I recently made a donation on a friend’s GoFundMe page. I paused over the box to hide my name before clicking it. Then as I finished up, the website asked me if I wanted to share my donation on Facebook. I clicked “skip.”
I also have a team in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in honor of my mother. Every time I donate online, the website prompts me to announce my gift on social media. I’ll share our team’s fundraising page on Facebook but not my own donation. Most people who donate to my team don’t share their donations on social media either.
Although these requests to flaunt donations are becoming extremely common, not all donations are trumpeted on Facebook or Twitter or heralded in programs for concerts and school reunions. Some are completely anonymous.
I often consider the role of what consumer psychologists call “moral identity” – the extent to which someone values moral traits, such as kindness, generosity, fairness, tenacity and honesty, in themselves as well as in how others see them.
So while some people may feel good just knowing they helped someone even if no one else knows, others feel that they are a kind, giving person only when others find out about their good acts.
When fundraisers offer to list donors’ names in a school graduation program, prominently place them on the wall of a new building or mention them on a website, it gets easier to reach the people in the second group.
We conducted an online survey of 197 people. Just as they were finishing another survey on a different topic, we asked people to tell us how important traits like compassion and helpfulness are to them personally and in their daily activities that are visible to others. People also answered a variety of other questions on another topic.
We then asked them to volunteer five minutes of their time to complete a survey for an educational nonprofit. Half were told that in exchange for completing the survey, their name would be listed on the nonprofit’s website. The other half weren’t told this.
Some people respond differently
People can donate their time or money, as well as items like clothes or food. Anything that helps others can make givers feel like they are the kind, caring person they desire to be or want others to see.
The prospect of being recognized for taking five minutes out of their days to do something voluntarily made a subset of participants more likely to volunteer: those who said their everyday hobbies and interests show traits like kindness and fairness.
For these individuals, 21 percent volunteered when they knew their name would be listed on the nonprofit’s website. Only 6 percent volunteered when they were not told about this recognition.
Of those who place a lot of importance on being moral, 21 percent gave their time when they didn’t know they could have their name listed on the website. When these people knew recognition was an option, their likelihood of volunteering only increased slightly, to 24 percent.
This told us that only those people who want their moral traits to be expressed to others care about whether their donations can be seen.
Not surprisingly, a smaller share of those who did not think it was important to be caring – only 13 percent – volunteered to take the survey.
Catering to a minority
We estimated that only one in five people cares about showing generosity to others without feeling these characteristics really matter to themselves. They are more likely to donate when they can be recognized as generous. What about the other 80 percent?
About 50 percent tend to place a high enough internal value on being moral to consider donating regardless of whether others hear about it. The remaining 30 percent aren’t inclined to donate no matter what.
So should nonprofits cater to this minority and offer ways for donors to be recognized for giving? I’d say yes.
Otherwise, they could lose out on donations from these donors, who are approximately 20 percent of all people but constitute a bigger share of potential givers.
At the same time, I believe charities should not presume that most donors want or welcome this opportunity to be recognized every time they support a cause.
Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the liturgical season observed by many Christians as a period of waiting and preparation for the Nativity of Jesus. This season begins four Sundays before Christmas and concludes on Christmas. The hanging of greens, adorning sanctuaries and wearing vestments of purple, and lighting the Advent wreath candles in order to move from darkness to light are key components in Advent observation. All of this is in anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, a birth that people anxiously awaited then and a symbolic birth we should anxiously await now. But some may ask, “Why must we wait for something that has already happened? Why exist in symbolic darkness for a time in order to celebrate that which was revealed some 2000 years ago? Why is this relevant to our time?” I suggest that we must wait in order to reclaim the wonder of the light that was brought into this world.
Earlier this year, during an Ash Wednesday service at a large Baptist church, I looked forward to ushering in the season of penitence with somber worship and a penitent message. Ash Wednesday is supposed to remind us of our finitude and it plunges us into a season of penitence, and the journey into the wilderness with Christ. But as I sat in that Ash Wednesday service, I was jolted from somber reflection with songs of joy and a sermon celebrating victory. Not a moment in the service–besides the impartation of ashes which concluded the service–was spent ushering people into the dry season ahead of them because the church couldn’t not praise. On one hand I understood the church’s inability to squelch their praise. It’s a church that has seen many trials and tribulation and its membership are a part of the resilient race in this country who can’t not praise because of how far they’ve come by faith. Why would they want to launch themselves into a period solemnity? But on the other hand, I desired for this congregation to withhold their praise and shouts of victory in order to rightfully claim it at the end of the Lenten season. In doing this, they would truly walk with their redeemer and taste the sweetness of victory because they had made the journey by way of symbolically situating themselves on Ash Wednesday as sojourners with Jesus. This too is our call during the season of Advent except that we are not sojourners with Jesus this time around but sojourners with a generation of people who were awaiting his arrival. People who heard a particular prophecy about the coming of Jesus and who were waiting and preparing for his arrival. People who didn’t have Christmas gift shopping, parties to attend, and a plethora of “holiday” distractions, but who were watching and waiting for him. I imagine that their wait was one of wonder mixed with skepticism fueled by the rumors of Mary, a virgin, who was impregnated by the Holy Spirit with the son of God. How unbelievable that had to be then and how unbelievable we should consider it now in order to rekindle the wonder of it all. Awesome wonder is what this season is about.
Yesterday in church I was reminded of how in danger we are of losing that wonder because we are so familiar with the stories that tell of the coming of Jesus. Some of us know it like the back of our hands and it has become so commonplace that the narrative of a young virgin impregnated by the Holy Spirit and giving birth to the son of God seems just as plausible as a man getting pregnant and giving birth. Some of us are no longer moved by the story because we’ve spent years with it in our churches, in our seminaries and Bible colleges, and in our homes, but we force ourselves to be moved just a few days before Christmas because that’s what we’ve been trained most to do. Many wind down and reflect as they start to wrap up their Christmas shopping, place the last few gifts under the tree, and bake the last batch of cookies. A reflection on the true significance of this moment on the Christian liturgical calendar is sometimes left as an afterthought to what is given top billing on the calendar of capitalism. But we must wait, and wait longer than a few days, to acclimate ourselves to the coming of Jesus. When we take hold of the season of waiting that Advent is, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience the wonder of every occasion that lead up to the birth of Jesus.
When we read the Gospel narratives that foretell of Jesus’ birth, of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, of the Magnificat, we must stop ourselves from breezing through it quickly because we’ve heard it all before. Instead we should be held captive by every word as if we were hearing it for the first time and as if we may never hear it again. When we repeat the refrain, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear,” we are implicating ourselves as those in captivity in need of a release from our self-imposed exile. Given the capitalism and consumerism that has marked this season—and the violence it has wrought—we are now, more than ever, in the need of the discipline of waiting. We must wait in order to restore the wonder of this blessed season we are in, a season that shines light into dark places and gives many hope. We must wait, not only for ourselves but for every person who has yet to experience the great hope that many of us know so well. We must wait so that we refresh ourselves in the wondrous love to come over receiving it as an entitlement that we might take for granted. We must wait, because in waiting we are forced to slow down, and in slowing down we gain perspective on the significance of this season which brings us back to wonder. The awesome wonder of the coming of Jesus is what this season is about, just wait for it.
As they committed to open churches and mosques to children with HIV and tuberculosis, Christian and Muslim leaders in Kenya urged global pharmaceutical companies on Tuesday, November 20, to manufacture more medicines that are friendly to children.
The call came on Universal Children’s Day, established by the United Nations in 1954 to promote international awareness of children’s issues worldwide and improve their welfare.
Faith leaders, government officials and activists gathered with groups of children from across Kenya to focus on pediatric HIV and TB treatment, diagnosis and general support for children.
“The medicines for children are needed I would say very urgently, but we are happy to see some companies starting to manufacture the medicines. This is encouraging. We urge the companies which have not started to do so,” Pentecostal Bishop John Warari Wakabu, the national chairman of Kenya Christian Forum, told Religion News Service during a procession in Nairobi.
Sheikh Ali Juma, a Muslim leader from southwest Kenya, reinforced the view, saying the companies should help the children realize their rights of access to safe and affordable medicines.
“There are some tablets already, but some are difficult to take. Syrup formulation would go a long way,” said Juma.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, 2.1 million children were living with HIV at the end of 2017, born to HIV-positive mothers or infected during childbirth or breastfeeding. In 2017, the World Health Organization estimated a million children became ill with TB and 230,000 children died of the disease, including those with HIV-associated TB.
Leah Wanjiku feeds her 2-year-old daughter, Ngina, who is recovering from pediatric TB after an earlier misdiagnosis, on Nov. 19, 2018, in Nairobi, Kenya. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili
Palatable, affordable and easy to swallow drugs for children could turn around this situation, faith leaders say.
Pope Francis recently urged pharmaceutical companies to develop formulations that are suitable for children.
“Ministries of health and regulatory bodies must ensure the speedy registration of WHO pre-qualified medications for children,” said the Kenyan leaders in a statement.
The faith leaders said they have been inspired by the resilience of the children, who have written letters to the clergy, senior government officials and politicians seeking a solution to their challenges, but said that it is taking too long to roll out modern diagnostics and drug therapies.
The clergy are also dedicated to countering misinformation about HIV and TB that fuels stigma against those with the diseases. Children with HIV and TB are being welcomed, along with their parents, to houses of worship, and the clergy plan to make acceptance of young sufferers of HIV and TB the topic of sermons.
“We need safe spaces in the churches and mosques since they are supposed to be places of refuge,” said the Rev. Jane Ng’ang’a, coordinator of the Kenya chapter of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or personally Affected by HIV and AIDS. “We have had some which focus on the spiritual side. We have not concentrated on the social side.”
Sheikh Yusuf Nasur Abuhamza, a Muslim leader in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, said imams often used to condemn those who were HIV-positive, but now the Islamic community hopes to empower them.
Kenya, in red, in eastern Africa. Map courtesy of Creative Commons
“We are saying that HIV or TB is a disease like any other. We are preaching to the communities how to integrate and live as good neighbors,” said Abuhamza.
Meanwhile, the leaders say faith healing is still a challenge in managing HIV and TB in children, with some clergy prescribing prayers as an alternative to medication.
“We believe in the power of prayer,” said Wakabu, the Pentecostal bishop, but it is not a substitute for medication.