Ain't the web great? Take a look at Poverty Ticker.
Actually, before you go, let me describe it to you: It's a single-page website that keeps track of how many people are dying of poverty, in real time. Yes, it's a large number that ticks upward as you watch, at a rate of about one every two seconds. As the number changes, so do stark, black-and-white photos of Africans.
That's it. You can't do anything about it. Just sit there and feel sick to your stomach. There's no call to action. No indication of whose message this is. Oh -- you can download your very own Poverty Ticker or screen saver. I guess that way you can feel terrible about poverty deaths without the added guilt about using up bandwidth.
The facts about poverty are truly a nightmare. And some guilt is probably in order for those of us in the prosperous parts of the world. But really -- what's the point of a poverty-death ticker? Where does it take us?
I smell a Stupid Nonprofit Trick. Somebody figures if we can just disseminate enough guilt, donations will pour in.
Guilt is motivator for charitable giving, but not a very good one. Most donors give out of hope. They see the bad situation, they see an opportunity to make things better, and they give.
If you want that poverty ticker to slow down, give more people more reasons to join the fight against poverty. Just telling them how bad we're losing won't get us there.