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Author Topic: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?  (Read 33006 times)

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #30 on: July 30, 2012, 06:24:27 PM »
For me, I think it would come down to how much they'd managed to save up on their own versus what they needed donations for.

If you're broke and want to go help another community I'd feel like you were asking me to fund your experience. Granted, your experience is also benefitting others, but my funding is paying your travel expenses. If I say "I'd love to help! What do you need? I'll pick some up." and you say "Actually I need help getting there and paying for lodging." then I wouldn't feel I was donating to the cause, but rather to your getting to the cause.

That said, if you've saved up enough to get yourself there and back and keep yourself sheltered and fed, then I'd definitely feel I was donating to the cause. Even if you explained that shipping items (the medical supplies, food, toys, educational materials, etc. you plan to distribute) would be way too expensive and you'd prefer to take cash and purchase supplies when you got there I'd still know 100% of my donation was going directly to help the community.

I'm not saying it's wrong to solicit donations for travel expenses, since "the good" won't be done at all if nobody can go do it. I'm sure a lot of people would chalk that up to semantics. I'm just saying that the above is how I'd determine where my money was going. Then I'd decide to help or not based on my relationship with the person asking, why they were going, how much do-gooding I thought would actually get done, etc. I'm more likely to help if my donation is going straight to the cause.


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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #31 on: July 30, 2012, 07:27:26 PM »
So I just feel as though I'm being asked to fund a life choice / trip of a lifetime for them.

But aren't you really doing the same thing for a person that works for a charity/non-profit? In my humble opinion, everyone does nice things for self-gratification. People working for those organizations also chose a lifestyle of helping others because it makes them feel good in some way. Even you, Ceallach, would like to do something like they plan and I'll wager that on some level it's because you will feel good about working to help others. The only real difference I see between giving to an NGO is the efficiency with which they use the funds (and some accountability as who knows what your FB friends are doing with the funds they collect!).

For sure I wouldn't give money in a case like this. I might, if it were a good friend, start asking thoughtful questions about their plans.

And a quote to help support my view: If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Dalai Lama

Nope, that's not it.  It's not the self-gratification I have a problem with e.g. "Oh they're going to enjoy it!".   Life is short, so I hope that everybody enjoys what they do in life, everyday.   I do, and I wish the same for those around me.

When you donate towards a specific cause or charity you are contributing to a wider goal and purpose.  While the people might get satisfaction from their individual role in that, they're also doing their job.   You're giving to the cause, not to the person.  Now, I'm sure that is how these girls feel about it - that they're asking for money for a "good cause" not for themselves.  But that is exactly what the question is - where is the line between good cause or personal interest?    I'm sure that the people who have fundraisers to raise money to adopt a child consider it to be a "good cause" while many others say it's a personal life choice they should fund themself.  That's a grey area.   I believe we've also discussed "fundraisers" in the past for weddings, or for personal vacations, and the general consensus is that they're tacky and that people should fund their own life choices / personal experiences and not solicit funds from others.    This particular example could be seen as charity, e.g. giving to a cause  OR it could be seen as the latter - a situation where they want to go on a trip and they want to go visit the kids in Africa, but they want other people to fund the experience.

Agree with you.  To your and other posters point, yes, these girls may mean well, but there is a great likelihood that the actual costs of their travel could be applied in other ways that are more productive of benefits to others, though unfortunately, not inclusive of their ability to actually *be* at the location to which they wish to offer some un-defined assistance.

So, if they were seeking funds to send things to a location or particular orphanage - while I would still not likely contribute absent an established charitable organization's involvement - it would not carry the blush of "because I want to got there, help me do it.". If their *primary* objective were to benefit an orphanage, there are alternatives to physically going there.  I don't mean to suggest they mean anything other than much good, but don't pthink they have thought this through in a number of ways.
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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #32 on: July 31, 2012, 10:40:59 AM »
I still see no difference. The difference may be in effectiveness, but the motivation behind the people who do these things is the same.

Now if you mean that you question these 2 specific women's reasons for doing this, that is a different thing. They might very well be looking for a fun trip and to toss a few toys at African kids. But if they truly are motivated by wanting to help, then it's the same motivation as those who might go to work for charities.

I'm not saying donate to them. I've said that in my previous posts that I wouldn't. I think they are misguided. I just don't think that the reason to not donate to them is what you state in your subject line. Any donations, IMO, are going to subsidize someone's lifestyle choice whatever their motivations. The reason not to give to them is because they are going about it in an iffy and inefficient way.

If I donate to any charity, a percentage of that donation goes toward the travel and living accomodations of the volunteers and paid staff as well as marketing, overhead, and materials and so on. Same with donating to individuals. I would be more likely to donate to an organization for the economies of scale and networks they have in place, but I don't believe the motivations and choices made by the people that work for them are so very different. That includes you Ceallach as you say you want to do the same too. Are you planning on doing what they are doing only funding it all yourself? Or would you want to go with an organization? Your motivations wouldn't be different would they? You'd simply be enacting them in different ways.
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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #33 on: July 31, 2012, 11:38:48 AM »
For me the difference is one of the order of priortization and planning - effectively, and motivation as well though I am not questioning that these women mean well.

Someone who wishes to offer assistance to folks who are ill can become a doctor, nurse, therapist or may volunteer to participate in "meals on wheels".  Any of those choices and pursuits may stem from similar desires to help, but require different personal commitments, training, tools and funding.  No one would suggest that an individual's desire to help, where the individual is able to bring meals, qualifies them to perform functions which requires specific medical training - unless that individual actually obtains the medical training.  The motivation to help doesn't negate the need to prepare appropriately, which also requires motivation.

An established charity - and donations to same - may well involve funding travel and other costs, but would generally do so in the context of weighing the benefits against the cost.

These girls seem to be asking for funding to pursue a particular choice, which while well meant, has had negligible consideration of cost/benefit in terms of meeting the charitable aim "to do good" first.  Their charitable thought is tied, by them, to a personal interest in going to a particular location.  Rather than pursuing an involvement with an organization with which they could volunteer, or be hired by - which could be chosen based on where they would be located - their current course puts their "desired course of action" ahead of, or at least on equal footing with "achieving benefit" to others.

And pursuing their course is fine, if they do so independently, but asking others to fund it does - I think - ask others to fund their personal choice differently than donations to an organization which may pay for travel of its employees or volunteers.  The difference - to me - is that it is entirely their choice how/what/cost for their endeavor may be without outside accountability versus joining or affiliating with an organized effort, and making commitments to anyone other than themself as to how to proceed to implement good intentions.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #34 on: July 31, 2012, 02:46:45 PM »
I would not be willing to donate this, because I don't see a defined plan. Where are they going? How long will they be there? How will they pay their expenses? Is the group they want to work for legitimate?

My dad has done volunteer work overseas through a charity, and currently runs a small foundation. He does not take expenses. When he goes overseas, he pays his own way. He does raise money, but it all goes to the foundation. Yes, he can afford to do so, but that's my point. He's not asking people to fund his choices. 
« Last Edit: March 26, 2014, 12:17:17 PM by Winterlight »
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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #35 on: July 31, 2012, 03:10:11 PM »
My parents adopted several times. The first time, people asked how they could help the orphans; my parents suggested small blankets, stuffed animals, candy (this was from a list the orphanage provided). Well, after that trip and finding out how expensive an extra-large checked 70 pound bag full of toys was, they rethought the process. When they went on other trips people asked them if they could donate anything (yes, the people came to them, nobody was begging for donations; we had a very caring community) my parents suggested money, because they could actually buy things very cheaply in the orphanage communities. They would come home with pictures of the orphans receiving their new gifts, whether it was notebooks or toys.

This sort of thing can be done right. The way people have been solicited is not correct though. After seeing how my parents, who are not the most polite people in the world, handled themselves in their situation (taking out loans to pay for their trips themselves), I would have a problem with that sort of "invitation".

“A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems.” CS Lewis


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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #36 on: July 31, 2012, 04:51:08 PM »
I suspect this will end up as more of a personal trip than a charitable endeavor, because it sounds very poorly planned, even though their intentions may be sincere.  At the very least, I'd want to know a great deal more detail before I donated to a proposal like this.  For example, some obstacles that may change "mission of mercy" into "vacation" unless planned for...

* Do they have the permission of a specific orphanage to come work there?

* Do they have the kinds of skills/training that an orphanage wants or needs?  Orphanages generally have much greater need for skilled workers (doctors, teachers, etc.) than they would for someone who merely wants to "help" with unskilled labor.

* Do they have a realistic understanding of the kind of work they'd be asked to do?  If they lack the skills/training mentioned above, they may end up doing grunt work that doesn't appeal to them.  They may have romantic visions of reading stories to children all day, when the reality would be scrubbing floors.

* Do they speak the dominant language of the area where they plan to be, or do they plan to learn it in advance?  Their usefulness to an orphange would be delayed or diminished if they can't even speak to the children and staff for some weeks while learning the language.

* How will they support themselves in Africa?  Do they expect the orphanage to pay them or support them, which seems highly unlikely?  Living expenses in Africa could be quite a bit higher than just the airline costs.  They should also be planning for expenses such as health care, if they intend to spend months or years there.

* Will they be able to get visas to live and work in an African country?  Some countries are very strict about this.  They welcome people as a money-spending tourists, but aren't so interested in having then as permanent residents.


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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #37 on: July 31, 2012, 04:52:17 PM »
When I think about how many goats just one round-trip airfare could buy a family in Africa, it really just makes more sense to buy the goat.  I think that's where the issue is.  The trip expenses for the two girls could buy a lot of stuff in Africa.  I just did a quick calculation based on prices at one of the charities I'm involved in.  As an example, just to illustrate:

Let's say the trip expense is $4,000.  For that you can buy:

8 Goats at $50ea = $400
Feed a school their lunch for six whole months = $500
Furnish and buy textbooks for an entire school = $500
Provide clean water for 6 families = $600

That's a much bigger impact on the village than paying for airfare alone.  For $5,000 you can build a community well.  Imagine, the ability to provide water for an entire village... Forever!  Yes, someone is there to organize all of this from the charity, however, it's an organized effort and I imagine much more efficient than what your friends are proposing. 

Ok, I didn't mean to be on a soapbox.  All that to say, that's why I would never donate for their expenses.  They should fund that on their own.  I'm not sure of all the details, but it sounds like they have made a choice to do this but have no way of fulfilling it without handouts.  Doesn't sound like much of a feasible choice to me.  They've made themselves the charity, first and foremost.  I hope they take a step back and realize exactly what they are asking of their friends.

I have on my list, a trip to Kenya, but until I can afford it, I prefer to just buy the goats.  It just makes more sense. :)
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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #38 on: August 01, 2012, 02:13:57 AM »
So they have a 'mongo'. (My Own Non Government Organisation). I am very suspect about a lot of non emergency aid missions and think they perpetuate political, economic and social conditions that entrench the problems.

This woman give a pretty broad view of this issue.


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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #39 on: August 01, 2012, 08:03:25 AM »
So when you distill it right down, they are (in essence) asking you to donate money to...  an airline.
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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2012, 09:11:18 AM »
So when you distill it right down, they are (in essence) asking you to donate money to...  an airline.

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #41 on: August 01, 2012, 10:41:47 AM »
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.

Count me as the third grinchy sister!  I am all for helping people, but stuff like this to me sort of falls into the "want vs. need" category.   While I agree their intentions are good, my feeling is if you aare going to do something like this, you need to be able to fund it on your own, but its ok to ask for donations for stuff to bring like toys, and so on.


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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #42 on: August 01, 2012, 07:52:45 PM »

I tend to be very wary about making donations to personal efforts like this. Quite often, the people are very well meaning and truly want to help, but just don't have the experience or knowledge to do so in an efficient way. So if I give money or stuff to them, I'm wasting a charitable donation that could be made much more effectively.  When I give to international aid, I usually donate money to a registered NGO with reasonable overheads, a good reputation, and an established presence in the areas that are begin helped.  Giving through the NGO can in some cases double my donation, and giving to an established group means that the money is more likely to be used efficiently, and where it is needed most.

IN this particular case, they were asking for donations to help the people there, not support for their own expenses or transportation, so I'd say that it's within reasonable bounds from an etiquette perspective.  Requests for help with airfare, living expenses and so on are the ones that I regard as funding personal lifestyle choices. 

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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #43 on: August 01, 2012, 08:02:48 PM »
The deduction isn't a big deal for me as long as it isn't "give money through XYZ Business which will get the deduction and good publicity for your donations." So I'll donate for things like helping a friend (or even a friend of a friend) pay medical expenses.

But in that case, I know that the friend wants the money. It's different from "we're going to come in here and enjoy another trip to Africa and expect some people there to be grateful." The difference between these people and a well-known charity isn't just motivation: it's that the charity knows what's needed and how to give it. It can be better to give directly to an organization in the country/area where you want to help, but that may take more research.
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Re: Charity or "pay for my life choices"?
« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2012, 02:02:00 PM »
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?

This is why I don't donate.  We have friends who are going to live in another country in a few years and do good works.  They want help with the flight.  But I can't help feeling is that part of it is that they want to live in another country for a few years but couldn't afford the move on their own.  We have plenty of areas in this country that would love them to move to their community and help for a few years.  Our own country was never on their radar.  My money goes to help charities in my community.  And while we do toy drives during the holidays, we do back to school drives so every child can have a notebook, pencil, and backpack.