Lessons from last year
Last year I wrote about making a reverse Advent calendar, based on giving rather than receiving. In terms of my kids’ enthusiasm, I would call it a measured success, however I still love the idea, and decided to make one this year also. What did I learn from last year?
- Most importantly, the presentation of the gifts was a little dry, being basically fact-sheets about disease prevention, etc., with some very simple illustrations. I was aware of this last year, but accepted it in order to actually get it done. This year, starting from a base, it should be easier to do a little better.
- The causes themselves probably seemed a bit distant from the children’s daily life, contributing to less than top-level engagement. That is an unavoidable problem with the causes I am most inclined to donate to, however, this year I also included tasks involving actually engaging in kind behavior on a more personal level.
Last year, the calendar had a gift only every other day. This year I kept that format for the monetary gifts, but filled in the rest of the days with more personal good deeds.
I wanted to employ the same effective giving strategy as last year, and since GiveWell have not changed their recommendations, that also saved me a lot of work. For further details about which charities to include and how to allocate between them, see last year’s post. The final list this year is as follows:
1. Against Malaria Foundation (AMF)
2. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), END Fund for work on deworming, Sightsavers for work on deworming and Deworm the World Initiative
4. Malaria Consortium for work on seasonal malaria chemoprevention
5. Development Media International produces mass media to promote improved health behaviors in developing countries.
6. Food Fortification Initiative and Project Healthy Children work to reduce micronutrient deficiencies through food fortification programs.
7. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)’s Universal Salt Iodization program and Iodine Global Network (IGN) aid salt iodization programs in developing countries.
8. Living Goods supports a network of community health promoters in sub-Saharan Africa.
9. Helen Keller International (HKI) – Vitamin A Supplementation (VAS) program
10. Red Cross
11. Doctors without borders
12. Amnesty International
I am currently working on making the documents presenting the charities a little more appealing than last year. To the right is how it looked then. Could probably do with some colors and perhaps a few personal stories and small cartoons.
This one was harder, as I had to come up with new items. I found some good ideas online, e.g. here. I tried to find activities that required some personal interaction, were quite easy, and could be a little fun. This is the final list, in no particular order:
- offer your help to 2 people
- leave a positive comment for someone on a mirror/wall/etc.
- ask someone who looks like they might be down if they are ok
- hug 3 people
- compliment a stranger on something
- say merry Christmas to 3 strangers, e.g. shop assistants
- send a postcard to someone
- send a message to a former teacher, etc. about something you appreciated with them
- give a compliment to 3 persons
- give a gift/gift donation or a general donation to the local poor house
- surprise a friend with a small treat
- when playing sports, compliment at least one person on something well done, even if it did not result in a goal, etc.
The final calendar
Below is a picture of how the calendar looked last year. I have not finished this year’s calendar yet, but I wanted to blog about it now in case I could inspire others to do something similar. Let me know if you want tips or some of my material to make a reverse Advent calendar yourself.