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08 June 2007 @ 07:38 am
Am I part of the Establishment? Am I THE MAN?  
I've been out of town for nearly a week; (did anyone miss me?) we went to San Antonio on business/pleasure.  The in-laws went, too and brought the boys back early so that we could spend our anniversary sans children.  It was very nice and romantic, and I even got to see my college roommate, all of which was SO FUN and I'll post pics about another time, but I want to focus on the purpose of the trip for now.

First off, before I offend anyone, let me just say that I had a fabulous time.  Really fabulous.  We stayed at a resort hotel, with several pools and a spa and room service and every amenity that you could possibly desire.  I felt spoiled and pampered and very much like a princess.  Here's the rub, though.  Hubby's company gave a boatload of cash to play in an innaugural golf tournament to raise money for a worthy charity.  I'm all for that.  All for charities.  We personally give to a few.  This one supported raising money for programs to aid the homeless in San Antonio.  Yay.  Again, I don't begrudge giving money, or better yet, time, at all. 

What I do have issues with is this:  For the people that gave (over a certain amount of) money, this charity gave the golfers really expensive gifts.  They included: new golf shoes (really nice ones), an Italian leather calfskin belt (again really nice), a golf glove (leather, of course), a golf shirt, and a hat.  They also gave a welcome dinner that MIL and I got to go to as well, where they served first class food.  Fancy food.  Expensive food.  Antipasto, salad, bread, an entree that included fish of some kind and an enormous cut of beef filet, a dessert, and an OPEN BAR (The lame chicken and green beans you see at so many banquets were nowhere to be seen).  All that for what looked to be about 300 people.  This does not include the "favors' that were on the table...  a picture frame, little flashy stars, pins (for the people that gave over a certain dollar amount - so that they could be identified, I suppose), cigars, and a gorgeous floral centerpiece.  On all 40-50 tables.  

And at this dinner, they told everyone about what they were doing as a new startup charity.  They gave us statisics on homeless people, like the fact that 20% of homeless children don't attend school, 47 % of homeless are faimilies, the average age among homeless is 9 years old.  27% of homeless children have never seen a dentist.  There were statistics on abuse, alcoholism and substance abuse, and lack of immunizations.   And they told us that because of our generosity, they'd raised 1.3 million dollars for this charity, which was rewarded with hearty applause.  

My question is this:  How much more could they have given to the homeless if they hadn't spent so much on giving each of the men (150, maybe?) playing in the golf tournament new Addidas golf shoes?  Not to mention all of the other extra stuff.  I come from more humble roots, my family didn't give anything to charity; we were the charity.  Mom could make a chicken last all week.  So maybe I don't know the ins and outs of how these events work.  Maybe it 's the norm.  But I was overwhelmed with sympathy for homeless, and a little horrified at the conspicuous consumption of wealth all around me.  

How did I react?  Did I get up and make an impassioned speech about how all these white, middle aged, slightly punchy men were wasting money?  Did I get up and leave?  Did I express my displeasure at all?  No, I did not.  I drank two glasses of (really good) free white wine, ate parts of the dinner, and applauded politely at the appropriate places.  

And snarked on Livejournal.  

Am I part of the problem?  I don't know?  How do I make a difference?  I don't know that, either.  I'm confused and irritated and confilcted and a myriad of other emotions, and I just thought I'd share.  

Any thoughts?
I feel:: contemplativecontemplative
I hear:: Peter Pan on DVD
kristibiscikristibisci on June 8th, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC)
It is a predicament. I've been to a few fundraisers like that and you always wonder if the money could be better spent. I guess they just feel that if they don't have the best freebies, the best food, the best entertainment etc. the people who have all the money to donate won't come at all. As perverse as it is, you have to spend money to make money, even when it comes to charity. At some events, though, the gifts are donated by companies/individuals rather than being paid for by the charity organisers, so that's some consolation at least.
Kate: sidewalk poemmugglechump on June 8th, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
That does seem excessive, but maybe they were only so elaborate in order to generate interest since it is a charity that's just starting up. The real test is how they conduct drives in the future. A big event like this, if it really brings in substantial amounts of cash, is okay once in awhile so long as it's not the only way - or even the main way they fundraise.

On another note, my husband and I decided a long time ago that if we ever started a company we'd call it The Man, Inc. Then all our employees would work for The Man!
sue_bridehead on June 8th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
I'm with mugglechump. Excessive is the word. This is how charities get a bad reputation, which makes the average person NOT want to donate to them. And there are a lot more average people than rich people.

No, you're not part of the problem. At least you thought there was something wrong with the whole thing. Does anyone outside oversee this charity? Maybe you could send a letter (anonymous or not, depending on how you feel) recommending they spend more on announcing their cause to the general public and less on promotional events. If they reach out to those who would give just $5 or $10, I think they'd get a lot more money than sucking up to those with deeper pockets. One way to do that might be to team up with a large church and help them with one of their events in return. Or maybe they could take out a one-page or half-page ad with a short, effective message (say, the statistics they read off to you) in San Antonio's largest paper; it couldn't have cost any more.

Just my thoughts. Of course, I may be completely wrong - I've never actually organized an event for a charity.
Barszczow A. N.: Shaun the Sheep Farmerorpheus_samhain on June 8th, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
I also come from a poor family so I don't have a first hand experience but I think that people who give (i.e. have) money want also something in return. Of course the knowledge that they gave money to a cause is the most important but also possibility to gather, meet people, eat and drink something nice. It's true that they could have raised more money but what if they don't want to? What if they want to give 1,3 mln and the rest spend on themselves? It's their right to do so, I think.

I think I wouldn't attend such meetings but I have no illusions as to why. Simply I would consider it a waste of money, as you did. But I know perfectly well, that had I been raised in a wealthy family, without worries about food and clothes and anything else I would attend those parties and I wouldn't consider them inappropriate at all. Perspective.

So... ;) 'wise Orpheus' says: "attend if you want to, if not - you can contribute in other ways, if you feel like it (as you already said you do)"
dragonsangel68dragonsangel68 on June 8th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
The fact that it seems excessive prompts me to ask if those things were in fact donated.

We do fundraisers all the time at the football club (we're not a charity, but we are a sporting club) and the last one we held (just last weekend) raised somewhere in the vicinity of $11,500 - the club didn't have to outlay a cent to gain this cash, because everything from the meals to the table settings to some of the best wine that's ever been passed over that particular bar was donated :)
Kattheoriginalkat on June 9th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
I'll make you feel a little better and a little worse in one swoop.

First, the gifts given to all the golfers along with the time they spent on the green, etc. were probably all donated. Adidas has to have something to write off after they outsource all of their products, make even more profit, and screw the American worker in lieu of decreasing their ridiculously high, executive-level salaries.

Sadly, most of what took place at the fundraiser probably wasn't donated. The liquor was most definitely not donated. Neither was the food. You know the waitstaff didn't do all that for free. The goodies and prizes on the table probably were donated. The photography may have been donated.

The second to worst part (I won't tell you the worst part.)...are you ready for it? The 1.3 million dollars was more than likely the total amount BEFORE the party expenses. What people don't realize is that the salaries for each worker in the charity, the party expenses, office supplies, utility bills and everything else are taken out of the donations. Those are all operating costs, so it seems logial, right. The sick part is that only about 20% of donations on average go to the actual person/animal/whatever you intended for it to go to.

The problem is that the people donating the most aren't ever going to be invited to these parties. Their patronage isn't as appreciated as Bill Gates simply because he can give more. The sad part comes in when the $20 I gave meant more to me than the 2.5 million that Bill Gates gave meant to him. But who gets invited to the party? Who really cares about the issue? Who shakes her fist at entities like Bill Gates who exploit the needy, the land, the air, and the water? Who donated money to a charity he cared nothing about just so he could receive a tax break?

It's a sad truth because you want to think that your money is really helping someone/something/somewhere, but it's really going mostly to parties for the elite, salaries, trips for meetings, and office supplies.

Also, I lied. I will mention the worst part of it all. The people invited to these things are exploited. They are used as a tax write off for the bigger corporation. So, while it's wonderful that your husband got to do something he really enjoyed, he's just another tax write-off for the company he works for. So was your room, the tickets to the dinner, and all the fixings. It's fun while you're there, but also makes you a little sick to think about, no?