Saturday, December 23, 2006

We're all the king's boot-makers

I am exhausted. I have been traveling since last Sunday and I'm quite sure I have slept only a total of about 25 hours in the past six days. But it's been a good week and I'm always happy to be spreading the word about GiveMeaning.

Toronto earlier in the week was particularly special for me because I got to meet with Karyn Kennedy, the Executive Director of The Toronto Child Abuse Center ("TCAC")

TCAC was introduced to me by Christie Blatchford of the Globe & Mail (a journalist for whom I have immense respect). It was Christie's courtroom coverage of the story of Randal Dooney, a young boy who was brutally tortured and ultimately murdered by his Father and Step-mother that inspired be to start GiveMeaning. I was so angered and saddened by the total break-down in the "safety net" that was supposed to protect children in Canada from this abuse, that I wanted to do something, anything.

Here I was having just read Christie's coverage and motivated to act, and I couldn't find anything at my fingertips that I could do to react positively to this story. I spent the next couple of weeks trying in vain to reach-out to local organizations that were tasked to provide counsellings to children who have been abused but I either couldn't find the organizations or couldn't get my email or phone call returned when I did find a number or an email address to ping.

The reason? Because most of the small organizations, the ones looking after kids like Randal and his brother Tego (who survived and is now living back in his native Jamaica), these organizations operate on such shoe-string budgets that they don't have enough staff to both provide their services and respond to interested donors like me.

GiveMeaning's service is designed for ALL charities but it's the small organizations, the ones whose names we don't know, the ones whose organizations are constantly struggling for funding which really sums up more than 80% of the 80,000 charities in this country, and a similar percentage of the more than 1,000,000 charities in the US, say nothing of the rest of the world.

I had a great meeting with Karyn and though she doesn't have any projects on the site yet, we discussed several exciting initiatives that we can work on together. I've long asserted that if we want to truly want to make change in our country, we have to focus on the root causes of the problems that manifest many years later as a result of those problems.

Child Abuse is irrefutably one of the most obvious root causes of homelessness, violent crime, and sex crimes. Anyone who wants to actually reduce the instances of any of these social problems who proposes anything other than tackling child abuse is bound to fail. Blunt, yes. Controversial, maybe. Room to debate my point? Only by massaging the words. My assertion isn't a difficult argument to agree with, is it? And yet, in provinces like Ontario where too many sensational cases of children like Randall Dooney and Jeffery Baldwin were failed by the Province, leading to their deaths but across the Country, we have provincially funded organizations that are stymied in their abilities to intervene.

Child Abuse is one of those "hard topics" in charity to sell. But increasingly, I want GiveMeaning to find a way to address these "hard topics" by marrying our innovative marketing ideas with the wonderful, hard-working, and life-changing organizations like Toronto Child Abuse Center.

If we can empower organizations like TCAC by providing them new ways to communicate their message, new ways to engage, the children in Canada who right now, as we celebrate our holidays, are suffering horrible, unspeakable, unthinkable acts of violence and depravity will be saved. Let us not wait until they are another of Christie's stories.

As it seems to be the case with each of these blog entries, I start by meaning to keep it light, talk about a million different things that happened this week, I found a topic I needed to talk about, if for no other reason than for me to commit my own thoughts to the page.

Two last things. I have started my own project at GiveMeaning. In the two years of running GiveMeaning, I have never started my own project. I will enter a separate blog entry over the holidays about it, but you can visit it at

I'm on my way to do my last interview of a week that has been - gratefully - full of interviews. I have never met the host of Get Connected, but judging his bio, it should make for a good, interactive interview.

Merry Christmas (it's a sentiment, not a religious assertion).

Stay Safe and Warm.

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