A Charity Extra! Going Above and Beyond

As many of you know, I am raising money and volunteer time for charity by shaving my head. Yes, I’m nervous about it, and yes, I’m definitely going to do it once we get 100 donors. If you’d like to donate, some fantastic charities that I can recommend are:

  • Heifer International: providing livestock and training in poor areas around the world, helping people to lift themselves out of poverty, while requiring them to, in turn, train others and donate some of the animals’ offspring.
  • Kiva: providing no-interest loans to entrepreneurs in impoverished areas, allowing them to lift themselves out of poverty. They repay these loans, and you can then re-loan the balance out to another entrepreneur. You can learn more about them here.
  • Doctors without Borders: also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). They provide aid in over 50 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.
  • Donors Choose: an online charity that allows you to choose what you donate to classrooms in need. Allows both local and remote donations, and you can choose which supplies you want to donate as well.

Some other suggestions can be found at Sciencewoman’s blog, Ethics and Science, and Scicurious. Any charity of your choosing is just fine, of course. If you donate, just leave a comment on my charity challenge page, and tell me where you donated, how much, and why. When we get to 100 (as of this second, we’ve got 32 unique donations), I’ll shave my head. And, of course, I’ll donate the hair to Locks of Love, which anyone can do by ponytailing the clean, dry hair up, cutting it, and mailing it to 234 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33405, USA.

But on the heels of this, two sciencebloggers, Physioprof of DrugMonkey blog and Isis of Isis the Scientist challenged me to do them one better. The challenge? Independent of the head-shaving, they want me to wax my entire chest. That’s right, this chest:

Not only that, but they want it videotaped and uploaded to YouTube. The reward? $1000 to whatever charity I choose. Isis, Physioprof, in addition to my own charity challenge, I accept your challenge, and I choose Kiva as the charitable institution to donate to.

Kiva has everything I look for in a charity. They’re a non-profit, the funds go directly to an individual in need, the individual is responsible and accountable for the money, it gives them an opportunity to not only achieve their own success and self-sufficiency, but they pay it back, allowing you to donate that money over and over again to whatever individual projects resonate with you. They partner with a myriad of developing countries and national/international organizations to fund these people, who are looking for an opportunity — not a handout — to achieve their goals. It’s the kind of charity that everyone, regardless of your politics, can get behind.

So, Isis, Physioprof, and anyone else who chooses to be a part of this, I will find a place that is willing to take on the challenge of waxing my entire front torso and will allow me videotape it, and I will upload the video to YouTube. You will donate $1000, over and over again, as long as the money continues to be repaid. And we will see how many people we can assist by allowing them to help themselves.

Comments

  1. #1 Isis the Scientist
    July 20, 2009

    Good man, Ethan. Good man.

  2. #2 Sili
    July 20, 2009

    I think I still have a ponytail lying around from … 2002. But my hair never looked that good.

    If I were employed, I’d request that CPP join in on the challenge gets his sack waxed – as he suggested elsewhere.

    You’re a brave man, Ethan. I’m just glad I’m nowhere near as hairy as you.

  3. #3 Isabel
    July 20, 2009

    It sounds like it will be really painful, and thus a weird request to put it on youtube.

    I don’t get it. Can’t people just donate the money without watching someone suffer pain?

    To each his own I guess.

  4. #4 MFA Mama
    July 20, 2009

    Here via Isis. I just threw $5 in the chest-waxing fund. Because I’m all about charity is why (who are we kidding, I’m totally making popcorn when that goes up on YouTube).

  5. #5 Ethan Siegel
    July 20, 2009

    If the pain of waxing for a small amount of time can do so much good, and will inspire those people who’ll delight in my mild suffering to help so many others by so much, I’ll do it.

    $1000 goes a long way in a third world country; it’s enough to completely fund anywhere between one and eight projects at a time, depending on what they choose.

    Plus, I’ve been promised that there will be drinks at the end of the tunnel.

  6. #6 D. C. Sessions
    July 20, 2009

    If the pain of waxing for a small amount of time can do so much good, and will inspire those people who’ll delight in my mild suffering to help so many others by so much, I’ll do it.

    Nothing but props to you, Ethan. A mitzvah is a mitzvah.

    It’s the blood-sport aspect of bribing you to do it that bothers me. You could have the money from me as soon as the check won’t bounce, but I’d be paying you to not do the chest wax, because it just gripes me to encourage unnecessary suffering (even if you’re a tough dude) and especially for “entertainment.”

    If I weren’t totally tapped out right now I’d offer to match any and all to stop it. Locks of Love is totally different — the hair is actually doing some (really, a lot more than some) good. But waxing? No. It’s just wrong.

  7. #7 Crux Australis
    July 20, 2009

    Just make sure they oil your nipples. ‘Coz waxing can rip those SoBs right off.

  8. #8 Sam K.
    July 21, 2009

    Since you chose Kiva, I think it’s important to correct your description. Their loans are most certainly not interest-free. In fact, micro-finance loans have very *high* interest, due to the relatively high default rates and small loan size.

  9. #9 Ethan Siegel
    July 21, 2009

    Sam,

    You are completely misinformed about Kiva, since I’ve done my research about them.

    Their loans are interest free. The default rate? Aggregate, across all donations, is under 1.4% thus far. These numbers are available on their site.

    The only bad thing about them is that the recipient pays it back in their own currency. So if you make a loan of $50 to someone in Mexico, let’s say they get 600 pesos at 12:1. They then, over the course of 9 months, pay back 600 pesos. But now the exchange rate is 15:1, so you only get back $40. They fulfilled their end of the bargain, but you — the lender — lose money. That is hardly Kiva’s fault.

  10. #10 Sam L.
    July 21, 2009

    Props & more props. PZ seems to have sent a little extra boost to the Weekend challenge page, as well. Kiva sounds like a great charity, too!

  11. #11 Change
    July 21, 2009

    It’s the blood-sport aspect of bribing you to do it that bothers me. You could have the money from me as soon as the check won’t bounce, but I’d be paying you to not do the chest wax, because it just gripes me to encourage unnecessary suffering (even if you’re a tough dude) and especially for “entertainment.”

    I’m with D.C.Sessions on this one, and I have another suggestion (a modification to the challenge). I know it’s absolutely not my business, but here it is anyway.

    Firstly here’s my contribution.
    €20 to UNICEF … AGAINST chest waxing.

    Maybe you should do the waxing only if the NET amount from all the commenters (including Isis and CPP) is >$1000-charity contributions FOR chest waxing counting both “for” and “against” contributions. (This probably should include a definite time frame, otherwise this challenge could go on forever.)

    Maybe the lords–Isis and CPP–would be willing to budge a little because it’s for a good cause?

  12. #12 Ethan Siegel
    July 21, 2009

    Change, D.C., and Isabel,

    I understand where you’re coming from. Thanks for your support in all of this, and I appreciate that you’re trying to spare me from unnecessary pain.

    But, this was offered to me, and I agreed to it. At the end of the day, I chose it. I suppose that I’m the type of person that — for enough money for a good enough cause — will do anything short of causing myself severe, permanent damage.

  13. #13 D. C. Sessions
    July 21, 2009

    But, this was offered to me, and I agreed to it. At the end of the day, I chose it.

    As above, nothing but props to you.

    It’s the “offer” side, not the “accept” side that squicks me out. Too much like too many really nasty episodes in the species history.

  14. #14 Ethan Siegel
    July 23, 2009

    Re: what Sam K. said,

    Turns out that the interest free is only two out of the three lending levels: you-to-Kiva and Kiva-to-the-partner. The partner to the individual still charges interest. Some of the rates are very low (as low as 3%, I found), but others are relatively high (upwards of 25%).

    Therefore — and I didn’t know this in advance — it’s worth checking out who the microlender is and what their charge is before you make the loan, *if* that’s important to you. If not, it’s still the best hope for these people to get the loan they need, even if they are paying high interest rates to local lenders.

    Check it out at: http://www.kiva.org/about/partners

  15. #15 Dust
    July 26, 2009

    When I boughy my groceries yesterday I included a bag of cat food, not unsuall, except I don’t have a cat. The bag will be donated to my local no-kill animal shelter. Next payday, it will be 10 cans of dog food for the shelter, and then the next payday it will be people food for the local foodbank.

    I call this my “donation cycle” and have completed the cycle 4 times, and am started on the 5th.

    I like keeping charity local.

    Got your razor sharpened yet? :)