“Today’s refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian emergency the world has seen since World War II,” says the introduction on the Compassion Collective website. “Just as the Greatest Generation’s response to the holocaust defined them, so will our response define us.”
Five influential self-help authors known for their emphasis on authenticity, bravery and presence, have come together to form the Compassion Collective, self-help’s answer to a supergroup, all to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Brene Brown is best known for her bestselling books “The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly”. A researcher into the nature of shame, her writing on the power of being vulnerable and present has inspired millions around the world and been the subject of TED talks.
Elizabeth Gilbert showed women a whole new way to push the reset button on their lives with her memoir “Eat Pray Love”. She has followed this up with “The Big Magic”.
Glennon Doyle Melton came back from alcoholism and bulimia to become what she calls a “truth-teller”. Her bestselling book “Carry On, Warrior” is a collection of essays on motherhood, faith, and simply showing up for each other.
Cheryl Strayed came to fame for her book “Wild” about a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in the wake of a marriage breakdown. Her raw and unvarnished sharing of the difficulties of the hike and the painful past she parsed out in her mind while hiking has inspired many.
Rob Bell is the author of “Love Wins” and “How to Be Here” and was featured on the 2011 TIME Magazine Top 100 List of most influential people in the world. He founded one of the fastest-growing churches in America before stepping back to pursue his career as a writer and speaker.
The world was galvanized by the searing image of the little boy Aylan Kurdi who, along with his brother and mother, drowned last September off the shores of Greece as his family tried to escape Syria. Suddenly, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria that had been an abstract tragedy hit everyone in the heart. Governments everywhere stepped up and promised to welcome refugees from Syria. Churches and charitable organizations began to rally donations.
But when you’re a bestselling self-help author, you have a lot more reach than many churches. And when five bestselling self-help authors merge their networks, your potential donor pool expands significantly. This combination of networks makes up the Compassion Collective, which rallied donations to humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in the name of love, compassion and recognition of our shared humanity, on a much larger scale than they could have done independently.
Perhaps most powerfully, the Compassion Collective made a point of raising funds through sheer numbers, by setting a maximum donation of $25. Yet it still came up with $1.3 million in a short period of time, which is being used to support beachside rescue efforts, daily meals in refugee camps, warm blankets and clothing, medical care and more.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “Those of us who are warm and dry and safe and well-fed must show up for those who are cold and wet and endangered and hungry. That’s a rule of life. Every ethical and religious and spiritual tradition in the world agrees on that rule.”
The eyes of many have turned away from the crisis in Syria as other news stories have emerged in the past six months. But the suffering continues. And the work funded by the Compassion Collective continues. Its website says, “Join us in a circle of humanity standing shoulder to shoulder, together saying: In a fearful world, I stand with love.”
Pooling networks and donors to a single window for donations is an efficient and effective way to rally donations. Forcing a low maximum donation helps to equalize the playing field for those who wish to participate, and keeps the focus on spreading the word and increasing numbers instead of digging ever more deeply into the pockets of an existing base. Both as a business model and for the work it’s doing in the world, the Compassion Collective is worth celebrating.
We’ll let the last words in this article be those of the Compassion Collective: “Join us in a circle of humanity standing shoulder to shoulder, together saying: In a fearful world, I stand with love.”