Across cultures and religions, there are designated lengths of time meant for detoxification and introspection. With the Holy Month of Ramadaan upon us, the environment is one of sublimity. People try to think purer thoughts and act with kindness all around, charity levels tend to rise as does the need to pay it forward.
We live in a generally capitalist world where “money” is a goal for many; or for many others, the things that money can buy are the goals. Yet, somehow, these moments of introspection are an opportunity to evaluate these very goals. And these revaluated goals tend to form the basis of life goals for the recipients – namely charitable organizations.
There is a tendency, that when we think of any not-for-profit, we think, “not-for-money”. But that’s a fallacy. Because every entity, irrespective of the purpose, is for money. Some organizations have profit as an aim or are “for-profit” and some simply use the money solely for operating and furthering the business or are “not-for-profit”.
The reason the money is needed, is to keep the “system” going; so that the money that is donated, is adequately channelized to the end recipients. Every aspect of running any sort of entity requires money. The system that needs to work includes salaries to employees (sometimes volunteers) and a lot of operating expenses such as rent, computers, phones, money for transportation, etc. And this, is in addition to the cost of the actual products or services being provided to the end recipients or those in need.
The reason why charities are sometimes viewed with scepticism is because, the expectation is that since the end service is charity, no one in the chain should make money. But the reality is that, everyone’s time is worth something. As one of my professors in business school had told us: “Just because I want to help and lend a hand in the line of social work, does not mean that I must give up on my own life as an individual”.
So, unless they make something for their time, the commitment of the people engaged in operating the charity, is lower. If we could realise that charities need to operate as businesses do, the result is likely to be a much higher efficiency levels and a higher percolation for the greater good.
But why is this now relevant? Because, during months like Ramadaan, our scepticism tends to take a back seat. We tend to find it easier to believe in good and to believe that what we are doing will make a difference. We find it easier to commit to helping with our time and our money. Perhaps, we can extend those commitments to beyond just that small period. Perhaps, we can genuinely commit to helping wherever we can, even if it is out of our comfort zone.
The need to help begins with finding problems that need fixing in our own view. It needs to be something that we feel strongly about and that resonates with us. Because, only then will giving it our money or time, or both – is easier to do.
And therein lies the key point. Both aspects are equally important. We seem to find it much easier to commit money, perhaps because most of us are blessed to have more money to spare than time. But, remember this: It takes both money and people to keep any organization going. The more hands that can be counted on, the more work can be done. Let’s begin by understanding that charities need resources. Then, let's commit to increasing all those resources.