The #1 Thing You Need to Know From This Post:
Raising money for someone’s private benefit does not improve the social good; it just proves we are all selfishly altruistic.
The More Detailed Explanation:
Although I have never met David Armano or his friend, Daniela, I gave $10 this week to help him help her. It turns out I wasn’t alone. Over 500 people pooled about $16,000 in a matter of days, with most of it in the first 24 hours. Without a doubt, that’s a very effective fund drive.
Didn’t hear about this yet? Here’s the short and sweet.
Daniela is from Romania and has three kids, the youngest with Down’s Syndrome. According to Armano, “Daniela is divorcing her spouse after years of abuse. In recent years her mortgage went unpaid and she’s lost her house.” Since I have no firsthand knowledge, you’ll need to take it for what it’s worth.
Armano and his family have taken Daniela and her family into their home. This week, he decided to leverage his social media network to raise money to get them into their own apartment and on their feet again. For more details of the drive, Scott Drummond gave an excellent recap in the second half of his post, while David Griner analyzed why it worked so well from a fundraising perspective.
What’s My Opinion Worth to You?
Simple answer: that’s for you to decide. The majority of my career has been in the non-profit fundraising arena working with individuals to give their money to worthy causes. I cut my teeth during a $770+ million capital campaign at the University of Nebraska Foundation, I turned a paper organization into a full-fledged fundraising enterprise, and I oversaw multiple capital campaigns as the head of a fundraising consultancy. After partnering with MediaSauce to create digital fundraising solutions, I joined the team to help transform how non-profits and for-profits create social good.
People are Selfishly Altruistic
Humans are still human. Everyone is selfishly altruistic. While our neocortex wants us to believe we give for higher purposes, we actually give to meet our own personal needs. Our reptillian brain still drives our decisions. In the end, we give because it makes us feel good, which isn’t a bad thing.
I Gave My $10 For Two Reasons
- You had to be heartless if their story didn’t move you. I wanted to feel like I was the knight in shining armor saving the damsel. Wisely, Armano put a cash register right next to the tissue box. It was like trying to hold on to teflon-coated dollar bills.
- The proposition was to raise $5,000 (enough to get Daniela into a new apartment) and they were still about $600 away from the goal. This was my chance to show how social media can create social good and advance the digital revolution.
Like I said, I don’t know Armano or Daniela. I don’t know the circumstances of her divorce or losing her house. However, I do know David Armano has staked his reputation on this. He has plunked his entire social capital on the table as collateral. So that’s not why I regret giving money.
Here’s Why I Regret It the Most
Every dollar raised doesn’t fix the root of the social problems that led to Daniel’s situation. It all goes to privately benefit one family.
Here’s Other Reasons Why
- Once the $5,000 threshold was reached, it was time to close the cash register for Daniela and provide links to charitable organizations that can address the roots of Daniela’s problems;
- The family has been showered with toys and gifts, including a Nintendo care package. These don’t solve the main crisis – getting shelter;
- Whether or not we admit it, a major motivation for giving was to prove the worth of social media;
- We will never have a reliable accounting where our money went; and
- We will never truly know what led to Daniela’s circumstances.
- Nothing’s fundamentally new – a person with social clout can compel and inspire others to give money to a socially acceptable cause. Armano and others, like Gary Vaynerchuk and Beth Kanter, have shown this applies to the digital space, too.
- For the biggest impact, I will give my time, money, and energy toward causes that solve root problems. I want to create social good.
- Conversely, I will stay away from drives that create a disproportionate amount of private benefit, unless there is no other option.
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