Charities seem to be different these days.
I mean, I think about charities that have been around forever (relative to my 20-some years of awareness outside of my own family) like United Way, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Christian Children’s Fund, and Worldvision, and I think about rocks within my community – stable, unobtrusive, and fairly low-key. I see them as the charities of my parents: heirarchical, top-down, Modernist, and somewhat outdated. First, let me say that I’m not trying to put down any of these organizations – I’ve donated to almost all of the above charitable organizations without regret – but I don’t see a spread, a growth, or a story.
Each one of the above have pretty much done things the same way, organizationally and communicatively, for as long as I can remember. If something isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right? This worries me because as we move into an ever-evolving post-modern internet culture where information is in excess and meaning is in short supply, I’m not sure these organizations know how to tell their stories to a new generation.
The reason I’ve been thinking about this is because I’ve been thinking about a few charities of late that have really touched me. Let me outline a few:
I think what’s different about these charities is not that they are hip, attractive, and cutting-edge in website design (though that helps), but I think its because they have all centered themselves around, and deeply invested themselves in, meaningful stories. Meaning and purpose drip from these charities, and catch my eye because they speak my language.
The vet charities will hopefully be around forever because of the need they fill, and people fill that need because of what they know it does good, but it seems that they are organizations and not people; faceless constructs intent on supplying the world with good. My fear is that without change, these might indeed become relics in history.
Luckily there are a few that have picked up on this for the vets too and have done something about it. My friend, Tim Bailey, decided to see for himself what Compassion does with the money he donates to sponsor a young one, and he went to Haiti and made a movie about it. The movie is great. It connected with me and gave meaning to sponsoring children. I hope to do the same in a few years in Thailand with Isaiah 61 Project.
Where do we go from here? Well we need to find our way into these giants of charity work in North America (primarily) and help them regain a story and a meaning that will connect themselves with the generation at hand.
This entry was written by Activism, Culture and tagged Charity, Christian Children's Fund, Compassion, Goodwill, Isaiah 61 Project, Love Knits, Meaning, Millenials, Salvation Army, Treasures, TWLOHA, United Way, Worldvision. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink., posted on November 15, 2008 at 2:58 am, filed under