Telethon… Pure Philanthropy?

Hello folks,

I meant to post this about two weeks ago! But I’ve been very busy lately and couldn’t finish it before! I’ll fill you in on that later 🙂

For you Americans, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend. Here in Chile, we don’t have that holiday, however, our yearly (almost yearly) Telethon took place last Friday and Saturday. The main goal of our Telethon (which has been going on for 30 years now) is to collect money to build rehab centers for handicap children. For 27 hours all TV channels get together, supplying their stars to organise a huge mediatic show. The entire country witnesses the moment when the goal is reached, yet sometimes surpassed. This year the goal was to gather over 13000 million pesos (in US dollars that’s around 20 million). The final amount of money gathered was over 16000 million pesos. In very rare occassions the goal hasn’t been reached, perhaps only once. However, it’s very unlikely to see such a big gap between the goal and the actual amount (which could still increase, as they’re not done counting the non monetary donations).

During those 27 hours, they present testimonials from families whose children were born with physical or mental problem, and that have turned to the Telethon foundation for help. These testimonies are so emotional that it’s hard not to shed a tear whilst watching them. I know I always do. Damn emotional me ;). But how could I not get emotional? It’s amazing what this institution does for this people, and it’s amazing to look at those children’s faces when they learn to do things by themselves 🙂

Anyway, if you have similar activities in your country, then you know that several companies donate money to these institutions, that’s how this charity can continue… but they all have a commercial interest, don’t they?

A few weeks before the Telethon starts, you start seeing commercials on television, and what resembles political propaganda on the streets. Companies embrace the Telethon spirit to raise money to donate to this great cause… but, incidentally it seems, they also raise the money in their pockets. “Let’s reach 10,000 sales today so we can donate 100 million!” “Eat 435897 McSomethings today and we’ll donate 100 million” and so on. Of course, it’s for a good cause and you certainly want them to donate that money… but some of us have a bittersweet feeling about it. We read between the lines… yet we have to follow.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the Telethon is amazing and I love this cause. I also love it when very rich people make donations… This year, two multi-millionaire guys donate 1000 million each. You got that right, 1000 million each. One of them said it had been his dream since he was a kid, to go there and donate the biggest amount nobody had ever donated. And he did it…. but what happened next? Another multi-millionaire came right after him and donated another 1000 million. He wasn’t even thinking about donating that much! But I guess he got carried away by the momentum… and probably wanted some of that recognition too, right? Now, I do believe those two men did a very philantropic action, however, they went on stage in front of thousands of people, and now everybody talks about their outstanding donations.

What would I call a true philanthropist? The people who made outstanding donations and stayed in the anonimity. Those who didn’t care about receiving any sort of recognition. I’m not saying all the other people who donated huge amounts publicly didn’t do it to support the cause… but they’re actions weren’t completely selfless.

Now I would love to hear some stories about similar events going on in your countries, do you have a telethon too? How does it work? What do they do with the money?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Carolina

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