Jag Venugopal's Blog

November 4, 2010

Why I will not give money to charity through a corporation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jag @ 11:25 pm

Not a day passes when I don’t walk into a store, conduct my purchase, and the sales person asks me if I wish to donate a dollar to this, that or the other charity. It seems as though one is constantly bombarded with solicitations for small amounts that are hard to resist, yet add up in the aggregate.

My opposition to such corporate charity endeavors is simple. Each corporation (whether it is Stop and Shop, Radio Shack, or anyone else) is not soliciting charity dollars out of altruism. There is a very significant benefit that accrues to the company running the charity drive: free publicity and free publicity. RadioShack or Stop and Shop can claim that its customers and employees donated X hundred thousand for Y worthy cause. In conducting this drive, neither company spent a dime… it was all customer money.

I do not want my money providing free publicity to a corporation, or providing it fodder for a press release.

A corporation has one, and exactly one purpose: to deliver maximum profits to its shareholders while working in a lawful manner. Non-profits have exactly one purpose, too: to deliver on their mission, at lowest cost to whoever is providing them funding. When companies get into funnelling charitable dollars, they take freedom away from their stakeholders (shareholders, customers, employees) in determining how to utilize the proceeds. Some stakeholders may be Catholic and want to give exclusively to charities of their faith. Others may be Jewish, Evangelical, Hindu, Muslim or Atheist, and have their own particular preferences as to who gets their money. Certain stakeholders may want to give to pro-life organizations, while others want to give to pro-choice charities. When an individual does not have control of their charitable giving, they lose the right to direct the money to their favored cause.

 Indeed, those of us that have been blessed have a duty and responsibility to share those who are of more limited means. Each individual has a moral obligation to give, consistent with their own principles, the dictates of their faith, and their abillity to give. Matthew 6:2 sums up beautifully how one ought to give: privately, and without seeking recognition or honor.

PS: With all this said, there is one instance where I will give through an employer. When the company matches donations, and has a broad, unrestricted list of potential recipients. If my donation is multiplied with a corporate match (single, double or triple), then I will take advantage of it. Sure, the shareholders of the company have cause to take issue with such a policy (see above), but I, as an employee, do not object.

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