How good are good intentions?

Posted in: Blog, by Bridge2Aid Team, on 10th October 2013 | 0 comments

By Mark Topley

In just a couple of weeks an intrepid group of cyclists will start a 600 mile cycle ride from Switzerland to the UK to raise funds for Bridge2Aid.

The group of around 30 cyclists are from Straumann UK, the implant manufacturer, and the route covers the distance from their international HQ in Basel to the UK base in Surrey. The team will be led by the UK Managing Director Steve Booth and he’s going to be joined by Straumann staff and a number of their most loyal customers. The group are also raising money for the Cleft Lip and Palate Association.

It’s a fantastic event and I am so pleased that Straumann UK chose Bridge2Aid to be one of the beneficiary charities.

Events like these are absolutely crucial to organisations like ours – because we live in tough economic times, and the money raised literally makes our work possible.

With more and more charities vying for the same pounds, it’s not always easy to choose who to support, or distinguish who is really doing an effective job. Photos of smiling children in developing countries are easy to obtain, but the lasting impact of the organisation that took the photo isn’t easy to ascertain. All charities have great motivation and good intentions, but there’s rightly been a good deal of criticism lately, and particularly in the USA, because the effectiveness of charities isn’t questioned enough. I’ve blogged on this before – it’s not enough to have good intentions. In a world where there are limited resources, charities have to prove they are making a lasting difference – they have to be both effective and efficient – and have a real, measurable impact.

Having lived and worked in Tanzania for almost 10 years now, I’m particularly proud of what Bridge2Aid has achieved over the past year. We have grown our impact by 30% on very thin resources. We continue to run a very effective and lean organisation, and have a great deal of focussed activity carefully planned and measured on a regular basis. We have an army of well over 200 volunteers who have given their time and resources to travel to East Africa and staff our training programmes. Our model of training contributes directly to support the national Oral Health Plan in Tanzania, and our reputation and results have led to firm invitations from other East African countries. Because we provide the training directly, and are not funding, we eliminate almost all possibilities of corruption. The people we train cannot transfer their skill into another country, and so there is no loss of manpower, and because we provide a means of alleviating pain for the majority of the population who would otherwise be unable to work, there is a direct economic impact of our work.

blog6-1My main motivation though is compassion – to bring an end to untreated dental pain for the millions that have to endure it on a daily basis.

But no matter how important the work, how well money is used, or how effective the model, there needs to be enough funding to make it happen. And events like the Straumann ride this September are vital to making sure there is enough.

So, a huge thank you to Straumann UK and the cycling team. I think it is amazing that those who work at the most technical end of UK dentistry should be raising vital funds to help people in need to access the most basic levels of treatment.

Please donate to the Straumann Cycle Ride here – your support is vital.

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