Friday, 13 May 2011

Running Marathons For A Cause - Useless!

Baba Gyani Triviani said:

"Why run when you can do better"


A lot of people run marathons for a cause. I frankly don't know why...


So what's the deal with that anyway?

Here's an example of one. Some organisers decide to organise an event where people of various streams can come together and participate in the race. They say that the money that you pay for registration goes towards various NGOs. One marathon that I recently happened to stumble upon even went on to say that all kinds of people, old grandparents to young children, physically challenged can also participate in it. And the distance that these people have to go is 4 kms!!! Seriously? I am really curious to see how many people are going to roll 4 kms... Even Senior Citizens. Wow! I am not saying it is impossible, but anyway that is not what I am here to talk about.


Not all money goes towards charity...

Interestingly, not all of the money goes towards charity. Some of that might go to winners while some might go for organising... and the rest goes towards NGOs. So basically not ALL the money goes towards NGOs. Ok, that's also fine...


NGOs are known to siphon money off?

Now for the money that goes to the NGOs, how much of it is really utilised? There was an article recently in the newspaper as well as in other places about something that was already well known - What is it? It says that these NGOs that are created to resolve problems by collecting money from people themselves siphon off the money and most of the times never reaches the people who need it. Hey, wait a minute, sounds like our politicians... And apparently many NGOs are fronts for money laundering!


Why so many NGOs for same causes?

If you go around and see, you will see that there several 'duplicate entries' of NGOs, in the sense that hundreds of NGOs are fighting for the same cause in the same location... Isn't that strange? Isn't it better to unite all these NGOs into one unit, have these NGOs as departments for administration and then divide and allocate funds evenly across - The way in which each department may want to execute it might differ, thus departments to avoid conflicts, but hell, in the end, you are all fighting for the same cause... What's the point of having several different individual units? We have seen collaboration is always better than running individually. You can also have a greater clout in making the government change incorrect policies because of sheer numbers that you have.


So wait Gyani, what are you proposing then?

What I am proposing is that NGOs of similar types should unite and collect money and share money together - as mentioned above.


Do something more useful and creative

Secondly, stop organising candle light marches and races for every damn thing. Too cliched! Do something more creative and useful... Why don't you get people to do stuff like plant a sapling/tree each. After all, you expect people to participate for donating and not for their return of investment. Moreover, people running around is going to earn us nothing (maybe the fat ones will lose few calories but make it up quite soon anyway) but the rest will have sore feet. This way, you are helping the environment a lot and making the places cooler, repairing damange by Bangalore Metro.


Make NGOs become more transparent.

In this era of technology, how difficult is it for NGOs to make things more transparent? Why can't a system be designed where every time someone contributes, and money is taken out, it gets listed in public domain? The transfer of money needs to be done such that it is instantly reflected. That way, we will know where each rupee goes, just like our bank account via netbanking where we see every single transaction. Clicking on a link can show us more details - come on, this is not at all difficult - pay me a thousand bucks and I will design it for you :P


Do things yourself

And it is better that you do some charity yourself, rather than relying on someone else... I know I told you that you can harness the power of unity and collaboration earlier, but doing things yourself has two advantages - One, you will know the ground reality yourself, and two, you will know exactly how your money is utilised because you are doing it. The benefits of doing something and getting satisfied is much better because the joy is felt directly and is more personal as against behaving like a corporation and being faceless. Be more personally involved. Giving money isn't the end of the problems - seeing to it that it is utilised and ridding ourselves of problems is.


Agree or Disagree? Share your views

If you disagree with me, share your thoughts, and if you agree with me, share the note so that we avoid people commiting mistakes


*****

Comments from Facebook


Ramesh Radhakrishna: Running marathons for fighting obesity in which all the participants are obese is fine man ... :-P


Nikhil Baliga: There's an Artistick cartoon on that - created one year back

http://cartoonsbynikhilbaliga.blogspot.com/2010/05/marathon.html


Ramesh Radhakrishna: I remember that ... But, completely agree with you on running marathons ...


Dhanabal Lingasamy: yeah...when you do anything charitable, doing that yourself is the best way..but there sure are some good NGO's which are not corrupt


Ramesh Radhakrishna: dhanno ... so u want to run alone for charity ??


Ashrith Rao: There is a lot of bad Cholesterol in this world dude..Not a bad cause for a cause,..It is better than fasting for a cause anyway!! :)


Deepthi Shetty: ‎:) I think you got it wrong. It's not running for ONLY a cause. It's first running. Running for fun, maybe. It feels good when you see people from all walks of life taking part. The crowd n the feel of it is different!

Now the good part is, they (referring to the B'lore World 10k) are giving some amount off as charity too. So you don't really have to pooh-pooh it.


Coming to your point:

1) "..And the distance that these people have to go is 4 kms!!! Seriously? I am really curious to see how many people are going to roll 4 kms... Even Senior Citizens. Wow! I am not saying it is impossible, but anyway that is not what I am here to talk about."

Oh great, you were NOT going to talk about it. I wonder why you even mentioned it..


2)"Not all money goes towards charity"

Well of course, a lot of work goes into organizing these stuff. There are people working for it. And they do a clean job out of it. Don't you think they deserve to be paid for it? So yes, the money goes for that. a very silly point.


3)"NGOs are known to siphon money off?"

Well, what do you think can be done? We can't be so paranoid in life. Why don't do a survey and get a list of 'clean' NGOs so that those are the ones to which the amount can go? Or wait, would the event organisers have done that? Damn, didn't think of that.


4)"Why so many NGOs for same causes?"

Why do we have so many software companies doing the same work? Why don't all the companies of the same domain unit into one big thing, so that we have all people working uniformly under the same rules? No right? It isn't possible. The end deliverable is the same, so it doesn't matter how it's done, as long as it's done.


5) "stop organising candle light marches and races for every damn thing"

Well you can say candle light marches is a way of people making a point to the government. And as i said running is not always for a cause.


6)"Make NGOs become more transparent."

you should perhaps move this into a different topic.


7) "Do things yourself"

How? How exactly? when you want to do something and do it sytematically so that it's stabel and works for a long time..you need more than yourself. You will need a group. When there are NGOs already present, why don;t you give them money instead. If you want to see the 'ground reality' you can spend a day or two with NGO and get a glimpse of their routine. So you know what exactly happens.


At the end of it, i think the point i gathered was you have some stigma attached to the word "NGO"! And hence this outrage?


Nikhil Baliga: Run around - nobody stops you. Like I said, my problem is with "Running FOR A CAUSE" :-) So your "giving some amount off as charity *too* " is incorrect, because if you are running for a cause, it is FOR THE CHARITY - which is the reason why people are running. The exercise and getting together is a side show. And I am not pooh-pooh ing it, I am questioning it. If your points are valid, I will spread the message and get more people to run :-) Trust me, I will...


However, your arguments are all flawed in the following manners respectively.

1) haha I mentioned it because I find it ridiculous. Period.


2) No comments - My statement is still correct. That's why I said at the end that *it is fine*.


3) We have to be paranoid. Unfortunately! And you know it is impossible to do a survey - A, because I am not sitting around twiddling my thumbs and B, because you don't know what happens within. It is like giving money to a guy who is a known drunk, because he is poor. So do you expect me to squander money on a poor man, thinking I am helping him and his poor family, when I *know* that he will waste it in drinking? Instead, I will do something that he can't use for drinking, like perhaps directly paying his daughter's fees in school. So, my point is to bypass agencies that are suspected of corruption. You can't not be paranoid when you pour out money, at least I am that type - and I call it careful, not paranoid. Which is why I direct my efforts through places where I see things happening myself.


Regarding organisers checking if things are clean, looks like you didn't read the document fully - They are saying that we can choose our own NGOs. Assume I start my own NGO (for siphoning out money) and ask my friends to run and get others to give my NGO as their chosen NGO, then I get money... What checking can you possibly do there? Besides, it is difficult to do monitoring if you don't have transparent systems - which also I had mentioned


4) You are totally off the mark here - a company and an NGO are not at all similar! A company is not sitting for social service - they are there for profit! This is like comparing apples and oranges. Now, companies coming together for same thing is also not good because by destroying competition, you are destroying quality. In NGOs, you don't have that - there is no competition, there is only a cause. Regarding creativity, that is why I said departments, so that people can continue to be creative in their own ways within the organisation...


5) No comment - These runs are called Run FOR A CAUSE. Otherwise it is Annual Sports Day.


6) This is very much relevant to the topic because of aforementioned reasons


7) Like I said before, you have two options - Be part of the system which is transparent and harness the power of collaboration, or do things on a much smaller scale. NGOs are not the only way to go ahead - especially if they are not fully transparent. I want to know where exactly how much money is going. I struggle to earn money and when I am giving it away just like that, I would like to see it being used properly. Ground reality is very important because of an experience I had recently, maybe another time. But what's more important is to be personally involved once in a while if you want to work individually or with friends. But for collaborative efforts, where money involved is huge, you need transparency. I am not saying huge systems are bad - in fact, I always advocated systems, but transparent ones.


At the end of it, the point you gathered is incorrect. I advocate transparent collaborative systems - not hype


Dhanabal Lingasamy: hey..gymmy.. i would seriously prefer spend my energy in some useful instead of running for cause and routing the money through NGO..if you really want to help..its not necessarily to be through some NGO's


Susheela Sadashivaiah: @‎Nikhil Baliga actually running a marathon is not doing harm to ne1 rite..ppl who r participating in it are willingly participating, maybe friends will get together , run(good for health also!) , have a nice time...and ofcourse the charity, it may not be the best way to donate...still it is def not a bad or harmful way also.. :) even we dont go...just let it be!


Nikhil Baliga: It is not bad or harmful - But instead of diverting a fraction of funds towards award winners of race and organising, you could have saved that much :-)


Like I said, run if you want to - Post stuff on Facebook, rally all your friends and run - You don't have to necessarily club it with causes all the time. That's not my point anyway. My point is transparency in NGOs and more work and less talk. I just don't like things that get hyped and show no results in the end


Susheela Sadashivaiah: not that we really know if there is no work going on in NGOs..there are many NGOs that are doing good work....der is good and bad in evrything..u def knw dat...likewise in NGOs too na...

guess if u luk at the no. of ppl turning out for the event..the prize money is very less compared to donation...it will def help some ppl :)


Nikhil Baliga: @‎Susheela Sadashivaiah - :) I can let things be... However, my blog's description is as follows...


I basically use this blog to maintain a log of things that happen around me and some of my views (generally related to things that happen) - and I try to lay them out in a logical fashion...I don't intend to offend anyone. However, if you feel that you don't agree with any of my entries, please feel free to post a comment.


Read crazy stories, great preachings of the wise Swami Gulagulaananda and *a whole lot of random bashings of random entities*.....


Things that you will stumble across could range from philosophy through geek stuff, from support to the under dog *to blatant stone pelting to the kings*, .....


So I consider it my right to challenge things like these :D I am not saying DON'T DO it. I am asking WHY ARE YOU DOING IT


When we identify the good and bad, it is more efficient. You are again making the same point as Deeps did above. It is more efficient for me to channelise efforts towards *known* clean entities rather than *hoping* it is clean


Susheela Sadashivaiah: @‎Nikhil Baliga yes baba :) u r also asking to share our thoughts..so did...and for knowing clean entities...agreed its always good to know.. but wen u really cannot know...sometimes its good to hope too :)


Nikhil Baliga: @‎Susheela Sadashivaiah - Which part did you disagree with? Are you saying NGOs should not be more transparent than they are and we should be OK with the current state? Or are you saying we should just give money to some NGO that is asking for money because they claim that they are doing some good? Is it better to hope that they are good or is it better to compel and force them to be good through measures of transparency? Isn't that what we want with governments too? Isn't that what we were arguing with RTI and Lokpal? Why not the same with NGOs?


:-) No no, I am not shouting, don't get me wrong hehe :) I just talk like that :P So, still, views are needed, because I get to see others' angles too


Susheela Sadashivaiah: @‎Nikhil Baliga ok Sir! :) i'm just saying ....

1. events like these marathon runs r not useless :)

other Qs....null and void.. i agree with u.....

2. Hoping that a large organization that conducts the event , donates the money to NGO knows that it is doing good work and then giving coz everytime..we cant check evrything..apart from doing something in oder NGOs we knw r doing good work...this may be 1 place ..wen u feel ok..let me go for the run..it will be fun..at the same time i hope they r giving it to a good organization...dats all!


Aditya Padaki: Well, according to me, most of the marathons or candle light assembling is done to create awareness more than anything else. If it creates awareness in a few hundred people and even five or ten of them start working towards it seriously (coz of the awareness s/he got from it), I guess the job of the marathon/gathering is done. There are very few other ways (than public gatherings) without involving heavy money to create awareness among masses.


Reg. uniting all the NGOs for same cause, it may not be a very good idea. Each organisation has its own way of functioning and principles. Nikhil Baliga's NGO does not believe in organising public gatherings where as some other one believes in it (This is just an e.g :P. Extend it to thousands of other things). Should both the organisations unite, there will be heavy differences of opinion. This will only reduce the overall throughput. Rather than uniting, let the organiations individually perform however to the best of their ability. The end result will be more effective this way. :)


Nikhil Baliga: Hahaha I was hoping someone would bring up awareness :-) I'm glad I wasn't disappointed. Tell me, what awareness? The fact that people are poor, uneducated or disabled is very well known. The fact that NGOs exist for that is very well known, and the means of locating NGOs is a matter of minutes with development of search engines. Mind you, the people who are running these marathons are not slum dwellers or ignoramuses - They are very much computer literate and tech savvy, if not programmers! So what awareness? Awareness that we've to donate? Awareness doesn't come into the picture.


Regarding conflicts, I've repeatedly mentioned that departments function independently - so the NGOs continue to work like before and don't get interference in internal management from others - like I said, creativity or anything else for that matter is not hindered. There won't be conflicts and debates. But they have added benefits of collaboration, filling of shortage of volunteers - one dept can loan out to another, fund raising and sharing, greater value and clout because of sheer size, better networking, more inputs - It has all the benefits of co-operative working...

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