Don’t enable! Be wise about the consequences of your giving. Investigate who is getting your money, and know specifically how you are helping.Paul Sutherland, Chairman, Utopia Foundation
Don’t Enable! Be Wise About Your Giving
We are often drawn to give to charitable causes. I know. I’ve been there and done that. But how many of us find out where our money is going, and if it is actually going to the cause you’ve donated for.
I worked for an NGO and happily raised funds for it. Then I began to watch closely what happened with the money that people gave so generously. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that organisations need money for administrative purposes. Staff must be paid adequately for the work they do, especially on the field. The work that you and I can do. But I questioned if it was necessary for the Director to have the latest I-phone? Was an absolutely top of the line Apple computer vital for documentation? These are things just some of the things I was not comfortable with.
When We Give To An Organisation Due Diligence Is Vital
So when we give to an organisation, due diligence is vital. We need to find out more about them and what they do. Are they in the business of fund-raising and creating dependence. Or are they working on empowering people to become independent. Is the organisation working to solve problems in a sustainable or resilient way, or are they just around to provide employment for their Director/s and some staff? An ideal organisation is one that is slowly working towards resolving a problem until they are no longer needed.
The Jewish philosopher and scholar, Moses ben Maimon, commonly referred to as Maimonides, defined 8 levels of charity. At level eight is giving unwillingly. He said “the highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.”
With Individuals – Empower, Don’t Enable
I know that is a much used proverb but it does apply here:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
I’m a very soft-hearted individual and have often given away money to people who I think need it. But that hasn’t always gone well. I’ve learned to :
- Give in kind. Buy groceries, clothes, books, etc
- Pay for education. Pay school/college fees directly to the institution or ask for a receipt.
- Give loans. Interest free loans with an easy instalment plan can be a life saver to a person in need.
- Point people in the direction of jobs, offer assistance with resumes, etc
- Suggest entrepreneurship ideas to people and help them set up a business with small loans.
I’m sure you’ve had experiences about charity and philanthropy. Do share your thoughts in the comments below.
This post was written in response to Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt – Enable.