I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while, probably since 2006. (Almost) everyone that I know of donates to charity on a regular enough basis. I’m a college student so I don’t donate as much as I should. But it really annoys me how the “main” charities run a campaign of guilt and spend millions on it. I’ve donated money to all of these charities, the third world aid charities. All of them spend far too much on paying people commission and advertising. One that I can think of off hand is asking people who donated more than €250 to sign a form and send it back.

This to me is astonishing, do people ignore letters from the charity asking for a simple tax refund (a tick box affair). This leads me to a few scenarios:

  • The Charity constantly bug people for money by letter - leading to people ignoring them
  • People have no emotional and very little other connection to the cause - merely donating for self appeasement

I suspect both may be true. The second point reminds me of the Catholic Churches insistence you pay for salvation before the reformation - people donate to make themselves feel better. Still this Charity must see it as money well spent if they predict to make it back.

This is part of the reason I am conducting more due diligence of Charities I donate to in future. I don’t want to subsidise kerb crawlers or massive TV and Radio campaigns to male me feel guilty - in fact I switch it off or change channels as soon as I see it coming. These tactics in my mind are unethical, I want to donate to a charity to help a cause not make myself feel better. I am not stupid - I know there is some mental payoff from donating.

Also what bugs me is the relationship to churches which some charities are not honest about - I don’t think this applies to Irish Charities except fringe ones - but definitely applies to some evangelical ones from the United States. Some have shown an appaling lack of ethics and moral compass in seeking to convert survivors of the Earthquake. There preying on people who’ve lost whole families in some cases. Can there conversion not wait until they can rebuild there homes and their lives?

I am going to focus my future donations in my core area of competence - computing. I can judge measureable results and hold some of them to account better if I have the knowledge of the charities core aims and abilities. Likewise with Open Source software, which can help get computers in to hands of the poorest and help them educate themselves for tomorrow and get themselves out of the need for food aid today. Of course charities closer to home which I have interactions with (having two rescue dogs) the RSPCA and research into cancer (affected every family I’d guess) heart diesease (ditto).

I think this post has cleared up my thoughts on two things: making sure you donate to something you care about and avoid at all costs those who seek to waste the money you have donated.