Separating well-meaning but uninquisitive donors from their money is a scam as old as charity itself.
Over a century ago, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn scoundrels, the Duke and the Dolphin, bilked gullible church-goers with their tales of Indian Ocean pirates and their intentions to convert these malefactors to the Way of truth and righteousness.
But today, social media has greatly expanded the fraudster’s bag of tricks. The name of the game is to create “buzz,” so that the charity can become the cool new cause.
As to what the cause is, or – more importantly – what the charity raising the money will actually do in furtherance of that cause – these are just bothersome details.
As the latest Bloomberg Business Week explains:
Millennials donate money differently, explains Richard Honack, a nonprofit marketing expert and a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “Baby boomers and most Gen Xers give to what they know: their churches, universities, maybe a cancer society. But [for] younger people, a buzz cause will come on, like the Haiti earthquake or Invisible Children, and they’ll donate money without even thinking about where it’s going. They just assume they’re doing something good.”
We already know that hundreds of thousands of young people are taking on enormous, non-dischargeable debts to acquire college degrees that are, for all real-world purposes, useless. But it still comes as a surprise to learn that so many are failing to learn even the most basic critical thinking skills – namely, to ask at least a few rudimentary questions before handing over your money.