Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why don't we value charity more?

Today I'd like to talk about something that had me perplex for quite a while because I did not know what to think about all the opposite opinions I heard about it around me: Charity. As I intended to make an article on it, I randomly searched for mentions of it in TedTalk Youtube channels (They have 3 I think). And oh to my surprise I actually found two videos, and what's more, both very interesting ones. They taught me many things about charity and how we tend to see it. What Dan Pallota says is that in a society where money is what we pursue in life, and where everything needs to make some sort of profit, it would be wise to think of philanthropy as a market of love to those who need it. He went on explaining how we live in a a world with great unfairness, and that we need to help the more needy ones. But there are so many different needs,  so many needies, but so low a budget, and so few investors interested, that to make a grand and steady achievement is almost impossible for charities, at least on the long run. Social problems seem to be the ones that people so reluctantly want to take care and get rid off. There always seems to be an idea that it isn't a good investment to give money to charity because you don't know where it goes. People want their money to directly go the needy ones, and take offence at hearing that some of the money actually went to administration costs, or to pay employees, or even to research. 

He thus rises the question of why it is ok for a video game to produce huge amounts of money, when we feel like saving money, simply from helping people get cured from sicknesses and thus not spending that much money on the long term, isn't worth that much? It is as if profit had to be done here and now, with no capability of foreshadowing the greater good that will ensue from the plan in the future. There is huge pressure on charities because they are expected to superbly achieve their goals in a limited amount of time, with limited resources, and limited labour. Very rapidly, if the success expected isn't seen, charities are booed, and their whole system is investigated to understand where every cent went, as if in fear of the charity actually stealing that money for individual profit. But how come charities raise so much suspicions, when other things, things that we purchase, are bought with no question as to their actual worth? How can an organization work if there are no people working for it? And how can people dedicate themselves to the organization if they are not paid? I think that it is the word non-profit that people seem to misinterpret. People generally confuse the organization and the people working in it. The fact that the organization doesn't want to make profit, unlike the way companies work, ensures that no extra money, i.e. money that exceeds the expenses, is going out of the organization. In other words, the organization's money can only be used to pay the things that are needed, be it employees, food, research, etc. 

Nat Ware, mainly concentrates on the way we see charities as not worth our money because a relatively small amount of money is spent on administration, while if a company spends even a little amount of money on charity, we will automatically be impressed. But in the facts, what you get out of the total expenses of both is that, non-profit organization spends maybe 80% on those who need it, while the companies only spend 20%. Then why is it, that when a non-profit organization spends that much in comparison to an organization that makes profit, we still feel indebted to the company and cheated by the organization? Isn't this some sort of misconception? Why do we care so much about where our money goes when we donate it, and don't care at all when we spend it on something we purchase? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't we care about the balance between what we pay and what we get when we purchase something? And shouldn't charity be like a gift? Something that you give out of kind-hearted feelings, that you will never ever take back, and never even ask a feedback on, because as we all know, "a gift is a gift"? Then why should the gift-charity be tracked that way, as if it was "our" money that we didn't want to go to waste? Why are our expectations of success so high when it comes to charities? Because we want to be told that we made a difference? Where have then the good feelings and the compassion gone? Have we lost them along the track of our paranoia? Or have we been willing, from the beginning, to be charitable to give a positive image of ourselves? Which so deeply reminds of how actors, singers, sportspeople, etc., give their money to charities to give themselves an advertising, and thus marketing, boost, and furthermore do it because they would have to pay taxes anyway, so why not give them to needy ones instead and make themselves a good commercial campaign? Is that really what charity is about? I suppose it is still a good deed, since it helps people, with some great amounts of money, but I fail to see that as charity. To me, charity is about dedication, concern, and participation. By the way, I will probably write an article about the boundary between charity and the feeling of clearing our conscience one day or another. 

Anyway, I hope I got you to think about charities, and I also hope you'll have a little more patience and a little less expectations and demands towards charities. Remember that charity is first about helping others, moreover, those in need of it, be it with your time, love, objects, or money. Don't be trapped in negative thoughts and nasty calculations as to how much money this association to whom you give your money spends on its employees, and don't let those feelings restrain your generosity. As long as you see a change, and believe in its plan, help it! Not just with your money, and then expect it to do wonders! Caring is not enough. Participate! Change comes in action. Not in passivity and negativity. You have to believe in people and in organizations if you want to see some changes. This is how YOU can make our world a better one. 

Here are the two TedTalks videos, one by the very charismatic Dan Pallotta:

And the other one, by the very convincing Nat Ware:

Have a great day, and keep your mind sharp!

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