Friday, December 21, 2007

A better way to give?

Working on the Fayette Front Page and the Georgia Front page I see a large, large number of releases and stories about all the good things people are doing in the world. Turn on the television, especially at this time of year, and you're bound to see a commercial or a story for or about a charity.

I hear huge dollar amounts tossed out. Millions are donated to feed the homeless, cure a disease, right a wrong.

So how come we're not making a dent in things? We're tossing zillions of dollars toward research. Zillions of dollars to rebuild homes. Zillions of dollars to feed people across the world.

Off and on I think about the industry of helping others. It's a huge business. HUGE.

It's not always a business that is a good steward of our donated dollars and time. I remember visiting the Atlanta office a very well known organization fighting a deadly disease. I should be so lucky to sit in an office of similar opulence.

Think about all of the people who make their living fighting diseases. We have managers, vice presidents, presidents, staff workers, accountants, doctors, scientists and untold numbers who would be jobless if they found a cure for the disease they're trying to eradicate. Do away with those who are now in poverty and we'd create a whole new group of out-of-work poverty fighters on the dole because they no longer had a job (no matter how minuscule the pay they're currently getting).

Now, I'm not saying that the people aren't working diligently to cure whatever disease they're fighting. There are many very dedicated individuals out there who would love to lose their job if it meant success.

However, the fighting poverty, fighting disease industry is huge. I remember when there was a big scandal of sorts some years back where charities were attacked for having such huge operating costs. Now everyone is proud to show that ten percent or some small percent is going to operating costs.

Call me skeptical, call me scrooge, but I find it difficult to see all the high dollar amounts going to various organizations and not see any major strides in fighting poverty or illnesses. I'm also smart enough to know that books can be cooked and operating costs can be downplayed by moving things into a different column. Not saying there are any shenanigans going on, just noting that it's possible.

I see our local charities and I can feel the dedication, I can see them helping individuals. I see their crowded offices and know that in many, many cases the space is donated by a local business person. I know they work for meager salaries. I see the impact they make in people's lives. I volunteer, donate, help raise money and know it's going to a good cause and being used wisely.

Take it a step higher and I start to lose a bit of faith. I still help when I can. I donate when possible, help raise money, give of my time. Wondering about something I can't know doesn't stop me from wanting to do whatever I can to stop cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, etc.

But I wonder if there's not a better way sometimes.

Funny. As I was typing this the Georgia Front Page phone rang. I picked it up. It was a charity (calling from Florida) wanting us to make a donation. Great timing...

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