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“Helping Even One Child” September 3, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People.

Huey,-Dewey-And-LouieSupporting a cause based on the premise that “helping even one child” makes the cause worthwhile is . . .

* A “feel good” statement .

* A statement with emotional appeal.

* A statement that makes people feel morally virtuous as they say it . . . even if they are NOT actually helping anyone.

Some non-profits pull at our heartstrings to raise money for causes that never get that money because the CEOs of the non-profits use the funds raised by fundraisers to line their own pockets:

Susan G. Komen . . . Race for the Consumer.

Echoing empty statements can do more harm than good given the Butterfly Effect because anything can change everything.

Here’s a fictitious (I hope) example of what I mean:

* Millions invest time, energy, and money in the Kony 2012 campaign.
* The Kony 2012 Campaign makes lots of money.
* Like “March for a Cure,” most $’s go to pay staff salaries at Invisible Child.
* Only a small % of dollars make it to Africa to neutralize Kony.

In the end . . . one child is helped.

But because of the resources expended on Kony 2012:

* People have less time, energy and money for other causes.
* They feel they’ve done their part and rest on their laurels.
* Then they find out that the campaign only made money for the non-profit.
* That pisses them off because their money didn’t neutralize Kony.
* They stop contributing to non-profits because of the fraudulent cause.
* They refuse to help children, even in “their own backyard.”

957 children who “would have” received support from legitimate charities do not.

Since we do not have the time, money, or energy to fully support any and all causes, we must decide which causes are worthy of our support without falling for emotional appeals like “if even one child is helped, it will be worth it.”

Related post:  WP Daily Prompt ~ Blogger With A Cause


1. Jim Kaszynski "THE IDEA MAN' - September 3, 2013

Sad but true, I have spent my life working with non-profits as a volunteer. Abusing donations is an insult on the kindness from another. Sometimes you give a dollar and only five cents go to the cause. What I look for is a copy of their budget and how they spend their money. Only then will I consider donating.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Yes! There are ways to evaluate charities that don’t require us to take the bait . . . hook, line, and sinker.

savitha jvn - September 3, 2013

hmm that’s what even i do. but sad, the way we need to be cynical about these things especially.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Sometimes when we’re cynical . . . we’re just being “realists.” 😕

savitha jvn - September 3, 2013

very true. i completely agree with u! i was just reflecting on how things are turning out these days.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

There is ample “room for improvement.”

2. William D'Andrea - September 3, 2013

Before anyone contributes to any organization, it’s important for him or her to check it out; and make sure it’s truly reputable, like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc. People might also accomplish a lot more, by being personally helpful themselves, when possible.

Last year, when Hurricane Sandy struck the New York Area, there was a spontanious outpouring of help to people in the devastated areas from millions of people in neighboring communities. At my Long Island Church, the foyer was packed high with bundles of clothing and bags of groceries for people in the disaster areas. One of the Elders piled all the bags and bundles into the back of his pickup truck, and drove them down to one of the many distribution centers. This went on for almost two months. He made about 16 trips. The same thing was going on at hundreds of Churches all over the Island, and a lot of good was accomplished by people who were working together, instead of waiting for any charitable organization or Government agencies to show up.

Sometimes I hear people say that they’re opposed to “Organized Religion”; but if it wasn’t for all of those Church members working together; things would have been far worse for people living in the distaster zones.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Some chapters of the Salvation Army have real issues with the upper echelon taking salaries out that are disproportional to the good done or taking money contributed to a specific cause and using it for further fund-raising.

People aren’t usually opposed to “organized religion” for this reason ~ it’s the lies, half-truths, and brainwashing that we find annoying. 😕

3. mollygreye - September 3, 2013

I have a friend who does social work and I go to her for more information about certain charities. One time she told me that I might as well give the money directly to the those in need because of the experience she’s had with non-profits. It’s so sad to know that these sort of things happen.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

As they say, one rotten apple can spoil the whole barrel. Fund-raising has become “big business.” Perhaps it’s better to stand for nothing than to fall for anything.

4. shreejacob - September 3, 2013

In my country most times we don’t support so called Government aided charities because it’ll most probably go into said Government department’s pockets. Most times we buy dried goods , food items or necessities and directly give it to the home. At least we know that they’ll be used 🙂

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Yes! Plus, when we help people with “real faces” . . . we see the direct benefit and become encouraged to do more.

5. savitha jvn - September 3, 2013

so true! that is happening everywhere. one of my friends had to gather the details regarding the usage of funds of several non- profits as a dissertation for his business school, where, he told me, many of them didn’t want to give any details at all. he was only given few papers where things looked “straight”. its sad to see that money is being given the central role and the one who made it is being pushed back, way back!

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

There is an organization in this area ~ the AFP (Association of Fund-Raising Professionals) ~ whose members gather once a month (or more) to learn more effective ways and means to encourage “us” to donate to their causes.

The constant appeals to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE get old . . . especially since the world does not seem to be on the upswing.

savitha jvn - September 3, 2013

not all non profits are actually following the ” not for profit” motto. this is really bad. philanthropy will slowly be gone, if some such people continue to do things like this.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Many people start non-profits for “all the right reasons” but their ideals get corrupted when they see that they aren’t making as much of a difference as they expected they would.

6. Andra Watkins - September 3, 2013

A site like Charity Navigator can be a great resource to check out a particular cause before contributing.


It gives data on how much the charity gives to programs versus administration, rates their overall financial health, and so forth.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Thanks, Andra! I meant to include a link to Charity Navigator.

7. Eric Tonningsen - September 3, 2013

Closing paragraph sums it up, Nancy. People need to create a little time to research any charity/philanthropic cause they’re considering. Bravo for the sites that do some of the broad-based legwork for contributors. Many of them are reprehensible.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

It’s amazing how many well known charities get “failing marks” when it comes to getting value for our $’s. Especially dismal when it’s a charity with strong name recognition.

8. jannatwrites - September 3, 2013

This is why I’m reluctant to give to big charities. It seems like the bigger the charity, the richer the people who run the charity are. Some administrative costs are to be expected, but many are not efficient at all.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

I checked on Charity Navigator for “American Red Cross.” In the comment section, someone said that would no longer contribute to the ARC because the CEO took a salary of $500,000 a year.

That, to me, is a GREAT reason to stop contributing to a charity.

9. kateshrewsday - September 3, 2013

Great post. We all have our directions, places we are destined to expend energy to help others. I suppose if we are in tune with our spirit we just attend carefully to what that direction might be.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Yes! I think if we look around in our own backyards for opportunities to “lend a hand” . . . our efforts will pay dividends.

10. colonialist - September 3, 2013

Even when aid is correctly collected and sent for distribution, it often happens that those who need it get none. Africa is awfully good at making that happen. Even when one sends people to oversee the process, they find they are blocked unless the right bribes are paid.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

That is sad. Greedy Leaders are as bad as Greedy CEO’s. ACK!

11. Three Well Beings - September 3, 2013

What an important message that needs to be repeated often, Nancy. The “tug at the heart strings” aspect is really a faulty barometer of how we should responsibly use our funds. I didn’t know about charity Navigator…good to know.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

It’s definitely a good place to start if you want a barometer reading on a given charity. Fund-raising is such Big Business these days. We got three pieces of mail today . . . all three included a plea for $’s from us. 😕

It’s disheartening when we give and give and don’t see any change for the better.

12. calmgrove - September 3, 2013

We’re probably all used to charity fatigue in Western countries and have developed a healthy cynicism about claims on our credulity and our purses. A pity as we do desperately want to be altruistic.

In the UK many people are happy to do voluntary work but have been put off by the coalition government hijacking their contribution for their bogus Big Society concept. All in it together? I think not.

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Today, it’s all about “spin.” Instead of sharing hard data in requests for contributions, charities rely on marketing tools and public relations and photo opps to create an “image” that does NOT always accurately reflect reality.

No wonder we’ve developed a healthy cynicism with a side helping of charity fatigue. 😕

calmgrove - September 4, 2013

Agree. It’s sad to have to be suspicious of anything that claims to help other people. I’m sad to say that it was a Briton who was recently convicted in the UK of selling completely bogus ‘bomb detectors’ to unsuspecting clients in the Middle East and elsewhere. Who knows how many more lives and limbs were thus lost by reliance on his wanton greed and deliberate deception.

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

If only “Instant Karma” could stop these greedy Petes in their tracks. That would be cool.

13. aawwa - September 3, 2013

An interesting topic and good discussion as well – I don’t know the answer. I guess it is easier to be on front line actually working for people in need rather than putting forth our $s…

nrhatch - September 3, 2013

Charity Navigator shares tips for informed giving that are worth a look. And it complies a fair amount of information about charities so we can make more more informed decisions.

14. Sandra Bell Kirchman - September 4, 2013

That Charity Navigator link was a nice thing to tuck into my Bookmarked file.

I used to be naive and somewhat gullible…longer than it takes the average adult to catch onto the ways of the world, I fear. I was “taken” many times by con artists and “respectable” greed artists.

The worst was when I held an estate sale after my mother died. Strangely, if she had been alive, she would have saved me from the mistakes I made in my ignorance.

Anyhow, the estate vultures descended on my house, still in mourning, at the dot of the time the sale opened and cleaned out all the really valuable things. At the time, I was just glad people were buying and would get some pretty stuff that I didn’t want or wouldn’t use. Some of these creatures even bargained me down from a ridiculously low price to a ridiculously lower price. When I found out about this ploy, I was devastated. Some of the things I sold for around $50 I found out later were worth closer to $500.

From then on, I donated only to recommended and known charities. It’s not that the estate sale was a charity, but I’d be damned if I was gonna be taken advantage of like that again. So my donations go to charities like the Red Cross and The Cancer Society. It’s always made me feel secure.

New charities take note. A good reputation is worth more than gold in donations.

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

Being “naive and somewhat gullible” is not always a bad thing.

We see the world behind our eyes. When we trust others, it is a reflection of our own values ~ we know that we can be trusted so we expect that “they” can be trusted too.

Each time I’m surprised by man’s inhumanity to man, I am also secretly pleased that I didn’t see IT coming ~> I didn’t expect that type of behavior because I would never engage in that type of behavior myself. (Perhaps that’s the silver lining?)

That said, if we want the most bang for our donations, we should do a bit of digging around for “skeletons in the closet” using the resources at our disposal.

Sandra Bell Kirchman - September 4, 2013

I didn’t consider the positive slant to this naive and gullible thing. I just considered myself lesser-than for being so easily taken advantage of. Thanks for putting a different identification to it, Nancy. It made me feel better.

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

Yay! Making others feel better makes me feel better. 😀

15. sufilight - September 4, 2013

When I was in my 20’s I sponsored a child in China but then stopped after a couple of years. I like your reader’s suggestion to get a copy of a charity budget to see how they are spending their money. I have grown cynical but still help organizations like Operation Smile.

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

We have sponsored three children in various areas of the world through Childreach (Plan International) ~ one in Ecuador and two in Sri Lanka.

I terminated my sponsorship because the first child moved out of the plan’s area and I never heard from her again. The second child’s village no longer qualified for aid, so that connection was severed.

I decided to try one more time. After a few years of sponsorship, I received a letter from Tathsaranee which sounded NOTHING like her previous letters to us. I knew it wasn’t from her. Somebody in the field office replied to my letter instead of going to her village and allowing her to reply.

Convinced that I would never have a real connection with a child halfway around the world, I terminated our sponsorship. 😕

In a few years, maybe I’ll join the Foster Grandparents program.

16. Grannymar - September 4, 2013

From now to Christmas the begging requests will drop through my mail box on an almost daily basis. Most of the major charities now employ marketing people to work on branding and advertising – that all costs money. I dislike the way they use the ‘guilt card’, not gilt card, that is the one they want us to use in answer to their appeals.

My way of dealing with all appeals these days, is to decide at the beginning of the year which charity I will support, and send them whatever I have to spare. Then I have no difficulty in saying no to all the others.

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

Your plan is a good one! We do much the same. I collect appeals that appeal to me. A few times a year, I review them and make contributions to those that have not inundated me with repeat requests.

When I get the same letter over and over and over from a charity, I assume that they have nothing new to report and cross them off the list.

Grannymar - September 4, 2013

I too discard the repeats and those that contain fee gifts. If they can afford to send me several pens, they have no need of my widows mite!

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

Yes! They send “free gifts” to make us feel obligated to pay for them (and then some). But since most of the freebies aren’t things that I want or use, I refuse to play that game.

17. CMSmith - September 4, 2013

Well bust my bubble. The pink bows? Really? I know. You’re probably wondering what planet I’ve been on the last 5-10 years.

Unlike the accusation that was leveled against me by a family member who shall remain unnamed, this truly and sadly, is exploitative.

It really is stressful to live consciously, so many violators of decency to ward against. And I mean that in all seriousness.

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

Yup . . . the pink bows are a bit bogus. 😦

And, no, I do not wonder what planet you’ve been living on ~ life comes at us fast especially when we are caring for aging parents or dealing with health issues or raising children or pursuing careers or writing our memoirs.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to keep up with everything. So, we do our best to live consciously and hope that we manage to steer clear of the worst “violators of decency.”

18. Pix Under the Oaks - September 4, 2013

We really keep our donations local. Catholic services has a list of people/families that need help. Food, clothes, school supplies for the kids. It works for us and definitely works for them.

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

We are doing that more and more, Pix. We used to give $’s on a global level. Now, we’re more likely to donate food, clothing, and school supplies on a local level.

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