Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The charity that was not

When I graduated college: young, single and with a babe in arms, I moved home with my parents. After a six month adjustment period I began seeking work. I had a baby I needed to provide for. I must have responded to dozens of ads for job positions, but one that called back was for an "entry level management position in a charity". It sounded like something right up my alley so I dressed myself up and went to that interview. The waiting room was in a business office in a storage park. That should have been my first clue but this was for charity, right? The waiting room was FULL, of a wide variety of people, and a there was a constant stream into the office. When I was ushered in, two handsome, well dressed young men spent about two minutes reviewing my resume and announced I was perfect. In fact, I was so perfect for this job that I would be a manager. But first I needed to just do a few days of on the job training, but then I would definitely be a manager. So I showed up for my first day dressed to the nines, and terrified. I was led by two women into an older model sedan full of fast food wrappers and told we were going to a job site, but first Mickey D's. So, surrounded by French fries we  headed off to my dream job. We arrived at an office Depot and took a folding table inside the front doors. I was told we were selling toys to raise money for, well lets just call it super sad children's charity X. Who we were "raising money for" was a real organization so it seemed to add up right. I'd heard of them, happy to support them right? Uh... then they started prompting me.. "Tell people they can save babies by buying this {piece of crap coloring book}". "Tell people sick children get medicine when they buy {this dollar store race car}." "Be pushy" "stand in their way" "speak loudly!" At some point I asked, THE question... well..." how much DOES this charity receive from us anyway?" LAUGHING, like it was great fun that the na├»ve college girl was asking that question,. they told me the shocking truth. 1-2%. The people buying the items assumed it all went to the charity. Within the first hour I had snuck outside, called my Daddy and gotten myself as far away from those criminals as possible. The sad reality friends, is that charity can be difficult to believe. There are so many organizations with less than honest motives that it can be difficult to know WHO to trust. The other issue, that I'm working very hard to understand is how to know when charity is helpful. I'm currently reading When Helping Hurts.  This is giving me an entirely new perspective on how we should help the poor and the suffering. There is a difference. There is hope.
 Noonday Collection is NOT a charity. At Noonday artisans from poverty stricken areas are encouraged to use their own skill set, their own interests, to create a product- or more often to improve a product they are already making so that they can sell to earn their own income. By using micro loans, medical assistance, and business and design advice these artisans are gaining control over their own economic status. They receive respect, dignity, compassion and grace while they grow as entrepreneurs, all while earning much more than their local marketplace could pay.  When I ask you to shop Noonday you can trust that your money is going into a business plan that encourages the artisan and pays them well for their work. There is no secret 2% "charity" trying to trick you. I love this video from the Ana art group. We buy our engraved cuff from this group and it is one of my favorites. Enjoy.

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