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< Back to question Should you give money to beggars? Show more Show less

For people fortunate enough to have extra money in their pockets, giving it away can be fraught with stress. The decision to give or not to give money to homeless people has real-world consequences. This question is not concerned with the legality of giving money, but rather with the moral and ethical dilemma that goes along with it.

Give to charities instead. Show more Show less

Charities know what to do with the money, and your donation can help more people more effectively.
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The Growth Effect

Giving to charities & nonprofits promotes economic growth and improves lives by investing directly in a community. Giving vocally to charities encourages other people to give as well.
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Context

Philanthropic efforts sometimes have a bad reputation of just giving rich people the opportunity to boast about their kindness.[1] Still, charities and nonprofits employ 12.3 million people in the US. Nonprofits also create work opportunities for others more than the 12.3 million directly employed by nonprofits.[2] The nonprofit sector can still drive economic growth.[3]

The Argument

Charities can invest directly into communities.[4] A study found that philanthropists give to charities that improve a community’s amenities such as a zoo, theater, the local football team, etc. Philanthropic efforts can also go towards city beautification. Such cultural amenities improve a specific location and provide the people with opportunities to get together. Giving to charities and other nonprofits, especially a local one, allows the giver to return money to the local economy and community, which benefits homeless people.[5] Charities can invest directly into young people and entrepreneurs, promoting business growth, and providing jobs.[6] Philanthropists can invest in college scholarships for young people or for programs that help under-resourced students receive a better K-12 education. Other charities focus on job-training. Charities can target donated funds and efforts to specific people, such as the homeless, giving them the tools and skills to become self-reliant and give back to their community.[5] Philanthropic efforts, especially of those with more money, can inspire other philanthropists to donate as well. Not only does giving to charity increase the charity’s reach, but also being vocal about giving can inspire others to give as well, further increasing charity’s potential impact on helping homeless people or a community.[5] [4]

Counter arguments

Giving to charity does not guarantee that your money will go directly towards helping the homeless or improving your local community.[7] By giving directly to a person in need, you eliminate the possibility of your money being used by a corrupt charity. You also eliminate the possibility of big-name charities receiving a surplus of money.[8] Charities are tax-exempt, so charities can worsen social inequalities. Letting charities be tax-exempt reduces the revenue available for government social programs which are held more accountable than charities.[9] Vocally giving to charity is a form of virtue signaling. Vocal giving (which many charities encourage to further their reach) shows others in your own social circle that you care for the homeless. Yet, you only do so to receive praise. While such action may benefit the homeless somehow, you are still treating people who are homeless with contempt, using them as a means to a selfish end: to boost your social standing.

Premises

[P1] Organized efforts are more effective than individual efforts. [P2] Philanthropies, charities, and nonprofits can invest directly into communities and people.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.business2community.com/leadership/4-ways-that-philanthropy-can-drive-economic-growth-02283807
  2. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/economic-impact
  3. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/a-strong-nonprofit-sector-is-key-to-thriving-communities/
  4. https://www.communityactionprovo.org/5-ways-donating-locally-improves-economy/
  5. https://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/the-role-of-philanthropy-in-regional-economic-development-the-donor-view/
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/local-government-network/2013/apr/23/charities-foster-economic-growth
  7. https://www.parlia.com/a/charities-know-beggars-really-need
  8. https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/4/24/15377056/big-charities-best-charities-evaluation-nonprofit
  9. https://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/charity/against_1.shtml

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 04:47 UTC

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