Commercialising Charity

I always intended to write on the topic. It first started as I once saw a scene from Oprah. I don't remember the details, but as usual, someone with a real problem for example a kid whose father and mother were killed in a tragic accident, and Oprah gets them on TV and in comes a large shoe manufacturer with one year free shopping.
Ridiculous, I thought. Were these shoes the most urgent need of this person? obviously not, But they indeed were quite convenient for the manufacturer to put its name on national TV. When you do the audit, the manufacturer gained, and the kid was exploited for this gain, in the process s/he received a pair of shoes.
But look everywhere around you and it like that! Even in a place like Palestine. Paltel, for example, which is buying the whole country. It has a "Social Responsibility Fund", what does it do? distribute 100 school bags to students from the remote village of Jayyous, presenting itself as this nice little fellow who just loves helping. In the process, Jayyous' name is in the papers for first time in years, not because of its sewage network problems, or the farmers lack of access to land or anything of that sort. National newspapers and TV stations will run this news of the 100 new bags and it will be cheaper than an add for the same space. Again the poor students were exploited, and in the process gained 100 bags.
It does not stop here. What really triggered this today is the situation of Palestinian Non-governmental sector. It has become so commercialised that it does not makes sense to call it non-profit anymore. NGOs are springing up exactly as in the freely competitive market model. They all claim they will do things to benefit the community, unfortunately they only do those that benefit the donor.
Should NGO's be allowed to work like that? My answer is no, of course. I am totally for a strong civil society . Gramsci applied the concept of civil society to anything outside the realm of the political society, specifically criticising the hegemony which the state tries to exercise on the civil society in order to spread its commonsense culture. The civil society has role to play in defying such a hegemony.
Our NGO sector is becoming but a tool of implementation, a bunch of consultants, project managers, coordinators working for donors without knowing what they should be doing. It works exactly like a business: Fuck principles, tell me where the money is! That's why it is so easy for people to switch between the profit and non-profit sectors. How can our civil society live up to such a role when it's clearly driven by the funding and not by the cause? obviously it can't! It has adopted the approach of the private sector. The obsolete concepts of values, ethics and justice are not sexy anymore. Well, unless they turn up on the agenda of some donor.

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