“Someone who helped me many years ago said, ‘Don’t pay it back; pay it forward,’” shares Dave Cummings, owner of one of the largest trading firms on the planet.
Dave is the Chairman and CEO of Tradebot, as well as the founder of BATS Global Markets, now the third largest stock exchange in the United States. He grew up in the Kansas City area and has a degree in computer and electrical engineering from Purdue University. He also happens to be a strong supporter of Outreach International, and recently gave the organization the largest cash gift it has ever received.
Why would one of the brightest visionaries in the world’s most competitive market focus on those born into deep poverty, especially through Outreach International?
One of Dave’s favorite quotations comes from the Christian theologian, John Wesley: “Make all you can; save all you can; give all you can.”
This quote really hits home for Dave. “I don’t think there’s any need to apologize for making money when done so ethically,” he said. “There’s so much good you can do with it.” He and his wife, Jamie, have been giving to charity and supporting causes they deeply believe in all their lives.
“I like Outreach International because you teach people that they can help construct their own paths out of poverty. And from there, those people teach others,” says Dave. “I like when I find the rare charity with an innovative model like that, because the approach has the ability to multiply and highly leverage the initial investment in time or donation.”
He’s right. For more than 35 years, Outreach has fine-tuned the Participatory Human Development Process to the point that it now creates three transforming levers that are often absent in charitable work. First, the work is permanent because the beneficiaries are the ones creating the solutions and retaining the knowledge and “can-do” attitudes. Second, the work is multiplied because village members and others contribute to the project, whether it is a well or a school or a greenhouse. Finally, the work grows organically because communities begin helping other villages using skills acquired through their own development.
Similarly, Dave’s well-thought-out support of Outreach ripples back and forth to others. Approximately half of all Tradebot employees have become strong contributors of Outreach, as well. Dave affirms, “Ryan Albarelli (the vice president of network operations) has visited Outreach communities in three countries. So I feel like we’ve pretty well vetted the work.”
“Outreach has a real chance at becoming a thought leader in this space,” continues Dave. “You’ve tested certain models and found out what works, and you’ve got a strong team in place—so let’s ramp it up.”
When we asked Dave about his hope for the future of Outreach International, he got right to the point. “I would like the model to be recognized as a great way to really help people long term. When we see people suffering who live in poverty, we all want to do something about it. But how do we do something? I don’t want to disparage other organizations, because they are usually run by people with good hearts. However, long-term, measureable trend lines that show you are making the world a better place matter a lot to me,” he says.
“Outreach has a willingness to share its methodology and provide real evidence that it works. The process allows people to keep their culture and tradition and history. And Outreach seems to be at a point when it can become an influencer that will alter the way development work is conducted. If we can take that organic model of individual and community transformation and grow it, we’ll change the planet.”