Why I don’t give alms

I had meant to write this for quite some time, was putting it off – my periodic procrastination at work :)

The day I read through this article (an NGO for every 400 Indians), it was enough to spew forth a series of questions … questions aimed at people who work in NGOs and those who invest in them. With 3.3 million NGOs (the registered number in 2009), what impact has it really done to the country? At a micro-level, I agree that NGOs would be making a difference to the concerned community, but at what cost?

Do we (the nation) really have so many problems that it is taking so many NGOs to work? Imagine the amount of funding and human capital that must be going into these. I know folks who work for NGOs, and they take this funding for granted. This is the most appalling thing!! What gives you the self-righteous attitude to demand charity? (You can expect, but the day you demand I give you the bird).

The only way an NGO should sustain themselves, is not through charity, but through generating their own revenues. If the wealth of the nation is spent on giving to the needy, then the needy will never stand on their feet – they will just spread their arms more open.

Why can’t NGOs have business models and start being sustainable? Smart people will now talk about Social Entrepreneurship … what really gets my goat here, is that how is it any different from entrepreneurship? But that’s fodder for a different post.

Personally speaking, the reason why I do not give alms is that charity is a disabling act. When you give charity, it is a positive reinforcement of the fact that begging gives you livelihood. Once a person starts begging, the first thing he loses is his dignity, and then he loses his capability … downhill thereafter.

I truly believe in –

Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Whenever a beggar approaches me, I offer them work instead of money. Sadly, none of them has yet to take up the offer.