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Thinking on rational charity...

January 4, 2012, 19:20 2615 Author: Iryna Gavrysheva, translated by Iryna Koval www.deti.zp.ua Actually there are so many pitfalls in such a simple act as charity… And such a big wisdom is needed from all the members of this process to make charity a real boon!

Recently we were invited to a talk-show recording, which was devoted to volunteers, charity and so on. A group of like-minded persons gathered, though working in different ways. We’ve been talking within an hour during the broadcast. Then went out the studio and continued talking. We’ve been talking about “unpopular” things. The things, that are usually left off-screen of the “standard” charity. But on the other hand, I consider that it is necessary to inform people on the idea that not all the charity is useful to “the recipient”. Sometimes help can be useless and even harmful. That only “rational charity” can do real changes for the better.

The New Year’s holidays... And chains of philanthropists will move to orphanages with sweet presents. Time and again children will dance and sing in front of the respected ladies and gentlemen, accompanied with cameras’ flashing, working off these presents. 1, 2, 3… 10 presents! “We’ve got 13 sweet presents per person for the New Year, – says the pupil from one of the boarding schools among other things, – Just one trouble– teachers forbad taking them out of the boarding school and they’ve bought up themselves from us. But the price was unprofitable; we could have sold them at a higher price at the market”. So that’s all the use of “philanthropists” invasion on the threshold of the New Year: either diathesis to those, who ate all the given candies, or money for cigarettes to those, who sold them. One could pack the boarding school with sports implements, meccanoes, etc. on the money spent by sponsors for sweet presents (converted into cigarettes by children). One could remunerate the work of coaches, who teach children English or informatics. One could take kids for an excursion and so on. But the philanthropist… 13 philanthropists, notwithstanding expediency, chose the way of helping, that was easier for them. And finally, they’ve spent money without doing anything good for children.

Helping orphans, handicapped children, sick children and etc. – is now a kind of … a brand, maybe. In other words it means firm associations: a miserable orphan, who doesn’t know anything but orphanage walls, needs help. A child with ICP (infantile cerebral paralysis), persistently doing exercises in order to stand up from the wheelchair and to run one day, also needs help. And of course, an unhappy bold infant, connected to a dropper, definitely needs help! And admit, it would sound more than strange, if I show you a child with cancer and say, that he doesn’t need any financial aid. You’ll answer that maybe he doesn’t need it urgently, but for sure it won’t be superfluous! As well as a sweet present for an orphan or a food set for a family with a “special” child! And such, indeed, is the case … but in the flat next to that with the handicapped child there is a family without “a brand”. They’ve got a father and a mother. There are two kids without disability. Rather a normal, a usual family. But the mother is a stall seller with a paltry salary and the father is a metalworker in the Housing and Communal Service with the same salary. And the children are very often sick … nothing serious, just bringing snivel and cough from the kindergarten. But a half of mother’s salary is spent for medicines to treat snivel and cough, and father’s salary is hardly enough to pay for utilities. And maybe this ordinary family without “a brand” needs this food set much more than a family with a handicapped child. Have you ever thought about it? About the fact, that not only “privileged categories” of families often need help?

Taking clothes and toys of one’s grown child to the orphanage is easy and popularly. But maybe if a young and confused mother from a village had these romper crawlers-napkins-rattles for her child, she won’t abandon him and the child won’t be in the orphanage now? It is easy to help children from orphanages, who are orphans already! It is much more difficult to prevent these children from appearing in an orphanage! It is clear that an ordinary mother from Zaporozhye doesn’t know, that crawlers are extremely needed somewhere in a remote village of the region. And she won’t go there to bring a package of the used clothes. Ideally this job – a kind of peculiar mediation – should be fulfilled by charity organizations. But, unfortunately, their number is still low to cover EVERYTHING.

It is easy to help by pressing a repost button in LiveJournal/social networks under the asking to help collect money for expensive treatment. But if you really want to help it is worth having a quick look through the documents, contacts, etc., i.e. to make sure the asking is real. Unfortunately, cheating instances are not isolated. Therefore, if you want to provide a real help to real people, it is worth to double check the information. For example, if the question is about a child with cancer from Ukraine, then most likely the information on him will be available on the site of the Ukrainian association of persons and groups, working with cancer-sick children "To live tomorrow". If the matter concerns a seriously ill child from Zaporozhye region –most probably there is information on him at our site "Children of Zaporozhye ". BUT!! If you haven’t found any information at "Live tomorrow" or "Children of Zaporozhye", yet it doesn’t mean the asking is cheating. Perhaps, people didn’t know that it is possible to appeal to these organizations. Contact the petitioners and tell about such a possibility. Thus you could а) determine the dishonest petitioners (if they tell you that they were refused to place an information, - it means that there were some reasons for such refusal), b) provide a valuable aid in case if a person didn’t know that he could appeal to those organizations.

It is accustomed to consider, that addressed help is safe, but help through a fund – is a risk of your money misuse. This conviction is not groundless. The quantity of “muddy” funds, created for money-laundering, was really enormous in nineties. Nowadays the situation has essentially changed, a lot of charity organizations appeared and they work not only honestly and transparently, but also professionally. Employees of such funds know how to cut down bills from foreign clinics, where to buy an expensive medicine at a cheaper price, after all how to describe a problem in such a way, that people respond. A fund must report on utilization of donations. But a private person, asking for help, is not obliged to give a report … and is not also obliged to use a donation for treatment rather than for a new mobile phone. That’s why we can’t guarantee the 100% target utilization of the money, though according to the legislation of Ukraine we have to collect money on the personal accounts of sick children’s parents. We’re doing everything possible, but actually only the money, received to the fund’s account can be absolutely transparent.

I know I’m writing now about unpopular things. I’m writing on the fact, that a contributor should be strained, spend his time and energy. And that is at the time when funds are ready to drop searching for the ways of helping, which are less burdensome for contributors. For instance, our fund is also searching for such ways … But at the same time we are convinced, that charity should be rational. That sometimes the easiest way is the way to nowhere. That sweet presents to orphans is a harmful charity! And impulsive pressing of repost button in some cases – is assistance to cheaters! Yes, this is a charity right from the heart, but a kind heart doesn’t do actions automatically useful. So forgive me for such a brutal and unpopular message …

Perhaps, one can write endlessly on this subject. Actually there are lots of pitfalls in such an easy act as charity… And such a big wisdom is needed from all the members of this process to make charity a real boon! And so much time and efforts needed to inform people on the idea of “the rational charity”… But finally one should start with something?! So let’s consider, that this article – though a small one, but a brick in construction of the efficient charity model. The model, which can make the world a better place… After all, this is the goal of every philanthropist, isn’t it?! ;)

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