"Shame on you, America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment — yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations."
I respect my friends' opinions and their right to post whatever they want on Facebook. But this chain status update ticked me off … especially in light of the fact that this is our Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards issue. Being immersed in the fundraising sector, I am shocked by how little the general public knows about philanthropy. The following was my response to those friends who posted that status update.
"This isn't the only country in the world that has hunger, homelessness and other dire needs. And it's not like those problems are ignored here or that having fundraisers for Haiti means less money and attention for other causes. You can be angry at and ashamed of the U.S. government (no matter who is in charge) for putting corporate interests and other greedy notions ahead of the needs of its own people. But shame on America? Hardly.
"Americans are the most caring, generous people in the world. They want to help … be it in their own backyard or halfway around the world. I'm damn proud of us for that. There are more than a million nonprofits in the U.S. that address problems ranging from hunger and homelessness to illiteracy to domestic violence to animal abuse to diseases of all kinds. I interact daily with the people who do this work and who work tirelessly to raise the money that makes it possible for it to be done. They give Americans an outlet for their good will and endless generosity. Their work is often misunderstood, their motives and ethics often questioned. They do it in spite of government roadblocks, overwhelming odds and other disincentives. And they do it in spite of the kind of cynicism that is fueling this chain status update. Despite some bad apples, the vast majority of nonprofit folks have their hearts and heads in the right place, and are steadfast stewards of the money they raise to support their causes. Their passion, ethics, humility and dedication are unparalleled by anything in the corporate world and in society in general.