Tuesday, June 3, 2008

donating money to a good cause?

Lately I've been getting a lot of "donate money for my Tour de Cure/Team In Training" thing... in the last few years I've been getting more and more of these types of emails. I used to say, fine, it's for a good cause.

Now I just wonder if it's worth it. Yesterday I had a conversation with piaw about it too - he seemed to think that most of the money is probably gone into the overhead of planning such an event instead of the charity itself... which I wouldn't doubt. My mom does a bit of charity work for some Hong Kong charities, and she's also indicated to me that a lot of money you donate goes to 9-course meals the higher ups of the charities enjoy.

I guess it also feels weird to hit your friends up for money. I feel guilty for not donating, but I just don't really want to anymore... Piaw also said it feels icky for cycling to be used this way, and I agree. So I guess this year my policy is - I'm just not going to donate any money for these events. Not because I am being cheap or don't love my friends. Just - I don't feel like it's as worthy of a cause anymore.

Edit: so I was talking to a friend earlier, who's riding the TdC this weekend, and he pointed me to this. Which essentially says that the American Diabetes Association isn't all that efficient. And just read about the privacy policy, it apparently sells your info unless you opt-out.


arcady said...

Oh yes, I've always thought that "biking for the cause" or whatever is kind of silly. And I've heard the theory that it's detrimental to cycling in general too, because people a) do one of these tours once a year, and thus are underprepared, and b) think that the resulting pain is normal, and think that this is their sacrifice to the cause. I don't like the attitude that you have to be paid to go cycling. I also don't see any link between cycling and charity: if you want to collect money for a good cause, what does this have to do with a bike ride? Unless, of course, it's for the cause of cycling, in which case everything makes perfect sense.

Silicon Shadow said...

while I agree the issue with their efficeny is somewhat disturbing, esspecially when compared to other diabetes related causes (see jdrf on same site). There are positives to these events.

#1) they get people cycling, i've not heard people complaining about pain (as a previous commenter suggests), these rides are easy. (except for the one label "hard") Thats hardly scientific, but i've done these rides several times -- everyone I see is having fun. That should count for as much as "someone hearing a comment that suggested..."

#2) It actually *does* have something to do with the cause, as diabetes is a condition which effectively mandates consistent, regular excersise as part of treatment plans. Cycling is often a preferred choice. (for lots of reasons, which most cycling enthusists don't need explained) It isn't a "great to do but not really needed", its a night and day difference in treatment efficacy, in some cases, its all thats required to manage the condition. The long(lifetime), consistent(daily), not-too-intense-but-never-ending nature of the condition lends itself to a convinent metaphor with endurance sports, of which cycling is by far the most accessible.

#3) by far the most important for these events, is raising awareness. Its effectively free advertising for these causes which improves their efficiency. It gets people talking, researching, and otherwise engaged. Could it just as easily be a backpacking trip? Sure. But thats less accessible to a wide range of folks. Biking is brilliant because its something just about anyone can do -- And its fun! What about walking? Sure -- they do that too, its called Walktoberfest. Biking as an event has proven "more fun" year after year. Draws more people, and generates more funds (due to people) for a reasonably fixed amount of overhead.

As for the privacy policy, its confusing, the ada site does have a privacy policy which says they don't distribute information, but its not clear that their payment processor abides by the same rules. I am not sure where the summary site gets its information from.

TDC privacy policy:
which is rather vauge.

ADA policy:
"ADA, like many other non-profit organizations, occasionally makes available only our contributor names and postal addresses to companies, predominantly other non-profit organizations."


All that said, as a somewhat strong supporter of the ADA in the past, i'm quite frustrated by their apparent lack of efficiency. (and i've known about it for some time) Unfortunately, as a broad group, diabetes gets little funding relative to its scope and impact in the health care system. The JDRF is great, but they only focus on Type 1. In short, there are no other advocates to contribute to that focus on both forms -- which is sad.

Sad though it is, NOT contributing to the cause because of fear that the overhead makes it ineffective isn't a valid reason. Having other charities you care about more, is a perfectly valid reason. Having been hit up by lots of friends attempting to raise money is a problem akin to spam. Charities have gone online, in a manner which has made email solicitation easy -- and deluged your inbox with requests from your friends which might not have asked you otherwise. This "spam the world" philosophy of fundrasing via social networks is the real source of the posters woes I suspect. The solution for which is sadly, not obvious. Except perhaps in getting better at saying "no". And doing so in a manner that your friends don't ask you again next year. Wrapping it in an argument about functional efficiency is simple misdirection.

Piaw Na said...

I don't believe in commingling my bike riding with my charity. The 2 are separate and shall remain so!

David said...

better places will tell you their overhead, i.e., how much of every dollar goes to the actual cause, and how much goes to the administration.

I think I recall someone saying MADD was especially bad, though I could be wrong. I think I remember someone saying MADD money never left MADD itself.