Charity Foundations, Good Or Bad?

I am in Cambodia now, the town of Siem Reap and am amazed at how many charity foundations there are in this town, three hundred NGO’s (non-governmental associations), one everywhere you look. I have visited with several projects so far and learnt about a very interesting problem.

The main problem is that many charities and uninformed people give away their money without wisdom. There is one NGO with an orphanage. They have 62 kids and need money. One fundraiser they approached asked a very important first question; how many staff do you have? Forty-one salaries are paid out each month. This is not a luxury cruise ship! The lack of funds is no surprise and funding was not delivered because it was clear the people running this orphanage cared more about themselves than the kids. Too many charities are really just a business that someone who wants to help the poor finds as a way to make a living for themselves.

Now we find where the problem lies. The tourist donors never look deeper into the organization to find out where their money goes. This is where the lack of wisdom mixed with too much money and good intentions just wastes precious resources.

The other interesting factor about the problem is that many of the hundreds of charity foundations in the area do not communicate with each other. They keep their projects secret as if it is some big corporate espionage.

Funny thing is that is exactly the reality. The foundations are all vying for grants and donations. In order to beat out the others, they have to keep separate and secret so the other foundations do not steal their projects and take the grant money away from them.

Needless to say, many of these ‘charities’ use much of the money they receive to pay themselves a good salary instead of doing what should be done, which is put every penny into the people and projects.

Life is not often what it appears. Good intentions quickly turn into bad results if we do not take the time to explore what we are doing deeply enough. The reason this happens is because people give money out of guilt or self serving satisfaction to make themselves feel they have done something good for poor people which alleviates their guilt of taking advantage of others in their process of accumulating wealth. Then stories like this one come out exposing the waste so people who would give donations become reluctant and the sincere groups do not get the funds they need.

Rather, if people would do for the sake of doing, help because help is needed rather than help to ease their own feelings of guilt for the comforts and blessings they have (odd as that sounds it is often true), then they would take the time to research where the money is going, put in the effort to make sure that their money is spent wisely, and continue to be active and involved rather than give their tithe at church on sunday, then go and create a new lot of bad karma with a weekly cleansed slate.

We must know the reason we do what we do, serve the need and not the self. This is the key to success in all endeavors. In Buddhist terms, this is taught as; “Do the best job you can for the sake of doing the best you can.” There is no ego involved, rather, there is objective wisdom which leads to the best results rather than looking back in retrospect saying; “It looked like a good idea at the time.”

There is a lot that can be done to help people have a better life, and it does not take much money to make a big difference, but rather find the right place to put your money before you hand it over.

, , , , , ,

2 Responses to Charity Foundations, Good Or Bad?

  1. Jonathan Kraft April 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    One thing we’re always focused on is recruiting the right team members to help us accomplish things we want to do, but either don’t want to do ourselves or don’t know how to do ourselves.

    I’ve not thought about applying the same principle of “finding the right team members” to those we donate money to. We’ve got to find the right people to put our money to work in the causes they’re working for. Giving money isn’t enough. Giving money to people who will be good custodians of the faith and trust you place in them to put your money to work… that’s an awesome challenge and opportunity.

  2. Jonathan Kraft April 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Thank-you for providing this perspective on charitable giving.

Leave a Reply