Whoops. A little bird informs me that Sam Davidson’s company Cool People Care is actually a For Profit business. Not sure how I feel about that. A for profit masquerading as a Not For Profit masquerading as a For Profit…it’s like a Matryushka doll of shifting possibilities.
I can’t give blood. The medication I take means that I’m not allowed to taint the donor pool with my poisoned blood cells. I envy the people who can give blood, I really do. Because it’s such an easy way to make a very huge difference in someone else’s life.
So when I read Sam Davidson’s post about how (and why) he isn’t giving blood to the Red Cross anymore I was irate. Granted, I’m predisposed to be irritated with Sam Davidson. The few internet encounters we’ve had over the years have generally been adversarial because he and I tend to see the world from very different points of view. So I admit that I didn’t go into it thinking that I’d agree with much of anything he said.
I was still shocked off my rocker.
Let me add something else to this. Five years ago my company hired a woman who came to us straight from what she braggadocially referred to as “a Non-Profit Sector Career”. She referred to it constantly, holding forth as though she’d been employed at the right hand of Christ, both controlling destinies and shining brightly underneath her self-designed halo. She ended up stealing and lying and backstabbing her way through a year and a half of working there before she moved on to wreck someone else’s life. So I’m not in love with professional non-profit employees in general either. There are a few notable exceptions to this as I’ve got a couple of good friends who work for NPCs. But even though I do love them they’ll still hold forth from time to time about their work in the smug way people used to talk about wearing hemp clothes.
I have a huge distaste for this last decade’s decision to run NPCs just like For Profit corporations. Granted, there’s a lot about a For Profit that is good to learn. Such as how they manage to make money and keep their doors open. But there’s just been too much Corporation grafted onto the charitable sector, to the point of turning most charities into a grotesque mummery of modern business. The problem as I see it then becomes that these new trappings have little effect on the bottom line but are generally there to keep the new generations of employees employed. In other words a charity may be making three times as much as it did ten years ago, but the bulk of that increase goes not to the needy but to the hipsters who work for the charity. It’s a self-perpetuating machine. I worked in Graphic design for years and every time I get a brochure I know pretty much how much it cost to put it together and print it and mail it out and I can’t help but think they wouldn’t need so many donations if they didn’t keep generating all that junk mail.
Anyway, here is the full text of my comment as it reads over at Sam Davidson’s.
This post highlights a lot of what is wrong with the current state of Non Profit Organisations.
I don’t mean the Red Cross, Sam.
I mean YOU.
Fifteen years ago the Non Profit sector wasn’t the fertile career ground that has become in the last decade. It was mainly staffed with housewives, self-funded philanthropists and harried social-worker types putting in time after their already-full days. A few changes in the laws and tax code and a new generation later and here we are. A lot of hip new Gen Yers who are smugly self-satisfied with their Careers in Being Cool. Non Profits have become the new rock-star career. It’s a great way to put forth yourself as a sort of “I care about the world” kind of person while still earning a salary comparable to what one would find in a For Profit corporation.
I have had it past my eyebrows with the number of acquaintances I know who flaunt their NPC careers as a sort of badge of honour while at the same time looking down their noses at those of us who have jobs in the private sector at companies who donate enough to keep their NPCs in the black.
I thank the good God in heaven for the volunteers I encounter at the various NPCs I patronise. I’d rather deal with a dozen “incompetent” volunteers who seem clueless and disoriented than with one puffed up pompous professional do-gooder who has Gant-Charted his or her personal charity to the point of being yet another slickly printed four-colour brochure lining the bottom of my trash.
Why? Because most of the volunteers are in it because they genuinely want to help. Resumes be damned.
You referred to yourself as the “customer” in this experience. Think again, buddy. The CUSTOMER is the fellow on the gurney who was just pulled from the twisted wreckage that was left of his car after it was t-boned by a drunk driver. The CUSTOMER is the poor woman in the charity hospital who has placenta previa and is going through blood the way a fish goes through water. The CUSTOMER is the little girl whose head was split open after she took a tumble from the monkey bars and is consequently four litres of blood away from being brain dead.
YOU are not the customer. YOU are the CROP. You are the ear of corn. The Sea bass. The loaf of bread.
And as irritating as it may be to not always be the center of someone else’s attention, the fact of the matter is that when you refuse to give blood to the Red Cross PEOPLE DIE.
They do.not.live. Their lives are over. And they’ll never grow up to donate to your charity.