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Laney Thornton Discusses Why He Gives to PMC and the Opportunities of an Effective, Scalable Solution

Mar 19, 2015

When Laney Thornton thinks about philanthropy, he thinks about long-term sustainability, which leads him toward numerous environmental initiatives, but he also thinks about opportunities for his own learning and for the greatest impact.

“PMC is one of my top organizations in terms of giving because, as a donor, I want to know how I can be effective,” says Laney, Founder of the Laney Thornton Foundation and Chair of Trustees for the Flora L. Thornton Foundation. “I want to understand the issues directly and personally and be a better philanthropist.”

It’s been more than fourteen years since Laney first began giving his money and his time to PMC, and his belief in the strength of PMC’s intervention and approach to addressing environmental issues continues to show results.

“Addressing climate change must be one of the top activities for our planet right now. PMC has a way to do it that’s effective, a great return on investment, and is scalable. This is one of the real solutions that exists.”

PMC’s primary activity has been to create long-running serial dramas for radio, TV, and the web that engage audiences with authentic characters facing culturally appropriate challenges and opportunities. Through dramatic storylines, the characters role model behaviors. PMC trains in-country teams to write and produce each drama and has impacted more than 50 countries.

“In environmental organizations, work is often organized around geographical locations, and that means that teams often have to invent the wheel each time because each area and each culture is so different. PMC’s approach, using entertainment-education, is scalable across countries, cultures, religion. This scalable model is a tremendous opportunity,” says Laney.

But it’s also what PMC is modeling in these serial dramas that inspires Laney. PMC addresses population growth. The human population is currently adding more than 220,000 per day—more than 9,000 people per hour—to the planet, which exacerbates every environmental concern, ranging from consumption to pollution to food production to water availability. But not only does addressing population growth benefit almost every environmental initiative, PMC’s work on population focuses on improving individual lives just as much as that of the planet.

“Population is a vital part of environmental efforts, and what’s so great is that PMC is humanitarian-based. PMC works to empower women and individuals to make conscious decisions about their own lives, and it impacts whole countries,” says Laney. “It’s so very satisfying when environmental issues have a humanitarian aspect. There’s huge potential for PMC to have a profound impact on the planet.”

PMC works within a human health and human rights enhancing framework, focusing on issues such as women’s rights, education, reproductive health, family planning, and gender equality. All of these issues, and more, work to combat the almost 50 percent of pregnancies around the world that are unplanned or unwanted, helping PMC ensure that every child is a wanted child.

“If you get into the weeds and talk with people, you’ll find that there is an urgent, unmet need for family planning,” says Laney. “Communities are ripe for change. The donor community is becoming more aware and a lot of organizations are now seeing this as vital.”

Laney has supported a broad array of PMC programs and organizational initiatives over the years, including a current organizational capacity building effort. Laney and others realized that the combination of PMC’s humanitarian approach to environmental issues, scalability of intervention, and the urgency of the situation requires PMC to accomplish more.

“By generating a little more money, we could increase effectiveness and the scope of what we’re doing. This is a great opportunity for philanthropists to make a difference. PMC has found an important key.”