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Follow up on charity trip to Africa

March 12, 2009

I wrote awhile ago about my college-age cousin who was raising money to go on a charity trip to Africa.  I wasn’t wondering if it was charitable of me to give $50 to my cousin (that’s basically just a “we’re family” gift), but I was skeptical of her need to go to Africa to be charitable in the first place.  If I sent my $50 direct to Africa, it would make a bigger impact than funneling it through her trip.

Anyway, she didn’t get to go, because she couldn’t raise enough money.  I think she expected her quite wealthy father to make a generous contribution to make up any shortfall.  He refused.  I respect his decision, as he refused basically on the same grounds I was questioning:  You do NOT need to spend thousands to go to Africa in order to make a difference in the world.  While she offered to refund contributions, she’s doing Habitat for Humanity instead so I said to just keep it.

byThe Dilly Lama and by FirstBaptistNashville

Honestly, I feel happier to know my $50 is helping her do Habitat for Humanity than I would if it was helping her go to Africa.  It seems like a more sensible and honest way to do charity work, rather than combining charity with a bit of an “I want to see the world” adventure vacation.

Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to see the world and have life changing experiences.   I just think you should do that on your own dime, even if you plan to help some impoverished people along the way.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2009 11:01 am

    I agree 100%. It sounds like a glorified vacation with some charity work. I would love to go to Africa and make a difference. But my benefit is two-fold:

    1. I get to serve

    2. I get to go to Africa!

    If you’re main end is to help make a change in the world, then, no, I don’t think it’s the best way to go about it.

    I agree with you.

  2. March 12, 2009 12:27 pm

    Yeah it sounds more like a vacation with a little charity mixed in, but her heart is in a good place. Why not join the peace corp or something? The ones I know who’ve joined all got sent somewhere exotic/unusual like asia, africa or eastern europe.

  3. March 13, 2009 11:49 am

    I don’t think it’s really a vacation…I mean, it’s not like they’ll be staying in a 5-star hotel. I would think it is much safer to join on something like this and travel to those locations, than it would be to go on your own and try to do charity work without knowing anybody. There’s no way I would go to any country in Africa on my own. You never know when civil unrest will break out, and you wouldn’t know where to turn to if it did.

    Rathern than just send money, some people would actually like to see what that money is doing for those who need charity.

    But anyways, i’m disillusioned by the whole charity thing after meeting some do-gooders who were flying in business class with me. I’m sure they didn’t pay for that themselves!

  4. moneymatekate permalink
    March 14, 2009 8:45 am

    They came up with the term “voluntourism” recently to describe this sort of thing, though there isn’t necessarily a fundraising component to it. I have my own term for it: Vaniteerism. For my own semi-rant on the subject: http://cheapcharity.blogspot.com/2008/04/voluntourism-vanitourism.html

  5. March 15, 2009 12:46 pm

    My boyfriend wants to do this in a few months. The people he got information from actually suggested he hit up friends and family for donations which I think is beyond tacky. If the programs were targetting high schoolers or others without income it would be ok to solicit donations.

    Otherwise its just…tacky

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