Friday, November 7, 2014

Does Charity Suck Energy Away from Solutions?

This morning I received an excellent e-newsletter from our local poverty-relief nonprofit, the Coalition for Compassion and Justice (CCJ) here in Prescott. Their efforts to provide warm clothing and to weatherproof houses for impoverished people are so important, especially as winter descends. Incredibly, nearly one third of our county’s children suffer from hunger every day. This has not changed at all over the last 20 years. Their parents, who are struggling to feed their children, certainly do not have the resources to buy warm clothes or repair broken windows, walls, and roofs.
These statistics and the photos of needy families inspire us to help. The jobs are easy—deliver some extra clothing you don’t need or spend an afternoon fixing windows. CCJ and organizations like them have armies of volunteers and donors helping out.

Even as one of their donors of food and clothing, I am bothered by charity programs. I often wonder if even a fraction of the energy spent through one-way charity programs that give to “the needy” was spent working with impoverished people to solve poverty, we would be a lot farther along than we are today.

Leaders I work with through our Social Bike Business Program often bemoan the lack of helpers and donors they have. In order to start strong, these business-minded organizations need help. But their long-term visions of careers through profitable sales don’t yank heartstrings like immediate needs.

How are some of you overcoming this with your social bike business programs? Have you found ways to entice people to help that do not rely on urgent response to people in need? Does your program have good examples of messages that have drawn helpers and donors? If so, please share them in the comments box. Let’s start shifting some of this reactive energy into long-term solutions that help impoverished people lift themselves out of poverty!


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