Most people instinctively want to help when they see others in need. But the natural process of charity is inhibited by distance. The poorest of the poor are typically unseen, often around the globe from those most able to help them.
It is possible, though, to bridge that distance with new video technologies, at almost no cost. So the simple idea of Feathers is to do just that.
This is pure charity. Assisted families are vetted by a Feathers employee working together with volunteer stewards. You'll be able to spend 20 minutes in a video session getting to know a little about the family you support. Also, your family might learn about a foreign world — without leaving your home. Both families benefit.
While solving the root causes of poverty is a great idea, and there are many excellent organizations on that mission, the impetus behind Feathers is an acknowledgement that the poor will always be with us and that it is the obligation of those at the other end of the wealth spectrum to help them. Further, we should do it in a manner that is as efficient and effective as possible.
We've chosen to focus on families helping families. Other good organizations emphasize different groups like women and/or children. Follow your passion.
Why the name Feathers? A supported family will send a feather back to the family supporting them. The returning feather represents gratitude and human contact — both important elements of the "natural process of charity" that are often lost in big anonymous bureaucracies.
A second feather from your family will be placed on a board where, over time, a mosaic of feathers will form the wings of an Angel.
A third feather will be placed on a wall inside the home of the assisted family until the assistance ends.
In a "Virtual Meeting," usually on a Friday evening or Sunday evening, the two families are connected by video (think "Skype," or "FaceTime"). There is a symbolic exchange of feathers for the promise of a benefit. Thus it is technically not a handout; the family "earns" the benefit by gathering three feathers.
A Feathers Advocate spends time in a community locating families whose need is the greatest — those who are unable to help themselves, not simply unwilling. Often this will involve a health care issue of some type. We gather information from local governments, health organizations, churches, and the community.
Once the assisted family is identified, a Virtual Meeting is scheduled. If no family has been identified to assist them, Buy-it-Forward companies, Civicom and TeamSpan, will commit to providing the assistance.
The feathers represent two families connected by technology and together form the wings of an angel.
Civicom began this initiative because its founders committed the company to giving at least 5% of profits to charities. This commitment is part of the Buy-it-Forward movement. It is also in keeping with the company's rallying cry: "Proud warriors in the battle against the tyranny of distance." Feathers is about bridging the distance between the rich and the poor.