Responsible ‘giving’

Saundra, writing the blog Good Intentions are not Enough has been tireless in challenging conventional notions of charitable giving.

I absolutely love the title of the blog. Also the fact that the author argues for more responsible ‘giving’ – at both the individual and institutional levels. The blog highlights the importance of a well-thought out act, especially relevant since we dont always think much when giving, and are happy to not be called upon to engage and follow-up.

Consider the usual circumstances under which we ‘give’:

1. ‘Giving’ to get rid of someone: it could be the beggar on the street/traffic signal; the flood victim at our door-step with (a highly suspicious) certificate; local youth/sports/religious club/trust who will not take ‘no’ for an answer.
Chances that we care about what happened to/with either our contribution and/or the beneficiary – minimal

2. ‘Giving’ to get rid of something that we don’t really need or something insignificant in value: one of Saundra’s principal targets – read her blog for ammo on this one – this one, usually involves petty cash, old clothes/furniture/books and is given away to the household help/local charity…
Chances that we care about what happened to/with either our contribution and/or the beneficiary – zero

3. ‘Giving’ out of compulsion: In my first job, I along with all my colleagues made a mandatory 2% contribution from our salaries to the residential school run by the NGO. No one complained and I am sure most people didn’t oppose the idea
Chances that we care about what happened to/with either our contribution and/or the beneficiary – better than 1 and 2 – if only to ever have a reason to demand that the deductions stop.

4. ‘Giving’ in to peer pressure: “Everyone else is giving Rs. 100. I must too, otherwise…”; when your children are out with their collection boxes for the drought/flood/earthquake victims; when your office/club organises a fund-raiser etc
Chances that we care about what happened to/with either our contribution and/or the beneficiary – Still not too bright, I am afraid…

5. ‘Giving’ because we believe; we care and have attempted at least an optimal level of research: Some of us do a lot of this already – in helping educate someone we know, a loan for family emergencies for someone who needs help (and we care about). It is here that more of us need to show up. For it is here that we are likely to care, to demand results (at least honest effort) and we learn over time. Individual donors could have a steep learning curve if they invested more in their early ‘giving’ decisions. For tips on the subject, don’t forget to visit this blog.

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