An Interview with Dan Berger

An Interview with Dan Berger

11/30/17

We sat down with one of our super advocates to learn more about why he’s so committed to CARE, and why he sees advocacy as a critical component of our mission to end global poverty and achieve social justice for the world’s most vulnerable communities. Here’s what he had to say. 

Q: Dan, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in CARE.

A: I first got exposed to CARE around 2008. I was working for JP Morgan Chase at the time, and there was a big humanitarian crisis that year. JP sent an email out to all its employees saying, we really recommend that all of our employees support this effort for relief. Our employees have the means, so we’re going to match up to, I think it was $2 million in donations, to two specific organizations that we’ve selected and that we think are the best options for delivering relief aid in the most efficient and effective manner. It was the Red Cross and CARE. Obviously, I’d heard about Red Cross but CARE was actually new to me at the time. I looked them up and thought, “This is the greatest organization ever.” I kind of got lucky that it just happened to be the case that I was right.

And over several years it grew and grew into a more and more important part of my life, and eventually, singly, the most defining part of my life of, I really just want to orient myself towards that. And as I continually say nowadays, I’ve decided that CARE is the vehicle through which I will perform my life’s work. It’s been proven again and again that it’s the work that goes the longest way, it’s the people that need it the most. It’s the way that I want to see it done, where it’s at the community level on the community’s terms and we can contour towards those local needs. And in so many different ways, it’s just the most important thing for me.

Q: That’s great Dan. But there are a lot of great causes out there, so why did this one speak to you?

A: If I’m going to donate my time, talent, treasure to any specific cause, it should be the most effective, longest impact, the people that need it the most. And so it’s somewhat of a natural conclusion that you reach where, there’s a lot of stuff going on in my own back yard. And it’s not to say I don’t do anything to support those efforts. But when we really look at the state of the world and where are there the communities and populations that are in the most need, that have the largest upswing in potential to where they could be, and you look at the developing world, you look at what is truly abject poverty. You look at what are replicable solutions and a known set of solutions that can bring people out from some of the most dire circumstances in our world to 100% self-sustaining independent and empowered. And so when I’m simply looking, and now I’m going back to the non-romantic version, just for the most bang for your buck, if you’re going to donate a dollar, where you want it to go. I see it in these programs and I see it in this focus in developing nations where you can get the most efficacy from what you deploy there.

Q: What you’ve just said is very sophisticated and a very pragmatic approach to the world. But a lot of people don’t see that broadly. Why do you think it grabbed you?

A: I’ve seen programs and non-profits in the United States that deliver really meaningful work, but there’s a lot of overhead involved in that. There’s a lot of different things that go into that, where $1,000 here is just different than $1,000 there and being drawn to the ability to, speaking in terms of transformation, really transform someone’s life with not the same level of investment you would need to do that here in the US. So that draws me to it.

Q: Why invest in advocacy?

A: If I want to be able to support this in a meaningful way beyond what comes out of my wallet, and there’s a limit to that and there’s a limit to what my friends, colleagues, coworkers are able to do from that perspective, advocacy is the on the ground work to supporting this and supporting that mission. It’s not going to happen without the U.S.’s support, and it needs to be multi-lateral, multi-institutional, and as a global leader, how do we expect to stay on the same trajectory of halving global poverty every 15-20 years if the US isn’t a player there? So being able to mobilize communities, provide a unified voice that this is important,

Q: What would you say to other donors about why they should invest in CARE or invest in Advocacy specifically?

A: Investing in advocacy, I think that it’s a newer concept that is gaining traction, not just within CARE but in other organizations and the power and the impact that advocacy can have really complements the actual programming that’s done directly in the field. In this current political climate, there’s a lot of disagreement, there’s a lot of division, and being able to support something that really cuts across that and is really bipartisan in nature -- we don’t see enough of that today. Supporting the direct programming work as well as advocacy increases our impact exponentially. To be successful in a long-term, meaningful way, you can’t have one without the other.

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