Today I Learned...

Putting the edible back in credibility

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Give me truth to my conviction
Everyone reading this should know that except under very specific circumstances you donate cash to charity, not goods. And you never, ever, ever buy goods for the purpose of donation. Either acknowledge this charity is better than you at fulfilling its goal or do it yourself.

Work is having a big donation drive for an anti-starvation-in-Africa charity. Specifically, they distribute plumpynuts. It's pissing me off on a number levels. For one, I don't like a large, rich corporation trying to tell me the moral thing to do with my money. I work for them, they pay me, end of transaction. TI love their donation matching program, but that is them being generous with *their* money towards a thing *I* chose. This is pretty much the opposite.

Second, I don't like the charity. It advertises itself as "curing hunger", when what it means is "give profoundly malnourished child nourishment for six weeks". Hunger isn't a disease you catch and fight off and then it's all good. Unless you've fixed the underlying conditions that led to that starvation, you've done nothing. At best. There's a million ways charity can make things worse.

it nags at me because the African poor are objectively worse off than the American poor that are helped by the charities I donate to (Modest Needs and Treehouse for Kids). I give to those American-focused charities anyway because I feel competent to asses their goals, approach, and a bit of their implementation. Not perfectly competent, because the whole transaction is premised on them having better information than me, but competent enough to be confident enough I'm not making things worse. But in the back of my mind I keep thinking "when it's your kid, it's priceless." I feel like I'm throwing up my hands and saying "sorry African kids, I'm going to leave you to suffer specifically because your suffering is so immense."

I guess the fact that this bothers me so much means I should at least look around for good charities addressing 3rd world poverty. I feel helpless in the face of it, but there are indirect routes. If I can't asses efficacy directly, I can find people who do, and I can assess them. It's not perfect, but I don't think perfection is a fair expectation here


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