You Are Not A Charity

So you're putting on an event for charity. It's a concert, a race, an all-night sexathon, whatever floats your charity's boat. People show up, and it's a gigantic hit; everyone loves it, and all kinds of money is raised for the charity. So why doesn't the charity get any of it?

Once again, this article is about our largest collective sin, greed. It's also about poor judgment, being naive, and stupidity, but mostly it's about greed. Unlike most of my articles, I'm going to start out with a specific example and then break it in to broader terms. The specific example comes from a charity concert in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. How I found out about it doesn't matter.

It seems there was a group of people who had assembled to assemble the concert. A bunch of bands were invited and came, and in the end a whole bunch of people bought tickets. However, one of the concert organizers decided to take the bands who she's friends with out to the bar, and she put the drinks on the event's tab!

This may not be obvious to everyone, so I'll spell it out for you: $3,000 at a bar is not a legitimate charity expense. This wasn't an example of the event doing something nice for its participants, it was some fucking broad who wanted to get hammered but didn't want to pay for it. This, my dear readers, is called theft, only it's worse than theft. Let me explain:

When you steal something, you take from someone who has (i.e. the victim) and you give to someone who wants (i.e. you). What you do with it once you have it is up to you; I once knew someone who stole a pen so he could drink the ink, because he thought pissing black was metal. Seriously, some people are fucked up. In this case, it's someone who wants to get drunk (the culprit) stealing from people who don't have anything to steal, namely the starving Africans the concert was meant to benefit. They already have nothing, you're going to steal from what they're supposed to be receiving as charity? FUCK YOU.

The larger issue here isn't really theft, but not knowing what's a valid expense for an event. Most guests to an event demand four things in order to attend: room, board, airfare, and an appearance fee. How much is required for these four things varies based on who the guest is, and where they're coming from. "Room" is generally a hotel room, and "board" constitutes food and drink. Drink, in this case, does not include alcoholic beverages.

The distinction that must be made when thinking about event expenses is whether you're doing it for the guest, or for yourself. Arranging for a gift basket for all the guests is a valid expense, because you're doing something nice for them; there's nothing wrong with having the event treat its guests well. Taking them to a bar isn't valid firstly because you're doing it for you, but secondly because if they get too drunk and do something stupid, they're making the event look bad, because the event is sponsoring their drinking.

There is, of course, a very simple, remarkably obvious way to make sure you don't have the event paying for something it shouldn't pay for: Get approval first. I've never seen an event that was put on entirely by one person, which means if you want to spend the event's money on something, you have people with whom you can discuss whether it's a legitimate event expense. If the planning committee doesn't agree with you, then that $3,000 bar tab is coming out of your pocket, and fuck you very much.

Theft sucks. Theft from starving Africans who don't have anything to steal sucks immeasurably more.

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