Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Big Give - Did you see it?

I'm going to admit that I like Oprah. I really believe that Oprah is a transformational individual. She has tremendous influence and damn if she doesn't use it for good. I even bought her magazine the other day and read an editorial in which she talked about her relationship with money. She was paid .50 an hour in her first job as a preteen. Now she raises and gives away (and makes) millions of dollars. Wow.

But I still struggle with the gloss she puts on her social change message. I was kind of excited to watch The Big Give because I actually believe that fundraising (which to me is more about facilitating the giving of resources, support and community) helps not only the person(s)/agency that receives it but the giver as well. Maybe it's because I am enough of a realist to know that the government will never provide what is needed in each unique community. Maybe it is because when I give to an organization, campaign or issue that I feel strongly about, I know it will make a difference. I've been behind the scenes and I know that every dollar counts.

So anyway, I like it when people encourage giving. And I like it when prominent individuals encourage everyday citizens to not only write a check but strategize and ask other people to give. But The Big Give? It felt icky. This review from blogHer sums up a lot of what I was thinking. Giving the contestants a challenge to find a complete stranger in a huge city is a waste of time if you are just trying to fundraise, obviously.

I still love Oprah and of course, the individuals involved need the help and deserve it. But really, I think The Big Give perpetuates the myth that in order to actually make a difference through fundraising you have to know someone like Oprah. You don't.

That said, if you have a connection to Oprah - give me a call. We'd love to have her at Safety In Numbers 2008. ;)


Kelsey said...

Okay, time to air out dirty laundry. I LOVE OPRAH. Seriously. I have a subscription to her magazine, I DVR her shows everyday, I have her DVD collection... Its all a little sick.

That being said, I wasn't all that blown over by the Big Give. I thought the "competition" piece of the show is a little misplaced when your theme is good will. Granted, its got to have something to appeal to the brain dead audiences of America (and not everyone is as excited about event planning as I am)... but still. I would have been perfectly happy with the show being all about creative fundraising and event planning.

I have to disagree that the show gives off the idea that you have to know Oprah to be able to successfully raise money. It obviously helps since they received thousands of dollars from random sources, but I thought it was pretty inspiring for the average person to go out and do a little of their own giving. For me, that's giving extra lunch items or dollars to the nice folks who hang out by my freeway exit and donating to causes when I'm able. For others that could mean donating thousands at an auction...

I think the important part of the show is demonstrating how the money can really change people's lives and how it can change the lives and perspectives of those giving the money. For me, that's what its all about.

Every time I bring up Oprah at work I get those weird looks, though... so I digress.

P.S. I still love her...even if she is a little self-righteous sometimes.

Linda said...

LOL Kelsey. You and I can be the office nerds that not only like fundraising, but also Oprah. :)

I get what you are saying and I really hope that she'll highlight individuals around the country who are inspired to "Give Big" even if giving big to them means just what you said - buying extra lunch stuff and handing it out at the freeway exit. I saw that she had Drew Barrymore on her show giving away a million dollars the other day. Yet another women that I LOVE but it still bugs me that O would highlight someone with the capacity to give that much rather than focusing on the documented fact that low and middle-income Americans give a larger percentage of their income away every year than the "upper class".

Well, this has _nothing_ to do with DV or SA but its still fun to talk about!