Charity is not a business

Malaysia is a caring society where most people are generous to financially support the underprivileged.

Unfortunately generosity has been exploited by unscrupulous syndicates as a profit-making tool.

Tagged with ‘love and care’, there are crowd funding platforms or professional fund-raising agencies hiring young people as volunteers to raise funds for orphanages and old folks’ homes through phone calls, WhatsApp and social media. They charge very high commission rates, up to 50%, based on the donations received.

For cash donations of RM100, the agents rake in RM50, meaning the welfare homes only receive half of the sum donated by the public. It is definitely a case of taking advantage of the generosity of the public and the underprivileged groups to make profits!

Members of the public are not aware of such a scheme. They would not be willing to donate if those in need of help only receive half of the donations. 

The operation of a “volunteer troop” has raised concerns in several aspects. First and foremost, how do the volunteers acquire the list of handphone numbers? Have they infringed the privacy law?

Secondly, by concealing the fact that high commission rates are charged, do the volunteers deceive the donors? The perception of the public is that every single cent they donate will eventually go to the homes.

From the business point of view, the operation of “volunteer troop” is perfectly fine. It is a commission-based business.

Nevertheless, charity is not a business. Business is profit-oriented while charity helps the underprivileged. Both are not aligned. Business should not be used as the defence for charging high commission rates.

Cooperation from all sectors are needed to stop the “volunteer troop”. The government should enhance regulatory control and set clear guidelines to prevent the interested parties from operating on loopholes.

Charitable organizations should be firm in rejecting funds raised by agents charging high commission rates. The homes may temporarily receive funds but once these homes operate as business, the public will be less willing to donate. The homes will suffer in long run.

These are the issues charitable organizations must take into serious consideration.

On the other hand, prior to donating, members of the public should verify with the homes to avoid falling into the trap of such syndicates.

It is good to donate, but please make sure that the underprivileged receive the full sum of donation.

Sin Chew Daily

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