Blog Action Day 2008

Today is Blog Action Day, a day for all of us in the blogosphere to give just one post to help bring an important subject to our readers' attention. This year's topic is poverty. Poverty is a worldwide problem, but let's just look for a moment at poverty here in the United States: The poverty threshold used by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007 was $10,590 for a single adult, or $13,540 for a household of two adults with no children. Seriously, I can't even imagine trying to survive on so little income. My husband and I have one child, so for us the poverty threshold for 2007 was $16,869. That wouldn't have even covered our bills for our home -- just the structure -- every month, much less food, transportation, clothing (babies grow fast!) . . . Now think about how in many poverty-stricken countries around the world, earning the amount of money that constitutes the poverty threshold in the U.S. would make a family wealthy beyond belief.

So what can you do to help? If you're my typical reader, you're a bride planning a wedding in affluent Washington, D.C., and in spite of our own dramatic economic downturn here at home, your biggest budgeting concern right now is probably how you're going to afford both the pintucked linens and the Chiavari chairs for all 20 of the guest tables at your reception. And that's okay -- I don't think you should feel guilty for having been blessed with plenty. But I do think it's a good idea to share when you can.

Here's one idea: When I'm working on budgets with my full-planning brides, I always encourage them to set 10% of their budget aside at the beginning of the planning process. We consider it an emergency fund. If we don't use it, then the wedding comes in under budget, which is a good thing. When we do use it, it usually goes for things like the Manolo Blahniks that just came out in exactly the right color, the chair sashes that really would give just that extra "oomph" to the reception, the midnight slider delivery for all those hungry guests who've been shaking their booties for hours -- you get the idea.

What if you follow the same budgeting rule, and give whatever's leftover at the end of your planning process to the charity of your choice? What if you encourage your engaged friends to do the same? What a a great way to be a trendsetter!

We'll even join in the trend with you: For the rest of the year (that's until next year's Blog Action Day in October 2009), Pretty Entertaining is going to give 10% of our fee for each of our weddings to Lutheran World Relief. Why LWR? Well, mostly because since I'm Lutheran, I'm already familiar with the good work they do and with their sterling reputation for sending most of the money they receive on to help the people it's intended to help. Here's a description of what they do, lifted directly from their website:

Lutheran World Relief (LWR) is a non-governmental organization founded in 1945 to respond to the needs of communities devastated by World War II. Since then, it has evolved from a relief agency shipping material resources to war-torn Europe to an agency that works with partners worldwide to respond to emergencies, seek lasting solutions to rural poverty, and work for peace and justice for all. LWR works to promote equity, strengthen organizational capacity, and empower communities to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives, while continually learning to increase our impact. Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, LWR works to reduce poverty and injustice by helping communities increase and expand the resources they need to live productive, healthy and empowered lives.

Really think about it. Find a way to help. There are lots of things you can do. And let us know what you decide to do. If you're not a fan of the 10% idea (and it's okay if you're not), then leave us a comment and let us know how you plan to make a difference. You never know who you'll inspire!