Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Lesson From Half the Sky

Right now I'm reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

As an advocate, I've heard that using too many statistics with people is not the best way to inform others about the problems and injustices of poverty.

This was reinforced in this passage from Half the Sky....
A growing collection of psychological studies show that statistics have a dulling effect, while it is individual stories that move people to act. In one experiment, research subjects were divided into several groups and each person was asked to donate $5 to alleviate hunger abroad. One group was told the money would go to Rokia, a seven year old girl in Mali. Another group was told that the money would go to address malnutrition among 21 million Africans. The third group was told that the donations would go to Rokia, as in the first group, but this time her own hunger was presented as part of a background tapestry of global hunger, with some statistics thrown in. People were much more willing to donate to Rokia than to 21 million hungry people, and even a mention of the larger problem made people less inclined to help her.

So when you are presenting or sharing about the ministry of Compassion and child sponsorship, keep it personal. Share real stories about real people.

I wrote this post yesterday, and saved it to publish today. In the meantime I ran across a wonderful example of this. I could tell you about the countless women I've read about recently who see no way out of their circumstances except through death. But it wouldn't have the same impact as a personal story.

My friend Rebecca wrote a post for the Compassion blog yesterday that is a wonderful example. It's called The Girl in Bright Pink and you've got to read it. Stories like that make me want to sponsor another child in India.
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