Weekly Roundup – Good Charity, Bad Charity

Weekly Roundup – Good Charity, Bad Charity

In this week’s New York Times Opinion section, Professor Peter Singer makes his argument for what makes the act of charity good or bad. But in the process, he manages to lose perspective on the fact that there are many ways that people choose to be philanthropic, and as such, not all audiences respond to the same motivations.

Singer’s argument assigns value to charitable acts based on a vague notion of impact. In comparing giving money to organizations that work to solve medical issues to those nonprofits that are more arts based, he makes a claim that curing one patient from a debilitating disease provides significantly more value than giving thousands access to the arts.

While the argument has potential merit from a philosophical perspective, it lacks depth from a sociological and socio-economic angle. It also ignores the idea that different donors give for different reasons – and that by not following his moral code, donors to programs deemed less worthy on his scale of value are “nuts” for doing so.

From this discussion comes the notion that is fundamentally from a communications perspective – that is, how nonprofits message their constituents and donors varies based on the needs of the audience.

For some, preservation of history is more of a factor in large donations than creation of or the solution to something. For others, it is a personal relationship with the cause itself that drives giving. And like his argument, there are those that are motivated by helping those less fortunate than themselves have a better existence.

Moral platitudes aside, there is no wrong way to give to a charity. But it is up to nonprofits to learn what motivates their donors and tune their messages and asks to better match these expectations.

Below are some more links to finish out this week. Check out our Tumblr for updates throughout the week.

1 Comment
  • Craig says:

    Thanks Justin and Niki! Rest assured, we are tracking your blog and hope to see you on this list in the future as well.


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