This is a guest post by Airan Wright, my colleague as the creative director for the Foundation Beyond Belief, about the foundation’s end-of-year fund drive. He explains that we’ve committed to a significant expansion of the foundation, doing things we never thought possible, but we need to raise the funds to administer the new programs. He posted this to his Facebook page and I could not improve on it, so I asked if I could post it in its entirety.
By Airan Wright
I’m an atheist. I’m sure some of you know this, but not all of you. But more importantly, I am a “secular humanist”. In a nutshell, that means I believe we should be about helping each other as humans helping humans first, not as Atheists helping Atheists, or Christians helping Christians, or Muslims helping Muslims, or Budhists helping Budhists…or Christians helping Muslims…or Budhists helping Atheists…you get the picture.
I say this because I am part of something that, at it’s heart, carries this idea as it’s mantra. “Humanity at Work.” Foundation Beyond Belief is in it’s fifth year now. It has been my passion since turning the site on at 12am on New Years Day 2010. It’s the only instance in my life where a logo I designed has actually been given a name, as if it’s a precious new being with it’s own personality. Hell, people even want it as a tatoo…that’s just awesome.
It had it’s initial hiccups…I literally don’t remember sleeping that first night as our poor little web server took a beating from initial visits. But almost five years later, it’s an amazing, wonderful, compassionate organization full of caring staff and donating members who have raised $1.75 million for 118 charities around the world and support a network of over 100 humanist volunteer teams nationwide.
And that’s just the start.
In 2015, we will be running Humanist Disaster Recovery Teams (https://foundationbeyondbelief.org/…/humanist-disaster-reco…), the first on-the-ground volunteer program giving nontheists an avenue to directly assist communities impacted by disaster. We’re also launching the much-anticipated Humanist Service Corps (https://foundationbeyondbelief.org/humanistservicecorps/), deploying a team of eight humanist volunteers next July for a year of service in and around the “witch camps” of northern Ghana.
Additionally, we will continue the programs that have gotten us this far. Our five beneficiaries for Q1 in 2015 will receive on average $10-$12k in donations. Every quarter since our inception this number has gone up. Our Beyond Belief Network also continues to grow with new teams coming online every month. So far these teams have contributed over 56,000 hours of community service.
What is not so much discussed though is the fact that making member donations happen is not free. We pass on 100% of a member’s donation, but the fee for processing is something we cover. Also not discussed in all it’s glory is the operational cost when discussing team deployment for disaster relief or for sending HSC volunteers out for international service. Or for marketing and site development. Or for any of the other costs associated with running a 501c(3). We operate primarily on funding from member donations, our Foundation 50 member circle, and our end-of-year fund drives. And that’s where we need your help.
We are ambitious. We are pushing for everybody to be global citizens. Humans helping humans. For our end-of-year fund raiser we’ve set a goal of $75,000. http://www.razoo.com/FBB2014
Additionally, this year our Foundation 50 members have issued a challenge for our end-of-year drive. For the first $20k, they will match every donation dollar for dollar. That means that if we reach $20,000 by the end of Dec. 31, we will actually be at $40,000 and will be over half way to our goal.Please help if you are able. It would mean the world to me.
Two years ago I thought I was going to die. I went into the hospital with all the symptoms of a heart attack and ended up having open chest surgery when my heart rate went over 220. It was terrifying, of course. Afterward, I had people ask me if facing the possibility of death had changed me, if I’d had some great life-changing epiphany. I don’t think I had one “a-ha” moment, but after I left the hospital I was being taken care of by a dear friend who is a Christian and who works tirelessly to help others. At the time she ran a non-profit that helped protect the environment, now she runs a non-profit that provides low-income housing. She’s also worked for the biggest gay rights group in the state. And in her spare time, she organizes fundraising events for a lot of great causes, cooks meals for the homeless and much more. She’s just a dynamo who never stops looking for ways to help others.
And what occurred to me that week is that atheism is not enough. I’m still an atheist and I’m still a vocal critic of the many bad things that religion does, but that simply is not enough for me anymore. All that indicates is what I don’t believe. What I do believe in is our obligation to help lighten the burden for others if we can. I am privileged in so many ways and I would fail my own values if I didn’t try to give back. My father taught me that continually growing up.
It was a few weeks later that I was asked if I’d be interested in doing some media work for the Foundation Beyond Belief and I jumped at the chance, for several reasons. First, because it was a way to put my humanist values into action instead of just talking about them. Second, because I respect and admire FBB’s founder and executive director, Dale McGowan, more than any other leader in this broad community. For all the amazing things about atheism and humanism, we’ve been saddled, I think, with some really lousy leaders. Our more prominent voices have let us down again and again. Have you ever heard anyone say a bad word about Dale? Have you ever heard him say anything that made you cringe at its tonedeafness? I haven’t either. Dale just does what he does and what he does is devote his life to taking atheism and humanism beyond being merely abstract ideas. He brings them into the real world full of real people with great needs and he tries to find a way to help them.
I’m incredibly proud of the work FBB does and for my small role in it. We’re doing important things that really help make the world a better place and improve the lives of so many people. The launching of the Humanist Service Corps is so exciting to me and the fact that their first project is to go to the witch camps of Ghana that my friend Leo Igwe has brought to the world’s attention is especially important to me. There are thousands and thousands of people whose lives have been shattered by accusations of witchcraft and Conor Robinson and the new recruits for HSC are going to do everything they can to help them get on their feet. But it takes money, which I know is tight for a lot of people. If you can’t contribute, please share this post on social media and maybe we can get the word out to those who can. Thank you so much.