February 4, 2008

Donating: Do The Reasons Matter?

When the idea came up, (Newman's Own) I said, "Are you crazy? Stick my face on the label of salad dressing?" And then, of course, we got the whole idea of exploitation and how circular it is. Why not, really, go to the fullest length, and the silliest length, in exploiting yourself and turn the proceeds back to the community?
--- Paul Newman

What matters more? What you do or why you do it?

As you know from last time, I'm not good at sleeping at a decent hour. The family's in bed. The house is quiet. And I'm pondering a philosophical question about why we donate.

A charity my wife likes is coming to our house tomorrow to pick up stuff we don't need. This time we're giving old clothing and a humidifier. I lugged the stuff upstairs and put the clothing in bags. Nine coats and jackets. All in good condition but no longer used by us. We just got tired of the stuff or moved beyond it.

Our donations will help others but we're really donating to clear up space in our house. The motivation isn't altruistic but the results are good. Is that okay?

Not Taking Credit Where Credit Is Due

The deed is everything, the glory naught.
--- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
By walking a few minutes, I see buildings emblazoned with the names of donors. Business schools (e.g., Ted Rogers), hospital emergency departments (Schwartz-Reisman) and theatres (e.g., Roy Thompson). Facilities like these are intended to help others. Since the donations were not made anonymously, public recognition must be a factor. Is that bad?

Donating Distance
You've got more air miles than time to use them. So why don't you let the terminally ill vacation on your behalf? That's what one print ad says. The goal is good but what a convoluted message. You need a vacation when you've got no time for a vacation. Otherwise you can get ill too.

The Right Reason or The Right Result
There are different degrees of altruism. Yet the giving seems more important than the reason (or trying to infer the reason).

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