Considering the 200-bed emergency shelter offered medical and dental care, psychiatric services, educational services, substance abuse programs, computer classes and job interview preparation, I highly doubt that 700 pairs of shoes were, in the words of the church pastor, “not a better way we could impact part of our city than if we would just one day ask the guys to wear their best shoes to church, to take them off, leave them at the altar and go home barefoot.”
I don’t think so.
Instead of bringing their “best shoes,” they could have simply brought $20 (a low mark for your “best shoes”) and donated $14,000 to the shelter. I’m sure that would have made a much greater impact!
Like many nonprofits, I am sure the shelter was happy to receive these 700 pairs of shoes. Most nonprofits are happy with anything they can get their hands on as they they generally operate as “bottom feeders.” This story, however, reminds me of personal conversations I’ve had with social outreach, nonprofit organizations who receive old, outdated technology.
Nonprofits and Technology Donations
Mix-matched and outdated computer gear and programs are often a popular donation to food pantries, homeless shelters and other nonprofits. Not good enough for business or home, but certainly good enough for those operating on a shoestring budget and tending to the needs of “the least of these,” right?
If it isn’t good enough for business, it’s not good enough for nonprofits.
Although these donations are accepted open-armed, it often leads to inefficiency and poor performance. If we really want to help our local homeless shelter, church or nonprofit organization by providing some technology, it would be better for us to show our support by rallying on their behalf and raising money to purchase good equipment for them to do the good work they’re doing.
If it isn’t good enough for you to keep using it yourself, how is it going to help the local shelter?
I think we can do better than this.