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Should you give money to beggars? Show more Show less

For people fortunate enough to have extra money in their pockets, giving it away can be fraught with stress. The decision to give or not to give money to homeless people has real-world consequences. This question is not concerned with the legality of giving money, but rather with the moral and ethical dilemma that goes along with it.

Give to charities instead. Show more Show less

Charities know what to do with the money, and your donation can help more people more effectively.
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Charities know what beggars really need

People who run charities started the organization with an understanding of how to best homeless people. Charities are better equipped to make a real impact for homeless people because charities are the combined, organized efforts of a group of people.
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Context

One of the biggest arguments against giving money directly to the homeless is the fear that the giver’s money will be used negatively—on drugs and alcohol. This fear is motivated by a stereotype that homeless people are alcoholics and drug addicts. The fear can also be motivated by an idea that giving directly to a person who is homeless perpetuates their cycle of poverty, as they will be disincentivized to save or seek employment. Both fears are based on the idea that homeless people cannot make the best decisions for themselves. Can an organized charity do better to help the homeless?

The Argument

By giving to charity, the giver can rest knowing the money will not be used towards negative things such as drugs and alcohol. The giver can read a charity’s mission statement or see where a charity will spend its money. With the internet, it is easier to find charities in your area and research whether they are effective.[1] A giver’s donation will not go 100% towards a homeless person because a charity requires funds to continue. Yet, the giver can be assured their money will go towards the charity’s work, which may include supporting social workers who are educated to help homeless people, preparing safe and healthy meals for homeless people, or providing housing. Charities vary in their approaches to helping the homeless, but overall, charities work directly with homeless people and know their needs better than the average person who comes across a beggar. Because charities work directly with a homeless person, charities can focus their efforts on specific groups of people or adapt themselves to a specific city’s context. One charity in Virginia houses LGBTQ+ youth.[2] Other charities focus on struggling artists, the homeless in your local area, or people of color. Because charities are organized and specific, a giver can ensure their donation is going to a cause they believe in. Because charities are organized, they have more power to tackle homelessness both at the individual and societal level. For example, the Coalition for the Homeless in New York has a long-standing history of providing housing directly to the homeless. [3]The Coalition also advocates for the homeless legally by petitioning the New York City government to invest in affordable rental housing, a solution proven to care for the homeless permanently, rather than investing in temporary care like shelters and correctional facilities.[4] Charities like the Coalition for the Homeless are able to promote both individual and institutional change because it is an organized entity.

Counter arguments

Many charities are corrupt and will not spend your money wisely.[6] By giving directly to a person in need, you eliminate an extra step and ensure that the money falls in the hands of that person. Giving directly has better rewards for both parties involved: the giver has greater satisfaction for seeing their gift impact someone immediately, and the receiver can feel seen and have a direct, material benefit. Both parties impact one another through direct, intentional contact. On the other hand, giving indirectly to a charity isolates the giver from the real needs and problems of others.[7]

Framing

Premises

[P1] Giving money directly to a homeless person does not guarantee the money will be used in an effective way.[5] [P2] Organized efforts are more effective than individual efforts. [P3] Charities are entities that systematically and effectively help homeless people.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Individual efforts are more effective because a giver can directly see impact immediately.[7] [Rejecting P3] Charities are just like businesses and are prone to corruption or taking advantage of kind donors and helpless homeless people.[6]

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=5510&from=homepage
  2. https://www.rvahub.com/2020/06/17/pride-place-at-virginia-home-for-boys-and-girls-aims-to-reduce-homelessness-of-lgbtq-young-adults/
  3. https://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/about-cfh/
  4. https://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/proven-solutions/
  5. https://www.parlia.com/a/GHrMPRGWHctlQgGJqCZKjZgbL/they-may-spend-it-on-drugs-alcohol-or-gambling
  6. https://www.intpolicydigest.org/2018/01/04/need-stop-donating-big-homeless-charities/
  7. https://www.qr.ae/pNK4x6

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 21 Jun 2020 at 21:07 UTC