Today is a risky blog. I don’t want to make this sound like I’m looking down on anyone. If you did the ice bucket challenge and/or donated money to the ALS, I applaud you for doing something for a cause. I want to begin by saying that I’m happy that the ALS has gained all the attention and money. There has been 42 million dollars given to date. According to this article from NBC News there are 12,000 people in the US affected with the dreaded disease. The article also quotes researcher Dr. Jonathan Serody of the University of North Carolina:
“If a million people would donate $100 a year for 30 to 40 years, you might get a breakthrough for ALS. These flash-in-the pan things that will go away after a few months will not help ALS in the long run. Researchers need dependable money.” That means year-in-and-year-out support, so researchers can plan their careers and rely on being able to see experiments all the way through. A single $100 donation does little to support that, Serody says.
And again, if this sounds as if I’m trying to make the argument that you should not have donated to the ALS – I’m really not. The problem is when you do this and think your job is done. I read another article that says that the key problem is “funding cannibalism”. The ALS donations don’t appear out of a vacuum. Because people on average are limited in how much they’re willing to donate to good causes, if someone donates $100 to the ALS Association, he or she will likely donate less to other charities or even local school fundraisers, etc.
In March of last year I blogged about getting 42 people to donate $1 a day for a year ($30 a month) so a friend could buy property in Haiti to build a girls’ home. I think I had 4 people respond. You can read it here. There are many worthwhile organizations and charities.
I know it would have cost me nothing to dump ice water on my head. And after jumping into the 34 degree Ohio River three years in a row in February to raise money for MS, a little ice water in August wouldn’t have been so bad. Yet, I also don’t believe it would have made any real difference. I feel it would have only been an attempt to try to make myself look good in others’ eyes. And the point of this blog is not to defend myself or make me look good. I may participate in the next internet craze and you might not (aren’t you sure there will be copycats?)
The point of this longer than usual blog is to give us a chance to reflect, and examine ourselves and see if giving is a lifestyle or an anomaly for us individually. As followers of Jesus, the Bible teaches that our giving should be part of our nature and should bring glory to Jesus and help to proclaim His Name. If you are led to dump ice water over your head and give money toward ALS, I praise Jesus. Just don’t let it end there.
(P.S. – Up for other ways to make a difference? Here are a couple: Sponsor a child for $38 a month through Compassion International. Buy chickens for women in Mozambique through Samaritan’s Purse.)