Social Promise supports critical health and educational resources serving impoverished Ugandan communities. By promoting awareness, we seek to empower other people and institutions to support these vital humanitarian efforts. Conveying the achievement and promise inherent in these efforts, we hope to inspire a community dedicated to a spirit of altruism.
Sharon McGee Crary, one of our founding directors, had the opportunity to travel to Uganda in 2000, when she worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While there, she was stationed at Lacor Hospital in Gulu to help with diagnosing cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever during a horrible outbreak of the virus that occurred in northern Uganda. In the afternoons, while her lab experiments would run, she spent time with the children at a local orphanage called St. Jude Children’s Home.
During this first visit, Sharon fell in love with the beauty of the land and people of Uganda. The serene beauty and apparent calm, however, contrasted starkly with the desperate needs of people who had been living at the mercy of a rebel group for over twenty years. The atrocities committed by this group were highlighted by advocacy groups such as Invisible Children and Doctors Without Borders, which named northern Uganda as one of the Top 10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories of 2004 with the headline “Intense Grief and Fear in Northern Uganda”.
Through her work with the international team responding to the Ebola outbreak, Sharon came to realize how important it was to people who were dealing with an atrocious situation to know that people around the world had heard of their grief – and cared.
They wanted to know we cared that people lived in fear of violent raids to the extent that children walked miles every night to sleep with thousands of other children in the safe, fenced space within the grounds of Lacor Hospital.
And we cared that the rebel activity had so devastated the economy of the area that people were living in such extreme poverty that on any given day they were as likely to die as to live.
So when she returned to the United States, Sharon recruited her family and friends to support the neediest people in northern Uganda. For the first few years, we were able to support the children at St. Jude Children’s Home without incorporating a formal nonprofit, but we found that to implement all the ideas we have and to give people in the U.S. the maximum flexibility in how they support the people in Uganda, we needed to start our own nonprofit. So we incorporated Social Promise in 2011 and soon thereafter received our approval from the IRS to operate as a charity with 501(c)(3) status.
We know that there are people and places in need all over the world. And we welcome others to help wherever they feel called to do so – because of proximity, through personal connection, or as a result of historical or family ties.
At Social Promise, we have chosen to help the vulnerable people of northern Uganda because we met them, they asked for our help, and we knew we could respond.
We chose to partner only with well established, efficiently functioning charities in Uganda that provide health or educational resources to impoverished communities. We made this choice to maximize the likelihood of making permanent contributions towards alleviating poverty and suffering in the world.
In keeping with our philosophy of supporting Ugandan nonprofits without intervening in ways that create greater dependency, we do our best to ensure that our donations to their operations do not create any additional burdens for our partners. For this reason, we are a relatively unique nonprofit in that we do not require our partners to create a new program to apply for funding from us, but instead we help support the projects they are already doing well with limited funding.
Our partners work closely with us to keep us updated about what programs we have supported. We receive quarterly written reports as well as copies of annual audits by external reviewers. In addition, someone from Social Promise travels to Uganda each year to visit our partner organizations, meet with the directors of these organizations, and see their programs in person.
We pick our partners because we find that they are already doing extraordinary work addressing problems in access to healthcare and education in their communities. We have found that the best way to ensure that they continue to do their essential and effective work is to provide them with supportive funds until the day they are able to find that support through their own economy. By supporting access to healthcare and education, we will hasten the arrival of this day.
• We are small and we can easily track our dollars. We literally know exactly what we fund. We are volunteer only. We do this because of our passion for helping the people we know in Gulu – so you can trust us to be doing what is best to alleviate their poverty and to get them back on the road to stability.
• We are very picky about our partners. We know them very well. For over a decade. We are wary of the history of colonialism in sub-saharan africa and work carefully to avoid propogating it. Our partners are amazing establishments.
• In particular, as a professor I love to study. I spend hours pouring over books and articles about best practices in health care, philanthropy, poverty eradication, etc. We make our decisions carefully. We support projects that work. We care deeply that each dollar donated to help in Gulu does the most it possibly can. We want our donors dollars to go as far as possible – both out of respect for our donors and out of compassion for the desperation of the people we are helping.
• Knowledge; intelligence
• Young board members – trying to help people realize they don’t have to wait to be old to do philanthropy
• Variety of skill sets on board – professor of biochemistry with background in and focus on global health/poverty; 2 grammar school teachers; medical student; graduate student in nutrition; defense attorney; biochemistry graduate student; on-site (in Gulu) volunteer doing photojournalis
• 7 of our 9 board members have traveled to see our partners in action; the 8th has spent considerable time in sub-Saharan africa
• Our educational outreach program
• Our desire to work with young children – to help them learn about philanthropy