The Weirdness of Walking to Raise Money

I’ve done a number of charity walks/runs over the past 10 years. But this article put its finger on the pulse of a nagging feeling in the back of my head: isn’t it kinda weird that we walk to raise money for other causes? Wouldn’t the time, money, and effort be better spent on actually contributing to the cause? I.e. building houses, working at soup kitchens, etc? Instead, tons of money is spent providing food and water to the participants, shutting down arteries in the city, etc. It seems like a waste. Though it definitely is not. I think the value from the walks comes from a couple different places. First, the communal sense of the participants having done something together is relevant. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment in walking with thousands of other people who support the same cause. This is important for collecting the smaller donations – the $25 that someone might donate, but it doesn’t bring a sense of reward or accomplishment. On the other hand, donating $25 and walking with a thousand other people does (though what does that say about our culture that we need to be rewarded for doing good). And second, I think it brings a lot of publicity to issues. People see that roads are shut down, thousands of people are walking for a cause. It causes us to ask ourselves, what do they support? Should I also be supporting this issue? Ultimately, I think Ted Gup (the author of the aforementioned article) says it best: “In the end, getting others to give is as much art as science, and if traversing great distances is what it takes to discover that charity begins at home, then so be it.” What do you think? Are walks helpful to the charities they support? Or just a waste of time, money, and energy?

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One Response to The Weirdness of Walking to Raise Money

  1. The Lamplighter says:

    Very interesting article thanks for posting! One thing I think that Ted didn’t mention but it also important as a result of these walks/hikes/bike rides/races is that they often earn money for causes where one of the most important steps to solving the problem is medical research. Whereas you might volunteer at a soup kitchen to feed the hungry or build houses to shelter the homeless, you may not be able to volunteer to cure AIDS. But the research world is ever-hungry for funding, so getting those donations is a very useful activity indeed!

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