Should I keep a cat alive, or keep a child alive? I prefer a cat.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 05, 2009 4:16 AM GMT
    I just finished a Fundraising for Philanthropic Organizations class and was surprised - but not shocked, I guess - by how many Americans donate only to non-profit organizations helping animals or promoting the arts.


    I do like animals and I do like art, but why on earth should we donate so much to these organizations when a billion people in the world are starving (UN/FAO); over 100,000 people have been brutally raped in the eastern DR Congo over the last few years; many countries see infant mortality rates of 20%; and half the world's population lives in unsanitary conditions without access to clean water (UN). start.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art had net assets last year of $3.5 billion.

    The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), providing humanitarian relief all over the world, has a budget of $3 billion.

    The ASPCA last year had net assets of $137 million.

    Doctors Without Borders, providing medial aid to the suffering in 60 countries, has an annual budget of $400 million.

    The NY MOMA last year had net assets of $1.6 billion.

    * * *

    Now, I am aware of the difference between net assets and annual budgets; I am aware of the difference between an NGO and a museum. I also believe in helping animals and supporting the arts.

    But to me, these figures are crazy.

    There is deep, horrible human misery all over the world, much of which can be addressed with sufficient funds (e.g. providing food, clean water, education, vaccines). Yet so many people, if they are concerned with charity at all, only care about the arts or animals.

    Often, it takes $50 to feed a child in Africa for a year. $1,000 to provide clean water to hundreds of people for over two decades.

    But Leona Helmsley bequested $12 million to her dog. Her trust is worth $5-8 billion, with instructions to spend it on dogs.

    Luckily, those instructions are only suggestions. With any luck, it will be spent on people, even children, who are starving to death yet have a lot more sense than she did.

    What is going on here?

    (full disclosure: I spent a few years working on aid projects for refugees in Africa, so I'm a little passionate/biased)
  • Marshi

    Posts: 196

    Aug 05, 2009 2:25 PM GMT
    I think donating to animal charities instead of ones for humans is about the same as donating to the ones that feed humans in foreign countries as opposed to feeding people in your own city/state/country.
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    Aug 05, 2009 6:25 PM GMT
    I think we need to help ourselves before we can help others.

    Despite the misery that exists in other nations, we have poor and hungry people here as well.
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    Aug 05, 2009 6:31 PM GMT
    Mosdef a kat...they dont disappointicon_eek.gif
  • Delivis

    Posts: 2332

    Aug 05, 2009 6:37 PM GMT
    Cats are generally less annoying than humans on average, and much, much cuter.
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    Aug 05, 2009 6:40 PM GMT
    The two posts go toward a salient point. Most people cherish their pets over people because 99% of the time pets provide unconditional love/response/etc. A pet does not back talk...just occasionally chews your shoes or shits on your carpet. Animals are seen as being less able to help themselves for some odd reason, even though animals in the wild with hunt and kill to survive long before most modern humans would.

    Intra-species cruelty is neither unique to homo sapiens nor a new thing. The phenomenon of male rapes in the Congo/Rwanda conflict, the behavior of male lions, etc etc., history is full of the madness.
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    Aug 05, 2009 6:47 PM GMT
    Of course, you could also ask why we spend our money in lots of different ways, rather than on helping people. For example, many people (I'm not one of them) feel that the space program is a waste of money, and we should be spending those billions here.

    I believe that humanity has more than enough resources (person-time and money) to address all of these problems. The reality is that this is simply not how we choose to use our resources.

    My opinion: Don't blame the people who are donating to the arts or to animal care... blame the FAR, FAR larger number of people who are doing nothing at all.

    Just my $0.02.