A question of ethics

Sorry readers!  It’s Reunion Weekend (a.k.a. Homecoming) at the school where I work, and so it’s been a busy week preparing for the celebrations.  As a result, I didn’t post yesterday (Friday) when I was scheduled to.

But, I’m up early on a Saturday (before I head to campus) and wanted to write a quick post so that I left you with something to ponder until my next post (which will happen on time!).

There’s been a question of ethics stuck in my head for the past week or so… For readers outside of Canada, or even outside of Toronto, let me give you a brief overview of the situation: Rob Ford is the Mayor of Toronto.  Ever since his election, he’s been involved in scandals, screw-ups, bad decisions, embarrassing moments with the press… it just never stops!  The worst of it has been the latest discovery, which was a video of Rob Ford smoking crack-cocaine.  Now, no one (except a select few) has seen this video, so it hasn’t yet been proved that Rob Ford is smoking from a pipe in the video, or that the pipe contains crack-cocaine.  However, the drug dealers who own the video are willing to sell it for somewhere in the 6-figures.  I believe certain newspapers and magazines have attempted to buy it, but the price hasn’t been right yet.  The news website Gawker has been on the story, and they started a crowd funding mission via kickstarter.com which is now being referred to as Crackstarter.  Basically, people become backers of this mission and support Gawker’s goal to reach $200,000 and buy the video as a collective so the people can watch the video and decide for themselves what’s going on in it.  I haven’t been keeping up with every advancement of this story, but I believe that takes us to today.

Firstly I want to say that I love the crowd funding model and hope to discuss it further in a future post.  However, the question of ethics I want to pose has to do with what will happen to the money that’s been poured into Crackstarter if they aren’t able to purchase the video. The intent is that if they can’t buy the video, they’ll donate the funds to a centre for addiction or the like.  A very noble idea, but….. would a centre for addiction want to accept funds that were initially intended to go to drug dealers???

I’ve been pondering this question since it was posed by my friend Brock Warner.  When money could make a large impact at a charity, but ethics are at play, what does the charity do?  I would love to know what you think!  Comment here, email me at maeve@whatgivesphilanthropy.com, or tweet me @fundraisermaeve.


Written by Maeve Strathy

Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

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