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Monday, 18 August 2014

Three Cups of Deceit

I'm reading this book, Three Cups of Deceit, by Jon Krakauer, only because I read all his work, and I'm not familiar with the bestselling book he's discussing or the humanitarian he is talking about, so I will not get into specifics here.

The issue it has raised, which I'm curious to discuss, is when charity goes wrong - if some of the money goes missing, does it take away from the good the person did, as they still did SOME good that wouldn't have been done otherwise. Another example would be that cyclist, who did do a lot of good for a cancer foundation, does his current disrepute lessen the good work done for the charity?

Lastly, the book also raises some of the issues that plagued Mother Theresa, about where the money came from, prompting her to say "I don't care where the money comes from. It's all washed clean in the service of God."

So does the good done outweigh other moral and ethical issues? I see both sides of the argument, and swing back and forth in my thinking. Thus the curiosity on what others think.

Linking up with Reading Writes, while treading carefully to avoid any legal issues...because it's been a week and I still don't really know. I think it's terrible if he was using the charity as 'his personal ATM' but if, as someone else in the book points out, 'no one cares about muslims in Pakistan', they just give money to charities for the Sherpas in Nepal, then it's good that he got schools built in areas that wouldn't have been built or funded otherwise, as long as the schools get used. Our world is not a simple place and the shades of grey exceed a mere 50 (see what I did there? Bahaha!)

As an aside, the book gives 100% of the proceeds to the "Stop Girl Trafficking" project at the American Himalayan Foundation. I was unaware of this problem, and amazed that up to 20,000 young girls are trafficked annually from the poorest parts of Nepal to end up in brothels or basically slaves, yet we don't seem to hear about it.


  1. And blogger ate my comment again !!!!! Man, I wish I knew what was up with blogger and commenting - and it isn't just your blog - it's heaps of blogspot blogs.
    I have often wondered that and haven't been able to decide which side of the fence I sit on this one either.
    Good luck at deciding !!!!

  2. Sorry! And thanks for persisting. I find this a very grey area...

  3. Mmm, I hate the thought of wrongly allocated (or missing!) charity money. When you donate you really don't want to have a negative feeling because you're wondering if it will be used correctly and as indicated. #teamIBOT

  4. Good on Mother Teresa. She came out with some brilliant things didn't she? I think it would depend on the circumstances. If money goes to a charity and then the money raiser is disgraced it shouldn't take away from it. But if some of the money raised is misappropriated then that would be very bad. They may have done some good but that doesn't excuse them. Just my opinion.

  5. Yes, I was aware of that trafficking as a friend of mine was doing a climb to raise money for them. It is a tough question you pose. I couldn't give a definite yes or no. I think each situation needs to be considered separately.

  6. Hmmmm, this is a very good question. I'm not really sure where I stand. I think in the case of the disgraced cyclist, it doesn't take away from the real things that the charity provided, the tangible stuff, but it does leave a sour taste in many people's mouths and will cause then to double-think whether or not to donate money to a charity down the track. In the case of missing money, I think it's kinda the same. I know personally that I research very carefully who I give my donation money too, as having worked for a large organisation that was by law classed as a charity, I was extremely shocked to learn that over 80% of the money they raised went towards admin costs rather than the work they were supposed to be doing as a charity. It was one of the reasons why I stopped working for them and also one of the reasons why that particular organisation has been reabsorbed in to the parent organisation, they just couldn't be trusted to run themselves properly. I think most charities aim for about a 60/40 ratio of admin costs to money directly benefiting the cause but you never know and it's why I research well.

  7. Human trafficking is a silent but very real problem. It's estimated there are actually more slaves on the planet now that an at any other time in history, so it is a very real problem. (More info here;

    As for money, I don't believe money is evil. The abuse of money is, and what's done to obtain it can be, but the money itself is not evil. If it's used for good, then I don't have a problem with it. But if you know donated money has been obtained illegally, I think it's necessary to report it.

    As for giving money to charity and having it stolen, or used incorrectly, well sadly I think that happens more than we like. But we can't let that stop us being generous. The reward of generosity comes from the heart behind it, not the amount donated, or what happens to it afterwards.

    This is a very interesting discussion!!

  8. The Three Cups of Tea story is so well written and completely convincing, but it's just not true apparently. Greg Mortimer is a brilliant storyteller and convinced a lot of people to part with money, including Barack Obama who gave up part of his Nobel Peace Prize money...

  9. Hmmm. Interesting ...
    As someone who is running charity event after charity event right now (I'm coordinating two in two months) I can't contemplate the idea that money would be misdirected. It's too alarming.
    Far too heavy for me to contemplate at dawn. Give me a few hours to think about it
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  10. This book sounds interesting and given me food for thought about what I think. When i donate I would hope the money wouldn't go missing but I also would want the right people to be paid accordingly to know how best to disperse the funds given.

  11. Ooooh, very interesting topic here. I'm actually stumped what my opinion is. Would it still be dirty money? I think to some degree, there needs to be importance to where the money came from but I'm not sure why I think that. I need to read this book.

  12. OH I just love reading. This book sounds facsinating. I had never heard of it until now. - Peachy Keen Mumma visiting for IBOT

  13. Wow, thanks for the food for thought.