I got an e-mail last night asking me to join a charity walk. I’ve done a couple of charity walks in the past, and my motivation for doing them wasn’t so much because I wanted to support the charity, it was because of the social aspect. I know, that’s not the right attitude or reason for doing one, but honestly, I think most of the participants were doing it for the same reason I was.
The ones who were really passionate about the walks were the ones volunteering to support the walk. The passionate ones weren’t the ones walking (or in other cases, running or riding their bicycles), but the ones working the registration booth, feeding the participants lunch and offering other support services.
This got me thinking…
Aside from raising money for a cause, what does a charity walk, charity run or charity bicycle ride do?
Take for example the 25-50-75 mile bicycle ride I used to participate in while living in California. It was for a worthy cause. It cost us about $35 to participate for which we were fed lunch and got a t-shirt. At the end, the charity probably got about $15-20 of our money. At the end of the 50 miles, we had sore butts, but we had a great time socializing as we rode our bikes for 4-5 hours.
What did the charity gain by our riding our bicycles for 50 miles?
Not much, if anything. Our riding didn’t cure any disease. Our entrance fee, provided very little towards a cure. The small amount raised was only a fraction of what is raised when a philanthropist donates a few million dollars towards finding a cure.
Perhaps it made someone feel better because they participated? I don’t know. I can’t say.
Alternatively, why don’t we have fund raising events that actually accomplish something?
Here’s an example…
How about a charity walk where every participant is given a 33 gallon trash bag. As they walk, they pick up trash along the highway. Trucks with billboard signs can be posted at the start and end of the walk route that says,
Walk to cure ______ (disease)_____
Please slow down. Trash pick up ahead.
If you like our making your community prettier,
please donate to the _______________ Society
and help us find a cure.
Or, something like that.
Habitat for Humanity is an excellent example of accomplishing something. While their activities are directly tied to their organization, they still produce a tangible result.
So, here are some ideas for various charities like the MS Society, American Cancer Society, and others who sponsor charity events.
- Sidewalk snow removal – encourage homeowners to donate to the cause and send a group of volunteers out to simply shovel the sidewalks in the neighborhoods
- Trash pickup (as already mentioned)
- Revitalize a public park – encourage community members to donate to the cause and come to the park afterwards for a celebration
- Have a group of volunteers go to the home of someone who is incapacitated by that disease and clean their yard, paint their house, or some other act of service.
There are other things they could do, those are just a few examples. I just think if we’re going to make an effort to do something, let’s make an effort to actually accomplish something.