Updated August 12, 2011Doc Sheldon
Many of us have watched friends or loved ones slowly fade from some obscure illness, or suffer some loss that may have destroyed their life or piece of it. Whether stricken by cancer, a home burned to the ground, or a crushing financial loss, there is one thing that often can make the difference between a sense of defeat and renewed hope.
When friends and family appear at your side, offering whatever help they can, it means a lot. Some of you may have experienced this, many of you have probably offered that support to others. In either case, you already know how much it can mean to someone that’s experiencing total hopelessness.
But for someone in such a state to realize that there are many people out there that care enough to offer their support, even though they’ve never met you and probably never will… the impact is even greater.
Critical Thinking is dedicated to those people that need a shoulder to rest on, and to those that offer their shoulders to others. It’s that sense of humanity that lets us see hope for the future, in spite of despair in the present.
And this book is especially dedicated to the contributors to Critical Thinking, whose desire to share their wisdom and help the needy led them to make time in their already hectic schedules to share their humanity and put their knowledge to work helping others learn.
Critical Thinking was something that I originally thought might take just 20 or 30 pages to fill out… sharing the responses to 15 simple questions from a few dozen industry professionals. I reached out to 44 people, and 34 of them stepped up to the challenge – a better turnout than I had any right to hope for. The book is now approaching 200 pages. Over 500 dynamite responses to pressing questions that are relevant to every site owner and SEO out there.
My idea of focusing a chapter on each of the questions seemed like a decent approach, so I stuck with it. Beyond that and my own commentary, this ebook was pretty much written by the contributors listed above. It was evident early on that Critical Thinking wasn’t really mine to sell.
So I decided to give it away, instead. But with so much value in the pages, it seemed a shame to devalue it… people tend to look upon free as synonymous with little value. The next best option, and the one I settled upon, was to offer it freely to anyone that makes a minimal contribution to a specified charity.
I had no idea what a logistics nightmare it could be, to affiliate a low-key fund drive like this with a charitable organization! I attempted to contact a number of charities, all prominent and known to demonstrate high efficiency ratings. Only a small percentage of them even responded. Until just a couple of days ago, all those that did respond erected major roadblocks to the idea.
It’s an unfortunate truth that all too often, promises of X% to charity aren’t lived up to. I suppose that’s reason enough for a charity to be wary of allowing its name to be used in an external fund drive. As more and more such cases are publicized, donations understandably decline.
Still, I offered total control of the donations, only requesting notification that the minimum donation had been met, and couldn’t even qualify for consideration. One very prominent charity informed me that they weren’t willing to be affiliated with guns, alcohol, pornography or books. I can easily understand the first three. But BOOKS? The association of books with any of the other three seems like quite a stretch to me.
A couple of days ago, though, a friend recommended I check out SmileTrain.org. SmileTrain is dedicated to providing corrective surgery to children and infants suffering from cleft palate. To some, cleft palate may seem like little more than a blemish… something one learns to live with. To those that have more knowledge of the issue, though, it’s much more serious. It creates difficulty in eating and speech, in some cultures prevents availability of public education, and can leave emotional scars lasting an entire lifetime.
Given that the corrective surgery has been successfully practiced for many years, and that the cost is relatively low, no child should have to do without it. Ensuring that it’s made available to as many children as possible is SmileTrain’s focus, and to me, this seemed like an ideal charity to reap whatever benefits this ebook can yield.
Did I mention that SmileTrain.org has an amazingly high efficiency? Their staffing headcount is incredibly low and mostly comprised of volunteers, which allows more of the funds raised to go to the recipients, rather than be bled off in administrative costs.
SmileTrain will allow me to put a donations button here on my site, which will direct users to their secure site, where I’ll be able to erect a customized page for donations tied to the ebook. Exactly what I was asking for (and more) from the other charitable organizations… go figure!
I’ve (rather ambitiously, I’m told) targeted Monday, Aug. 15th as the launch date for Critical Thinking. Hopefully, SmileTrain and I will be able to pull it all together that rapidly.
EDIT: Well, SmileTrain didn’t come through with the necessary information, and I can’t hold this up anymore, so we’re going to just lest people donate to the charity of their choice and share their receipt for a free download. August 23rd is the big day, folks!