Thanks to Selfish Giving for highlighting the Washington Post’s story about SMASHED, a group of young people aspiring to create entertainingly offbeat charity events–if by "entertainingly offbeat" you mean "utterly inebriated." Buzzkill that she is, the Nonprofiteer is neither amused nor inspired by a group whose t-shirts say, "Remind me tomorrow that I helped someone today."
Alcohol is responsible for an incredible amount of social damage. (For details, please see Mark A.R. Kleiman’s Against Excess, Drug Policy for Results, and yes, we’re related.) Fostering heavy alcohol consumption in the service of charity is a micro-version of investing foundation assets in anti-social corporations: it gives nonprofits a role in creation of the problems they’re supposed to be solving. Let’s just begin the census of charities whose work is made necessary, or at least heavier, by our society’s widespread reflexive use of alcohol: agencies that provide addiction services, disease charities concerned with the need to replace livers and serve people whose spinal cords have been severed by drunk drivers, domestic violence service organizations. . .
So maybe generous people should think twice about whether it’s a great idea to get shit-faced, and brag about getting shit-faced, for charity.
Unless we’re just looking for a raison d’etre for the sector. Maybe the Nonprofiteer has it all wrong: alcohol is indispensable, creating the problems without which our work wouldn’t be necessary. In which case, as Tom Lehrer puts it, ""[O]ur attitude should be one of gratitude, Like the widows and cripples in old London town, who owe their large pensions to Werner von Braun."