Ethics: July 2010 Archives

A friend of mine who blogs under a pseudonym has an excellent post criticizing the way a lot of schools and similar child-focused organizations run their fundraisers.

I couldn't resist chiming in and saying that it's pretty evil for anyone to assume of any particular family that they can produce the person-hours to engage in this kind of fundraising and to have negative consequences for those who can't. For a family with limited financial resources, expecting them to come up with the money whether they raise it or not is downright evil, and families with particularly high time commitments simply cannot devote their very limited time-resources to helping their school or organization raise the money that they need to keep operating the way they do.

It becomes not just inconvenient but pretty much impossible in a family with five children, two of them autistic, one of them a newborn, and heavy time-commitments outside just ordinary ways of taking care of the children (say, involvement in a church, several activities throughout the week related to the disabilities of the children, the extra time necessary for dealing with behavior and safety issues raised by serious developmental delays, divided responsibilities between work and education for the sole wage-earner, both of which get sidelined much more frequently than in most families). If any organization our children were involved with were to engage in this kind of behavior, I would simply ignore them, and if they pushed they'd get an earful.

But, even in a family where the parents can sit down and relax even while their kids are home, where they don't have to assign one parent to monitor a very active and destructive seven-year-old for his entire waking existence on top of whatever else might need to go on, where after bedtime the parents can assume they can sit down and do something relaxing for a few hours before going to sleep, it seems to me to be contrary to the usual norms of social interaction in our society to think that you can expect a certain level of commitment from people for this sort of thing. It's one thing to ask parents to put in some time and effort asking some people they know to contribute. It's quite another to expect the huge time commitment that's required to ensure that every family gets a certain level of results. There are much more fruitful ways of raising money that don't involve roping in reluctant people, sometimes those who simply cannot devote their time or energy to anything of the sort. Why can't people use the same standards of moral decency that they apply to most of their interactions with other people when it comes to these things?

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