This is something that I have recently been thinking about and this thread inspired me to start a discussion about it.

I’m sure you have all seen celebrity versions of game shows. They play for charity. I never understand it when someone chooses a charity that does not help other people. I see people giving to charities for dogs and cats or other wild animals, and all I can think about is all the starving people in the U.S., not to mention the rest of the world, that need our help.

Sometimes I think all other charities should be done away with, but at the same time I would assume that all the people that are not contributing to charities that help fellow human beings would end up not contributing to anything. That seems like a waste to me too.

I guess I just want people to help each other, but there is no way to force it on them.

Are human beings the only things on the planet that are worth our time and efforts? Don’t you enjoy a life that contains cats, and dogs, and elephants, and horses, and other animals, more than one that does not? I sure do.

The fact that one might contribute to animal charities does not in any way imply that one does not care about people. The middle does not have to be excluded.

OK. I never gave a cent to a charity for animals, as far as I remember, and I agree with you there are more serious matters. But using your money to fund, say the WWF is certainly at least as useful as using it to pay for your internet connection. Going this way, you could say that people should stop wasting their money on various trivial things and give it to worthy causes. And you could have a point saying so, actually.
Your comment would make sense only if you think that people who give money to animal charities, if they stopped doing so, would use the money to feed the needy instead. I’ve no particular reason to believe so. They’re as likely to use it to collect post stamps or garden gnomes, for all I know.
Also, would you apply the same reasonning to other kind of not necessary spendings, like endowments for arts, for instance?
I must say though that I’ve not much sympathy for the kind of people who think that animals are more deserving that humans for various reasons you surely already heard (like : animals are innocent, unlike the evil humans).

Horhay, as someone who works for an animal-related charity, allow me to take umbrage. :slight_smile:

First, I’ll back up and say that I’ve worked for three different nonprofits in addition to volunteering for a lot more. One of the other nonprofits I worked for was a social-justice-for-the-working-poor nonprofit that tried to coordinate efforts of different grassroots organizations in the Western hemisphere. One of the other nonprofits was a substance abuse prevention education office that gave workshops for religious leaders, teachers, and other community figures in addition to providing one-on-one classes for kids who’d been arrested for substance abuse.

I give this background to dispel a common myth: people who work for animal-related nonprofits aren’t blind to the problems that face human beings.

Given that, everyone does their good work in a different way (and I’m sure, Horhay, that you’re doing plenty of good work yourself). Those of us who work in animal-related fields tend to believe that humans have a duty to treat animals with respect and kindness.

Lots of folks in the field have quasireligious reasons for doing the work as well: they feel that humans as a species owe something special to dogs and cats as species, since we domesticated them. They feel that God, in giving us dominion over the world, requires us to take care of other animals in the world. There are lots of different motives for folks who do the work.

If you have time, though, go by a metropolitan shelter and talk to them about some of their cruelty cases. Take a look at their evidence photos of horses whose every vertebrae is showing in sharp relief. Look at the pictures of dogs with exposed broken bones, the result of “discipline” from their owners, or with the insides of their mouths riddled with bite scars, the result of staged dogfights.

My first week on the job, I got exposure to a lot of this kind of stuff. It opened my eyes.

Again, those of us in this field aren’t in any way blind to the problems that face humans. But we know we can’t solve every problem, and we’ve chosen to focus on one specific area where we know we can make a difference.

Our donors, presumably, have made the same choice.


Obviously, the decision to give to a charity is not always based on your opinion of what the most worthy cause is.

If it were, I would suggest that many human charities are just as dumb, when compared to charities that work in the third world. For instance, any charity that does work in the U.S. or in other developed nations is inevitably only going to represent a shifting of money around between people who are already the richest in the world. Even the poorest American is less worse off than the poor elsewhere in the world.

“Sometimes I think all other charities should be done away with”

Taking care of our own species seems to be the natural thing to do, but the human species is spreading rapidly. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the population predictions within the next 50+ years. Sure, with the money we collect now we might be able to save a few kids in Africa, but if our ecosystem isn’t ready to support the future human population, then there’s going to be much more suffering than there is now.

horhay, you mentioned that “sometimes you think all charities should be done away with.” I’m really curious as to your reasoning. What would take the place of charities?

Me, I’m a “clean your own house first” kind of person. I prefer to give my money to local charities that work within my community. In my case, that means I give money to the local domestic violence organization and books to the library’s children’s book drives. Are the folks in my community better off materially than most people in 3rd world countries? Definitely. But that doesn’t mean that illiteracy, (comparative) poverty, and domestic violence aren’t real issues in my community. On the other hand, people who give money to national or international charities aren’t doing anything wrong. They just prioritize differently than I do, and that’s their right.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s plenty of suffering to go around. Far be it from me to condemn someone else’s efforts to help.

My apologies, horhay. I misread your statement about charities being done away with. But who would do away with non-human related charities? (And, as bhb points out, most charities do ultimately connect back to people in some way.) I would much rather see a celebrity on a game show donate their winnings to an environmental group or humane society than to the “Make Myself Even Richer” fund.