ICBioethics Blog 

Do you know what you are donating to?

Written by: Leah Jeunnette, Ph.D.(c)

The past few weeks have been filled with Ice Buckets.  The ALS challenge created a viral movement, raising millions of dollars in the last month alone, a substantial increase over last year.  Celebrities, families, even kids are participating.

While I applaud enthusiasm and generosity, one question keeps coming to mind.  Do people really know what they support?  The website states, ALSA “leads the way in research, care services, public education, and public policy — giving help and hope to those facing the disease.”

That begs questions:

What kind of research? ALSA’s website lists many ongoing research projects/studies, some considered controversial, like studies involving animal testing and use of embryonic stem cells. Are donors who object to these types of research aware of this? Many may not have donated if they had known the implications.

How is the money distributed?  Many non-profits come under fire for how little actually goes toward research. Investigations report organizations spending up to 50% of donations on administrative salaries, benefits, and bonuses! With this sudden, large influx of donations, ALSA must take extra care to be responsible and accountable for how donation money is spent.

[Sidebar–  What about intentionally wasting water? Worldwide, many individuals cannot access clean drinking water. Should high-profile fundraising challenges meant to be fun take this into consideration—or do the ends justify the means?]

Bottom line: Fundraisers are wonderful for becoming involved, having fun, and doing good, but we, as donors, need to be responsible. Ask questions, get answers, and check an organization’s goals, methods, and affiliations against yourvalues before donating. If you object to an organization’s research or promotional activities and/or are unsure of their accountability, look for alternatives—many exist.

Got all necessary info and still want to proceed? When you dump that bucket of ice water on your head, stand in a garden where you’ll water the plants at the same time . . . .

Mitch GennusoComment