Raising Money



Murali did his undergraduate degree in molecular biology with a minor in biophysics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He then changed direction and did his Masters in Philosophy also at NUS. Now, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Warwick.

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20 Responses

  1. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    Ah, so my problem is that I didn’t climb everest…


  2. Avatar Kazzy says:

    #2 really bothers me. You’ll donate if and only if I do what?!?!Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    This. I’m sick of Beg-a-thons. If you want to use a celebrity in the context of fund raising, do short public service announcements and get your celebrity involved in the good works themselves. Celebrities are not always a wise approach: they and their agents might just be in it for the publicity.

    Marathons, mountain climbing expeditions and the like, well, Sir Edmund Hillary, who spent his life helping the Sherpa people of Nepal, didn’t climb by the metre. He founded the Himalayan Trust, which did reforestation work and built schools and hospitals. Out of that came the American Himalayan Foundation. By all accounts, it’s a well-run charity with connections to the Dalai Lama.

    If you’re dealing with an overseas effort, the key is to run effective lines of communication. Do NOT depend on outsiders to run the show: you’ll end up spending money on airfare and not on welfare. Find competent local administrators and empower them to act on your behalf. Do not trust one person in that context or the money will only go into building the administrator’s house. Your best bet is to find students from that country in a university over here, integrate them into the charity then send them back. Raise funds from local businesses: a well-run charity has local roots and local accountability. The fewer overseas flights, the better.

    Professional fund raisers are not always the great evil they seem to be, though many are troublingly inefficient. Every organisation needs effective marketing: as with for-profits, marketing can efficiently be offloaded onto a third party organisation, it’s a specialised skill set. Firms of any sort waste more money on inefficient marketing than anywhere else. Many worthy charities are far too dependent on a handful of large donors: lose one such donor and your charity can go under. Worse, one very large donor can cause problems: you’re always better served to have large numbers of small donors. A professional fund raiser can help you find those many donors. And there’s the accountability issue: many 501(c)(3) organisations are ill-equipped to do the necessary reporting: non-profit accounting is completely different than anything you’ll ever see in regular accounting.

    The sovereign rule is 25%. If a charity’s overhead is higher than 25%, something’s gone terribly wrong. It may well be that charity should merge with another charity, to take advantage of their infrastructure. Be sure your charity isn’t duplicating the work of another. Above all, a charity must constantly re-evaluate its mission: I’ve done refugee work and I’ve seen how badly some camps are administered.

    One of the core problems at the heart of the Palestinian refugee crisis is the corruption and malfeasance of the UN camp administration: the reason Hamas has any credence is because they’re not as corrupt as Arafat’s PA was. Arafat stole millions from the UN. Well, he also stole a great deal of money as a bank robber in Beirut, that’s another story. Those camps have been there for sixty, almost seventy years now. The problem hasn’t been solved. It was misplaced charity: those Palestinians could have been resettled but the locals weren’t up to solving the real problem. But that opens yet another can of worms. I don’t take sides. This I will say, a refugee camp which is in operation for over ten years represents a political failure and will already be breeding its first generation of terrorists. Be sure your charity isn’t making things worse by only treating the symptoms and not the root causes.Report

    • Avatar M.A. in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Bad example. The reason the Palestinians started out in camps is that Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan stole their land.

      The reason they’ve been kept in camps on land that was supposed to be part of the partition plan is that the pan-Arabists need a signpost, a mask through which to speak to claim legitimacy when they make claims that Israel is illegitimate.

      The pan-Arabists could have legitimately settled the “Palestinians” at any time, but they chose not to. The problem isn’t “misplaced charity”, it’s the fact that the camps are designed to operate for purposes of political fraud no matter how much money is pumped in.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to M.A. says:

        That has nothing to do with how the UN has administered the dozens of refugee “camps”. They can’t be really called camps any more, they’re now wretched shanty towns controlled by gangs. The UN sits mildly by, allowing these people to be victimised. I told you, I don’t take sides. The Lebanese don’t even allow the Palestinians to work in their country, to the point where they’ll bring in Syrians to do the work.

        But let’s not play little games here, the people who are being driven off their land by Israeli settlements don’t have anywhere to go, either. I’m sick to death of the Blame Game in I/P politics. While it continues to be played, these people’s children are growing up to become nihilists in the Hamas model. Israel wants its land for Jews. Lebanon wants its land for the Lebanese, Syria for the Syrians, Jordan for the Jordanians. Iraq has been turned into Northern Ireland writ large and Baghdad into Belfast. The Palestinians are the most despised and rejected people upon the face of the earth and people wonder why they’re behaving the way they do. The underlying reasons for their despair have never once been seriously addressed. If the Pan-Arabists have made them into a mask through which to condemn Israel, Israel continues to evict the Palestinians from their own land as if they were a pest species.Report

        • Avatar M.A. in reply to BlaiseP says:

          The UN sits mildly by, allowing these people to be victimised.

          And why is that, exactly? The same people running the camps are voted on by a UN assembly that carries a remarkably high number of votes from tip-pot dictators and pan-Arabist theocracies. The results of these camps are the same results you got letting Kofi Annan oversee the oil-for-food regime in Iraq.

          And the conflict looks too much like this.

          What exactly is the end-game? The goal? Israel wants to be its own entity. Self-sufficient without random mortars raining down on the populace or suicide bombers blowing up innocent women and children in pizza restaurants. But what do the “Palestinians” want?

          If it was statehood, they would’ve had it by now. So if it’s not statehood, we have to ask what it is. Is it statehood at all? Is it statehood plus something else?

          I once had someone tell me Arafat’s goal wasn’t statehood. Arafat’s goal was to be the first president of a Palestinian State, and the reason his negotiations were such a mess is that anyone who made the negotiations to make a Palestinian state would never win the elections that followed, because 80% of the population would see them as traitors allied with “the Jews.”

          If you talk to the old guard of the northern PaliAuthority groups, you get a different take. Zahir Muhsein, representative to the PA from up in the northern side, described the goal as the destruction of Israel, the creation of the Palestinian State, and that the moment they had Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem, and a few other places claimed as a Palestinian state the anschluss with Jordan was assured.

          If you talk to Hamas you get some frightening honesty. They don’t give a crap about a Palestinian State. Talk to Mahmoud al-Zahar and you get the picture of what they want, straight from their charter and his mouth: “drive the jews into the sea in a river of blood”, “Israel is not a legitimate entity, and no amount of pressure can force us to recognize its right to exist.”

          And in diplomat circles they dance around it with orwellian newspeak. The phrase “legitimate aspirations of the palestinian people” is thrown around, but ask 10 diplomats what that means and you’ll get 20 different “nuanced answers” in as many languages. Western-leaning diplomats will tell you it’s about Palestinian statehood of some sort, the peacebrokers will tell you it’s about some sort of land-for-peace deal, the more diplomatic PA associates will throw out some fol-de-rol about “liberating Occupied Palestine”, and then Hamas and the militant wings will tell you what they really mean: genocide. And they can all use the same stupid phrase while meaning completely different things by it.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to M.A. says:

            Oh, please. The UN don’t know how to run a refugee camp. Arafat and the other warlords stole the UN money. Both Israel and the Palestinians have been controlled and backed by their respective collection of maniacs and neither has any interest in the legitimacy of the other’s state. Israel wants to be its own entity: shall I gather that includes the right to build settlements and roads and put up barriers wherever it wants? If Hamas seeks the annihilation of Israel, Israel shows the same sentiments toward Palestinian legitimacy.

            If the Palestinians have been driven mad and now rain down mortars and rockets on Israel, the Israelis have also been driven mad: the Israelis have assumed a firebase mentality. If memory serves, Israel officially recognised the precursor to Hamas, the Mujama Al-Islamiya as a charity in 1979. They rather liked Hamas when it was fighting the PLO. But Israel had only hand-raised a snake, Sheikh Yassin was no friend of Israel.

            Israel has never really operated in its own best interests. Israel want a Jewish state, Hamas wants an Islamic state. They truly deserve each other. Both sides are a blight on the world.Report

            • Avatar M.A. in reply to BlaiseP says:

              If memory serves, Israel officially recognised the precursor to Hamas, the Mujama Al-Islamiya as a charity in 1979.

              And the strange thing was, since 1973 the MAI had actually functioned as a charity. Doing charity things.

              Wasn’t until 1984 that they were actually caught with a shipment of weapons in their mosque.

              There was no love for Hamas, ever. There was a willingness to assume that charities were trying to do good work and not just acting as mere fronts for terrorist groups. That assumption of goodwill has now dried up for good reason.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to M.A. says:

                I’m not going to participate in this threadjacking any more. I said the UN-run refugee camps have only treated the symptom and nobody’s treated the underlying problem. When Yassin’s “charity” was fighting with Fatah, Israel didn’t take their weapons. While the US continues its “charitable” proposition of arming Israel and backing them at every turn, to the point where Israel can thumb its nose at the USA and continue building settlements, I really don’t want to hear any more of this shit about Hamas and its enmity with Israel. Israel helped create Hamas. If Hamas is now a gang of nihilistic terrorists, Israel might have come to terms with the Palestinians many decades ago instead of doing backroom deals in Oslo with bank robbers like Arafat, then backing his Islamist enemies in Hamas.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to M.A. says:

        Are you jewish? Do you have relatives over there? Do you have any dogs in this fight?Report

  4. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    There are better and worse ways to raise money. When trying to raise money for a charitable cause, or when running charitable it is a good idea to be efficient.

    Why are you calling me a bad person? I’M HELPIIIIIINNNGGG!!!!Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Surely you see the difference between preferring efficiency to inefficiency and declaring everything that isn’t maximally efficient as self-regarding, no?

      Again, my issue with your argument was where you set the baseline.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Kazzy says:

        The problem with your issue with my argument is that I never set a baseline.

        I set out some boundaries for the field of play, suggested that some things were intuitively good and some were intuitively bad. I frankly admitted I couldn’t do a whole lot more than that, and that the problem needed a lot more thinking than I’d been able to give it.

        The same could easily apply to the process of raising money, I would say.Report

  5. Avatar Matty says:

    Things like climbing Everest or running a marathon for charity are often not really about the charity at all. Rather people want to do these things and prefer to involve a charity because it is like giving themselves permission -I’m not wasting loads of time and money on a holiday to Nepal, I’m fundraising.

    The big problem I have with this kind of thing is many charities actually subsidise travel costs for the fundraisers out of the money you raise so donors are in effect paying for you to have a free (or cheaper) trip and only once that is paid for does the surplus go to the charity.Report

    • Avatar M.A. in reply to Matty says:

      But depending on who the person is, from the charity’s side it may still be a win.

      They get (cheaper than normal speaker fees) endorsement from celebrity, celebrity convinces fans to donate via wide reaching facebook/twitter or other social or even promotional channels. So sure, they may wind up subsidizing the climb of the celebrity, but after all is said and done the charity might net double what their “normal” donation drive achieves and see it as a win.

      Just offering the other side, hard numbers probably go case by case.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to M.A. says:

        With celebrities you may be right but I’ve known plenty of people who struggle to be recognised in their own homes get the same kind of offer. Raise a minimum sponsorship (which happens to correspond to the cost of a plane ticket and accommodation) and we’ll let you climb a mountain for our charity for ‘free’.

        I love adventure tourism but it should be called what it is.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to M.A. says:

        Also, the link was about non-celebrities doing the climbing for charity.Report

  6. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Where do the chuggers come in on this scale? Somewhere between the last two options? One of the more annoying things about SF is that the weather is temperte enough for the chuggers to be out most of the year.

    Also Movember (as much as I hate the portmandeau) is probably a more frequent variant than climb Everest.Report

  7. Avatar alma angela says:

    I am interested in writing a guest post for your blog. Are you currently accepting
    guest post.
    Regard’s Angela.For a guest post.Report