Before we proceed, I want you to read this news.com.au story by a guy named Peter Baines who runs a charity called Hands Across The Water. Aptly titled, “Why giving money to charity makes you a tool”
As click-baiting as the title is, the story is partially about those who give money to charity but not much else. Baines then goes onto to make the point that people should be doing more than just donating money because it supposedly makes you a tool.
Some of my favourite pullouts from this story include:
Giving money alone is one of the least engaging ways of supporting your charity of choice.
Giving money to a charity is like a warm bath. You feel good when you are in but as soon as you are out the feeling has passed.
Giving money alone to a charity often ends the conversation and relationship with the charity. You have done what you have been asked to do, but where is the benefit for you?
There’s nothing wrong with giving money but the progressive charities, those that are seeing the shift in how donors want to support, are creating increased opportunities for their donors to become supporters.
The only tool in this situation is Peter Baines. On one hand he claims that giving money to charities makes you tool. Then Baines acknowledges with the other hand that charities need money to operate, citing $1.4 million annual operational costs for his own charity.
What is it?
Peter repeatedly tells us that people need to give more than just money, but then he fails to detail what exactly it is we should be giving. Should we be volunteering our bodies for sexual favours and testing experimental malaria vaccines in the name of charity?
The irony in all of this is that Baines claims that donating money is an effortless and senseless act that requires no engagement. Ironically on the donation page for his Hands Across The Water charity it specifically says: “Every cent counts. Your donations (big or small) will make a big difference.”
Nowhere on Baine’s own charity website did I see any mention of people helping out in any other way that doesn’t involve donating money. If you’re going to preach, make sure you practice whatever it is you are preaching or you just look like a tool yourself.
Is it time you want?
Is Peter asking for people to give their time? Sadly given the fact modern society is heavily in debt (myself included). If I were to give up a few hours per week helping out a charity I would be the one needing charity. Is it not better to receive a one off donation from someone as opposed to nothing? I can’t afford the privelege of giving up my money and time.
I will no longer donate to charities looking to cure cancer or terminal illnesses. Instead I’ll do as the article says and I’ll roll up my sleeves and start doing my own cancer research. After all, doing is better than donating: right, Peter?
I don’t want to sign up to some contract commitment with a charity. I don’t want to be spammed with brochures, email updates and be prompted repeatedly to donate even more money than I am currently donating.
Sure, I have seen some people boast on Facebook about donations they have made to charity and if they want to do that because they feel like they get something out of it: good for them.
What is wrong with people who want to Tweet they have made a donation? The people who are following that user might feel inspired or be made aware of the charity and donate themselves as well.
In the golden age of social media, charities have a tonne of new options for free promotion and people openly spruiking they have made a donation can be seen as “toolish” but it also gives the charity brand awareness and free advertising.
Lets not be so quick to ostracise people because the best they can do to help is donate a little money. Lets not lambast those who are probably proud of the fact they care enough to want to tell others they’ve donated to a charity.
However, I am not the kind of person who does that. When I donate to a charity besides telling my accountant at tax season to claim a deduction, I don’t boast about it on Facebook. I do it because I want to help, not because I want the recognition. Baines stereotyping all donors into the one group is just a massive cop-out.
The article starts out reading like it is more aimed at charities who raise funds by door knocking and shaking a metal tin at you in the shopping centre, but the goes on to target the people who donate via these avenues. If the article focused on charities and their unoriginal/non-engaging fundraising practices, I might have agreed with it.
I think it is great that people donate whenever they can. Nobody should be criticised because they can only afford to make an occasional one off donation to a charity. Not everyone is privileged enough to be able to promise funds over a long term commitment.
I think you’re a tool if you don’t care enough to help out a fellow human being when they need it. The people who don’t care enough to try and make a difference in whatever way they can are the true tools.
Lets just be grateful that we live in a society where people still care about more than themselves. Even if it is only a couple of dollars, $2 times a few thousand is not an amount to be sneezed at.
Peter Baines: you are a tool.