501(c)3 Non-Profit | Empowering Haitian Families

The Vanderwell Rule of 50%

We’ve been talking a lot of numbers and statistics in terms of orphans, orphanages, numbers of adoptions and such. While I would not write about and reference numbers if I didn’t think they were either accurate or remotely close to the truth, I thought it might be good to introduce you to “The Vanderwell rule of 50%.”

What does the Vanderwell Rule of 50% say?

“If a statistic is being used to make or enforce belief in something and it is not from an immediately verifiable and credible source, then take that statistic and either reduce or increase it by 50% depending on which way the stastistic is supposed to be “pointing.”

Let me give you a few examples:
1. The Associated Press has reported that half of all quarterbacks go broke within 10 years of retirement. Verified? Nope. But if it is only 1/4th of the quarterbacks or it is 1/2 within 20 years, the point it makes is accurate. There’s a big money management problem in the NFL.
2. 90% of all children in orphanages in Haiti are not true orphans and have family who would care for them if they were able to. Apply the 50% rule. Would we have an issue if it was “only” 45% of the kids? Absolutely we would.

The Vanderwell rule of 50% enables us to not get hung up on whether the statistics are 100% accurate but to instead apply the rule and then look to make a difference whether the statistics are accurate or are off by 50%.

Whether 90% of the children in Haitian orphanages have family who want to care for them or only 45% have families, that’s still enough of an issue that we need to deal with it and attempt to change it.   The individual number doesn’t make nearly as much of a difference as does the trend and the practice…….

Whether the average income in Haiti is $300 per year or $600 per year, it’s still not enough money to live a decent life on.

Whether 40,000 buildings or 80,000 buildings were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, it’s still an awful situation.

Whether 1/3 or 2/3rds of all government officials involved in adoptions took bribes, it’s still a problem.

Whether maternal mortality in Haiti is 20% or 40% or higher, it’s still one of the highest in the world.

See how the Vanderwell Rule works?   It doesn’t get you caught up in the nitty gritty little details.   Instead it says, “Here’s a problem and whether the problem is XXXX big or XXXXXXXX big, it’s a problem, so let’s work on it.”

And that is The Vanderwell rule of 50%.

So let’s go make a difference,


Tom V.


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