What’s the difference between a fox and a pig? Two drinks

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."


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5 Responses to “What’s the difference between a fox and a pig? Two drinks”

  1. Robert Tolmach Says:

    A couple years ago in NY, I attended a “casino night” benefit for a program that mentors kids, and they had a dozen of the kids there.
    I wonder what those kids thought of the MC’s constant refrain, “‘party, party, party — drink, drink, drink, — gamble, gamble, gamble”

  2. Gene Finley Says:

    For chrissake, don’t you realize if we don’t drink the Budweiser, the Anheiser Busch stock doesn’t go up in value and the foundations don’t have a gain on investment?

    What’s so noble about looking a gift horse in the mouth? I’m a CFO of a charity and the cold hard truth is the money has to come from somewhere.

  3. Nonprofiteer Says:

    There’s nothing particularly noble about close examination of a gift horse; my point is Mr. Tolmach’s, that charities have a hard enough time getting our message across without sending the kind of mixed signals that flow from encouraging substance abuse.

  4. Ellen Wadey Says:

    Money does have to come from somewhere. But, you don’t have to sell your soul to get it. I’ve worked for organizations that have taken in-kind booze for their events — and we chose to promote responsible drinking rather than overindulgence — and the companies were perfectly happy with that since they’re under pressure to promote this message as well. Haven’t we learned yet that sloppy drunks aren’t cool? And from what I’ve observed –and I’ve been doing this for a while — the ones who drink the most usually give the least.

  5. Nonprofiteer Says:

    I don’t actually think that distillers, brewers and vintners are tools of the devil and am delighted if nonprofits can secure their support without encouraging excess consumption. Honestly, I just get pissed off when I see tobacco companies treated as instruments of the devil while alcohol manufacture is acknowledged as a legitimate endeavor–as the comedian Jimmy Tingle pointed out years ago, “There aren’t too many kids cowering in doorways, saying ‘Oh, no, here comes Dad–he’s been out smoking all night!””

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