'One Day's Wages' Fights Poverty, 2 Years On

When Eugene Cho went to visit the country of Burma, he spent time traveling and visiting schools in the area. It was there he discovered, to his shock, the salary of a school teacher in those small towns and villages was roughly $40 a year.

Prior to his travels, Cho says in a video from his website, he knew all the statistics and numbers on poverty, but it wasn’t until he saw how far even $40 could go in the life of a school teacher that he began listening to “the stories behind the statistics.”

In 2009, he made a decision with his wife and three children, to donate their 2009 salary to help fight global poverty. Shortly thereafter, their organization, One Day’s Wages, was born. This month, they are celebrating their two year anniversary.

Based in Seattle, Wash., they help people donate money to poverty fighting organizations around the world. Since their inception they have seen their idea grow bigger than they imagined. Over 7,000 people from around the world participate in the ODW movement, and together they have raised a total of $858,310.

To date, the organization has invested in 21 partnerships to fight extreme poverty. Some of their partnerships include World Vision, charity:water and Partners in Health.

Even though ODW does not identify itself as a religious organization, their website does say: “We are compelled by a deep conviction that human life is sacred and precious. Three billion people live on less than US$2/day, 1.4 billion people live on less than US$1.25/day – the definition of those who live under the condition of ‘extreme global poverty.’”

For those who want to participate in ODW’s vision, their website makes it pretty simple. They even have a wages calculator so you can see what one day of your yearly wages comes out to.

You can choose from their list of organizations to donate to, or you can request to give to an organization of your liking. They say their goal is not just to inspire people to be compassionate, but also to give them a practical opportunity to “care about the billions suffering from extreme poverty.”

To ensure the money is used effectively, ODW has a “hands on approach” to the funds. After they find efficient and effective nonprofit partners, they monitor the progress of the group’s project and ask for documents, write-ups, photography, and video reports to keep tabs on the completion of a project. Sometimes they even send staff and volunteers (on their own budget) to make sure the funds are being used efficiently and correctly.

ODW also has something called “Birthday for a Cause” for those who want to celebrate their birthday a little differently. You can log onto their website and create a “birthday campaign page” a few weeks before your birthday. Then on your actual birthday you donate your day's wages and get friends and family to participate in the giving through social media and the ODW website.

Others have used different creative methods to get people to donate. One couple, Jordan and Amy Stead, got married this year and decided, instead of having people give them gifts at their reception, they would throw a party asking guests to help them raise money for their favorite nonprofit organization, Krochet Kids International.

The Steads, and many like them, are using ODW exactly how the founders meant for it to be utilized – to help regular people find ways to effectively fight poverty with whatever money they have.

ODW isn't looking to promote any one nonprofit or group. They just want people to start realizing that even with a small amount of effort and money they can make a big difference. Cho says in the video, by bringing people together, ODW can help “make a dramatic impact in the fight against extreme global poverty.”

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