Inspired by Betty Londergan's What Gives 365 and the Bible (not necessarily in that order!), I'm giving away $250 a week in 2011.

This is where I'm recording that journey, and I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Friday, July 8, 2011

MS and General Messiness

As I sit down to write this, things feel complicated today. It's a day for me to tie up some blogging loose ends, but a bunch of other ones are unravelling at the same time. Life is messy like that. So in the spirit of transparency and accountability, here we go:

1. A long time ago, I wrote about my friend Liz asking me to donate money on her behalf to a cause "that supports industrious girls." At the time, my suggestion was Grameen Foundation's program with mothers and children. Unfortunately I did not hear anything back from that organization, so did not direct the funds there. In the meantime, I've learned about Little Women for Little Women. It's girls in BC raising money for women and girls in Afghanistan -- check them out! I'll be suggesting that Liz direct her money there instead.

2. Similarly, I'm having trouble tracking down the Winnipeg construction company that I wrote about a few weeks back. I think it may simply be a case of the contact person having retired, so I'm going to keep trying and will keep you posted. Not an encouraging start to my foray into getting guidance from Charity Intelligence Canada, but I'm still impressed enough to persevere.

3. Another piece by CIC well worth looking at is their study of cancer research fundraising in Canada. Some of you may have seen this article this week about the Canadian Cancer Society -- yet another example of questionable ratios between fundraising and programming for a large charity. It's made me jittery of big fundraising machines, and made at least one of my friends quesiton whether she'll continue canvassing on their behalf after many years of doing so. The story broke just one day after I was chatting with a different friend about two related things: how social service charities seem to be under much tighter public scrutiny than other kinds of non-profits such as hospitals or universities when it comes to their overhead spending, and how her relative with MS has actually stopped supporting the work of the MS Society out of frustration -- I don't know the details. Hmmm...head spinning...segue to my next point.

4. Another story broke last week about funding for MS clinical trials in Canada -- so-called 'liberation therapy." For the last 7 years, our family has been involved in supporting the work of the MS Society, primarily through a 75km bike ride in Niagara. We have had the largest team. Two of our kids have been the youngest riders, completing the full ride at just 8 years old. My husband has been a top fundraiser and has travelled to other rides throughout North America, including riding 180 miles in Texas last year. We have a junior team of kids and a senior team for the rest of us. It's been a big deal.

This year, our kids' summer schedule will not allowd for sufficient training time to prepare for the ride, and one of them needs to be driven to camp on that day, so unfortunately they will not be participating and therefore neither will I. My husband has passed the team captain reins on to a colleague, but he is still actively involved and riding, both in Niagara and Banff. He's hoping to pass the $10,000 mark again and to ride in Cape Cod next summer. So because this is local week here at Just Giving It, and because I'm not doing much fundraising myself for a change, I thought it would be fitting for this week's donation to go to Team Eramosa.

And it will. But strangely, I'm feeling somewhat reluctant. A bit nervous perhaps that I don't have full information, and that if I did, I might not give. What story is going to break next? If I had access to the details of their books, would I be as impressed?

At the same time I feel compelled to continue to give. Why? I think it's partly because I want to be supportive of my friend Anne, my daughter's friend's mom, my friend's brother, of my former neighbour growing up, and the many others I know, mostly women, who are struggling with MS. It still seems that giving money is one way to do that, even if too much of it goes to 'back office' work -- how else to channel it if not through the MS Society? I think it's also partly because I understand that it costs money to raise money, and I don't want to use cynicism as an excuse not to give. It's partly because this ride has become a big part of our family's story and I'm very proud of those I know who do it. And I think it's also because I have a sense that I need to be faithful in and to this giving journey -- to give even when I don't fully understand it or don't have all the information.

I hope that's not the same thing as being irresponsible. But as I said, life's messy like that.

A friend commented this week, "When you know better, you do better." I'm not sure that's always true, but for now, I'm going with what I know rather than with what I fear. I know that MS is a terrible disease, and it takes money to fight it. I hope you'll join me in doing that -- you can sponsor my beloved by clicking here. And do join in the conversation too. What are you thinking (and doing) about all of this?

PS -- $72.50 of our donation to an entrepreneur through Kiva has already been paid back into our account, ready to be reinvested. Now that's the kind of unfinished business that I love to be able to write about!


  1. Grans would be so proud of you. :)

  2. Pete and several others are riding today in the Grand Bend to London ride - and back again. It's a hot day - but they won't be worried about that. The team has raised over $20,000 this year with 5 weeks to go until the larger team rides in Niagara. Way to go guys!