Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What is enough?

Randy Mayeux sent me this post from Seth Godin's blog.  It raises an interesting question for fundraisers to confront. 

What do you think?

Fear of philanthropy (avert your eyes)

Peter Singer is famous for posing a stunningly difficult question, paraphrased as, "If you are walking by a pond and you see a child drowning, do you save her? What if it means ruining a very fancy pair of Italian shoes?" Okay, if we assume the answer is yes, then why not spend the cost of those shoes to save 20 kids who are starving to death across town or the world? There's really no difference. Or by, extension, invest in research or development that solves a problem forever... The issues are proximity and attention.

My take is that most people would instantly save the kid, but given the choice, probably wouldn't take the road by the pond again any time soon. We like to avoid these situations, because these situations make us uncomfortable.

Avert your eyes.

The reporter tells you, I'm going to show you a video of the meat you're going to eat for dinner being slaughtered. Avert your eyes. Or the fundraiser says I'm going to tell you about easily avoidable suffering in the developing world. Avert your eyes...

It boils down to a simple question, "how much is enough?" She knows that one iPod is all she needs, but she wonders how much philanthropy is enough? And this is a key marketing question for anyone seeking donors.

To continue reading click here.


Jerry said...

Reminds me of the story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus. Did the rich man not physically see Lazarus, or did he avert his eyes? Also, although it may sound strange I believe it is on point, is a quote from Stalin: "One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic." We would save the drowning girl, but he thousands and millions who are suffering are statistics. I believe one of the strong points of CDM is that you put names, faces, and real life stories on the forefront. Much harder to avert one's eyes from a real person than it is from a statistic.

Chris said...

I like to check out what percentage of money goes to the cause and what goes to "overhead." Also, I don't believe it is the place of the marketer to suggest what you should give.

The wasteful spending of the government is beyond belief. That is why I hate paying income tax. If they spent more wisely I would not mind paying so much.

Larry James said...

Chris, in the case of public funds we receive to perform contract work, all of the money goes to services. As far as CDM, take a look at Charity Navigator. . .our admin nad development costs are under 10 cents on the dollar and we have a 4-star rating. I've long said that if Wall Street were regulated like my back street, we'd have more to work with. There is much more inefficiency in the private sector.

Jerry said...

I typically do not respond to what others say, but, Chris, there is a world of difference in governmental waste and the operation of CDM. The CDM annual report and Charity Navigator tell the story: I believe it is 92% of all funds go to program services. Further, I had the privilege of touring the offices of CDM last Tuesday, and I can assure you that those offices represent very modest expenditures and nothing at all like what you see in corporate offices. In fact, the CDM furnishing were more modest that what you will find in the vast majority of City Halls and School District administrative offices, and believe me I know that those are modest! I am very happy to give my money to such a worthwhile organization, and have the fullest confidence that the money is going to those who need it. I suggest you tour the CDM facilities at CityWalk@Akard, as well as the one at 409 Haskell, and better yet meet the people they are serving.

Daniel Gray said...

I don't know any nonprofits that have spent thousands of dollars flying their employees to resorts for meetings... but I sure know a lot of private corporations who do.

rcorum said...

Larry, this is one area where you rise to the top. I would encourage anyone to check out CDM and you will be amazed at the efficiency of the organization. I also don't believe that you guys are careful with your money just because of regulations, but most of all because it is the right thing to do. I have even taken the time to look up you salary, and your salary reflects your commitment to your beliefs. This post also raises some very fundamental questions when it comes to giving. In my religious background I think of the millionaire, A.M. Burton. He is said to have given away 90% of all he made, but he still lived a comfortable life. Like so many thinks. It all comes down to the condition of a person's heart.

Anonymous said...

Daniel - why should you or anyone else care or complain about how a PRIVATE company spends its money? Are you one of those who hate private companies making money and spending money however it sees fit? I don't understand your comparison at all. It appears to me that you have disdain for capitalism. am i correct?