White Paper-Kirsten Smith

  1. Philanthropy is something that takes place worldwide. Whether it’s during the aftermath of a tragedy or for an ongoing misfortune such as a disease or lack of resources, philanthropy happens all the time. Tom’s is a shoe company that for every pair bought, they donate a pair to a child in need in a developing country. Another buy one, give one company is One Laptop per Child, which for every laptop sold, a child in African receives one for free. Rotary, a global organization is trying to eradicate polio once and for good.
  2. My thesis is to prove how often philanthropy has a detrimental effect on the people being helped and how un-effective it is. How often though do these organizations with goals of education for all, disease eradication, and feeding the needy go unaccomplished. I’d say quite often!

A few examples:

– After the 2006 tsunami in Indonesia, donations of rice flooded into the country while a few miles down the road, rice farmers’ crops were flourishing.

-Buy One, Give One organizations often take away from the business or indigenous salespeople. Who would buy something when they can get it for free?

– “In the parts of Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan where polio survives, the disease is not a major health issue. Malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea are the major killers of children under five, and they dwarf polio as a subject of concern for parents.” Money is being thrown at polio, when it isn’t a major health concern for many people.

-Tom’s, which centers its goal on giving children shoes so that they can attend school, often passes out the shoes in schools to children that already have shoes.

  1. Donating to charities is often looked at as something very admirable, but a lot of the time, money is being wasted, goods are being wasted, and local entrepreneurs are losing business, hurting the local economy as a result.
  2. Some topics for smaller papers could focus on different kinds of charities, why people are drawn to donating to certain charities/organizations, and who benefits from philanthropy, if the people it’s intended for don’t.
  3. My research paper is in its initial stage and I am still doing research. I have a lot of different ideas on different organizations to focus on and I’m not quite sure if I should narrow it down to two or three, or use as many as I can find.

5 Annotated Sources:

  1. Do      Tom’s Shoes Really Help Anyone?

This article gives a good understanding about Buy One, Give One companies and where they often go wrong. More specifically with the Tom’s shoes company, this article tells how the shoes that are donated are usually distributed in schools when the reason that their supposed to be given out is so that children have shoes so that they can get into school. This leads into marketplace competition. When people can get shoes for free, why would they buy them? Another example explained in this article about marketplace competition is the 2006 tsunami. In 2006 Indonesia was hit by a devastating tsunami to which the world responded by sending floods of rice donations for the victims. As a result, rice farmers whose crops were flourishing and unaffected by the tsunami suffered major loses in profit because everyone was eating donated, imported rice.

The purpose of this article is to show explain how BOGO companies aren’t very beneficial to the economy of a nation. The article also goes into detail about how donating is sometimes detrimental to a population, as it takes away from domestic markets. I’m basically going to use this article to base my argument off of.

  1. Reflections      from Ethiopia: Is Philanthropy Killing Africa?

This article also explains how BOGO companies work and how they hurt the indigenous merchant. Another key point that this article hits is how Westerners often get tax breaks for their donations and how that could be a factor in where people chose to donate their money.

I’m going to use this article as a backbone to the reason why people donate and how these charities are getting away with not helping as much as they should be. This article also backs up the idea the other article about Tom’s shoes presents, without actually naming the company and calling them unsuccessful.

  1. They Need Other Medicine Too

The article is about how the goal of eradicating polio is proving to be harder than it sounds because the team trying to get rid of it is ignoring the other diseases the people they are trying to “cure” are suffering from. The article explains how most people they are trying to “cure” have never seen polio, but they have seen many die from diseases like malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia. For this reason people are denying the free vaccinations and demanding medicines for the diseases they fear most.

I will use this article to help prove millions of dollars are being wasted on the wrong things. As westerners we try to create ways to help the rest of the world, but we ignore what the people who know best are asking for. I think this article has a strong voice in how we waste money trying to hammer every nail we see, when what we really need to do is pick up a screw driver.

  1. Nobody      Wants Your Old Shoes: How Not To Help In Haiti

This article gives three ways not to help in Haiti, but can probably be applied to any disaster zone or place in need. The first way to not help is by donating goods instead of money. The article gives an example of 1998 Hurricane Mitch in Honduras. The country was flooded with a donation of goods. Ports were clogged and military transport was overwhelmed which made it nearly impossible for relief agencies to ship in the things they really needed. The second and third ways not to help Haiti are: Don’t go to Haiti and Don’t ignore rebuilding.

This article is a good source because after basically showing my audience that philanthropy is a lie, I can tell them specifically what works and doesn’t work. I will use this article to “lighten the mood” and show that there is hope for people who want to help out others and tell them specifically what they should do.


  1. Putting      Charities to the Test

This article also explains how people can donate more effectively. It gives a site that you can go to, to find out which charities spend their money the wisest. However, this site only takes into account how much of funds donated go to administrative costs. Next the article gives an example of donating money to help the blind. The example states that it costs somewhere around $42,000 to train a guide dog that will help one person while there is a surgery that costs about $25 per person and is 80 percent effective, showing that if you had the $42,000 dollars to spend it would be more cost effective to spend it on restoring the sight of over 1,300 people. Restoring sight is much better than helping a blind person cope with being blind, don’t you think?

I think that this article is tool to use to get people to understand there is more to think about when donating than just the quantity of money you can donate. I will use this article to give more insight on charities and how to pick the right charity to donate to.


This entry was posted in A09: My White Paper, Kirsten Smith. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to White Paper-Kirsten Smith

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Kirsten. This is a very worthy counterintuitive topic, if a sad one. I don’t like thinking that well-intentioned generosity fails in any way to deliver good into the world, but people who want to help others deserve to know what methods work and what methods don’t. I hope your impulse to write on this topic will help us make good choices.

    1. You’ve identified three good examples of philanthropic efforts (two of them commercial, one not). There’s no focus here yet, but I’ll be patient to see how things shake out. Keep in mind short research papers need a very narrow focus, so if you investigate lots of efforts, you’ll have to find a small aspect of those efforts to track across the examples.

    2. That’s good for a start and should be quite easy to prove, Kirsten. (A little too easy: all you need to do is point at much of the world and say, “See? Famine still exists!”) Finding something harder to prove will make your paper more worthwhile. If, for example, do-good impulses fail because the donors routinely misunderstand the needs of the recipients, that would be a controversial and arguable thesis. Your examples are very useful. Find the common thread.

    3. Very nice. You’re still surveying, which is fine for now. Work on focusing as you proceed. Waste is common in every process and doesn’t prove much. Actually costing locals their livelihood is much more specific to your argument, for example.

    4. These are good early ideas too, Kirsten. Why people donate is important if you’re arguing that their hopes are not being achieved by the agencies they choose to donate to. How they choose those agencies is critical if you can conclude that they’re choosing badly and can offer alternative agencies that deliver more of what the donors hope for. Your “who benefits” question is really diabolical; I hope it’s as evil as it sounds.

    5. I can help you with that question, Kirsten. There’s almost no value to a big survey essay that touches lightly and vaguely on a dozen donor organizations. BUT: if you found a tiny aspect of your topic that brilliantly illuminates the similarities or differences in the approaches of several agencies, then detailing that small aspect across the board could be very compelling.

  2. smithk53 says:

    Hey professor Hodges I have updated my White Paper.

  3. smithk53 says:

    Just kidding now I updated my White Paper!

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