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Old 06-13-2019, 10:40 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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I'm doing X to raise money for (or awareness of) Y


I've never really gotten the point of any of these campaigns, and don't see why I should give more money than I would otherwise give to some cause just because someone decided to walk/run/jog/swim/whatever. Either it's a worthwhile cause or it's not, but I don't really care if so-and-so is doing some triathlon or whatever, and doing so doesn't make me feel I should give anything extra on that basis. I think they're so embedded in people's consciousness by now that people accept unhesitantly that this is the natural thing to do, - plus, it adds a little peer pressure (this guy is going to be running 17 miles for that cause and you can't give a bit of money?) but I don't see the underlying rationale for it.

I wonder about the origins of the concept. From Wikipedia, I see the first walk-a-thon was in 1953 in PR, so that might have been it, but perhaps a parallel concept predated it.

Conceptually similar is the notion of doing otherwise pointless things in the name of raising awareness of various causes, which frequently have little or nothing at all to do with the awareness-raising actions. For example, the guy who had his name legally changed to Jack Ass in order to raise awareness of drunk driving. (He later sued the TV show Jackass! on that basis.)

The common thread is doing something which is of no particular importance or relevance on its own but imbuing it with ostensible meaning simply by declaring it to have this meaning. Doesn't do it for me, but whatever.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:50 AM
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Totally agree with you. I never give to that sort of thing. Now, if you asked me for support while you actually DID something that ADDRESSED a problem - I dunno, serve at a soup kitchen, tutor, etc.

But if you are just going for a walk, jumping rope, or whatever, have fun with that.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:57 AM
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I think much of the reason is that someone is making a significant sacrifice, and therefore that pressures you to make a much smaller sacrifice. That is, you don't have to run the marathon, but you pledge $.50 a mile. Donating $13 is easier than running 26 miles, but you are still participating in the sacrifice in some sense.

Sure, it's a gimmick, but gimmicks sometimes work, even if it would be more efficient to just donate the money directly.

My church used to donate money as well as work in a local food bank/kitchen. Then the food bank told us they didn't want the volunteers, just the money. The donations dried up shortly after the volunteering ended. Does that make sense? No, the worthiness of the cause didn't change, and it is easier to donate money than volunteer. But people like to donate to something if they have a personal connection to it. So sometimes you can get someone to pledge ten cents a kilometer for a 10K when they wouldn't just hand over the dollar directly.

People are funny.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:01 AM
SpoilerVirgin is offline
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It works. For whatever reason, humans like to give money to see something happen. Giving money so that three years later, a gene can be identified that might at some unspecified future point lead to a gene therapy for a disease, is just too abstract. Giving money so that someone will walk 17 miles, or to see a celebrity dump a bucket of ice water over her head, feels like a tangible result.

In 2012, the ALS Assocation received $19.4 million in donations. In 2014, when the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral it received $100 million in less than two months (which eventually led to the gene identification).

It's similar to the way that the snowball method for reducing debts (pay them off smallest to largest) has been shown in studies to lead to greater success than the avalanche method (pay them off from highest interest rate to lowest), even though you will ultimately pay less using the avalanche. People like to see the result of their behavior, even if the result is small or irrelevant.
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:10 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
I think much of the reason is that someone is making a significant sacrifice, and therefore that pressures you to make a much smaller sacrifice.
But the "significant sacrifice" is inherently a completely pointless sacrifice, and the only thing it accomplishes is to get people to make the "much smaller sacrifice". That seems backwards to me.

In any event, here's The Onion's take on it: 6,000 Runners Fail To Discover Cure For Breast Cancer
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Onion
ATLANTADespite their diligent, dedicated running, the 6,000-plus participants in Sunday's 5K Race For The Cure did not find a cure for breast cancer.

Hopes were high, given the excellent weather and record turnout for the 11th annual event, but no viable cure for the disease was discovered along the 3.1-mile course.

"We were particularly hopeful of locating the cure somewhere around the two-and-a-half-mile mark," race organizer Jill Broadbent said. "At that point, the route goes right past Northside Hospital and within a block of several Emory University oncology facilities. That seemed the most promising place to perhaps spot a breast-cancer cure. Regrettably, the runners were unable to do more than momentarily glimpse in researchers' windows as they passed by."
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:12 AM
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The worst was the whole ice bucket so-called challenge, when it evolved from charity fundraising/awareness to social pressure to do something unpleasant in public.

At my company, all managers at a certain level and above were mandated to participate in the group ice bucket thingy.
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:18 AM
Shodan is offline
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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
But the "significant sacrifice" is inherently a completely pointless sacrifice, and the only thing it accomplishes is to get people to make the "much smaller sacrifice". That seems backwards to me.
Correct - it doesn't make sense. If you expect people to always make sense, you are going to wind up disappointed, and with less money for breast cancer or whatever.

Does it make sense to shave your head in sympathy when someone you love has chemotherapy? Not really - they are no more likely to get better. But it makes them feel better, so it wasn't completely pointless.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:19 AM
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Every year there is a huge breast cancer walk in town. Lots of people dressed in pink shirts, lots of TV cameras and news reporters, and lots of fan fare. I know seeing the news footage always reminds me to do a check on myself. It also puts in my head that breast cancer is something that affects lots of people and that these people need help. Perhaps without these annual reminders, I wouldn't appreciate this as much.

"Increased awareness" also leads to greater resources for research. The more awareness a problem has, the more funding it will receive and the more likely researchers will gravitate towards it.

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Old 06-13-2019, 11:45 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Does it make sense to shave your head in sympathy when someone you love has chemotherapy? Not really - they are no more likely to get better. But it makes them feel better, so it wasn't completely pointless.
It doesn't make them feel better because you've randomly decided that "I'm shaving my head to make you feel better". A lot of people - especially women and children for whom bald heads are extremely unusual otherwise - feel embarrassed by their bald heads, and not being the only bald one around eases that a bit. So it has inherent meaning.

Of course, the fact that someone else is willing to take that step for them also makes people feel loved and supported, but that's based on the initial step being inherently meaningful. If someone would decide "I'm going to wear a pinwheel hat in support of my loved one with cancer", then it would analogous to what we're talking about.
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:30 PM
Shodan is offline
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Certainly some gestures are more meaningful than others, but that isn't particularly rational either. Running a race is just harder than wearing a pinwheel hat.

Like I say, it doesn't have to make sense, as long as it appeals to people.

It makes little sense that I buy my wife a present for her birthday. She could just take the money out of our joint checking account and buy what she wants, and thereby avoid the not inconsiderable risk that I will buy something she doesn't want. But she likes it when I do it anyway.

It doesn't matter if it makes sense. It just has to appeal to people.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:56 PM
SpoilerVirgin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
The worst was the whole ice bucket so-called challenge, when it evolved from charity fundraising/awareness to social pressure to do something unpleasant in public.

At my company, all managers at a certain level and above were mandated to participate in the group ice bucket thingy.
As I mentioned above, the ice bucket challenge was one of the most successful fundraisers in history, funding over five times the annual donations to ALS in only two months, and leading directly, albeit slowly, to significant breakthroughs in research.

That said, there is no excuse for a company mandating participation.
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:05 PM
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There are so many worthy causes, and while most of us can afford a token contribution to one or a few of them, almost no one can afford a contribution that would make a difference by itself to even one cause, let alone all of them. This can be discouraging; people end up doing nothing because they can't do everything and there's not always a clear basis to choose what to focus on. "My friend is doing a 5k for it" is as good a reason as any to pick among many deserving causes.
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:55 PM
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For some of these things, like the walkathons or the long-distance bike rides, the logistics and other associated costs can eat up quite a bit of money. (For a multi-day bike ride, the riders have to stay in motels or some other place overnight, there's usually a van following the riders in case of mechanical breakdowns or whatever.)

And I've known people to go to places like Central America on church mission trips to help build a church or a school. And I'm wondering if they should just have stayed home, saved the money they would haven spent on travel expenses and used it to hire local people with construction experience to build church or school or whatever.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:57 AM
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I have a friend who does a 130-mile bike ride every year to raise money for cancer research in Massachusetts. It's a charity I had never heard of (I live in Montana), but when I looked into it I saw it was real and that it was helping people. There are thousands of local charities out there, and I could have said have a nice ride, but I really appreciate that this person is willing to bike 130 miles to raise money for a worthy cause. He's trying to raise $9,000, so my $100 contribution was a drop in the bucket, but because I know and worked with this person there is a personal connection. If I had gotten a direct mail piece from the organization I would have tossed it away... in other words, it sometimes works.

Last edited by dolphinboy; 06-14-2019 at 09:59 AM.
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