Why I Don't Like New Charities Every Month

I don’t like the idea because it’s too faddish.

We’re helping Cause A! We rock!

Next month…

We’re doing something amazing for Cause B! Wow we’re so amazing!

And so on and so on…

It’s not my style, and it doesn’t make sense to me that it would be the style of a community who could accomplish more. Obviously some people like that, maybe some people feel obligated to. To me it always looks like people are making a lot of noise around donating a couple bucks. And at every opportunity to make a lot of noise, way too much “self-stroking” goes on.

Enough Charities, Let’s Tackle Some Problems

What we should be doing is creating longer term projects, that can help causes over a long, or continually. Developing solutions like that actually take some serious problem solving to accomplish. A project with the schedule flexibility to develop a plan and deliverables that take advantage of what  real expertise and skills can offer. Something concrete and sustaining that lasts beyond our involvement in it.

Anything but a big deal.

We could start by looking outside the scope of what current charities and organizations cover, or what they are able to provide. What groups have needs that aren’t being addressed, where is there an opportunity to do more beyond one time fundraising.

What value could we be adding in a long term, continual way that might really make a long lasting difference? What could we offer more than just money? And to what groups? Maybe there’s even ways that a small group of 4 or 5 could contribute something meaningful.

We should be able to create:

  • Products that exist to help groups of people.
  • Public resources that go beyond what the city offers.
  • An application to systematize this process of discovering and analysing problems (what I’ve been working a lot on)
  • Some that gives repeatedly to groups in need.

Anything but a big deal.

Let’s Not De-emphasis Technology

I’m going to say it. Technology is fucking amazing.

It always rubs me the wrong way when people who have no tech background, shout out that we should not focus on technology. It might actually do the same to developers, who’s careers it is to build applications that help people solve problems.

Technology is not code – it’s products that solve needs. Sometimes the application to solve a need doesn’t exist yet, and we need developers to make it. That argument is enough for me to think that sometimes we should emphasis the fuck out of creating technology that can accomplish big things.

And we should create that technology, just for the joy of what it will provide.

Don’t Do It Out of Self-Interest

Not being transparent about self-interest destroys trust.

So don’t do it.

Join the Conversation


  1. There are a lot of charities doing great work for people, real work, life changing work.A lot of them are great at what they do but struggle with marketing and other 'business' functions and often can't afford to bring in full time staff to spend on business functions when it takes away from the mouths of those they are trying to help.Technology is great, it is important, but I think we need to look at solutions that prove immediate benefits for people, not just what we think is sexy or cool. What if we could all volunteer 6 hours our expertise to help an organisation in our community with something that is both sustainable and immediately beneficial.Are you suggesting that due to all this 'self stroking' and 'self interest', no one should help charities?

  2. Maybe I should make it clear that I don't want to personally attack the organizers of the events that passed, or that charities are not important. What I'm against, to reiterate, is the idea that all that should be attempted is to run big events to raise a buck.You for example, make well known that you volunteer regularly for a hospice and have been doing so for some time. That's an example of a commitment.I want to see more commitment.I'm fully aware how much charities rely on cash donations and in kind. But I don't get excited at giving money. I get excited in solving challenging problems. I bet others do as well. I want to engage in that dialog.As far technology goes, I unfortunately see your comment as falling into the same trap; That technology is something only that we think of as sexy or cool, but NOT in fact as a solution to provide immediate benefits. I don't believe that is the case.To your last line, no. That's not what I was suggesting and it's absurd to think that I would in anyway imply that no one should help charities.Let's go forward in interesting and creative ways. Let's look further down the line than a single 6 hour afternoon of contributing. Let's find problems and solve them to the ground. Also, thanks for your DM. Very classy coming from you.

  3. I think we are on the same page with this one. All we need to do is focus on doing stuff that helps organisations in the long term rather than just a quick fix.Big donations are great and necessary of course, but we need to provide 'donations' that make a difference.We all have ways in which we can contribute.

  4. As a co-chair for UWT GenNext – our team works on raising funds, hosting events and making a meaningful contribution of time and commitment to our city. These are all factors in our ability to make a difference. Working with the UWT, I have been able to see first hand how they connect those that want to make a difference with volunteer opportunities that are relevant to their skills and keep them engaged. These opportunities include many professional service volunteer opportunities that build relationships over time. If you take a moment and visit our blog at giveadamn.ca we have a number of professional volunteer opportunities. We update this blog all the time – so if there is not an opportunity that fits today – there may be one tomorrow! UWT is always actively working towards solving problems and challenges – they work with government, community and private partners to solve issues that are present and work to prevent future problems. The Action for Neighborhood Change strategy and the Community Hubs are great examples of this. Working with others in an engaged committed fashion makes a huge impact. Hosting events to get people initially engaged provides a great opening. Further raising funds for UWT allows great agencies to continue their every important work. They all go together to make the greatest and most meaningful impact.Very Best,Sarah Segal

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