nonprofit world when your support disappears because something bad happens somewhere. You're suffering, because they're suffering.
The nonprofit world needs more support altogether, of course, but equally importantly, nonprofits - and perhaps especially the smaller ones like Mr. Rosasco's - need consistent, long-term funding so they can remain strong, stable, and focused on doing their essential good. - A widespread proliferation of The Benefit Restaurant model - a funding commitment to nonprofits of a small piece of every single transaction, each and every day - would go a long way toward ensuring that the pie grows larger, and that a larger piece for someone in crisis doesn't mean that another hungry one goes unfed.