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Building Movements that Will Endure: One Donor’s Reflection on Legacy Giving

July 2015

My wife Lee and I started donating to Grassroots because of our amazement that such a small organization was making the right connections to educate, empower and inspire people in a quest for justice. Although we started by learning of your Middle East work, we were eventually drawn to your work in Haiti (having visited there) as well as Central and South America.

So much of US policy around the world, and what we learn of other places through mass media, is focused on corporate interests.  Through Grassroots, we have learned how international aid has often worked against the interests and rights of indigenous peoples.  We have seen abundant evidence of creative and courageous people standing up for their rights, but without international support and advocacy their voices don’t carry very far.

Grassroots International’s model of solidarity and communications offers hope to people fighting for basic rights against entrenched, powerful interests.  If we were in their situation, we would be greatly encouraged just by knowing we were not invisible to the world.

We feel the need to balance our giving: to both support human rights efforts and help alleviate suffering / meet basic needs.  That latter type of giving will always be needed, and can produce immediate, tangible results.  But those solutions are short-term and do nothing to reduce dependency.  Our giving to Grassroots is our contribution to longer-term solutions, bringing greater independence and freedoms to some of the hardest-working people on the planet.

We chose to make a legacy gift to Grassroots International because our lifetimes are short; most of us will not solve problems directly, but some of us can contribute building blocks to movements that we hope will endure.  We would encourage people to leave legacies, thereby giving greater permanence to causes deeply important to them.

Personally, we are trying to live our lives as followers of Jesus, who said that the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And that the second is “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Those contain multiple challenges for us, one of which is to expand our definition of “neighbor.”  Through our giving, we are learning to love our neighbors more.


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