A Response to 'Charity is Dead'

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Julia - In response to your post:

You've raised some excellent points about how we view people in need. As our virtual connections increase and we become a more global society, individual groups can no longer afford to isolate themselves from other countries or cultures simply because they have what they need to take care of their own. In addition, the gap between the poor and rich countries (which is a relatively new phenomenon that has emerged only over the last couple of centuries) continues to grow larger and larger.

But increased travel and the exchange of ideas and goods have made us interdependent and more aware of each other. Fortunately, this idea of "other" is slowly disappearing as we learn more about each other, what we have in common as well as what makes us different. With this knowledge is the realization that a child with a debilitating illness in a developing country is suffering just as much as a child with the illness in our country would be. That child's parents have the same fear, love and responsibility that we do.

Knowing that we can help those in need, the question really becomes: how do we put our resources to the best use? One area, as you mention, is corporate social responsibility (CSR). Large organizations are certainly coming to see how CSR can be a win-win scenario for all partners. But we need not rely on business alone to solve complex global problems. Another truth about raising awareness, and funds, for critical social causes is that many organizations thrive because of small gifts (or "sharing" as you call it) of time and money given by a multitude of donors. Think of the enormous success of President Obama's grassroots mobilization. The other is sustainability. As a social enterprise, we are working hard to make our organization and others that follow us in the future sustainable, and to leverage the resources we have and obtain from our stakeholders and sponsors.

I serve as CEO of The Institute for OneWorld Health, a non-profit pharmaceutical company that develops safe, effective, and affordable new medicines for people with infectious diseases in the developing world. We have embarked on a number of different partnerships to raise awareness about neglected diseases in the developing world, develop drugs to treat these diseases, and engage the global community to work together and combine our resources.

Large gifts from a few individuals is not the only way to make a real difference--getting everyone engaged in making the world a healthier place, having more people "share" will get us there faster with benefits to all.

Richard Chin, M.D.
CEO, The Institute for OneWorld Health