Nieuws - 22 maart 2012

Is giving money to charity a waste of time?


Proposition: Giving money to charity is a waste of time. Too much of it is swallowed up by overheads.

Marlies: It is good to be critical of charities. There is no place in them for fat salaries for managers or unethical investments. But I think it is nonsense to tar them all with the same brush. I sometimes think that people use the fact that some organizations function badly as an excuse not to give anything at all. But I think it is sad that we (myself included) so often prioritize our own luxury over aid for people who are starving. And that the environment is suffering more and more. In other words, be critical, but don't use it as an excuse just to keep your money for yourself, in our still rich country.
Jillis responds; It is not about putting our own luxury first. It is about the fact that aid money is used badly or even counterproductively. In the case of Darfur, donors are just helping the rebels. In that case you are crazy if you keep on giving. I think in fact it is easier and more important for a lot of people to buy off their guilt feelings than to think about what is being done with their money.

Jillis: The phrase charity industry sums it up, really: charities have become commercialized and are nothing more than a - badly organized - industry. The management of these charities sometimes get ludicrously high salaries, some of them more than the Prime Minister. Pots of money go into overheads. Advertising campaigns with celebrities cost a fortune. And whatever is left over often ends up in the wrong places too. People who lost one boat in the infamous tsunami ended up with four or five boats afterwards. In Darfur aid supplies were stolen and stockpiled by the rebels, who were able to blackmail the population with them. In Haiti aid supplies were stolen too. I could go on and on. People should think a bit more critically before giving money to a ┬┤good┬┤ cause.
Marlies responds: You can find out a lot on the CBF website about how the money is spent: many charities use their money very well. And what you are doing is easy: mention a couple of examples of where it has gone wrong and then base your opinion entirely on that. You should think a bit more critically before you make sweeping generalizations.