Effective Activism

You’ve watched POVERTY, INC. Maybe you loved it. Maybe you hated it. Chances are, it challenged you and made you think. Maybe so much you’re now unsure what to do next.

What can I do? What should the average person do?

It’s a question we get at every screening. Our answer: who are you? What are your strengths? What are you passionate about? What is your sphere of influence?

There are no “average” persons, only unique individuals with distinctive talents and vocations. The very way we ask this question reveals our preference for the instant gratification of a convenient singularity that doesn’t exist.

Who you are will dictate what you do next.

A lawyer might provide counsel for Cambodians illegally evicted from their land by their own communist government in bed with a multinational. A telecommunications executive might invest patient capital to expand service to Afghan farmers in need of vital pricing and weather information. A policymaker might push for procurement reform to stem the harmful flood of subsidized agriculture to the developing world. A child sponsorship organization committed to learning as action might do as Compassion International did by screening Poverty, Inc. for its staff, then asking, “Are we doing enough to give power to the parents?”

Learning is action.

One thing to remember: learning is action and thoughtful inquiry is a prerequisite for effective compassion. We've learned a great deal making this documentary and we invite you to join us in our own educational process. Visit our Filmmaker Q&A tab to tap into the conversations we've been having around the world.

Algorithmic Thinking — A Principled Approach

Beware silver bullet syndrome. Integral human development is highly contextual. What works in one place and time may not work in another. 

To borrow wording from author Eric Reis in The Lean Startup, the moral of the story here is “not a collection of individual tactics. It is a principled approach to new product development. The only way to make sense of its recommendations is to understand the underlying principles that make them work.”

A similarly helpful concept can be found in Michael Pollan’s, In Defense of Food.

"I am not interested dictating anyone's menu,” writes Pollan, “but rather developing what I think of as eating algorithms — mental programs that, if you run them when you are shopping for foods or deciding on a meal, will produce a great many different dinners, all of them ‘healthy' in the broadest sense of that word.”

The purpose of this page is to encourage you to develop your own algorithms for promoting human flourishing, whatever field or vocation your are pursuing. The film can help you get started, but it’s important to remember that you own this process, and it is a lifelong project. Like a garden or any organic system, it requires ongoing commitment and care.

Spread awareness online.


[Your thoughts, why the film is important] #PovertyINC #poverty #charity http://www.povertyinc.org/


[Your thoughts, why the film is important] @Poverty, Inc. #PovertyINC. Trailer: https://vimeo.com/109863354. Website: http://www.povertyinc.org/


CC: info@povertyinc.org, screenings@povertyinc.org

Dear [insert name],

I recently had a chance to see an important new film called POVERTY, INC. I highly recommend looking into it. Here's a bullet point overview:

  • Trailer: https://vimeo.com/109863354
  • Synopsis: Fighting poverty is big business. But who profits the most? From TOMs Shoes to international adoptions, from solar panels to U.S. agricultural subsidies, POVERTY, INC. plays the gadfly in the this eye-opening examination of Western interventions in the developing world.
  • About: Premiering at the Austin Film Festival last October, POVERTY, INC. has earned 40 international film festival honors and 12 awards, screening in 16 countries and attracting worldwide distribution.
  • Screenings: the film isn't available on DVD yet but there are many opportunities to organize or attend screenings: http://www.povertyinc.org/screenings/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/povertyinc
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/hashtag/PovertyINC