Op-ed: Your donation isn’t helping as much as you think it is

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Courtesy Creative Commons "Check Writing" by CarbonNYC [in SF!] is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Some argue that social justice advocacy goes beyond writing a check.

Taylor Hsu, contributor

Do you remember the last charitable donation you made? 

Like many others, it may have been to a Black Lives Matter foundation or to George Floyd’s family following his death at the hands of the police. Many Americans were moved by recent incidents of police brutality and offered donations to fight for racial justice. However, I don’t believe that the intentions behind many donations are genuine, nor do I think they are enough.

Donating to charitable organizations has always been a primary way for people to show support for causes that they believe in, but can you say for certain that your organization of choice is truly creating an impact? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could say with certainty that the organizations I’ve chosen to support are truly advancing the causes I believe in.

If you choose to donate, the importance of organization verification is especially important. It can be easy enough for someone to create an organization under a recognizable name to gather donations, yet have absolutely no affiliation with the cause. Case in point: An organization named the Black Lives Matter Foundation located in California raised over $4.35 million, and yet, had absolutely no affiliation with the Black Lives Matter movement, nor was the money going toward the benefit of the movement.

Oftentimes, it seems that many donations are made because organizations simply ask for money or have enough name recognition. Donating to these organizations isn’t enough, and with the large number of charities out there, how can you be sure your donation is real? Are you sure making a donation is even the right choice?

I don’t think so.

Donating to charities that only target symptoms of an issue, rather than the root causes, isn’t going to change our society. While funding charities that provide care packages for the homeless can alleviate the stress of this issue on them, this does nothing to address the political, social and cultural changes that need to be made on top of that.

Charity should not become a substitute for real justice, nor should it take the responsibility away from the state. It isn’t really helping if it distracts from the necessity of re-thinking the way in which we organize society. 

This isn’t to say that charity should not be considered when attempting to make social change, but it is equally important to be proactive in finding organizations that are effectively advocating for change and supporting the causes you believe in. Take the time to research the causes you believe in and learn about the most effective ways to address them. 

Taylor Hsu is a third-year business administration and psychology major with a minor in behavioral neuroscience. She can be reached at [email protected]