How many times have you heard someone challenge the belief that one person can’t make a difference? Whether the intent is to bring about positive change — or not — the impact of one, backed with the influence of social media, carries an unprecedented power. So the question isn’t whether or not one person can make a difference, rather it’s about the message you want to promote.
For Dr. Ambuj Jain, the desire to change a part of the world for the better started with a simple question: What can I do to help bring an end to the world’s hunger? His solution confirms that not only can we be a vehicle for change, we can pioneer new ways of achieving it.
I sat down with Dr. Jain, the founder of the Feed a Billion organization, to learn how it came about and to talk about the innovative ways FAB is building awareness and enabling people to participate.
Amy Cook: We often hear stories of people who found inspiration as a result of a major shift in their life. Was that your experience?
Dr. Ambuj Jain: Yes, my experience was very similar. After the company I worked for was sold in 2013, my wife Audrey and I decided that instead of getting another job or doing something right away, she and I would use the time to travel and learn. So in 2014 she quit her job as a school principal and we both joined Tony Robbins’ Platinum Partnership program.
AC: Tony Robbins has quite a dynamic presence. What was your first impression of him?
AJ: We had been to a couple of Tony’s events and his approach and message really resonated with us. His platinum partnership program was something that appealed to us because it consisted of people from around the world who were knowledge seekers like us. We traveled all over the world attending many different events in 2014–2015 and formed deep personal relationships with other platinum partners. We learned a lot about ourselves, business, money management, relationships, and health. After doing a Ph.D. many years ago, I had stopped being a student and taking notes. I became a student again and filled hundreds of pages of notes.
AC: What was it about Tony Robbins that made you feel he was a good partner for your Feed a Billion efforts?
AJ: During our time together, I saw how loving and passionate Tony is about helping people. We experienced his love first hand. We learned about his extremely poor upbringing and how that fueled a passion in him to feed the hungry. I learned through his experience what it means to receive food from a stranger. He explained that it made him feel relevant, and he felt that someone cared. His teachings and passion inspired me to deliver food and give generously. He helped us see that the purpose of living is giving.
AC: Where did the idea to create Feed a Billion come from?
AJ: As we attended more events, our desire to do something and help became even stronger. At one such event in 2014, I had a vision that in 2020 we would be celebrating the distribution of a billion meals. It was such a daunting goal that I froze and didn’t do anything about it until 2016! And even then it only happened because Tony encouraged me to share the vision at an event, offered to match 400 million meals as if it was nothing, and our family of platinum partners stepped up to help.
AC: Since its launch in May 2016, Feed a Billion has provided almost two million meals to the world’s hungry, followed by a commitment for an additional three million meals in the next few months. What key factors do you think attributed to such a quick response?
AJ: For many philanthropic efforts, the challenge remains building awareness and generating funds to a level that can make an impact, and that process continues for many organizations. Often that requires a big budget and manpower to keep it moving forward. But for Feed a Billion, we wanted to create a campaign that makes it easy for people and companies to share our message and to donate. For us, that platform is social media. By recruiting social media influencers to share our message with their followers, we are building awareness and a strong supportive base. Also, we partner with startup businesses, who support our cause and want to encourage their customer base to participate.
For example, during our beta testing phase we worked with the company LiveBearded.com during their 30-day “Movember” (No-shave November) campaign. That campaign enabled co-founders Spencer Bryce and Anthony Mink to donate 55,000 meals for FAB. Then, through the corporate sponsor matching commitment from Tony Robbins, 110,000 meals were shared with the world’s hungry.
AC: What impact did that campaign have on their business?
AJ: It was tremendous. LiveBearded.com saw a 121 percent increase in sales. We are so grateful to them for their willingness to work with us during our beginning stages. Being able to leverage existing resources, partnerships, and by using the power of matching sponsors, we have been able to bring the cost of contributed meals down to 10 cents apiece. This means, every participant’s donation matters and can make a difference. There are currently 785 million people in the world who lack access to enough food to support a healthy life. And 42 million are within the US. We want to make a significant impact on this problem.
AC: With the onset of a rather tumultuous political climate regarding immigration policies worldwide, do you have any concerns about your ability to get needed funds and resources to other countries?
AJ: Ensuring that resources are going to those in need is always a concern for us and other charitable organizations. This is why we wanted to pioneer new and more effective ways for all of us to maximize our ability to achieve our philanthropic goals. For FAB, organizations are already in place in countries currently in need, countries that have the infrastructure to provide meals. This helps us make sure our efforts are being shared with the targeted population, and it helps keep overhead costs low.
AC: What have you learned from this experience?
AJ: The last few months have taught me a lot about hunger and the world of non-profits. I have become frustrated, angry, and sad to learn from the United Nations data that every 4 seconds a human being dies from hunger. And most of the ones dying are children. That’s 21,000 human beings dying EVERY DAY. I have also learned that unlike other global crises, world hunger is something we can actually end. The world has enough resources right now TO END HUNGER! It is with this in mind that Feed A Billion was created. To do something about ending world hunger.
By November 2020, Feed a Billion will have provided one billion meals to the world’s hungry. That means, by 2020, two men, with the help of the social media and corporate community will take a bite out of the world’s hungry population. If there was ever a doubt that one person can make a difference, Dr. Ambuj Jain, Tony Robbins, and the Feed a Billion organization is here to prove that, with a vision, a plan, and a belief, anything is possible.
If you would like to donate or share the Feed a Billion message, please visit feedabillion.org for more information.
Originally published at medium.com