Saturday, September 19, 2015

Why are people afraid to donate even one dollar?

I have been running charities since 1989 when I registered by my first non-profit in Australia, called Hare Krishna Food for Life Hunter Valley. Back then I was a monk and while full of enthusiasm, I had much to learn when it came to donor relations. You can't just expect people to give without asking them and most people will if you ask them the right way at the right time. However, something odd has been happening over the last 10 years that has tremendously impacted the non-profit sector -- donor fatigue. Interest in supporting poverty, hunger and animal welfare have significantly declined over the last decade according to Google Trends.

Maybe it's because there are so many good causes in need these days, and many people find it hard to choose what one is better than the other. Added to this avalanche of good causes you also have an unstable US dollar, an estimated 48 million US citizens on food stamps, an increase in military activity with talk of marshal law, it is no wonder that people are shy to hand over their hard-earned dollars. They have other things on their minds, closer to home.

The gap in income between rich and poor is greater in the United States than in any other developed country. Starting in the 1980s rates have consistently exceeded those of other wealthy nations. Half of the U.S. population lives in poverty or is low-income, according to U.S. census data. According to a survey by the Associated Press, four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives.

I can fully empathize with this. With pessimism soaring off the charts, and money so scarce, many people are probably wondering what good will their small donation do in the long run? "I mean $1 is nothing, right?" Well, when it comes to countries like Colombia, where the peso is currently around 1/3300 the value of the US dollar, and some 30% of the population earn the equivalent of less than $2 a day, even small donations, like $1 can do an amazing amount of good.

 However, pride is a funny and thing and when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns where donors and their donation amount are prominently advertized on the site, some people just feel uncomfortable with making such a small donation, and so rather than giving $1, they don't give at all, but politely decline by saying they can't afford to give at this time. But honestly, what average person can't afford to donate $1?

 Nearly half the world's population, 2.8 billion people, survive on less than $2 a day. About 20 percent of the world's population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than $1 a day. Nearly 1 billion people are illiterate and 1 billion do not have safe water.

 In terms of Food for Life Global's spending efficiency, a $1 donation could potentially serve 5 to 7 hot vegan meals in India! Yes, on average, most meals served by Food for Life Global's affiliate, Food for Life Annamrita cost around 13 cents each. That apparently insignificant $1 can do a hell of a lot of good.

 My wife's charity, Juliana's Animal Sanctuary, located in Colombia, currently has a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $25,000. The campaign page has been shared over 700 times and articles by (over 1,500 shares), EcoRazzi (60 shares), The Dodo (9,883 shares), and two articles (article 1 and article 2) by One Green Planet (totally 4,300 shares), plus numerous Facebook posts reaching thousands of impressions, would indicate that over 100,000 eyeballs have seen the campaign appeal and video. And yet, only 157 people (as of September 21) have decided to donate.

 If everyone that has seen the campaign page, or read one of the articles, or liked one of the posts on her Facebook page had donated just $1 each, the campaign could have potentially raised $50,000 dollars, doubling the campaign goal!

 So my conclusion is that the reason for people not donating is not that they don't care, or even the usual "donor fatigue," but simply embarrassment and a gross miscalculation of the value of a $1 donation. I hope by now, however, you understand that this is just not true. $1 does a lot of good. So the next time someone approaches you for change, or a charity asks you to contribute something to their campaign, just do it. Give that one dollar and I assure you it will help tremendously.

To support Food for Life Global's vegan food relief visit
To support animal rescue and animal welfare in Colombia, visit

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Let's cut to the chase on why there is Animal Abuse

Today I was asked by an 11th-grade student the following:

I am currently taking part in doing the Research Project for my school and would like to know if you would be interested in answering the following questions for my research. It is based on animal rights and my question is "should it be illegal to use animals in sports and entertainment". There are only 5 questions you will need to answer;

  • what animals are used in sports/ entertainment?
  • why do people use animals in sports/ entertainment?
  • how does it affect the animal?
  • are there any laws in place to stop it?
  • why is it acceptable to use animals in sports/ entertainment in one country but not the other? ie. Bali and their cockfights
Rather than answering her questions one by one, I thought I'd just cut to the chase...

Here is my answer:

The bottom line for why this is wrong is that all animals are sentient beings, with feelings, emotions, family bonds, and social rules and to ignore that and to use them against their will is plain wrong. Animals, like you are I, have consciousness and consciousness is a symptom of the presence of a soul. Science has never been able to identify the origin of consciousness because it is not measurable, but only experiential.

The problem today is that modern society has become so enslaved to the scientific paradigm, ignoring common sense and the teachings of great spiritual teachers. It is a flawed approach to understanding the world around us because our material senses are limited and there is much that our senses cannot perceive. For example, did you know that we can only perceive with our eyes, 1% of the entire electromagnetic spectrum? That 1% percent is visible light. A bee, on the other hand, can see more of this spectrum and so its perception of colour is more dynamic. Similarly, a wolf has over 2 million receptors in its nose and can smell things at a great distance, and an eagle can spot a rabbit from many miles away. So in numerous ways, the animal kingdom is superior to humans in understanding the world around us, and yet humans obnoxiously declare they are superior!

There needs to be a shift in the approach to understanding why humans behave so rudely with other species, and I believe it is because they have lost touch with their spirituality -- the core of their being. We are not these bodies but are souls with a temporary body. Rather than seeing someone as a horse or elephant, we need to start seeing them as a soul that happens to have a horse or elephant's body for the time being. We are all spiritually equal; all energetically equal and until we get that, there will never be peace and happiness in this world for all beings.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Keep cursive writing alive and here is why

I've always been a fan of cursive writing and at age 18 I took a course in caligraphy. I was the youngest person in the class at the time, so even back then, 1981 the art form was dying out and becoming uncool for teenagers.

With the ushering in of the computer age and the Internet, caligraphy, penmanship and cursive writing are practically extinct. Most schools don't even teach it anymore. I wonder why?

The controlling powers of this world that simply want a submissive and dumbed-down human race may actually have something to do with this. Common Core requirements in the United States do not mention cursive handwriting after 1st grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.

“Cursive should be allowed to die. In fact, it’s already dying, despite having been taught for decades,” said Morgan Polikoff, assistant professor of education at The Univeristy of Southern California.

However, according to Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Coll├Ęge de France in Paris, “When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated." “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain." A 2012 study led by Karin James, a psychologist at Indiana University, lent support to that view.

Karin James, a psychologist at Indiana University, used a scanner to see how handwriting affected activity in children’s brains.

Psychology Today States:

"Research highlights the hand's unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Virginia Berninger, a professor at the University of Washington, reported her study of children in grades two, four and six that revealed they wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard.

"There is a whole field of research known as “haptics,” which includes the interactions of touch, hand movements, and brain function. Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity. School systems, driven by ill-informed ideologues and federal mandate, are becoming obsessed with testing knowledge at the expense of training kids to develop better capacity for acquiring knowledge.

"There is a spill-over benefit for thinking skills used in reading and writing. To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers. You have to pay attention and think about what and how you are doing it. You have to practice. Brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding."

Watch this amazing video on the penmanship of Jake Weimann

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Perla the piglet was thrown in the trash bin and left to die

Perla was found in a trash bin and brought to Juliana's Animal Sanctuary in Colombia. She had a broken leg, but with a little love and care, she is recovering and has been given a second chance.

To support the work of Juliana's Animal Sanctuary, visit:

Or support our new crowdfunding campaign at

Pola the freedom-fighting pig gets a 2nd Chance at Juliana's Animal Sanctuary

Pola, the "freedom-fighting pig" is the newest member of Juliana's Animal Sanctuary -- the only sanctuary in Colombia.

For the last 8 years, Pola was living in utter filth, amongst 180 uncaged hungry dogs who constantly harassed her and sometimes tried to tear pieces of flesh from her body. Sadly, they did eat her tail off and parts of her vulva! Pola had no clean soil or grass to play on, but lived amongst garbage and dog feces and was only being fed cheap dog food (that contained pork!).

But she never gave up hope that one day she would be rescued from this hell and be loved.

When I found her I cried in pain. Her so-called "caretakers" told me that if I didn't take her she would be killed. It took me 4 attempts to get her to our sanctuary, including hiring a truck for 4 consecutive days, as well as 13 men, and then building her a new enclosure and home on our farm. But we finally did it and amazingly it was on Colombia's Independence Day, July 20th! And that is why we named her Pola - in honor of "La Pola" the Colombian teenage freedom-fighter.

Pola now joins Balaram, the "gentle giant" and his friends at our sanctuary.