Jennifer brought up a good point in the comments to my previous post, and I got so long-winded that I figured I might as well post it. Y’all don’t have much else to read over here lately anyway. Oh, and since I wrote this as a comment, it’s disjointed and rambly. You understand.

non-profits do take on a lot of the social programs, and have been feeling the squeeze over the last decade due to drastic cuts in government funding…not enough people give to non-profits of their own free will for your idea to really be feasible.

We would if the government would severely cut spending and then cut taxes more. America is the most charitable nation on the planet, and the more money we have in our pockets, the more we’ll give. I’m sure the non-profits would feel the crunch until people started getting more money in their paychecks, but I truly believe we’re benevolent, and once people stop expecting that the government should take care of the less fortunate, we’ll step up and do it like we did in the olden days. But I think the subconscious mindset these days is that the government is taking our tax dollars for this purpose and is therefore supposed to take care of the less fortunate people, so there is no need to give to non-profits. When the government gets out of the way and we don’t have to pay so much to fund the social government agencies, we’ll give more. And if I’m not mistaken, the cuts started coming after 9/11 and it was less of a cut in program spending than a shift to different programs (big agencies with big names saw more money, and smaller agencies with smaller — but not lesser — programs saw less). That was the complaint at the non-profits I audited, that money was being shifted to bigger agencies, and you couldn’t get any money without the United Way, because all of these corporations were basically pressuring their employees to give to UW, so the UW was administrating most of the smaller programs, which were having a harder and harder time getting UW money. But I could be totally talking out of my butt on that one.

I used to audit a lot of non-profits, and I was there when the squeeze started happening, but so little of the money set aside within the government for the programs actually trickles down to the non-profits running the programs. Giant sucking whole of administrative costs, and that’s on the government end. There is still more money used on administrative costs at the non-profits themselves, and those are the only admin costs that make any sense. Non-profits have rules that the government doesn’t have. If more than a certain percentage of contributions and funding for a non-profit’s program is spent on administrative costs, they will lose their government grants. But the government doesn’t have that restriction and never will. You get capitalists doing the majority funding of charities, and there will be even less waste, and more of the money can actually be spent on those who need it. Any capitalist running an agency (and I don’t mean sitting on the board of directors, I mean owner or CEO or Executive Director) is going to want to compete with the capitalists running the other agencies (that’s what capitalism is all about) and make sure that their program is the best. Which means better fundraising more often.

I really think the government needs to do away with entire agencies so we’re not paying so much to run the agencies that have so many levels of bureaucracy. We pay the people who audit the non-profit programs, the people who read all of the applications for grants, the people who write the grant requirements, their bosses, their bosses, and it goes on and on and on. Why are so many people required in order for America to give to the poor? At the end of the day, so much of the money that’s spent on running the programs goes to pay salaries of government workers instead of going to the needy. America will give more if we’re not mandated to do so and are allowed to choose where our money goes. For the most part, we’re good people. The government just needs to get out of our way.

14 Responses to benevolence

  1. “America will give more if we’re not mandated to do so and are allowed to choose where our money goes. For the most part, we’re good people. The government just needs to get out of our way.”


  2. we’re also a lot more likely to give to people that would actually appreciate it, instead of the large number of welfare recipients (not all of them, obviously, but a lot) who stand there with their hands out demanding we subsidize their laziness

  3. Amen, and again I say: Amen. Can’t top anything that’s been said. Just wish it was all reality (the wiping out huge swaths of the government part).

  4. Just fwiw–talking even to United Way board members (locally), they’ve felt the squeeze, too.

    I definitely agree that government bureaucracy is bloated beyond all reason, and not just in this area. But I guess I don’t have the same faith in people that I used to (it might be symptomatic of hanging out with spoiled brats who want to be Paris Hilton one day)…but maybe if I finally drink Obama’s sweet, sweet Hope-flavored Kool-Aid, I’ll be optimistic again.

    I’m just kind of pessimistic in general lately, but I’ll be leaving the Paris wannabes in a few months, and that may restore my faith in humanity. On the other hand, it’s an election year, and that doesn’t bode well…politicians make me grumpy.

  5. “but maybe if I finally drink Obama’s sweet, sweet Hope-flavored Kool-Aid, I’ll be optimistic again.”

    I know, right?

    Some days I wish Ron Paul wouldn’t get us all killed with his foreign policy.

  6. I’m a very generous person to my friend and family. However, I never give to charities. I figure I “gave at the the office”. My government takes a substantial portion of my income and passes it out to people who didn’t earn it. I’m not going to add to that.

    When government gets out of the charity business, Social Security included, I’ll consider giving to charities.

  7. Ouch….me hurts today (fibromyalgia, as stated some years ago) and I ENVY you, even with your long list of medical maladies.

    God bless you, Sarah. Enjoy Idaho….lived in Boise for 3 glorious years. Ever been to McCall? A MUST SEE. Post pics, should you ever be blessed with such Heaven on Earth.

  8. Well, if a non-profit can’t make it on donations it should go to the wall or reformat its expenses.

    Fewer non-profits (Save the Wyoming Amoeba!) of marginal utility mean more money for the effective ones.

  9. I have to agree…if I don’t:

    a) HAVE kids, I should not pay for others’ kids education.

    b) homeschool any kids I might have, have to pay for others’ kids education.

    You are very right that government needs to get it’s messy, jam sticky hands OUT of charity. We DO have people who donate…but when are taxed to the brink, and do not get to choose WHERE our money goes, it makes it less likely that we will give our money to worthy causes. We are trying to keep our OWN heads afloat…you cannot help anyone else if you cannot help yourself. Plain and simple. I simply FAIL to understand why some people do not get that.

  10. oy VEY! “its” not “it’s”…hello, I swear I went to school.

  11. Sarah….where are you? This post is too old. Are you okay? I know the weather here has been great…but should I be getting worried?

  12. I work for a non-profit myself, and FWIW I think you’re spot-on. One thing I don’t see mentioned yet (but it may have been on the last post) is that family is much more likely to take care of family, given the resources. Unfortunately, current government policies subsidize (and thus increase) broken families and fatherless children. The safety net that would take over in those cases is long frayed to threads. That is going to be an area that needs massive third-party help for some time in order to break that destructive cycle. But once the cycle is broken, then those kids, when grown, will have jobs, requiring less help; and will help their own families, furthering the process.

    I still have a good deal of faith that the current social problems are reversible.

  13. PS – forgot to mention another reason why it’s preferable for third parties and non-profits to do most of the government’s social jobs: not only do people get to vote with their dollars, but those companies are beholden to the law. Having the government separate from the companies and over them is another layer of protection against fraud and embezzlement.

    However, when the government IS the company? Goodbye oversight. It’s a set formula for corruption. Further, there’s much more incentive for the people involved to actually perpetuate the problems instead of solve them – because their livelihood (and their voting constituency) would vanish otherwise.

    This is the richest nation in the history of everything; that we can even afford to have such a monstrous parasitic drain as the various government socialism programs and still be a robust economy is staggering. Imagine if that money were actually doing good in the world!

  14. Some states(?) require that a certain percentage of the money gets to the needy to continue operating as a non-profit. I would LOVE to see that same standard applied to government programs.

    You’re right about non-profits. I used to get “scolded” for not participating in the United Way’s payroll deduction program. But I got the last laugh.