Misguided Philanthropy

May 15, 2007 at 12:32 pm 1 comment

It’s pledge drive time for public television and radio stations across the country right now and it’s driving me nuts. If I hear one more preachy sermon on NPR about donating to truly make a difference in people’s lives, I may go on strike. The fact of the matter is that the need for PBS and NPR has slowly dissipated over the years with the rise in quality programs elsewhere that don’t require government funding. When considering where to donate $50, there are nonprofits in much greater need than public broadcasting. Yes, PBS produces quality documentaries and other programs, but Ken Burns would still be able to find a home for “The Civil War” and “Lewis and Clark” on the History Channel.

Poor public broadcasting needs to drum up more funding somehow and unfortunately for the listeners that means an interruption in programming for on-air panhandling, which is how the BBC views it anyhow. Making charitable contributions is a good habit and socially responsible, but it’s hard to be passionate about PBS and NPR unless you are restricted to basic cable. Rather, do your homework on a charity representing a cause personally significant to you and make sure they’re worthy of your contribution.

People often try to make up for cash donations by in-kind donations, like giving a box of old clothes to the Lupus Foundation. Bottom line, cash creates a bigger impact. You want to make a difference, break out your check book. When people get creative and take matters into their own hands problems result. A few years ago, a woman called my place of employment saying she had just moved into a 15,000 square foot home. She was looking for a homeless family to move into the guest wing “in exchange for some light labor around the house and yard.” The CEO of our agency had to take over the call to explain why that was a misguided and dangerous idea (this was during the search period for Elizabeth Smart, abducted by a homeless man) and he held back from saying, “So basically you want slaves?”

Donating to political campaigns is equally important, whether in time or volunteer hours. Mitt’s campaign has set an ambitious goal of signing up 24,000 new supporters within 24 hours of the Republican presidential debate tonight at 9pm EDT on FOX News. You can find an event to attend tonight here or call 866-WIN-MITT on May 16 to sign up as a volunteer or make a contribution to the campaign.


Entry filed under: Commentary, JL's Posts, Mitt Romney, Random.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. lemare  |  May 15, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Donating to political candidates is one of the strongest forms of free speech (albeit hampered by McCain-Feingold).

    I’ll have 10-12 people over for the debate party and am hoping that those who haven’t contributed yet will do so.

    I just appealed to my boss (North American Director of Finance) and his business savvy by telling him about how Romney would be better (ie run a tighter ship, trim more fat) than Giuliani:
    1) Started Bain Capital from nothing, now a $40B company. Turned around struggling companies and made them power houses (Staples, Domino’s, etc). Achieved an annual rate of return over 100%!!!
    2) Turned around Bain & Co from their financial ruin
    3) Turned around the ’02 olympics from financial disaster
    4) Starting with a $3B deficit in Mass, balanced the budget every year without raising taxes.

    Someone with this kind of track record will do BEAUTIFUL things to our economy and trimming all the layers of useless fat out of our beurocracy.

    I just talked myself into donating even more tonight. I encourage all of you to do the same.


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