To commemorate Michael's birthday on August 29th, fans from all around the world are making a donation to a charity in honour of Michael. Fans nominate their favourite charities and of these, three finalists will be chosen. Everyone then takes a vote and donate to the charity with the most votes. Click on Previous Posts on the right to see what we have done in past years.

29 July 2011

How to Donate

If you just came in, MJ fans around the world are coming together to send a gift to a children’s charity in honour of Michael on his birthday. We took a vote earlier and the chosen charity is Orphan’s Lifeline of Hope International.

Orphan’s Lifeline supports 20,000 orphaned and abandoned children in Russia, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Kenya, Philippines, Mexico and Haiti (see pics). They are also just starting to work in Sri Lanka. They provide orphanages with food, clean water, clothing, medical care, educational fees and supplies, and much more.

Before they started working with the orphanages that they now help, the children were leaving the orphanages at the ages of 15-17 and ending up back on the streets where they became involved in crime, prostitution or gang activities. Many died within a couple of years due to starvation or because they had been murdered. Now the children in their homes are finishing high school and going on to college or trade school, and the circle of abandonment and poverty is being ended in their lives. Some of the children they began helping more than 10 years ago are now studying to become doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers and government workers.

Orphans in India putting on a performance in their new clothes
The charity has kindly created a special page for us to donate at. Your donation for Michael’s birthday must go through this page so that it can be added to the total for this project. (Please do not donate from the main page because their regular donation form does not have a space to specify “In Memory Of”.)

How to donate:

1. Go to Choose your donation method at the bottom of the page.

2. If you choose Credit Card or E-Check, you will be redirected to a secure donation page. Enter your information in the form. Please note that the donation amount should be in US dollars. If you wish to remain anonymous or use another name on the card to be sent to Michael’s children, for example, the name of your group ("Susie and friends"), organisation or company, or family ("the Jones family"), please specify so in the Comments box.

3. When you are done, click Submit. Very important: Please note that this is the final submit button. There is no confirmation page after this, so please look over the information that you have entered and make sure everything is correct. After you click Submit, you will get this thank you message:

If you cannot or don’t want to donate online, you can donate by mail. You can send a cheque or money order, or charge the amount to your credit card. Choose “Mail My Donation” (3rd button) or “Money Order” (4th button) from the main page and you will be taken to the page below. Fill in your information and mail this form along with your cheque or money order to the address at the top of the page. (Cheques and money orders are not recommended for those living outside the US as the fees will be rather high.)

Donate by mail

Alternately, you can use Paypal. Please note that accounts using a currency other than US Dollars will be charged a small fee in addition to Paypal’s regular fees. Click on “Paypal” (5th button) on the main page, and you will be redirected to Paypal’s secure payment site.

After your transaction is complete, Paypal will email you a record of your transaction.

For those who sent in your donations online, after your donation has been processed, the charity will send you a receipt at the email address you provided.

If you are a US resident, your donation is tax-deductible. Please keep your receipt in a safe place.

That’s it!

This year, we also have a special treat for everyone. Artist Eliza Lo has generously donated a beautiful piece of MJ art for our project:

Eliza has a whole bunch of beautiful Michael drawings and she is now compiling them into a book and having it published later this year. The proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to help underprivileged children.

Anyone who donates US$25 or more will be automatically entered into a lucky draw to win a print of this beautiful drawing. The winner will be randomly chosen by computer and announced at the end of the donation period.

The charity will give us an update of the total received at the end of every week. We will post updates here and on Facebook and Twitter, so if you are a member at either site, please come join our group!

The donation period ends August 29th, so let’s start giving! Please invite your friends and family members to join you, and spread the word to other MJ fans at forums or fan groups that you hang out at.

After our charity drive is over, Orphan’s Lifeline will send a card to Prince, Paris and Blanket to inform them of our gift for Michael’s birthday. The nice people at the charity are working on making a personalised card for us right now.

Please donate generously. Make a difference for orphans around the world!

Happiness is making others smile :)

Update: Someone asked why Orphan’s Lifeline only has a 3-star rating (out of a possible 4) by Charity Navigator. This is the reply from their admin:

“Charity Navigator now has us listed as a 3-star charity. They are implementing new changes to their site, and the new version will most likely restore our 4-star rating.

As for reasons for the 3-star rating, if you look at our finances, we received four stars for our financial disbursement, but 3 stars for capacity. We used to employ a guy to go to every country to check up on all the homes. As you can imagine, that was quite expensive since he was from the US. After ten years of doing what we did, we decided that we have built great relationships with the directors in each country, so we hired childcare coordinators in place of one man. Because of standards of living, it reduced our costs significantly. We can employ five additional coordinators for half of the price of one man from the US!

Anyways, when doing so, it lowered our program expense growth, which according to Charity Navigator, must be no less that 6.7%. We grew like 4.7%. So there is a penalty. Secondly, they wish for you to have at least 1 year’s worth of additional operating expenses on hand, which means that they would like us to basically not spend a dime and put away 1.6 million dollars, which when you are responsible for providing food for 20,000 orphans, is really not possible. So we got docked a star until September, when they issue updated ratings under the new system. The way we spend our money is up to their standards, but they also feel they should be able to set standards on how much we grow, which is not in our control, but in the control of generous people like you.”

You can also find Orphan’s Lifeline listed in the IRS’s registry of charities under their original name, "Life Line of Hope A Non-Profit". See also their IRS determination letter (PDF).

25 July 2011

The fans have spoken!

Here are the results of your vote:

(You can see the results page here.)

The chosen charity is Orphan's Lifeline of Hope International.

We will post instructions soon. In the meantime, save up your money!

10 July 2011

Vote for your favourite charity!

Ok, we have narrowed it down to three charities. Phew, that was really tough! All the charities fulfilled these criteria:

• It is a cause that Michael was passionate about.
• It benefits people around the world.
• It is reputable and uses donations efficiently.
• It is not too large.
• They are able to accept online donations from all over the world.

Here are the three shortlisted charities (in alphabetical order). All of them are based in the US but operate internationally.

Amazon Conservation Association

The Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) comprises of a group of experienced tropical ecologists and conservationists who are working to conserve the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest. Road construction, logging and large-scale land clearing for agriculture are endangering the health of the rainforest.

The ACA works in the headwaters of the Amazon basin, where the Amazon forest meets the Andes range in southeastern Peru and northern Bolivia (see map). This area has long been recognised as one of the most biologically rich regions on earth - home to 10-15% of all the bird and butterfly species in the world. Here, the Amazon wilderness is still largely intact and extends for thousands of miles without interruption, providing habitat to jaguars, tapirs, giant river otters and many other species facing extinction elsewhere. Protecting the slopes of the eastern Andes provides a safe haven for rare species in times of rapid climate change.

However, pressure to log and to colonise this region grows daily. The protected areas are weak and, in some cases, exist only on paper. Highways in the Amazon typically lead to widespread deforestation, rampant burning, illegal logging and waves of immigration. Large areas of state-owned habitats remain without protected status and face an uncertain future.

The effects of mining in the rainforest (See the man in white?)

See more pictures of threats to the Amazon.

The ACA aims to protect the forest by saving habitats and rare species. To do this, they study the ecosystems by establishing research stations, provide scholarships to university students for conservation studies, develop conservation programmes to protect the land, replant forests, train local people to manage and support their forests, and help local communities to find alternative sustainable livelihoods. The ACA works with local partner organisations to implement their programmes.

Reforestation project in Sunchubamba, Peru

Schoolchildren on a field trip to the Los Amigos Biological Station (research centre)
learning about Brazil nuts harvested from the surrounding forest

Read more about their programmes in Peru and Bolivia. (The links on the left have very good information.)

What have we done to the world?
Look what we
ve done...
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth, the weeping shores?
What about nature
s worth?
It’s our planet
s womb
What about forest trails?
Burnt despite our pleas....

- Michael Jackson, ‘Earth Song’

Go to the Amazon Conservation Association's website.
See their annual report (2009).
See their charity rating. (See also How does Charity Navigator rate charities?)

MyCharity: Water

Charity Water aims to provide clean drinking water for everyone on the planet. Right now, 1 billion people in this world have no access to safe, clean drinking water. Unsanitary water is the main cause of many preventable diseases in poor countries. Charity Water works with local partner charities to provide technology for clean water like hand-dug wells, drilled wells, rehabilitations (repairing broken or abandoned projects), spring protection, rainwater catchments and BioSand filters.

Together, they operate in 19 countries around the world: In the Americas - Haiti, Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras. In Asia - Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Nepal. In Africa - Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. Countries were chosen which had limited access to a safe water, high rates of water-related deaths and which had good local partners to carry out the projects.

Rainwater project in Haiti

Drilling a well in Ethiopia

100% of your donation goes directly towards water projects - to purchase materials, build the projects and train the locals to maintain them. (A group of private donors have covered the administrative costs. The credit card fee from your donation is also sponsored, so 100% of your donation goes to people in need.) One water project costs about US$5,000 and can serve a community of 250 people.

Check out their blog for the latest happenings.

Biosand filter in Cambodia

If we collect US$5,000, we can sponsor a water project of our own. Each project takes approximately 18 months to complete. When it is completed, you can look it up on Google Maps. You will also receive a completion report.

“[Michael] used to say to me, ‘I know I can’t heal the whole world, Mother, but I can at least make a start.’ ”

- Katherine Jackson

Go to the MyCharity: Water website.
See their financial history (2006-2010).

Orphan’s Lifeline of Hope International

Orphan’s Lifeline of Hope’s first aim is to provide orphan children with what they need most - shelter, adequate food, medical care, love and nurturing. After the children's basic needs are met, they are then given a good primary education, as well as access to counseling and mentoring. Wherever possible, the children are also taught agriculture, animal husbandry, sewing, baking, woodworking and metal working to equip them with additional skills to make the home and community more self-sufficient. When they are older, the children then proceed to higher education, vocational training or enter the workforce based on their individual abilities and achievements.

In this safe and nurturing environment, the children have an opportunity to grow up to become productive members of society. Their communities also benefit - there are fewer orphan children on the street, there is less crime, the community is involved in caring for its own and the orphanage provides employment opportunities for the locals. Lower crime, better economies and healthy young adults contributing rather than detracting from the world society means that the programs are literally changing the world, one child at a time.

(Read more about what this orphanage does.)

Orphans in India now get a decent education instead of living on the streets

Children in Russia tending to the farm at their orphanage

Orphan's Lifeline supports orphanages in several of the poorest countries in the world: Haiti, Mexico, Russia, the Phillippines, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Uganda.

Bright smiles and full tummies in Pakistan

Click here to see photos of all the homes and how your money will be spent. Check out their blog to read stories of what goes on in these orphanages.

Michael giving presents to children at a school for the blind in Thailand, 1996

“[Michael] had the biggest heart of anybody and really really did care about improving the human condition, especially for children, and that was part of his mission. While he was on tour, he always wanted to know what he could do in each place, so that when he left, he left a place better, having been there.”

- Kenny Ortega, director of ‘This Is It’

Go to the Orphan's Lifeline of Hope website.
See their financial history and charity rating. (See also: How does Charity Navigator rate charities?)

These are three chosen charities. Which one would you most like to donate to, in Michael's memory for his birthday?

Please cast your votes now. (Only one vote per person, please.) Your collective votes will determine which charity we all donate to in August. Voting ends July 25, 2011.

Meanwhile, save up your money and bookmark or follow us (links at top right). Don't forget to check back at the end of the month and donate!

Cast your vote and share this with your friends!

Which charity would you most like to contribute to?
Amazon Conservation Association
MyCharity: Water
Orphan’s Lifeline of Hope

2 July 2011

Thank you for your suggestions

Thank you everyone, for your wonderful ideas. We'll have to stop taking suggestions now, otherwise we'd never get a move on! Here's a list of all the charities that are up for consideration:

2300 Make A Pact

Aids in Africa (SOS Children)

Amazon Conservation Association

Book Aid International

Cambodian Children’s Fund

Center for Great Apes

Cuore d'Africa (Heart of Africa)

Heal The World For Children

Orphan’s Lifeline

Make-A-Wish Foundation

MyCharity: Water

Peace Winds America

Rays of Sunshine

Wylie Draper Foundation

We will narrow it down to three, then everyone can take a vote on your favourite charity!