Author Topic: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?  (Read 12585 times)

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Ceallach

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Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« on: July 29, 2012, 10:21:09 PM »
I'm torn on this.   I received a FB invitation from a friend and HER friend (somebody else I don't know).  Basically, it talks about how awesome her trip to Africa a few years ago was, and life changing etc.    Now her and her friend have decided to go back again to live (and work) in an orphanage over there.   They're not going through any particular organisation, e.g. it's not part of an aid mission or specific volunteering group etc.   They're going it alone, however I do think they are competent, well-meaning people and will do good over there.  I don't doubt their intentions are good.

The purpose of the FB invitation is to ask for donations to buy toys etc to take with them for the kids they meet, as well as money for airfares etc because "the trip is going to be really expensive".   

Part of me thinks "Oh how great, supporting the children in Africa!"  but another part of me feels that it's more gratification for them than anything else.  I would LOVE to go on a trip to Africa and spend some time in some third world villages doing some good hard work.  I did get the opportunity as a child to visit some tribal areas and it was really eye-opening (my Dad wanted us to understand how good we have things in life and appreciate it).   One day, I'd like to go over and do some hard work and make a difference.  Not really feasible right now while DH and I are starting a family, but to me it would be awesome.  So I just feel as though I'm being asked to fund a life choice / trip of a lifetime for them.

I'm just not sure.  Am I being a grinch here?  Or is this type of fundraiser more about a personal experience than about actual charity?     Where IS the etiquette line between charitable fundraiser vs. personal fundraiser?
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MommyPenguin

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2012, 10:28:05 PM »
Personally, I'd think that, while it might be cool for them to have more stuff to hand out, it's also largely for the benefit of the people they're going to see.  And while a lot of people might be like, "Hey, I'd love to do this if I could afford to," it sounds like they can afford to, so for $10 or $20 a person who can't currently afford to go over can at least do something towards it.  I don't think you're in any way required to, but I don't think it's off for them to let people know that they're headed over there and that people who want to help but can't make it over, can help in this way.  But you're not obligated, and in fact, if you'd rather save that money towards a trip yourself once your kids are old enough, then that's just as good.

If you do decide to donate, consider school supplies.  I've heard that paper, notebooks, and writing supplies are particularly useful.

Ceallach

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2012, 10:33:23 PM »
If you do decide to donate, consider school supplies.  I've heard that paper, notebooks, and writing supplies are particularly useful.

They're not asking for items, just money.   I guess I could specify what I wanted my money spent on but I doubt that would actually happen, it would go into the general pool. 

The people they're asking live across a couple of different countries, so I guess getting items to them would be tricky anyway.   I'm not at all adverse to what they're doing, I guess I just felt the invitation crossed a line a teeny bit, although I'm not sure why!  Perhaps it's because they were pretty specific about the money, and it didn't feel like a "prayers/support asked for, and if you wanted to donate here's the details" it's more of a just straight money grab I guess.   Perhaps just the wording rubbed me the wrong way. 
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MommyPenguin

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2012, 10:38:33 PM »
Yeah, I could see that.  So much is in the wording!   And whether they *expect* people to proffer money, rather than providing a means for anybody who wants to do it on their own, etc.

buvezdevin

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2012, 10:46:00 PM »
While your friend and her acquaintance may be very well meaning, they are essentially asking for charitable contributions - without the formality of forming or associating with an established charity.

I prefer to give through organized charities, for many reasons - primarily that I can see through public filings how the money is spent, and also so I can receive any applicable tax benefits from the donation.

I completely understand that you support the stated intent of your friend, but may not wish to do so with monetary donations. 

In your position, I would either offer to purchase some item to send, or - more likely - not offer to donate for this personal adventure no matter how well meant unless I knew they had established a formal charity.
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JenJay

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2012, 10:49:53 PM »
To me, there's a difference between "We want to go to Africa and give clothes and toys to kids. Would anyone like to donate items for us to take?" and "We want to go to Africa to give clothes and toys to kids. Would anyone like to donate money so we can go?"

I think I'd be down with donating items or purchasing a raffle ticket, car wash, yard service, etc. where the money was going toward their trip. Just giving them cash feels different though. I'd probably handle it the same way I've handled the numerous emails of "I'd like to go on a trip to X location for Y reason and I'd appreciate whatever financial assistance you can give."

If you're a grinch I am too because I've never helped fund one of those trips. I'm not opposed to them, I just have to watch my budget and I can't give to everyone so I don't give to anyone.

BatCity

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2012, 10:58:37 PM »
I tend to agree.  At first I thought you were going to say that they asked if you could contribute to their trip, which would just chap me. 

I would definitely donate money for them to buy medical supplies, schoolbooks, pencils, or other things that the kids really need.  Toys is a judgement call.  I'd probably give them a few dollars and not mind as long as they were polite about the way they asked. 

buvezdevin

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2012, 11:04:39 PM »
I tend to agree.  At first I thought you were going to say that they asked if you could contribute to their trip, which would just chap me. 

I would definitely donate money for them to buy medical supplies, schoolbooks, pencils, or other things that the kids really need.  Toys is a judgement call.  I'd probably give them a few dollars and not mind as long as they were polite about the way they asked.
As described, the donations may well go to the costs of the trip, and OP has no way of knowing that any donated money goes to anything other than airfare, or travel costs.
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LifeOnPluto

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2012, 11:29:32 PM »
I think asking for toys was ok, but asking for cash to pay for their airfares was a bit cheeky, IMO. 

wolfie

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2012, 11:39:15 PM »
I tend to agree.  At first I thought you were going to say that they asked if you could contribute to their trip, which would just chap me. 

I would definitely donate money for them to buy medical supplies, schoolbooks, pencils, or other things that the kids really need.  Toys is a judgement call.  I'd probably give them a few dollars and not mind as long as they were polite about the way they asked.

As they are just two regular people going on a trip I wouldn't donate for them to buy medical supplies, schoolbooks or anything else because I would be very skeptical of their ability to choose what is actually needed. How do they know what types of medical supplies are actually needed in that area, and what they could actually bring with them? Sure they could go down to a local pharmacy and stock up on OTC meds, but will those be able to be brought into the country? Will they make it to who they need to go to? Do they know the kinds of schoolbooks that would actually be able to be used in that country? Can they get enough of them so they are useful in a classroom vs just for one child? It takes a lot of effort and research to be able to make sure that you get what will make an actual difference in the area and I wouldn't be confident that someone who isn't connected to an organization that already does that knows what they are doing. I would rather donate to an org who is going to be able to bring those supplies to the people, and not have then confiscated at the border or discover they can't even be used.

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2012, 11:41:50 PM »
You can give or not give as you see fit, but this is not charity. I had a friend do this as well. I definitely didn't donate (for me it was because there was no regulation as to how the $ was spent, and they were staying in a luxury hotel for a vacation right before...yeah no). Organized charities are my preferred method of giving in most occasions.
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MacadamiaNut

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2012, 11:56:35 PM »
If they were registered somewhere for the toys and it would be easy to have those auto-shipped to them before they leave, I would pick something from that registry and send it.  Otherwise, maybe you can ask for some suggestions on the toys and things they want to bring and buy those and ship them.

I would never fund their airfare or other expenses though and I think it's really tacky of them to even ask for cash in that way.  Cash would only leave my hands if they were a recognized charitable organization.  Even then, I look at their operating costs to make sure a good portion of my money will reach the cause.  I also look at the programs the money will go to... water systems, schools, food, medical, etc.  And it's even better if I can choose to allocate where it goes.

But...

"We're going on a personal trip to Africa to help an orphanage" is just a little too vague for me. ::)
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Ceallach

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2012, 12:24:30 AM »
You can give or not give as you see fit, but this is not charity. I had a friend do this as well. I definitely didn't donate (for me it was because there was no regulation as to how the $ was spent, and they were staying in a luxury hotel for a vacation right before...yeah no). Organized charities are my preferred method of giving in most occasions.

Yeah I'm not going to give, I decided that fairly quickly.  I'm picky about which charities I give to and the methodology - I have to be, I get so many solicitation cold-calls, not to mention being stopped on the street, that if I didn't have a blanket policy re who I give to it would be a nightmare trying to wade through the minefield. Basically, I don't respond to solicitation at all, I just give online to charities I have researched thoroughly.

But I was still torn on whether the request itself was off, or if it was just me taking it the wrong way.

By the way, for those who've commented re toys, the way it was worded was basically (after the introduction and history etc, why they're going):   "it will be hugely expensive just getting there, and we'd also like to take some money to buy XYZ type items for the children.  So how much are you willing to give us? No donation too big or small!"  
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kherbert05

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2012, 01:25:57 AM »
I'm sure your friend means well - but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I find the I'm just going to go to X area and make their lives better with my gifts attitude arrogant. A good deal of harm can be done this way, and it can be very dangerous.
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Isometric

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2012, 01:57:14 AM »
Of course these girls have great intentions, nobody is denying that. But because they're not affiliated with any charity group, I see this more as a "life experience" (albeit for a good cause) for them, and as such, they should fund it themselves.

There are thousands and thousands of children (and adults) right here who desperately need help. I'm not saying children in Africa don't need the assistance. Of course they do, that's why there are many many agencies who are tirelessly working there, whom you can donate to and make a difference, however small. Is there a reason they don't they want to do any charity work here (home country)? Charity begins at home right?