Don’t Underestimate The Generosity Of Your Neighbors

Last Thursday evening, I watched a special meeting of the King County Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. Nothing other than previously undiagnosed masochism could explain this bizarre behavior.

As near as I could tell, the “special meeting” consisted of representatives from program after program appearing before the Committee members to plead that funding for their program be included in the King County budget. Many of these programs are obviously worthwhile but just because a program is worthwhile, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it should be funded by the government.

Frankly I was shocked at the attitude of some of the people who rose to speak for their organizations. One woman chided the Committee members because she didn’t feel they were being attentive enough; another, a program participant, said, “Don’t take my money” (emphasis added). I thought both were startling examples of people who feel entitled to other people’s money. They come with hat in hand and, incredibly, bring an attitude along with them!

Not being entirely familiar with all the organizations that were requesting funds, I can’t say whether or not they engage in fundraising activities. I’m guessing most do but based on the sorry tales from each speaker about how their program just could not function without tax dollars, I’m guessing it’s not a major source of income. Apparently, it’s easier just to request County funding and force your fellow citizens to support your work rather than to make your case with them on a more personal level.

Might it be difficult to raise enough money to fund a program solely through fundraising efforts? Possibly, but difficult doesn’t mean impossible. The people running these programs who feel that public funds are their only option are selling their neighbors short. Americans are generous, even in hard times. Don’t underestimate them.

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