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The Sworn Enemies of Charity

August 24, 2011, 0:00 2385 Author: Iryna Gavrisheva, translated by Daria Sukach deti-zp.livejournal.com Summer time is the sworn enemy of volunteers and charity foundations (as well as sick children who need help). Usually charitable contributions dramatically decrease during this period of time

I’ve decided to analyze the most common reasons for this phenomenon. I’ve counted no fewer than10 sworn enemies of fundraising campaigns.

Enemy #1 – The age of the sick child. It’s much easier to raise money for a little child than for an older one. The older the child is, the more difficult the fundraising effort. And if “a child” is already eighteen years old – it’s especially hard to generate contributions. One feels greater compassion for little children since they look more vulnerable. However, our colleagues from “The Alive Adult” Charity Foundation write, “A grown up person is as vulnerable to illnesses as a child.” What’s more a family of a “grown up” child find themselves in a worse financial situation since a mom of “a big” child does not get any sick-leave money from her job. What’s more, the larger the child, the greater the dosage of medicine required to treat his or her condition. Although this age issue is widely discussed, it continues to be a problem. Even a sixteen-year-old boy cannot really hope for any financial support, let alone a thirty-year-old man.

Enemy # 2- Season. The worst and the poorest seasons for charity are summer and winter, with its Christmas and New Year holidays. It’s quite clear why. During this time of year people usually prefer to spend more money on themselves, so there are little “spare” funds left for someone else. New Year holidays, however, are still better in this regard, since “the spirit of miracles” instills in some people a desire to make the Christmas dream of a child in need come true. Sadly, when it comes to summer, there’s no “Christmas spirit” left. Summer is three months of fun when everyone wishes to go on trips. It’s a great pity that illnesses never go on holidays.

Enemy # 3 – Nationality of the sick child. Yes, nationality does play a role. The appearance or the name and surname of a child often reveal his or her nationality. It’s a real challenge to collect money for a Gypsy, Tatar or Azerbaijani child. It’s a sad fact that many people suppose that the children of national minorities should be supported by “their” own countrymen. But these “countrymen” are also different people who do not owe anyone anything. These supposed native connections with “countrymen” have often been lost. Anything can happen, but the result is often deplorable. The children of “non-Slavs” cannot count on support from Slavs.

Enemy #4. - Appearance of the sick child. Usually one helps either very nice and charming children (Oh, how much the choice of a good picture means!!!) or children who look very sick. If a pictured child is bald and tied to the catheters, has bandages or wears a mask, it certainly increases the chances they will receive help. A child who looks healthy, however, is not so fortunate. (Here I can’t help recollecting a famous phrase of Kernes, “Misha, you have a boring face and nobody will give any money”.) It seems to be absolutely clear, but it actually means that cancer sick children with blue lips gain an advantage over little patients with heart disorders whose symptoms are not immediately visible.

Enemy #5. -Nonfatal diagnosis. People tend to donate their funds for saving someone’s life rather than to help someone avoid terminally dangerous complications. It doesn’t matter how loudly one shouts about an urgent need for expensive antibiotics or antifungal agents for preventive measures – the response will be weak. But at the same time, as soon as the sick child is on the verge of death due to infections, the number of “helpers” significantly increases. The same weak responses follow when a diagnosis is not terminal (for instance, deafness or orthopedic problems, etc..)

Enemy #6.- Ambiguous and rare diagnosis. Cancer is a diagnosis which is worldly notorious, but a myelodysplastic syndrome (which without bone marrow transplantation has much worse prognosis than a typical leukemia) is something abstract and unclear. Yes, it should also be treated, but it is still not cancer! There are so many terrible diagnoses around the world that either result in death or turn life into an endless agony. Many such illnesses are rare (Thank, God!) and not well known. Fundraising campaigns are tremendously slow when it comes to such obscure illnesses.

Enemy #7. - Financial Prosperity of the Family. Everyone honestly wills to help a poor single mother, a father-widower, or a custodian grandmother. It surely goes without saying that such families really need help. But the process of raising funds slows down a lot when it concerns an ordinary family consisting of a mom-dad-child that receives an average income. Sometimes these “prosperous” families can hardly collect 1,000-2,000 hryvnyas (124-249 US dollars). For most so-called “financially prosperous” families in Ukraine, a sum of 1,000 or 2,000 euros is large, let alone when it comes to 10,000 or 100,000 euros for treatment abroad. Just the same, a sad story of a single mom will get a greater response than that of a typical two-parent family.

Enemy #8.- “An ordinary or a problem child”. When you write an appeal to help a sick child, it should be done in the way that will distinguish him\her from all other kids. Sports, arts or school accomplishments – is a real break for a volunteer who writes the article. There’s nothing worse than a dialogue like “Is he\she a good student?” “Well, so-so. “What is his\her hobbies?” “Well, nothing really. He\she hangs out with other kids outside”. “What does he\she love?” “Well, playing games on the mobile telephone.” And the situation is absolutely disastrous when this sick child has a difficult character… You cannot lie in your article that the child smiles and supports his\her mom despite his\her sufferings. At such moments the volunteer feels nothing but despair. Donors prefer outstanding personalities, even if it often means just some single extraordinary skills. But what about all those ordinary children who are too little to express any special talents or who are not mature enough to show their combative spirit? Well, that’s a big question…

Enemy #9. – A low coefficient of performance and little chance of therapeutic success. People want their donations to make some great changes in the life of a sick child. For example, it’s wonderful when the child who was dying of an infection manages to stay alive after good and expensive treatment. People want to see a positive impact from their contributions and there is no reason to judge them for that. Our life, though, is not always that fair. This coefficient of performance is often unpredictable or too low and the result of our donations seems really meager to us. Does it really make a big difference if a hearing impaired child is able to make out some little noises, but still cannot really hear people speaking to him\her? What sense is it to donate money for hearing devices if they only help the sick child recognize some single noises? It’s not often taken into account that even this small gain in hearing can save the child from being run over by a car (as the child will hear its approaching), or enable him\her to hear door bells and many other things. But this is still not a matter of life and death in the minds of many donors. Unfortunately miracles can be scarcely purchased, even for great sums of money. On the contrary, sometimes to change someone’s life for better is achieved by comparatively little money.

Enemy # 10. – A little or great sum of money. For most people the sum of 100,000 euros is something beyond their wildest imagination. Amassing this huge amount of money seems to be unachievable and therefore, there seems to be no point in attempting to collect it. That’s why such fund raising campaigns usually run terribly slowly since people do not believe that their 100 hryvnyas (12 US dollars) will significantly benefit a sick child. But again when the sum is moderately higher, say from 500-2,000 hryvnyas (62-249 US dollars), people are rather passive. They are sure that “this amount of money is not so great; someone will certainly donate it”. And this is the COMMON thinking of people who read help appeals. Such appeals do not even manage to collect 500 hryvnyas (249 US dollars) while other “financially” bigger help requests raise 10, 000 hryvnyas (1, 247 US dollars) in just a few days.

There are certainly more factors which have a great influence on fundraising campaigns. The ones I’ve stressed in this article seem to me the most important. I will greatly appreciate if my colleagues and readers of this website who had any donation experience would express their opinions. It’d be nice to speak not only about the enemies of charity, but the methods for overcoming them.

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Artur Kerimov

Cerebral palsy, structural epilepsy

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