Foundation Beyond Belief has reached a major milestone. As of Sunday morning, FBB had raised and distributed more than $1 million in funds to charitable organizations in only its first three and a half years. I’ve only been involved with FBB for a few months, but I want to send a huge congratulations to Dale McGowan, who had the vision of harnessing the resources of the humanist community and using them to improve the human condition and made it a reality. As we said on our website this morning:
“What moves me most about reaching this goal is the way it’s been achieved,” said Dale McGowan, FBB’s founder and executive director. “Our goal was to encourage individual humanists to make compassionate giving a greater part of their humanist identity. And though we’ve had some very generous large donors, most of this million-dollar achievement has happened five and ten and twenty dollars at a time—over a thousand individual humanists giving what they can each month to make the world a better place.”
Here’s what a million dollars can do:
- Support gender equality around the globe
- Create access to safe drinking water in developing countries
- Promote peace and protect the most vulnerable victims of war
- Bring humanist education to schoolchildren in Uganda
- Fund blood cancer research and compassionate patient care
- Provide shelter, food, and medicine in response to disasters in East Africa, Haiti, Japan, and the United States
- Protect fragile ecosystems and endangered species
It would take a million words to thank you, our members and supporters, for coming together and proving that the humanist community is compassionate and actively engaged in improving this life for all people. And this is just the first million. Every month, FBB members donate about $18,000 to our carefully screened beneficiaries and programs—and that number is constantly growing. We’re already well on our way to raising a million more in the name of compassionate humanism. We’re glad you’re along for the ride.
What attracted me to go to work for FBB, even in the very part time capacity that I do as media relations coordinator, were two things. First, because of my enormous respect for Dale. I truly believe that he should be the public face of atheism in this country. His intelligence, eloquence and wit make him perfect for that role. Second, because I have become increasingly convinced over the last year or so that his vision of an active, engaged community of humanists was a necessary next step for this movement.
As much as I enjoy arguing and writing about secular issues, and as important as those things are, they aren’t enough. It’s not enough for us as a community to just talk, we need to act as well. We need to put the humanist principles that we hold into practice through service to others. FBB has become the most important vehicle we have to do that and that’s why I am so pleased and proud to be helping in that effort to whatever small extent I can.
My father, who turned 78 two weeks ago, has been an atheist for more than 60 years. One of the things he taught me through his example was, to paraphrase Arthur Ashe, that service to others is the rent we pay for the space we occupy on this planet. For as long as I can remember, he has said that he wanted to start his own church and call it the Church of We Do Good Things. No dogmas, no doctrines, no supernatural belief, just a community of people that did what they could to help others when they had the opportunity. And it’s an ethos he has lived consistently. There are so many examples I could offer.
When my uncle was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, my dad helped him create the Rainbow House, a halfway house for people living with AIDS who were not yet critically ill but still needed some care. He spent thousands of hours over the next few years, first remodeling the huge house they bought and turning it into apartments, then helping run the resale shop that funded the project (you have no idea how tedious it is to sort and tag literally thousands of bags and boxes full of clothes; I spent more than a few hours there myself). When my best friend got married and was building his first house, my dad spent hundreds of hours working on it with him. Any time anyone in our lives needed help with something, my dad was the first one to step up. Even at his age, he still goes out every Tuesday when he’s home with a group of other retired guys and they install handicapped ramps and guardrails, fix leaky roofs and and do other odd jobs for people in his area that can’t afford to pay someone to do them. He instilled that ethos in me, not because God wanted him to do it but because it’s just the right thing to do.
Dale McGowan is much the same way, only he’s putting that same idea into operation on a global scale. I’m so excited about the Pathfinders project that will launch at the end of this month and the Humanist Service Corps that it will establish. Exciting things are happening. So how can you help? By becoming a member, for as little as $5 a month, every dime of which goes to charity (we have separate funding for the operating costs of the group). By volunteering, either by joining a local organization that works with FBB or forming your own. By liking our Facebook page. And by sharing this meme on social media and helping us spread the word.