Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

I thought it would be handy to do a Frequently Asked Questions - a lot of this stuff comes up repeatedly through this blog, the media, on-line forums/comments and general discussions:

Charity staff have a vested interest in not fixing the problem. If they achieve their mission they'll put themselves out of a job! So do they actually want to fix these problems?
Yes. If an individual cures cancer or fixes poverty they will almost certainly never have to work again. In fact, they will probably be the most famous and richest person in the history of the world. If you put "Found A Cure For Leukaemia" on your CV you are definitely getting a second interview. 

Isn't it wrong to make money from working for a charity?
No. In the same way it's not wrong to make money from selling water, providing information, providing gas and electricity, producing medicine, teaching, upholding the law, being a doctor, destroying our planet, etc.
Or, wait...maybe it is wrong?

Don't charities just make the problem worse?

Charities shouldn't pay CEOs so much money. Shouldn't they employ someone who costs less, or better yet is a volunteer?
Yes, in the same way every company and organisation should try to get the best staff at the lowest cost. If you are that person please write to the board of directors of the charity and inform them you will do the same or better job and you will cost less. Include your CV.

Adverts, billboards, chuggers, mailings, phone calls, bucket shakers, etc. put me off donating. I only donate to charities that don't ask.
That wasn't a question, but that's great. You are awesome. Unfortunately you are the minority. If everyone was like you then charities wouldn't have to spend any money on advertising or fundraising and that would be really cool. But they're not, so can you please ask your friends, family, co-workers and strangers to donate without being asked. In fact, how would you like to shake a bucket for your favourite charity?

A lot of charities get government funding. Shouldn't they be held accountable for how they use that money?
Yes, absolutely. And they are. They are probably held accountable more than the government's other service providers and suppliers, such as the telecoms, transport, stationery, hospitality companies, etc.

Is it true only 10 cent of every Euro goes to the cause?
That question doesn't make sense...what do you mean 'the cause'? Do you mean does the charity only hand a 10 cent coin to a starving child in Africa? That's not how it works at all.
100 cent of every Euro goes towards the organisation achieving its goal. In the same way that 100 cent of every Euro you spent on that can of Coke goes towards giving you that can of Coke. It's irrelevant to say that 1 cent of every Euro is wasted on the Coke CEO, 8 cent is wasted on the shop selling it, 10 cent of every Euro is wasted on the can, 3 cent of every Euro is wasted on transport. You wouldn't ask "Does only 10 cent of every Euro go towards the actual cola liquid?" You wouldn't travel to the Coke factory and stick your face under the industrial sized tap to ensure that none of your money was 'wasted'.

I read in the newspaper and heard on the news that charities spend too much on admin and overheads. Is that true?
The concept of admin and overheads is flawed. And, generally, the head of newspapers, TV stations and radio stations earn more for running much smaller organisations. If they didn't then your newspaper and TV license fee might be cheaper.

I still totally disagree with these charities. What can I do?
Don't donate to them. If they're funded by the government, and you don't have that choice, then write to your TD. You might also use that opportunity to complain about how the rest of your taxes are being spent.

Sorry, I'm going to stop you there. Saying "Charities..." do something is like saying "Businesses...", "Politicians...", "Scientists...", etc. It doesn't work. There are good charities and bad charities. Next time someone says something about charities trying replacing the word 'charities' with 'businesses' and see if it still makes sense. Yes, they're different, but a lot of the same principles apply.

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