My grandson and I often make a day of a MARTA ride. We ride for hours on all four lines, visiting all 38 stations along the 49 miles of track. It is great fun. Of course, MARTA has rules to help guarantee that the ride is fun for all the many thousands of riders. One very important rule is: No Soliciting! Individuals who disregard that regulation because of some need are usually met with a stony silence. I violated the regulation and paid a price. We were on the Blue Line nearing Ashby Street Station. In addition to my grandson, there were three other riders — all in adjacent seats. A young man seated in front of us asked me for some money so he could have a meal. He looked every bit the part. I took out my billfold and handed him a $20 bill. Then the action started. An adjacent rider shouted to me: “What do I get? Why does he get it?” My grandson grew very tense, and the third rider, a woman, noticed it and verbally took off after the shouter: “Shut your mouth! You are upsetting that child! Always got your hand out when you don’t do nothing!” I have deleted some of the salty language that carried that emotional exchange along. Porter and I left the train immediately and escaped the argument. Hopefully it ended without bodily harm. But the lesson? Lesson learned!
Like MARTA, Giving has rules and regulations. If and when observed carefully, everyone benefits. The Giver makes a difference. The Recipient experiences the difference. Many months ago, as we began this blog, I mentioned the very important — even critical — advice that Dr. Robert D. Lupton offers those of us who do the work of charity. You may remember that I referenced his very important book, Toxic Charity — How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It.) He says all the hard things that need to be said, but if we would accept them, everyone involved would be — and will be — better off.
Here is an axiom that has helped those of us at Forging Futures do the right thing when it comes to money raising: The More Efficiently Money Is Raised, the More Effectively Money Will Be Used. You can add your variations, but I think it is a good rule. Here is a case in point. Last evening a young woman rang our doorbell and introduced herself on behalf of the growing refugee situation, which I assume all of us would admit is a global crisis. Whole populations are on the move, driven by famine, drought, war and oppression. There is a human cost to our global climate crisis. And the cost is terrifying. The young woman was obviously ready to receive my credit card. She was sincere and winsome. I asked her for some information about the United Nations Agency for which she was making advocacy. I have no doubt she was on the up and up. No doubt at all. But she had no hard information such as a handout. The Agency for which she was making advocacy was “paperless.” I asked her to take my email and send me information. I would then be happy to respond generously. She thanked me and left — without my contact information! Ringing doorbells for needy causes is a job for the stout of heart.
The refugee crisis is a catastrophe of human cruelty, greed and evil. There has to be a better way to raise money to alleviate this tragic sorrow and human blight than to send a young idealist to ring doorbells without the needed information. Those of us with the responsibility for raising money for the poor have to do a better job. Everyone’s self-worth depends on doing a better job.
Next week, I’ll take a moment to tell you some of the steps Forging Futures takes to head in the right direction and put our donations to the most effective use.