Charity Work: Vice or Virtue?

By Purnoor T.

The objectives of private profits and public interests are seldom aligned, but concerns have been raised about the legitimacy of both their purposes. It is evident that public support is crucial to the development of a thriving private sector, which leads to the pursuit of adopting certain pro-charity campaigns that can mask the intentions of the company. Although corruption in the corporate world is a hot topic that has several perspectives, corrupt charities have been stealing the front page. Several allegations have been made that question the sincerity of their purposes, and many news networks have already created lists among lists that insist on their lack of validity. One charity in particular, Kids Wish Network, has demonstrated how a non-profit organization may not entirely exist.

Distinguishing NGOs from non-profit organizations is not often thought about by eager charity donators. NGOs are organizations created by legal persons who are not affiliated with the government, but their funding is often raised by a political body. These types of organizations are also known as civil society organizations, which often do partake in corporate like activities and make profits, but they are not conventional businesses either. On the other hand, non-profit organizations, supposedly, do no divide extra funds between their shareholders or owners, but rather, take steps to use them for the purpose of the organization. Some examples of non for profits are public art organizations, trade unions, and charities. Donations that go towards NGOs can be used for the private profit of the stakeholders involved, but donating to non for profits will go towards the purpose for which it was created, right?

The Kids Wish Network, a prominent American based charity, raises millions of dollars every year for dying children and their families, yet the spend less than 3 cents on the dollar towards their supposed goal. In the past decade alone, evidence has demonstrated how this charity has diverted nearly $110 million to its corporate solicitors, and $4.8 million has gone towards executive employees. But this is not an isolated case; there have been many cases such as this all over the world. The commercialisation of non-profit organizations is what leads many of them to be motivated by personal gain, which is why the common man must be wary when considering where to donate.

To further this trend, it is important to recognize some charities do still remain true to their purpose. Problems arise because many charities are susceptible to the wrongful distribution of their funds and donations; there have been several instances where non-profit organizations disperse their funds to international causes, and they are received by the wrong hands. In 2013, the Philippines experienced a horrific typhoon and the international community rushed to their aid, but much of the funds that were donated to charities who contributed to the relief efforts were given to many organizations in the nation itself that used them for personal profit. Mistakes like these are not uncommon as several non-profit organizations provide funding to the wrong cause, often accidently.

There have been several instances where the private collection of funds from charities and non-profit organizations has sparked debate among citizens. For most others, charity work is still considered hip, and in this era of self-congratulation, acts of kindness bring one a sense of righteousness and philanthropic action. But could this feeling be misplaced? The altruistic pull of contemporary philanthropy encourages us to donate, but we must put more effort into finding alternative ways to help our local and global community such as volunteering and devoting time, rather than money.

Now, more than ever, it is essential to discern between which charities we donate to due to many global phenomenon including the Ebola outbreak, conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, as well unpredictable natural disasters.





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