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Giving Machines

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

I understand this point, but I wonder if this isn't kind of like bait and switch advertising then.  Why even give the impression that the people at the vending machine have any choice in what they are giving to the people in need?  I have seen multiple people in my circle of family and friends posting about how excited that they are that a certain item was purchased for people in need somewhere.  It seems it would be more transparent if they didn't give the impression that you are purchasing a very specific item for someone in need.  

I recently saw a FB group of people that wanted help in passing out donated blankets to the homeless. I was sorry I missed doing it, but then on the news a couple of weeks later they said not to do this because the blankets were littering the streets of SLC because the homeless can't carry it around or something like that. So it left a mess, that recent venture. So I guess we need to be really careful how we try to help.

I'm sponsoring a family with 5 children with a Christmas. And my son in law and daughter are leary of helping. I tried to get all of my family to help since we are nixing gifts in our family and instead doing a white elephant $10.00 gift. But this hispanic son-in-law and my daughter feel like people take advantage and put themselves on these lists and don't really need it. I guess they have seen people do this. But I verified through the person that put their names in that they are legit, it was a RS president and Bishop that put them on the list so hopefully it's true. And my daughter and husband are wrong. But I am excited to buy toys again! 

According to what I've read so far about how the Giving Machines work is that the church will direct the funds to what the person desires it to go unless that need isn't there anymore and then put it toward another need. Also, the church is taking care of all of the overhead themselves, so what normally would be taken out of the donation for that, is going to be covered by the church. So 100% is a true statement according to how much of the donation is going to the need, yay!

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53 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I understand this point, but I wonder if this isn't kind of like bait and switch advertising then. 

Then wonder no more: it isn't. 

 

Quote

Why even give the impression that the people at the vending machine have any choice in what they are giving to the people in need? 

Um, because the people donating at the vending machines do have some choice in what they are giving. That choice, however, just isn't absolute, which totally makes sense. 

I have no doubt that a good faith effort is made to deliver the commodities selected. But, if situations change or if other needs become more pressing, I think people of good will can appreciate that the heard of goats they just purchased with their Christmas bonus won't be doing anyone in that village any good if they all end up dying of malaria.  

 

Quote

I have seen multiple people in my circle of family and friends posting about how excited that they are that a certain item was purchased for people in need somewhere.  It seems it would be more transparent if they didn't give the impression that you are purchasing a very specific item for someone in need.  

It seems to me that they are being pretty transparent. The charities are asking people to donate money to purchase things which are truly needed, but if a more pressing need arises then yeah, they might need to call an audible on that and drop the last couple of goats in favor of something else. That seems perfectly reasonable to me and not at all deceitful.

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I recently saw a FB group of people that wanted help in passing out donated blankets to the homeless. I was sorry I missed doing it, but then on the news a couple of weeks later they said not to do this because the blankets were littering the streets of SLC because the homeless can't carry it around or something like that. So it left a mess, that recent venture. So I guess we need to be really careful how we try to help.

I'm sponsoring a family with 5 children with a Christmas. And my son in law and daughter are leary of helping. I tried to get all of my family to help since we are nixing gifts in our family and instead doing a white elephant $10.00 gift. But this hispanic son-in-law and my daughter feel like people take advantage and put themselves on these lists and don't really need it. I guess they have seen people do this. But I verified through the person that put their names in that they are legit, it was a RS president and Bishop that put them on the list so hopefully it's true. And my daughter and husband are wrong. But I am excited to buy toys again! 

According to what I've read so far about how the Giving Machines work is that the church will direct the funds to what the person desires it to go unless that need isn't there anymore and then put it toward another need. Also, the church is taking care of all of the overhead themselves, so what normally would be taken out of the donation for that, is going to be covered by the church. So 100% is a true statement according to how much of the donation is going to the need, yay!

I'd give you a rep point for this, if I could.  So here's a smile instead: 🙂 

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1 hour ago, pogi said:

I don't know, this just seems so ticky-tacky.  We are talking about people helping other people here.  What is more important, the effectiveness of the disclosure, or the effectiveness of the campaign?  Do you really think anyone with a giving heart would be that upset because their $10 candy bar money went to a clean water campaign instead of a goat campaign?    It just seems like there are bigger and badder fish we could be frying here.  Let's not nit-pick the do-gooders.  This effort should be applauded.   

Then why even structure the giving machines in the way they do?  Why give the illusion that you're picking a specific item to be donated?  They should instead just give a list of all the possible things someone's $50 could be donated toward.  Instead the machine is setup to give you the distinct impression otherwise.  

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9 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

So, don't tantalize us, tell us how to help on the wishlist thingy!  

Gladly!

This is our site: Gathering Humanity  If you scroll down you can find the link to the wish lists and other ways you can help.   

A little info:

We started helping refugees that were arriving in Phoenix.  We collect household items etc and then set up an apartment in cooperation with resettlement agencies for when they arrive.  The government requires many of those items which becomes a loan for them, but it is pretty heavy to have that much of a loan when you may not know the language, have job skills and other things that put you in the vulnerable category enough to let you come here etc.  Everything that comes through Gathering Humanity is provided to them free so they can start to be self sufficient more quickly.

Our greatest need right now (a real crises) is with asylees from Guatemala, Honduras etc.    Many of them have been robbed of everything they have, have little or no money, food and clothing.  When they are released by immigration they need to make their ways to sponsors, usually family members, where they will await for their papers to be processed. Most of them that we are seeing have a young child with them.  They then need to travel by plane or bus (usually) paid for by their sponsor.  The backpack we provide helps them go the sometimes 3-5 days of travel. we have been working with churches that have been overwhelmed hosting sometimes 200-250 people a day and often need to stay there till their travel plans are made and ready.  So we are also helping them provide meals, medications, clothing etc.  

The link to our wish list on the site will actually show you 3 wish lists to the left.  Two are for refugees and the "urgent" one is for asylees. 

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22 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I recently saw a FB group of people that wanted help in passing out donated blankets to the homeless. I was sorry I missed doing it, but then on the news a couple of weeks later they said not to do this because the blankets were littering the streets of SLC because the homeless can't carry it around or something like that. So it left a mess, that recent venture. So I guess we need to be really careful how we try to help.

I'm sponsoring a family with 5 children with a Christmas. And my son in law and daughter are leary of helping. I tried to get all of my family to help since we are nixing gifts in our family and instead doing a white elephant $10.00 gift. But this hispanic son-in-law and my daughter feel like people take advantage and put themselves on these lists and don't really need it. I guess they have seen people do this. But I verified through the person that put their names in that they are legit, it was a RS president and Bishop that put them on the list so hopefully it's true. And my daughter and husband are wrong. But I am excited to buy toys again! 

According to what I've read so far about how the Giving Machines work is that the church will direct the funds to what the person desires it to go unless that need isn't there anymore and then put it toward another need. Also, the church is taking care of all of the overhead themselves, so what normally would be taken out of the donation for that, is going to be covered by the church. So 100% is a true statement according to how much of the donation is going to the need, yay!

We have the same problem in Phoenix.  Giving the items directly to the homeless also often draws many away from services that can help them better.  So the city has asked people to give to shelters etc instead. 

Edited by Rain
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2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Then why even structure the giving machines in the way they do?  Why give the illusion that you're picking a specific item to be donated?  They should instead just give a list of all the possible things someone's $50 could be donated toward.  Instead the machine is setup to give you the distinct impression otherwise.  

Sounds like what you need to do is find a different way to donate money and move on with your life. 

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6 minutes ago, ksfisher said:
10 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Then why even structure the giving machines in the way they do?  Why give the illusion that you're picking a specific item to be donated?  They should instead just give a list of all the possible things someone's $50 could be donated toward.  Instead the machine is setup to give you the distinct impression otherwise.  

Sounds like what you need to do is find a different way to donate money and move on with your life. 

Not sure what this has to do with me.  I haven't used the giving machines and don't plan to.  

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12 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Not sure what this has to do with me.  I haven't used the giving machines and don't plan to.  

So why the consternation?  You don't like them so you're not donating through them.  Other people do so they are.  Why not leave it at that?

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6 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

So why the consternation?  You don't like them so you're not donating through them.  Other people do so they are.  Why not leave it at that?

Lets leave the discussion focused on the topic and not try and turn it into a discussion about me.  

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13 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

All I’m asking is if there is a way to verify.  

You ask too much :) How dare you ask if there is a way to verify. Just because other charities are accountable and make information available doesn't mean the church has too. Who needs the kind of verification like is done on Charity watch?https://www.charitywatch.org/home  If an organization says they are doing a good thing why can't you just trust them?

11 hours ago, cinepro said:

Uh, if the Church puts out a vending machine and there's a card that says "Pay $10 and buy a goat for a village", then if someone puts in $10 and buys that card then the Church better be dang sure there's a village getting a goat somewhere. 

If there's fine print that let's the Church use that money for other charitable purposes instead of actually buying a goat (say, shampooing the carpet in the Houston Temple after it's flooded), then we should just go back to calling ourselves "Mormons" because I'm not sure Jesus would want his name on a church that did that.

Or...perhaps it's precisely because of the fine print that you are wondering. I have to admit that I was wondering too.

IIRC, not only does the church use fine print stating that they will make their best attempt to apply donated monies as indicated, while reserving the right to apply it elsewhere, but it also works off an endowment model for donated funds. Again, I'm open to correction on this, but my understanding is that donations are made to the church. The church then takes those donations and invests them. The church then withdraws earned interest from investments to meet needed expenditures. It doesn't really matter to me if they take my exact $10 donation and apply it to purchasing a goat, or if they invest it, and then withdraw $10 interest from their investments to pay for the goat. As long as the goat is being purchased, I'm cool with that.

BUT what if the church invested all donations made this year so that they could withdraw all investments and earnings for next year to make a larger donation and buy more goats. Would we be cool with that? What if the goats being purchased this year are made with last years donations? It's not an unreasonable model and there's nothing criminal about it, BUT is it what we would expect? Is there a way to know that $1,000,000 donated this year are going to meet charitable needs as advertised...this year?

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48 minutes ago, Amulek said:

Then wonder no more: it isn't. 

 

Um, because the people donating at the vending machines do have some choice in what they are giving. That choice, however, just isn't absolute, which totally makes sense

I have no doubt that a good faith effort is made to deliver the commodities selected. But, if situations change or if other needs become more pressing, I think people of good will can appreciate that the heard of goats they just purchased with their Christmas bonus won't be doing anyone in that village any good if they all end up dying of malaria.  

 

It seems to me that they are being pretty transparent. The charities are asking people to donate money to purchase things which are truly needed, but if a more pressing need arises then yeah, they might need to call an audible on that and drop the last couple of goats in favor of something else. That seems perfectly reasonable to me and not at all deceitful.

 

 

 

This sounds more like they have the illusion of choice. If they have the ability to make a choice of donation at the vending machine but that choice isn't honored, then how can they know their donation was used well?

If you went to a vending machine, put your money in, ordered a king sized snickers, but instead you got a box of Good N Plenties, would you be happy with that? I'd want my snickers, not some 4th tier candy :)

Saying I have the choice of candy, but then not giving me the candy I chose is laughable. I wouldn't use that vending machine ever again out of fear I may accidentally end up with some Bit O Honey.

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38 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Then why even structure the giving machines in the way they do?  Why give the illusion that you're picking a specific item to be donated?  They should instead just give a list of all the possible things someone's $50 could be donated toward.  Instead the machine is setup to give you the distinct impression otherwise.  

Marketing ploy to get more people to donate.

I donate money monthly to Charity Water. I'd be a little ticked if I learned that instead of providing clean water for people in need they were actually funding contraceptive programs in Sudan. While both may be good, meaningful purposes, I'm donating to Charity Water specifically because I want people to have access to clean water. End of story. Not donating as advertised would be a breach of trust.

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There have been some behaviors in charitable fund raising in the past done by the church that I have some serious questions about.  I did some analysis of the public financial statement of the church in the UK and posted it here previously but I can only find one of the posts.  Let me set the stage.  On December 26, 2004 there was a tsunami in the Indian ocean that hit over a dozen countries and killed over 225,000 members.  As calls for aide and donations went out there was a request for members to make their aide donations to the Humanitarian Aide Fund of the church because "100% of every dollar donated is used to help those in need".  I verified with members I knew in the UK that they also received the same request.  I had noticed in previous years only a small portion of the money collected for fast and humanitarian donations were ever used in a particular year and the funds saw continued increases in their unused balance each year.  So after the 2005 financial statements were published we had the opportunity to analyze donations and expenditures.  Here is what I posted back then. 

Quote

 

In 2005 they had 3 employees with compensation between $140k and $160k US dollars per year, 7 between $120k and $140k, and 17 between $100k and $120k per year. (pg.13) 

The church takes in a lot of donations for fast offerings, missionaries, book of Mormon, and humanitarian aide but likes to keep $ behind. These are called "Restricted Funds" .(pg.12 &14 fin. note 8 ) For example: 

* The Fast Offering Fund had 2,005k£($4 million us dollars) as a balance entering the year. They collected 1,597k£($3.19mil usd) but only spent 500k£ and did that by sending the money back to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (welfare). That left them will a retained balance on the books of 3,102k£($6.2mil usd) 

*Missionary Fund: Starting balance 1,903k£($3.8 million usd), incoming 950k£, expenditures 852k£, ending balance 2,001k£($4 million usd) 

*Book of Mormon fund: 44k balance, 44k donated, 44k spent, 44k£ ending balance 

* Humanitarian Aide Fund: This is the interesting one for those who made donations. Some people in the UK expressed to me they made donations for tsunami relief. 200k£($400,00 usd) starting balance, 509k£ ($1.18 million usd) in donations, and only 34k£($68 thousand usd) sent out. That gave them a ending balance in the Hum. Aide fund of 675k£ ($1.35 million usd) 

It's strange to see in a year they took in $1.1 million for Humanitarian Aide they only sent out 68 grand. Maybe they're saving the $ for a rainy day. 

 

It's been a few years since I've looked but I believe the policy now is to sweep the unused balances of these "restricted" funds and send the money back to the church headquarters. 

 

Phaedrus 

 

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5 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Marketing ploy to get more people to donate.

I donate money monthly to Charity Water. I'd be a little ticked if I learned that instead of providing clean water for people in need they were actually funding contraceptive programs in Sudan. While both may be good, meaningful purposes, I'm donating to Charity Water specifically because I want people to have access to clean water. End of story. Not donating as advertised would be a breach of trust.

Yes, it seems like an effective marketing strategy up to this point.  I like the idea that I can target specific areas that I believe will do the most good.  In case you're interested, I ran across this information recently and have only started to scratch the surface of the work of Bjorn Lomborg, but he's taking a taking a very economics/finance based approach to prioritizing what does the most good.  Check out the links in the podcast post for more details.  

https://jordanbpeterson.com/podcasts/59-bjorn-lomborg/

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16 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Marketing ploy to get more people to donate.

I donate money monthly to Charity Water. I'd be a little ticked if I learned that instead of providing clean water for people in need they were actually funding contraceptive programs in Sudan. While both may be good, meaningful purposes, I'm donating to Charity Water specifically because I want people to have access to clean water. End of story. Not donating as advertised would be a breach of trust.

What if they had all the clean water they needed but there was a pressing need for more food or vaccines for children?  Would you be ticked if they spent money providing those needs, or would you rather they just give you the money back?

Edited by bluebell
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Oh....I am sorry.. I thought we were talking about Wendover....😋

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51 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Then why even structure the giving machines in the way they do?  Why give the illusion that you're picking a specific item to be donated?  They should instead just give a list of all the possible things someone's $50 could be donated toward.  Instead the machine is setup to give you the distinct impression otherwise.  

Why?  Because it is creative, fun, and effective.

By the way, it is clearly posted on the machines in full transparency:

Quote

100 percent of your donation will be used for the purchased item or for similar items or services of greater need as determined by the applicable charitable organization. Administrative costs for this campaign and costs associated with its nonprofit partners are covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

There is no deception in that.  Every person that purchases understands that it may go to this need or something of greater service.

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21 minutes ago, phaedrus ut said:

There have been some behaviors in charitable fund raising in the past done by the church that I have some serious questions about.  I did some analysis of the public financial statement of the church in the UK and posted it here previously but I can only find one of the posts.  Let me set the stage.  On December 26, 2004 there was a tsunami in the Indian ocean that hit over a dozen countries and killed over 225,000 members.  As calls for aide and donations went out there was a request for members to make their aide donations to the Humanitarian Aide Fund of the church because "100% of every dollar donated is used to help those in need".  I verified with members I knew in the UK that they also received the same request.  I had noticed in previous years only a small portion of the money collected for fast and humanitarian donations were ever used in a particular year and the funds saw continued increases in their unused balance each year.  So after the 2005 financial statements were published we had the opportunity to analyze donations and expenditures.  Here is what I posted back then. 

It's been a few years since I've looked but I believe the policy now is to sweep the unused balances of these "restricted" funds and send the money back to the church headquarters. 

 

Phaedrus 

 

Thanks, this is interesting.  Its hard to know exactly what they are doing with the funds donated, since they aren't transparent with their books in the USA.  Maybe that will change in the future.  I wonder if Mike Quinn's recent book might shed any light on this question.  I haven't gotten a copy yet.  

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24 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Marketing ploy to get more people to donate.

I donate money monthly to Charity Water. I'd be a little ticked if I learned that instead of providing clean water for people in need they were actually funding contraceptive programs in Sudan. While both may be good, meaningful purposes, I'm donating to Charity Water specifically because I want people to have access to clean water. End of story. Not donating as advertised would be a breach of trust.

But they ARE donating as advertised.  if you knew in full disclosure and advance that your donation will either go to providing clean water or to greater needs of the people as determined by the charity, then how is that a breach of trust?

 

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3 minutes ago, pogi said:

Why?  Because it is creative, fun, and effective.

By the way, it is clearly posted on the machines in full transparency:

There is no deception in that.  Every person that purchases understands that it may go to this need or something of greater service.

If 90% of the people believe that their donations are going to the specific thing they selected, and they don't see and/or understand the disclosures on the machine, then this is still a problem in my mind as it intentionally gives the wrong impression. 

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31 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

This sounds more like they have the illusion of choice. If they have the ability to make a choice of donation at the vending machine but that choice isn't honored, then how can they know their donation was used well?

This is just silly. Do you honestly think these charities aren’t using the donations well?

 

Quote

If you went to a vending machine, put your money in, ordered a king sized snickers, but instead you got a box of Good N Plenties, would you be happy with that? I'd want my snickers, not some 4th tier candy :)

Saying I have the choice of candy, but then not giving me the candy I chose is laughable. I wouldn't use that vending machine ever again out of fear I may accidentally end up with some Bit O Honey.

So, in the hypothetical I gave earlier about the child in need of life saving medicine, you’re in the ‘I bought you a goat, and you’re getting a goat. Everything else be damned’ camp. That’s fine.

For me, I would be able to sleep at night if it turned out that the money I donated ultimately ended up being spent on something which was needed more than a stupid goat.

 

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7 minutes ago, bluebell said:

What if they had all the clean water they needed but there was a pressing need for more food or vaccines for children?  Would you be ticked if they spent money providing those needs, or would you rather they just give you the money back?

When all the people of the world have clean water I would decide to donate elsewhere, but as you probably know, that need is so great it will likely never be solved in full.

The vending machines are really cool. The concept is great and people are excited about it, precisely because they have choice. They get to choose to buy something tangible like a goat or a hog or a sewing machine for someone in need. It's exciting to have that kind of connection. I have accounts with Kiva which provides micro loans to individuals around the world to help them become self-sustaining. They are mini loans to help them in their business. I get to decide who I donate to and for what purpose; I've donated money to a person in Africa to buy a sewing machine, and to a person in Lima to purchase a milk cow and a number of other things. It's a neat concept that helps me feel like I'm making a difference in a small but specific way. It's that same concept that makes these vending machines so neat.

But remove that concept and it's standard charitable giving. Nothing wrong with that, except that it's advertised as something different. I think HFT has a good question and is right to wonder how we can verify that the $$ I gave to purchase the cow, actually purchased a cow. It's a reasonable request. The fact that so many people on this board are offended by the very basic desire for transparency in the way a charity uses donated funds is troubling. Not only are they offended but they mock the request for verification. They impugn his character for merely asking the question. It says far more about them than it does HFT. Some of the responses on this board are absolutely shameful.

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6 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

If 90% of the people believe that their donations are going to the specific thing they selected, and they don't see and/or understand the disclosures on the machine, then this is still a problem in my mind as it intentionally gives the wrong impression. 

That's a big "if"

90%? 

Where are you getting this from?

The only way someone wouldn't understand that disclosure is if they couldn't read or understand English.  How much more clear could that statement be?

Quote

100 percent of your donation will be used for the purchased item or for similar items or services of greater need as determined by the applicable charitable organization. Administrative costs for this campaign and costs associated with its nonprofit partners are covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

 

Edited by pogi
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This thread is a wonderful way to distract me from having to grade final exam essays. Now if I had assigned the essays on absurdism, things would have dovetailed nicely...

Imagine Vladimir and Estragon waiting next to one of these giving machines. Their dialogue might resemble this thread :) 

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