Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why is MckMama in Africa?

Why is MckMama in Africa?

This seems to be the million dollar question right now. MckMama is currently in Africa with a humanitarian organization called GHNI (Global Hope Network International). The organization has a site: According to their website, their mission is to "bring help & hope to the hidden & hurting".

Until MckMama mentioned this organization in a blog post on December 18, 2010 (entitled a $300 giveaway of one of the best Christmas present ideas...ever), I had never heard of GHNI.

In that blog post, MckMama mentioned that she had "discovered one of the best Christmas present ideas, ever ". She goes on to describe "Hope Dollars", which is a type of gift card, available through GHNI. Per MckMama's post (on 12/18/10), "These gift cards are from Global Hope Network International, a non-profit, humanitarian aid organization that brings hope and change to the poorest villages in the world. Instead of giving your secretary a Starbucks gift card or your mom a tin of chocolates, do what I plan to do this Christmas and give these gift cards that can, literally, change the world! The person you give the card to can then use it to pick something out for a family or village in an underdeveloped nation." Then, MckMama promoted a giveaway with GHNI for 3 separate $100 "Hope Dollars" gift cards for her blog readers, as well as a promotion for her blog readers that chose to purchase these gift cards directly from the organization.

This was the first time that we ever heard MckMama mention GHNI, but it certainly would not be the last. On December 22, MckMama announces that she will be returning to Africa. On December 27, we learn that MckMama will be traveling with GHNI and she hosts a live chat in her Blog Frog Community to answer questions about this trip. Many questions were asked, but there are still so very many that have not yet been answered.

Since December 27, many individuals have tried to learn as much as possible about GHNI, but there really is very little information out there.

Global Hope Network International is not listed on the Charity Navigator website or Charity Watch website In contrast, Compassion International (MckMama traveled with this organization last year on her trip to Africa) is registered with both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch.

The GHNI headquarters is in Orlando, FL and the organization is not a BBB accredited business The BBB information indicates that the organization was established in 2002, but there really is very little information out there on GHNI.

Another website recently investigated this organization and you can find their posts here:

* Both of the above posts contain some very interesting information about GHNI and also highlight the lack of information about GHNI.

* The "Sweeping the Cobwebs" blog does have the GHNI - IRS 990 tax form from the year ending with 8/31/2009. You can find it here.

The GHNI website promotes their use of the TCD (Transformational Community Development) method. The organization provides guidance and coaching to the village with an emphasis on the following areas: Water, Food, Wellness, Income, and Education. If you would like to "adopt a village", the organization requests $12 per month from each individual and the model is set up so that the organization continues to support each village for 3-5 years. GHNI states that you can unsubscribe at any time.

GHNI uses social media to interact with donors and prospective donors. During MckMama's trip to Kenya, there have been videos uploaded to the following sites: ,,, and Many tweets have been sent out by a number of the individuals on the GHNI trip, including: MckMama, AJ Leon, Melissa Leon, GHNI, Jeff Power, and Jonathan Ahlschwede.

Pictures and videos from this trip typically reveal images of the GHNI group (including MckMama) standing around and documenting the work that is being done by the village residents. Pictures are being taken, tweets are being sent, and blog posts are being written.

Also, a Google search reveals no information about the village of Ola Nagele other than the information that has been posted by GHNI, other participants in this trip, and MckMama's readers This may not mean anything, but it does seem strange since their site states that Ola Nagele has almost 4,000 residents, but there is no other information out there about this village.

In the end, there are still more questions than answers. However, I would always advise individuals to use extreme caution when donating money to any cause. A number of questions about GHNI have been posted on MckMama's blog, Facebook page, and Blog Frog community, but most of those questions have been partially answered, deleted, or ignored. A reputable organization should willingly disclose the information you seek when you ask questions about financial reports, practices, etc.

I know that it's easy to get emotional when you see pictures of beautiful children and living conditions that are less than desirable. There is a reason why social media is being so heavily used to promote this cause. They are hoping that the images and videos generate an emotional response from you that compels you to donate. It's admirable that people want to help, but I would encourage you to do your research first before donating to any organization.