Charity

I’ve been “called out” a couple of times now on this whole charity bandwagon that’s been going around. Ice Bucket and Give and Tell. My turn to address it with some O P I N I O N S and whatnot.

I’ve never heard of ALS before this challenge. As I understand it, that’s the point. It’s an awful disease, but not that many people have it, so awareness is low, thus funding for research toward a cure is low. So raising awareness is crucial and this Ice Bucket challenge is doing a kick ass job of changing that.

The second I first heard about it skepticism set in. So, if I do this dumb little challenge then I don’t have to donate? Didn’t Bill Gates do it? Shouldn’t he have, I dunno, donated some money instead? That all faded away when I learned a bit more about it and seen the success it’s had.

I’ve failed in response time for the Ice Bucket one, so I went ahead and donated $100. I’m fine with donating, but I want to be very careful about this. The Ice Bucket challenge is a trend. It’s a Big Popular Thing™ right now. I do not want trends to drive my charitable behavior. I want to be charitable toward things I think are important in life.

And I am. I help my family. I help my friends. Not in vague ways, in real ways that sometimes involve money. I’m not poor, but I’m not rich. I have no savings. I run fairly close to dry.

I use Kiva to help give loans to people around the world that need it. I particularly like the ones where people are starting businesses. I always re-invest what is sent back to me.

It’s not quite charity, but I’m also a fan of Kickstarter. I’ve backed 83 projects there, across all categories they offer, most without getting anything in return, because I’m mostly interested in helping people do awesome things.

I don’t to it much, but I have volunteered at a Ronald McDonald House before and I really like that organization. I donate to the Eastern Wisconsin one, because that’s where I live. I like donating to Milwaukee-based things for the same reason. My favorite types of charities are local and centered around things I care particularly about. Things like dogs, kids in tech, and social justice.

This all feels very defensive to write. Perhaps it is. Getting “called out” feels weird. Especially when there is a time limit. The worst way ever to get me to do something is to put a time limit on it. I’ve asked my brain to be more lenient on this, but no dice.

Another thing thing is for sure: I need to be even better at this. I need to spend more time finding more charities that are important to me. I need to donate more of my various skills and time. I need to create a budget so I know I’m on target.

I also can’t challenge anybody. Sorry I’m just a wimp and feel mega weird about it.

8 responses to “Charity”

  1. Bravo! Thanks for the honesty, Chris. I like your “help local first” attitude. We definitely still need to look outside our towns and cities and states (especially Americans), but the area we have the most power is always going to be where we’re closest, so why not start there? People underestimate how big an impact simple day-to-day kindness has.

  2. Dan says:

    I just wanted to point out that when people do the challenge, they are supposed to donate to ALSA ($10 if they do the challenge or $100 if they don’t).
    I agree with everything said and the whole thing is weird to me. I was called out to do it and maybe will, but won’t be calling anyone else out.
    Also, don’t get me wrong – it’s great that this is bringing attention to ALS – but I’d like to donate to a charity that means something to me. In my case, that cause would be alzheimer’s. Maybe I’ll donate to both.

  3. Joshua Jones says:

    Enjoyed the read Chris, thanks for sharing. Particularly, “I do not want trends to drive my charitable behavior. I want to be charitable toward things I think are important in life.” I very much agree on that point. Thank’s for donating!

  4. Taylor says:

    I am so happy about the success it has had and think it’s a very important cause.

    However, I was bothered by the confrontational aspect of it (“calling out”), that people I’m Facebook friends with seem to only want to do something when it’s trendy, and…how many really donated the $10? Oh, and the waste of tons of water.

    Maybe this is hypocritcal because I like swimming pools, don’t “let it mellow” when it’s yellow, and sometimes run the water when I brush my teeth – but alas, I was bothered by the waste of water in the midst of the water crisis in Detriot.

    So…I put my money where my pesky opinion is and donated to that.

    In that sense, even though I had a negative gut-reaction to the whole viral aspect – like you, it ended up getting me to think about actually doing something helpful for a cause.

  5. Thanks for saying something. I choose to be selective with my charities. It is not that I do not give, it is that I am selective and give when I can and where I want to give based on things that are important to me. I do not want to be “called out” or “forced” into a donation of ANY amount to an association of ANY kind. That is not what charity is about. It does not mean that I do not care about ALS or the like, it just means that I find other things to have a little more meaning or a bigger impact to my life or my community.

  6. Jeff Penman says:

    This is pretty much my exact attitude. I’m happy ALS charities are receiving a boost but it’s not in my top 100 list of charities. I’m all for curing diseases but diseases that take massive amounts of cash -if they will ever be cured at all- fall lower on my charity spectrum than ‘save this kid from dying right with far less money’.

    My grandfather died of ALS so it’s not as if it’s not a concern nor is it something distant from me. That doesn’t change the fact that there are much more cost effective ways of doing good in the world.

    I also refuse to donate based on bullying or arm twisting. On the other hand, I don’t want to be a dick about it. That’s why I refused the challenge but did so publicly and with a task more difficult than an ice bucket “challenge”.

    The marketing behind this was great. I just wish it was for a cause where “raising awareness” in and of itself would be beneficial, like convincing people to become organ donors.

  7. Well said Chris, I share you sentiments. However, what caught my eye and made me do a double take is totally unrelated to what you were writing about– “I have no savings. I run fairly close to dry.” Why?!

  8. Chris Lowles says:

    I feel awkward about it as well, but I haven’t been challenged to do it, and I honestly want it to stay that way for the sake of not feeling very awkward, I’d rather donate $10 and be on my way, but I still appreciate the awareness that ALS is getting.

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