Giving: On Thin Ice?

Giving: On Thin Ice?

In a recent McLean’s article by Scott Gilmore, he argues that the “giving” and “receiving” of charitable donations should be based on the level of need and not the level of entertainment which is how he views fundraising initiatives such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Movember and Livestrong.


He may very well have a point, but the reality is that charitable acts are most often motivated by emotion; compassion, passion, love or hate (as the case may be), excitement, and enthusiasm for a cause, disease or issue that we feel is near and dear to our hearts.  Let’s face it, there’s a little narcissist in all of us. We all want to believe that we are changing the world in some small way, that we are making a difference and contributing Which is why campaigns such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge works! For most of us slackers it’s impossible to do it alone. Although I would love nothing more than to build an orphanage in the Congo, chances are that won’t happen. And so how great is it when a brilliant, viral, grassroots, “do it yourself” opportunity to make a difference comes along! And I’m not alone! I’m in! And then I get to engage an entire network of friends, family, colleagues, competitors, enemies, you name it, by challenging them to do same. My kid thinks I’m cool, I think I’m a hero and my hairdresser thinks I’m an idiot!


The truth is that every cause is a good cause. Who gets and who doesn’t?  Chances are the one that makes the most noise, the one with the gimmick, the one that has turned perception into reality relative to a growing need, the one who manages to stand out in the  increasingly competitive and challenging sector that is fundraising. It’s a business!


I will offer one piece of advice though. Whether you are company looking to position yourself as a good corporate citizen or an individual who wants to give back, make sure you have a “giving policy” or a plan in place. As a company, it is important that the cause or issue resonates with your stakeholders and key influencers.  It may be an extension of your orientation as a company, or it may be because you have an employee or family member in need. If you are an individual, same idea, make sure it is meaningful to you and yours and that you feel comfortable that your money is going to the right place.


I say go with your heart!