CCSGA Weekly: The Problem with Philanthropy

By Lilly Davis, Finance Committee Member

Philanthropy is a fairly uncontroversial topic. It is rare to hear people arguing whether it is a good thing to donate money to cancer research or a homeless shelter. So why is there debate about the funding of philanthropy events inside of the CCSGA Finance Committee?

The simple answer is that we are trying to follow our bylaws. Special Events Funding, which most, if not all, philanthropy events fall under, has specific rules surrounding what qualifies as a fundable event. It must be free and open to the entire campus. Pay attention to the ‘free’ part of those conditions. If you have to donate to a cause to go to an event, that isn’t free. A simple solution to this problem is making sure all donation requests are just suggestions. This way the event is free but still philanthropic. However, if no one donates, what is the point of the event?

And here is the more complicated, more controversial argument against philanthropy events: they are, by and large, very ineffective, at least here at Colorado College. Events very rarely raise even close to the amount that they are given by the Finance Committee to host the event. In fact, the number is much closer to about half the money awarded. There are exceptions to the rule, as there always are, but not many. 

Say hypothetically speaking, we give you $1000, and you raise $500 for a charity. If the point for you hosting this event in the first place was to give as much money as possible to the charity of your choice, would it not be more effective to not host the event and just give all of the money awarded directly to the charity? This would mean double the money for a noble cause with much less effort. 

There are, of course, ways to make philanthropy events more effective, but it usually takes more work than just coming in and asking for money and spending it. It takes calling various restaurants to see who is willing to give you the best price, it takes asking businesses to sponsor your event, it takes research, bargaining and patience. As we all know, CC students are already busy.

This is not a critique of philanthropy events. No matter how, to quote myself, “effective” these events are, they have good intentions and non-philanthropy events raise 0% of the money they receive. But student government is meant to represent the students and issues we discuss always benefit from input from the group we represent. So, student body, what do you think?

P.S. Congratulations to Dr. Manya Whitaker, the interim director of the Butler Center! 

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