THE PURPOSE OF CHARITIES
I tend to divide charities into three types, depending on what motivates them.
First, the obvious reason for starting a charity up is to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We feel for the homeless man who stands freezing in the rain, the single mother of three who has to chose between warmth and food.
A second reason could be to increase your clout as an organization. A good example of this is the Sally Ann which owns many buildings in many countries–buildings that house sophisticated communication systems, well staffed with computers and paid employees. Though probably less than ten percent of their take is being used for this purpose, that take is big enough to enable them to attain considerable wealth (Note there are probably some secular organizations that may be motivated as much by a desire to acquire wealth as to help the less fortunate.)
And the third reason to help the poor is to help build one’s organization. If you are on the street and Our Place gets you a warm shelter while telling you that living in Christ is the only way to go, you are going to listen. The Catholic Church has had enormous success at recruiting poverty stricken Africans, who need help to get by and will gladly join the church that offers them that help. And since they are then discouraged from using contraception devices, their population continues to grow, assuring the church of a continuing supply of recruits,
And this, I contend is why we can assume that helping the needy is probably not a top priority for the church. Therefore when assessing charities we need to distinguish between those based on compassion from those whose purpose is to acquire wealth or those seeking greater power by proselytising
In any case the oft claimed reason why the church deserves tax breaks because they do ‘good work’ does not stand the light of day.
Fortunately, most humanist organizations have never tried to acquire wealth by such means, preferring to live from foot to mouth, seeking space for lectures, etc. where ever they can find it. Ho