Meet the Branson’s

Jeff and Laura Branson inspire me. Laura is a retired nurse and Jeff is a retired property caretaker. Once or twice a year we meet, and they want to hear detailed updates on what is happening in Zambia and Myanmar. They ask a lot of great questions, especially about our female empowerment programs and how they are impacting women and girls in the villages. At the end of EVERY SINGLE MEETING, they say, “Wade, we want to do more. We are raising our monthly giving by x amount.” (Note: I don’t even ask. They tell me what they want to do!) They say these words with resolute smiles on their faces, clearly enjoying that their spending habits are fully aligned with their deepest values.

On a personal level, I can say that they are role models that I want to emulate. Zooming out a bit, I think their unwavering and deepening commitment to eliminating extreme poverty holds lessons for us all. I suspect that everyone who reads this article has the financial capacity to follow the Branson’s example by giving more each year…a little more or a lot more. Because of them, I have decided to do what they do, i.e., raise my monthly giving each year. Julia and I have a pledge that we are fulfilling, but we can still do more. As of today, I commit to doing so.

Beyond that compelling example, their lives show that each of us can make a huge difference. While many philanthropic endeavors rely on millionaires, billionaires, name brand foundations (think Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), government support, etc., Shanta is different. Our work is made possible by a truly diverse coalition of people. A rich tapestry of salesmen, photographers, doctors, baristas, executive coaches, accountants, retirees, dentists, postal workers, and dog groomers, to name just a few. The wealthy and the not so wealthy. People across the political spectrum. All races and spiritual points of view. So, wherever you place yourself among the demographic labels we use to make sense of our diverse world, YOU have a role to play in bringing radical transformation, a true liberation, to families trapped in desperate poverty.

Consider Jeff and Laura… A retired property caretaker whose generosity is allowing us to teach villagers how to care for and regenerate their property (arable land) despite the challenges they are experiencing related to climate change. A retired nurse whose generosity is ensuring that nursing and basic health care is available to men, women and children in SE Asia and Africa. We all have a role to play, and when we move toward generosity, we see the circular nature of life. What I have in my life can bring life to another person, and when they have a meaningful life, my life, and indeed all of our lives, are enriched.