What’s In It For Me?

Our blog is back after some time off.  Time off was taken for the standard summer break reasons but also because shortly after the last post, there was the horrible tragedy of the Charleston, South Carolina church shootings.  Anything I could think to say in this blog just faded in light of that.

Alongside of that, was a disturbing trend that I’ve noticed grow more and more in the last several years.  It’s “What’s In It for Me?”  Maybe that’s not so bad when it comes to flat out business but it really disgusts me when it comes to charitable actions.

And sadly, I’ve had that raised once too often when it comes to the work that we’re doing and trying to do at The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation.  Here’s a few brief examples:

The individual who suddenly decided for some reason that he or she owned the rights to one of Earl’s works simply because he had performed in it and, therefore, said he or she was no longer interested in fulfilling the booking obligations we had made and further showed true colors by ending with “Too bad you didn’t know Earl’s wishes.”  Was that an ill-advised “negotiating tactic” or something worse? The upshot is that what the individual has ended up with is a really bad reputation in the business and ultimately a loss of the performance fees he would have received for his legitimate work.

Another is a church official who decided, I assume from greed, that he could do whatever he wanted to with Earl’s music, that “there’s a common perception that music doesn’t belong to anyone”, and that “if ASCAP has told you any different, we can talk about it.” (Send me a note if you need a primer on copyright, wills, performance rights, legal ownership, what ASCAP is and does, good taste and decency, etc.! Contact him if you need a primer on why the church is reviled so highly in our society and trust in clergy is at an all-time low.)

If those didn’t send me retching, and don’t do the same for you (apologies if you’re reading this around mealtime!), here’s the one that just stopped me in my tracks the week of the Charleston massacre when nine innocent people were gunned down in their place of worship by a racist maniac with access to a gun:

I had been asking readers of this blog and of our “Update” newsletters and our general supporters to provide a few written sentences on the subject of “home” to help with a program we were developing around that subject for our young students.  This would also help connect the larger community with our students in a way that would be tangible and easily-understandable for our students.  (They need to know that people care and that other people, especially adults, think what they are doing is valuable and will share something — which cost the responding adults only about 5 minutes of their time.)

I was startled by the number of people who couldn’t take a few minutes to write down a few words that would be helpful to children but was completely appalled when someone who has benefited greatly from the work of the late Earl Wentz , rather than contributing a few words, approached me to try to get our mailing list so that she could sell the parents of our below-the-poverty-line students her videos.

How about that sports fans?

Are you with me on this?

Have we all just bloody lost it?

I mean, I’m no panty-waist but this makes me puke.

The first two are, sadly, for our lawyers to deal with. The last is something far worse (as is the underlying motivation behind the first two).

Please do let me know your thoughts and feelings by using the “Comments” tab above and let’s have a community dialogue about this quickly before it’s too late for us all.

My quick take is that what’s “in it” for anyone who contributes or works with us is the unspeakable joy and pleasure that comes from helping those in need and seeing their faces light up and their lives forever impacted in a positive manner (perhaps for the first time ever), a legitimate tax-deduction for your monetary gifts, and — if you are a vendor or instructor for us — fair compensation in addition to the first item. If you believe in good karma then there’s bucket-loads of that, too. . . .

. . . . But if you fall into that first category of I have to profit off of charitable works designed for the most needy, then let me direct you to the end of the line right behind the bone-picking vultures.

Welcome back to my world, dear readers, and a happy fall (he tried to say without too much irony.)

Click “comments” at beginning of this post above to view what others are saying and to weigh in on this topic.

8 thoughts on “What’s In It For Me?”

  1. Man! Applause to you for having the guts to write this. These characters sound like total evil to me. I hope they don’t fully represent American culture. Greed blinds a lot of people.

    1. I agree. It does seem to be getting worse. Is it more greed? More desperation? More a**holes on the prowl? Maybe people don’t know about charity anymore. Maybe we need to have courses in decency. The clowns you described should get blacklisted from the world.

  2. Don’t no what’s up with the folks u mentioned. I think it is pure greed though. Heard Burnie Sanders say on t.v. the words CASINO CAPITALISM. Yep – what u talk about is a big problem, big part of what’s happening in our country. Too bad it’s hit these low levels. People should have respect for what charities are all about.

  3. Exactly, Sygster! That is exactly the question! What is anybody going to do? So far, all the comments acknowledge it’s a problem and say it’s about greed and capitalism and maybe even our country. I’m not feeling much better! 😉
    So I guess my first step is to make people aware and begin this discussion.
    Anybody with any ideas of how we might work to begin to remedy it?
    — Bill

  4. We have to teach people what REALLY is in it for them joy-wise like you touched on in your post Bill. Have you heard from other charities and foundations about their experiences?

  5. Hi, William — Just read your very brave post and the comments. I’m the development director for a large not for profit and can identify with the issues you raise. We see our fair share of snakes, too, but just try to focus on those supporters who believe in what we’re doing and hope that spreads. I see from your website that you’re a constituent member of arts advocacy organizations and other philanthropy groups. This sounds like a good topic to raise at a meeting. Hope this helps! Keep going — the work your organization is doing is awesome and is changing lives!

Leave a Reply