Friday, November 9, 2012

My Heart Was Set On a Goat

Upon arriving home from work, I opened my mailbox to find an assortment of mail. A bill due next month. A check for the association. A few sale flyers. A gift catalog. This caught my eye. On the front of the catalog was the picture of a beautiful black girl in African garb, with a goat in her lap. I would guess her to be about eleven year old. I turned the page and there was another child with another goat. “Give a Goat” were the heading of the page and there was the price, $75 for a goat or $150 for two goats.

They’ve certainly got the right idea. People don’t like giving money to a fund. It isn’t that they aren’t willing to give, but they want to know that their money is accomplishing something. Our church recently expanded our building. I think our building fund had about $200,000 or $300,000 that had accumulated over a decade. But once we started making plans to build, people gave. We would’ve built a $1,000,000 building debt free, if the contractor hadn’t misappropriated the money. As it was, we ended up borrowing money to pay the sub-contractors and to finish the building, but people kept giving and we’re debt free once more.

So, it sounds good. I can send this organization money and it will go toward buying a goat, or chickens, or a cow, all for a needy family. But then I a saw this statement, “86% of every gift goes to programs helping children and families overcome poverty in nearly 100 countries.” Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t sound quite the same as the rest of the catalog implies. In other words, only $64.50 is going toward buying that girl a goat.

But wait, it gets worse. In the fine print I found these words:
We promise to honor your generosity and use your donation in the most effective way possible. The needs shown in this catalog reflect World Vision projects at the time of writing, and the suggested donation amounts are based on surveys of the countries we serve. Each item is representative of the gift category in which it appears, and donations will be used to provide assistance where it is needed most within that category or to address a similar need.

Needless to say, I felt deflated when I saw that. Any money that I might send them goes into a fund that may or may not buy a goat for a family in need. I even felt like they had lied to me. I’ve given to funds before, and that’s okay, but I liked thinking that after giving my $75 that someone would walk up to a house somewhere in Africa, hand them a goat and say, “Someone in Fort Worth, Texas bought you a goat.” But it’ not like that at all.

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