On Foundation Beyond Belief
It's officially Day 2 for Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB), and I'm watching carefully. I think I'll join today, as I'm not sure I can make a fair judgment on the process and the structure (and the success, whatever that means) from the outside.
Here are my initial thoughts, though:
- "Animal Protection." Uh-oh. On the upside, you don't have to give any money to animal protection if your beliefs aren't represented by the choice of groups being supported. Also, because this is a community, you can choose to spend your time lobbying for the group you would support. For the first quarter of 2010, Wildlife Trust is the beneficiary.
- Other people influence the choice of nonprofit, which is both good and bad. Good, as I can learn from others about the pluses and minuses of groups that are new to me, and bad, as (see "Animal Protection") the members might choose a group I wouldn't support.
- Though the "Big Bang" category is for groups with smaller budgets, I'd like to see smaller budgets/big impact involved more prominently. On the other hand, FBB states a preference for supporting organizations with budgets of under $10 million, so I'm probably being picky here as $10 million is already fairly small.
- I do appreciate the idea of atheists wanting to be represented as an important philanthropic presence, and this is one way for that to happen. The only problem for me is that I already do my research and choose my groups, and though that takes a lot of time it's important to me so I allocate that time. And though I have plenty to learn from the members, I don't know how useful this idea is for me unless my priority is having people know that I belong to a group of atheists.
- I think my favorite part of FBB is parent education and support for nontheistic parents.
- I'm not sure anyone needs another online community, but perhaps it's time to be more selective about online communities. Just a thought.
What do you think about this idea?
I think the biggest thing to note is that you can choose where your donation goes! You want to give to parent education only? Done. You don't want to give to a particular group (or category)? Done.
See? 🙂 That easy.
Hope you can join us. We'd love to have your support!
— Hemant (FBB board president)
I'll be honest – I'm not really crazy about the idea of funding a foundation to redirect my money to "worthy" organizations when I can just cut out the middleman and make a direct donation myself. Granted, FBB only requires a $9 annual membership fee from members (anything above that is optional), but all the grant money and discretionary donations used to operate FBB (see http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/node/3 ) would, imho, be better spent by groups providing direct, on-the-ground services.
That said, I dig the group's goal of encouraging philanthropy in nontheists and highlighting our giving. I just can't help but wonder if there's a better (cheaper, less bureaucratic) way of going about it? How is the philanthropy of nontheists even measured, since we don't give in groups? And what about the donation of time vs. money? "Doing good" isn't *just* about paying *other* people to do all the hard work for you. (As you no doubt already know, Mary.) Maybe the problem isn't so much our (lack of) philanthropy, but the tools used to gauge it?
Of course, I have just started reading "The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex," so there you go.
I'm not crazy about the idea either, Kelly. I don't know how important it is (or isn't) for atheists to be able to say, "These dollars came from atheists." After spending nearly a decade in the nonprofit world as everything from volunteer to Executive Director to board member to Chair of the Board, I can confidently say–and again, this is my own experience–that we as a nation need to rethink what the nonprofit should be and how it should be run and whether it is necessarily the best vehicle for change.
Here are some stats I just saw on a tweet: http://www.nonprofitmarketingblog.com/site/charity_who_cares/