The marketing of charity: Selfish or necessary? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 03, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:58 AM, December 03, 2020

The marketing of charity: Selfish or necessary?

As the human race is threatened by a virus, people are still divided in their opinion regarding effective charity. We cannot decide if we support a charity, be it institutional or individual effort that is unrecognised or acts of charity that is loud and proud on social media.

Now, people from both sides of the aisle have some valid arguments as to why they support or reject the idea of the modern take on marketing charitable giving. One argument is that charities should come from the heart. It is not in the spirit of charity to market one's charitable actions, because charity revolves around the idea of not being selfish and helping the needy.

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Moreover, people who are wealthy or have the ability to do the most amount of charity, are the ones who benefit the most from the misfortune of the 99 percent. Poor working conditions not being improved, paying workers less than the minimum wage to maintain the cheap cost of labour, discriminating against people on the basis of their gender or race -- the list goes on if we try to find ways in which the ruling class maintain their position by exploiting the less fortunate. Thus, helping the needy should not be something to advertise because the charities deserve every bit of what they are given in the name of donations, if not more.

However, if a lot of people give to charities silently, others won't be able to connect the dots of how the lives of people have changed because of charitable action. However minute the charity is, the marginal benefit it gives people is a lot. Hence, it's crucial that people advertise their charity and what good their actions lead to, so that others can see that charity works, making sure they provide charity as well.

One of the biggest driving factors of charity is the self-satisfaction that comes with it. Inherently, charity is associated with "good" and therefore most individuals derive a strong self-satisfaction from the act of charity itself. It makes them feel they have a superior moral ground and therefore makes them feel like a better human being. Although that judgement might not necessarily be true, individuals deserve the right to appreciate themselves for their actions which have resulted in having a positive net utility.

This uplifted sense of self on a pedestal might seem to be problematic and there are problems deeply entrenched in this incentive structure. However, the world and its marginalized people as it stands to need the maximum amount of assistance to make their ends meet. Even if the intent at its core isn't just pure will to help people in need, nevertheless the help still reaches these people and that seems to be the only metric that can be used to make a value judgement on these forms of charity.

So here is the burning question, does the intent of your charity matter? Or is the net social benefit caused by it the most important thing?

Megha has run out of ways to take care of herself while in quarantine. You can reach her at megharahman26@gmail.com

 

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