High in the pantheon of elegant fundraisers is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, whose only business is public education.
This, in opposition to many charities that only claim it’s their business. A particularly egregious example occurred during the early 1990s, when Somali poachers were decimating herds of elephants (and occasional tourists who got in the way) in neighboring Kenya and selling the ivory.
Only two American animal-protection organizations — African Wildlife and Wildlife Conservation International — actively were involved in saving the African elephant, with operatives in Washington, D.C., lobbying against the sale of ivory and folks in the bush trying to scare off poachers.
Yet a legion of crassly dishonest animal-protection and conservation organizations sent out mailings pleading for money to save the elephants. None of the money went to the elephants (or their defense); rather, groups used the money to make mailings to raise money to make mailings ad infinitum.
The rationale: They were raising the public’s consciousness about the plight of African elephants. This was bogus, since the plight of African elephants was all over the media like a cheap suit. If a donor gave money to one of these ersatz elephant savers one day and then received a mailing from one of the legitimate charities the next day, it would go in the circular file. “But I just gave to the elephants yesterday” would be the rationale.
So, these organizations were actually hurting the very cause they were claiming to help. As one who has been on three photographic safaris in Africa, this made me mad as hell.
The grand exception: MADD
Quite simply, MADD is in the business of working to alter behavior, to remind people of the consequences of driving when drunk and to urge drinkers (1) not to drive or (2) make sure a completely sober designated driver is behind the wheel.