NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The Boys & Girls Club is a fine organization. Our radio stations support many of their fundraising events. If you are looking to make a donation of time or money, this is an excellent choice.
Actually, the Wausau city council made a donation on your behalf. It’s a small one – but you should know about it. In the just-completed city budget, the Boys & Girls Club got a $25,000 grant. It’s direct city funding for a non-profit charitable organization. Your share: about $1 if your home is worth $100,000.
Is the Boys & Girls Club worth $1? Absolutely. But so are many other community groups within our city. And some of them have already complained that they didn’t know the city was giving out a $25,000 grant. They’ve asked how they can get in on the largess.
I have a few thoughts on this.
The city already gives out money to non-profit groups – lots of it. The city collects a hotel rooms tax, and distributes that money to groups that promote tourism in the area. The Boys & Girls Club doesn’t fit into that box, leading to the direct funding request. The problem is that while the room tax is doled out through a competitive process of presentations and debate, the current grant was an up-or-down vote by the city council without the same level of review. The money was approved, 6-5.
If the city decides it wants to give aid to local charities, they should say how much money is available and accept proposals from the groups that want it.
That approach, which is better than what happened at the last Council meeting, still has two problems: First, there’s already a community group that does this – the United Way. They raise large amounts of money privately, set priorities and standards for charities, and act as a clearinghouse to distribute the cash to the most deserving groups. Secondly, many people will confuse city grants with genuine charitable giving. The taking of tax money from property owners and giving it away (even to a worthy group) is not charity. Charity is free-will giving by individuals. One of the things that make our local charities great is that they get such generous support from local residents.
The Wausau city council has started down a slippery slope. One thing is certain; expect more requests from more groups during the next budget cycle.