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The complexities of Charitable donations.

  • #1
    Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 26,571 mod Turtwig

    On the face of it, most charities are in competition with one another for your money. This seems inevitable. What happens though when one charity witnesses a splurge in income? Is it ethically correct for them to hoard all the money to the themselves. I believe so, it's their money for their cause. Ethically though it makes me a little queasy. There is only a finite amounts of money available. If you take a significant sum from one place the money HAS to come from elsewhere - or in this case probably lots of other places. This confuses me. Does that mean that stuff like the ice bucket challenge and no make selfies are inherently cannibalistic, doing more over harm than good or are they tapping into a market of people who simply don't give their donations to charity?

    I really don't know and the worse thing is actually posing this question in some quarters would lead one to claim you are anti-charity. Which I'm most certainly not. I don't like doing stuff because it appears good and the intentions are good. Results are what matters and in the case of the Irish Cancer Society and IMD the results were quite spectacular. But do those results actually amount to a good thing?

    All monetary payments require money to be deprived from something else. That is the way of society but they are also tipping points. Setting the minimum wage at €8/hr has some negative knock-on effects, but I believe the good outweigh the bad. However, place it at €80/hr and you damage the system quite substantially. There's a balance to everything. What exactly occurs to a system when a cascade occurs to one particular charity. Do other charities miss out, does their annual funding dip, or do these cascades only come from people who rarely, if ever, donate to charity in the first place? That seems the only way losses are avoided for the broader network. Leading to the important question: If these other losses do occur, do the good results outweigh the bad?

    It's something that is greatly puzzling me at the moment. Everything seems invisible, these type of avalanche donations are new so ultimately my entire predicament is shrouded in ignorance. I don't know, does anyone have any inkling or reasoning to help enlighten me?

    Edit: forgot to add: although I used monetary quantities. The perceived "cost" doesn't have to be solely monetary related. Awareness, empathy, support etc could also be similarly compared. Just felt money was easiest way to illustrate the concept.


  • I think the problem lies in these charities being run as business with paid staff, budgets for operations etc. At this stage a lot of charities are struggling for survival given the growth they have gone through in terms of their operation and the rise in operating costs coupled with the rise of more and more charities to compete with. There is a large part of that drive to get donations that's a drive to run the charity using the cause as a means to do that rather than using the charity as a means to get money to those who need it.

    People are very aware of that these days I think and less likely to give to these charities on the back of it. And the attempts to make up the shortfall with an approach like "Give me money" tends to make matters worse as the only way to get more money with that approach is to be more persistent and ask more people which comes across as more pushy and more invasive and just annoys people and gives them a negative view of the charity.

    The likes of the ice bucket challenge and such are not really anything new I don't think. Tapping into social media fads is new but its not too different than charitable events. People get involved, they get enjoyment out of it and they associate the donation with the ability to be part of the event. So given the money is associated with the event and not the charity I'd say a high proportion of the people if there was no event wouldn't be donate to any other charity.

    So I don't think they are cannibalistic in that sense in fact if they are not taking money from other charities they may be actually benefiting all charities by promoting charitable donations and supporting causes in relation to people who might not generally do that. And at the same time bringing the notion of charity away from the old "Give me your money, we need it for other people" approach.