October 2019: Four lessons learnt in the first four weeks of start-up

Around four weeks ago we launched Write the World notebooks. In that time we’ve raised more than $3,000 for The Life You Can Save to donate to effective charities. In that time I’ve also learnt a heap of things I didn’t expect to. It could almost become a book, but for the moment, here’s just four of them…

Social media is ok: it’s a sign of my age I know, and the fact that I mostly approach social media through a very wary parental lens, but up until the last few months I was pretty negative towards online networking. I knew I would have to embrace it for this project, but I was skeptical. Would I get sucked into a social media vortex never to be seen with (what) sanity (I have) intact again?

Yet, to the contrary, social media has been ace. It has allowed me to connect with people I never would have been able to otherwise, to spread the word, and reach out to people who may be interested in the project. Overwhelmingly, every single interaction I’ve had on social media has been positive and a force for good.

You get it and you’re in: I have been a little overwhelmed by the people – some I knew before the project, most I didn’t – who have said ‘yep, great idea, I’ll support that’. It seems like it’s a project that if you ‘get it’, you’re happy to help. From website development to notebook design, from social media tips to spreading the word, from artist collaboration to photography – the project is benefiting from an extremely generous, virtual village upbringing.

Strings of hope: having said that, there are many people I’ve approached about Write the World – many of them complete long shots – who I haven’t heard back from. And that’s ok. My coach [get one! so good! email me for the contact details of mine!] introduced me to the ‘strings of hope’ theory. I’m pretty sure she had a more official name for it, but ‘strings of hope’ is the way I now think of it…

This may not be the original description of the theory but the way it works for me is this: if you want to get from A (where you are now) to B (your goal for the future), and you only have one way or hope for getting there, well, if that doesn’t pay off, you’re… let’s say… not going to make it.

But if you have many ways of getting to B – many strings of hope that will help you work towards getting you there – if some of them pay off, and some of them don’t, you’re still ok. You’re still on your way.

The power of (more than) one: there is something liberating about running your own project – make a decision and implement it, woohoo, how great is that? But it can also be lonely. And for someone prone to insecurity and decision-making-paralysis, having a cheer squad and sounding board is essential. You know who you are, and thank you.

We have exciting things ahead for Write the World, with further notebook designs and collaborations on the way. Our focus for the moment is on spreading the word and selling as many notebooks as possible over the coming months.

Think of them as the perfect Christmas gift, meaningful, environmentally friendly and – with each $10 notebook providing $10 for charity – making the world just that little bit better.

If you haven’t already checked out the range, you can do so at www.writetheworldnotebooks.org. And here’s to the next four weeks!

July 2019: Launching our love project – Write the World

Earlier this year I had an idea. In the shower. Which is often where the best ideas happen, I reckon.

It was a little niggly idea at first. But it grew and grew, until before I knew it the idea was a project. Which is now happening. The idea in a nutshell: Write the World notebooks, unique notebooks designed to make the world a better place. Our point of difference: 100% of the $10 purchase price of every single Write the World notebook sold goes to The Life You Can Save to direct towards effective charities. That’s right, 100%.

I jokingly call it the love project. It’s such an apt name for it. I love so much about it…

Selfishly, I love that it allows me to use my skills – working with specialists like designers and printers, creating, writing, implementing, organising. Oh yes, I’m an organiser!

I love that it’s increasing my horizons, allowing me to talk to and meet interesting people I wouldn’t have otherwise come across. It’s broadening my own world.

I love that the whole family is engaged in the project, offering ideas and suggestions and ever so patiently listening to my constant updates and latest Write the World thoughts.

I love that the idea has been so positively embraced by every single person I’ve told about it. It’s a project that seems to bring out the best in people.

And I love that The Life You Can Save has agreed to be our project’s donor charity. It means the project is totally aligned to where our family has been putting our effective altruism efforts for the past 24 months.

Our family will be directing our monthly effective altruism donations to Write the World for the next few months. We are funding the design and printing of the first six hundred notebooks ourselves. For an initial outlay of $3,500 – which we would have donated to effective charities anyway over the course of the coming months – we will eventually be able to direct $6,000 in notebook sales to The Life You Can Save. Almost twice what we would have otherwise being able to donate.

Because that is another thing I love about the love project. It has this magical multiplier thing going on. The more we print, the less the notebooks cost. The more we sell, the more we donate. Say, for example, we increase our print quantities in the future – with economies of scale, the notebook production price goes down and for a $5,000 initial investment, we’d see $30,000 donated to The Life You Can Save in notebook sales.

How magic is that?

We will be looking for generous effective altruists to sponsor future design and print runs. We’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in having your donation magically multiplied through the Write the World notebook love project – drop us a line at savinglives@writetheworldnotebooks.org to start a conversation about how we can work together.

The Write the World website will be launching in September 2019. In the meantime, you can follow our journey to launch on Facebook (http://fb.me/writetheworldnotebooks) or Instagram (@write_the_world_notebooks)

June 2019: Support your tribe – SurfAid

Nothing like a bit of an incident when you’re travelling in a remote area to provide a sharp reminder of how lucky we are to have the health care we do in Australia. And how many people in other places are going without that level of medical support and resources.

We recently got back from a ten-day family holiday in Indonesia. Highlights included meeting lovely people, relaxing overlooking gorgeous tropical views, and escaping Melbourne’s freezing winter for a while. As with any travel to less developed countries there was also a healthy dose of guilt involved: environmental damage via our flights, inequality of lifestyles, the ability to pay for activities geared exclusively to tourists.

The one activity our kids had their hearts set on was surfing. We’ve all surfed before, but by no means are anywhere near proficient… as evidenced by our collection of surfing injury stories. The fact that we have surfing injury stories should have been warning in itself, but off we went surfing again nevertheless. Because it’s so much fun!

And as a result of our hedonistic pursuits we have a new surfing injury tale to add to our set. Whoever saw that coming?!

Being injured on a remote third-world island, a good hour or two by boat and road from the nearest hospital, brought home rapidly how lucky we are to have the healthcare we do in Melbourne.

So of course it was top of mind when thinking about where to make this month’s charity donation – it had to go to some sort of effective health care charity, preferably in Indonesia.

It completely tickled my fancy when we found SurfAid. What could be more perfect for this month’s donation, than a tribe of surfers who have banded together to push a wave of support to the health, well being and self reliance of people in isolated regions, including Indonesia?

SurfAid aim to provide very practical support – think materials to build water tanks, water taps and toilets for clean water and sanitation, mosquito nets to avoid malaria, materials for community health posts to support pregnant women, mothers and children, and materials for evacuation roads to help communities escape to safety if another tsunami hits. They are aiming to build the capacity of community members, schoolchildren, community health volunteers and relevant government staff to increase the independence and health status of communities and reduce the risk from natural disasters.

It’s a big thank you to the SurfAid tribe from us for their work in these remote communities. And for now, maybe we’ll just be sticking to dry land for a while.

May 2019: There’s an app for that

I had an idea for an app last week. I needed potatoes for dinner and rather than walk around the shop I was definitely in the market for an app that would let me press a few buttons and potatoes would magically appear out of my iPhone. I’m going to call it ‘Spudmeister’. My other idea for an app is ‘RipenMyAvocadoRightNow’ where you wave your iPhone and the app over the rock hard avocado you have earmarked for lunch and it magically turns ripe and soft. You heard it here first.

One app that is a little closer to reality comes from The Life You Can Save, and is now in beta testing. We trialled it out Sunday night and it’s ace.

We divided our May donation of $891 four ways and all took a turn at the app.

With my share I cured three people of blindness through 15 minute cataract surgery. Talk about seeing the light.

My daughter was next up and she chose to help 600 children avoid malnutrition, the leading cause of intellectual disability and blindness, through provision of micronutrients. She just turned 13 so in the same tech session was allowed to download Instagram. While she was chuffed to assist 600 children, finally getting Insta won out as the highlight of her evening.

My husband was next. He loved the micronutrients option too and was able to help an additional 560 children. The fact that he did it from the comfort of his couch with a glass of red in hand probably helped his feeling of good will.

Our son got home a bit later and took his turn. Having just finished a school assignment on third-world countries’ most pressing health issues, he opted for protecting 150 people from malaria for three to four years through the purchase of 75 bed nets.

So all in all, 1,313 people helped through The Life You Can Save app. It’s a thumbs up on the beta testing from us.

Now to the shops to buy a ripe avocado for dinner…

April 2019: Water, water everywhere…

It seemed only fitting that as our kids have decided the last two months’ charities, it was time for Dave to have a turn. Despite a ridiculous schedule of full time work, volunteer soccer coaching which takes more time than the full time paid work, and a dash of overseas travel sprinkled on top, he managed to find time to research a great charity for April. Over to him to explain…

charity:water gives 100% of donations to clean water projects around the world.

In April it was my task to choose our charity donation for the month. As ever the task was to find a charity that did the most good with our money.

In researching I came across charity:water.  The charity was founded by a New York nightclub promoter Scott Harrison who burned out after a life of drugs and alcohol and decided to do something positive with his life. https://youtu.be/V4E1t2yIZlc (warning – video is ten minutes long so don’t start watching it when you’re rushing out of the house as we did…)

With 663 million people, or one in ten people in the world, without access to clean water, charity:water funds projects across the world to stop people having to drink dirty and polluted water, in turn preventing disease. Having access to clean water allows families to go to school, work and reduces stress on health care systems.

The charity is funded by private donations, with 100% of all public donations going to projects to provide clean water.

To date they’ve funded 38,113 water projects for 9.6 million people across Africa, Southern Asia and South America, and all projects are mapped and registered.

https://www.charitywater.org/our-projects/completed-projects

Like many fortunate people our family take for granted access to clean water at home, so this month the Tapping Family donated A$898.96 to charity:water. The money will help progress the vision of providing clean drinking water to the remaining 653.4 million people around the world who still do not have access to clean water and have to drink dirty unsafe water… putting their health and futures at risk. 

March 2019: For the girls

Our kids both recognised International Women’s Day in March, participating in events at their local high school. Given the decision-making baton for this month’s donation the events were obviously on the mind of my son who researched a suitable charity to fit the theme. Over to him…

This month, the Tapping Family has decided to donate to the Ibba Girls School in South Sudan. We have picked this charity because of the recent IWD celebrations, and for equality in an underprivileged part of the world.

Our donation will feed one girl for two and a bit years, allowing her to study better, and become educated in a country where the amount of literate women as a percentage of the female population is the lowest in the world; just 16%.

We hope that those at the Ibba Girls School have a good year.

February 2019: Zusha!

Every morning as I wave my ‘ducklings’ off to school on their bikes I implore them to be safe on the roads – a fact they reminded me of when my daughter suggested Zusha! as our February charity. In Africa road fatalities and injuries impact twice the number of people as major health endemics like malaria. However this month’s story is not really mine to tell. Again this month, we handed over the decision to the kids and they both researched and came up with some great ideas of where our money could do the most good. This month my daughter takes the reins of our effective altruism efforts…

I chose Zusha! Road Safety Campaign as our monthly donation because I scrolled through The Life You Can Save effective altruism site and it caught my eye with its images. I read the details of the company and I thought it was a really great cause, because this isn’t just a problem in Africa; cars, buses and public transport all over the world are crashing, speeding, and endangering the lives of their passengers. This may be a big issue in Africa but really, even in the most suburban, rich areas there are crashes. For the leading causes for death worldwide, road accidents come in at number ten, above stomach/liver cancer and malaria, and just below tuberculosis and diarrhoeal diseases. Each year, 1.3 million deaths occur from road accidents, meaning this is the leading cause for accidental deaths. Zusha! has reduced road fatalities in Africa by 50% and is inspiring passengers of public transport to ‘zusha’, or ‘speak up/protest’. Therefore I chose Zusha! Road Safety Campaign as our monthly donation because I believe that it is making a large difference to road fatalities in Africa.

When telling us about her idea to donate to Zusha!, my daughter showed us this great video that is part of the awareness campaign the team has put together – watch here.

I love that this campaign puts the onus on the individual to speak up for their own safety. And it’s working.