It’s hard for non-profits to raise money. And it’s hard for big business to gain public trust and admiration. But when the two are put together – struggling non-profits and wealthy businesses – it appears to be a win, win situation. Or is it? Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Julia King looks at one summertime case where the environment is the loser:
It’s hard for non-profits to raise money. And it’s hard for big business to gain public
trust and admiration. But when the two are put together – struggling non-profits and wealthy businesses – it appears to be a win, win situation. Or is it? Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Julia King looks at one summertime case where the environment is the loser:
How many times have you heard these words: Come on: it’s for a good cause!
You know, like the elementary school teacher who takes a water balloon in
the face for literacy. “That’s the spirit!” we cheer. Because sometimes
you’ve got to go out on a limb to inspire people to action, to get things
But what if someone asked you to smoke cigarettes… to fight world hunger?
Or toss motor oil in a lake… to help cure diabetes? So, there are bad ways
to call attention (and funding) to a cause. Water in face: good. Motor
oil in lake: bad.
Yet more and more these days, our “causes” are tangled up in elaborate
marketing schemes that muddy the moral waters of both charity and activism.
Recently on a 95-degree Ozone Alert Day, my local news reported that area
residents could brave the hot weather (not to mention the respiratory
damage) and test drive a BMW… for a good cause. Without the slightest bit
of irony in her voice, the anchor segued from a story about the dangers of
ozone, to a story about the joys of driving (the very thing that leads to
ozone on a hot day).
With what they call “The Ultimate Drive” campaign, BMW has helped the Susan
G. Komen Foundation raise over three million dollars (a dollar a mile) for
the fight against breast cancer. That’s a lot of carbon monoxide for
Collaboration. Cooperation. Call it what you will, but the you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours-fundraiser is hot. Big corporations draw big money for worthy causes, and worthy causes draw favorable publicity for big corporations. But what if those big names are at cross-purposes with the fundraiser’s end goal? Or even at cross-purposes with other worthy efforts?
If good health is a goal, for instance, it hardly makes good sense to ask
people to drive on ozone alert days – even if the car IS a BMW. The Komen
Foundation also sponsors walks and runs – far more appropriate activities
considering the cause.
Nobody wants to see environmentalists (or asthmatics) duke it out with
breast cancer patients, but it’s time for organizations to fundraise with an
eye toward more than just money. Innovation and creativity is great, but
when the public is asked to participate in an activity, it ought to be a
Now, I’m waiting for someone to ask me to drink margaritas… for world peace,
Julia King lives and writes in Goshen, Indiana.