For better or worse, the viral ice bucket challenge has everyone talking. Sure, people are annoyed. It was a publicity stunt using a silly challenge and peer pressure to attempt to do some good. And regardless of how you feel about such things, it drove a lot of money to an organization that wasn’t getting much attention previously. Overall, I call it a win.
Will some of that money be mismanaged and wasted in administrative costs? Possibly. Non-profit corporations do have legitimate administrative costs, but they are most certainly not immune to greed and corruption. And yes, many of the charity behemoths are overseen by overpaid administrators. I don’t expect the CEO of a non-profit to live in abject poverty just because managing a charity is their full time job, but I also don’t believe they should be getting rich off the kindness of strangers either. It’s reasonable to expect that the majority of the dollars I give to a given charity actually go towards the stated goal of said charity. (The ALS Association is rated B+ by charity watch. It has also been evaluated by the BBB and Charity Navigator.)
I had never given to The ALS Association prior to the ice bucket event. I may or may not give to them again, but some of their new donors will likely be repeat donors. This is a good thing, and I hope they continue to manage their proceeds well. For them, this stunt is a wild success that should rightfully be celebrated.
But what does it mean for other charities? There are a few that are very near and dear to my heart that will be hurt by this stunt. Many people, including yours truly, only have so much that can be budgeted to charitable giving. Every dollar I give to charity ABC is a dollar I can’t give to charity XYZ. I wish I had more dollars to go around, but my mortgage company insists that they get a good chunk of the dollars I’ve got.
And then we run into charity fatigue. Sure, they are all good causes but I just get so tired of everyone asking for my hard-earned money. Heck, I’m about to ramp up to ask you for even more with this weekend’s game-a-thon to benefit Hotdogs for the Homeless. Then we will jump straight into Kilted to Kick Cancer (now a bonafide 501c3) for the month of September. Not to mention I’m doing a marathon for the Children’s Miracle Network (sponsor me?). All before the whole world turns pink and talks about boobs.
I get it. I’m tired too and dammit I want to spend some of my cash on ME. Because sometimes I’m selfish, and I have every right to be.
But I’m also a believer in these charities and what they are doing. Yeah, I want to feel like I can be a part of something great, something that makes the world a little brighter. There’s enough strife and misery to go around. The outlook may be bleak and depressing, but I simply must believe there is hope. The alternative is unbearable.
Yes, I and others like me will continue to do silly, crazy stunts for charity. I hope you get a laugh out of it. I hope it makes you smile. I’d love for you to contribute, but only because you want to be a part of it too and not because I’ve guilted you into it. Or give to win a prize. Or give to see me do something ridiculous (I lack shame and love attention, if I can channel that into something good, everyone wins). Or don’t. We can still be friends.
In the next few weeks, I’ll obviously be highlighting the charities linked above, but I’d like to hear from you. What charities or causes are near and dear to your heart and why? Or maybe it’s not a charity. I will always be proud of the way we’ve banded together to help out one of our own even without the fancy tax documents. Go ahead and give yourselves another pat on the back for that, by the way. But I’d love to hear about your passions. Do you make blankets for newborns? Pick up trash? Feed the hungry? Scoop poop at the animal shelter? Go ahead, toot your own horn in the comments.