Competitive Giving: A Moral Guide
It isn’t #GivingTuesday yet, but my inbox is already flooded. It is reason for celebration when the marketing for Giving Tuesday is beginning to compete with Black Friday. Perhaps the poor are beginning to find their voice and our human family is drawing closer together. On the other hand, competition for charitable giving creates difficult ethical dilemmas. Full disclosure: I am the founder of the Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series, a non-profit serving children. I love to compete in pickup basketball games; but I hate competing with other worthy non-profits for charitable gifts.
Like it or not, non-profits like Play Like a Champion have no choice but to compete for your dollars. Competition doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Competition forces charitable organizations to make a compelling case for your benefaction. Yet this is where competition gets in the way of responsible giving. Seeking voluntary contributions has become a business in itself. Unfortunately, that business costs money that could be spent on direct service to those in need. Moreover, marketing charities often aims to appeal but not necessarily inform. Over a million non-profit charities are competing for your dollar. The stakes are high and the need is great.
So how can we navigate Giving Tuesday and beyond? I suggest that we begin by acknowledging that that “giving” is a part of human nature. We give all the time without thinking about it. Most of our giving is to our immediate family and friends. It is spontaneous, reciprocal, and largely unconscious. In addition, a substantial portion of our voluntary giving goes to where we and our families pray, learn, and play: to our churches, synagogues, and mosques, to our colleges, schools, and libraries, and to local sports organizations, the scouts, and the community Y.
This Giving Tuesday, I recommend that we make a special effort to support organizations that take us out of our neighborhoods and put us in contact with those at the margins whose poverty and social location make them invisible. They are the sisters and brothers whom we have yet to meet.
Giving is always a two-way street. We have gotten to where we are in life because others were there for us. Now it is our turn to be there for others. Supporting a charity that empowers communities and brings about meaningful social change is more exciting and meaningful than any activity that I know of. We know in our heart of hearts that we suffer or prosper as one human family. Go ahead and treat yourself to a generous donation on Tuesday. Spread the joy by recruiting others to our common cause (and please consider making a recurring monthly contribution).
Editor's Note: You can make a tax-deductible donation to Play Like a Champion by clicking here. If you do so on #GivingTuesday, November 27th your donation will be generously matched by PayPal. You can learn more about our campaign here!