Inspired by a recent project at UVM, Keith Petri, President of the Skidmore College Photography Club (of which I am a member), carried out the production and sales of the Skidmore Spur, a nude club calendar, to raise funds to be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Featuring a photo of a new college club for each month of the year, objects were placed strategically to conceal private parts. So far, calendar sales have generated over $5000 in revenues, and the club anticipates even more.
Hunkey-dorey and everybody leaves happy, right? Not exactly. After seeing the calendar, the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation rejected the Photography Club's donation of $5000, claiming that they were not willing to accept monies procured by such racy means. The average cost to fulfill a child's 'wish' is approximately $7300. In rejecting the Photo Club's donation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation chose to refuse funds that would pay for the greater cost to fulfill the wish of one child. The Photography Club is now looking to donate the revenues to a different cause.
In thinking about the recent events, I am reminded of a project I encountered while studying abroad. In Sicilia (southern Italy), properties seized from the Mafia are being redistributed to young farmers and entrepeneurs. As quoted from this article, the goal is to "create employment and give honest Sicilians a chance to benefit from estates once controlled by Sicily's most notorious criminals."
It is important to draw a distinction here between what has transpired with the Photography Club, and with the redistribution of lands in Sicilia. The Skidmore Spur project has no smatterings of malfeasance at any point in its history; its pure aim is to help a worthy cause. Conversely, in Sicilia, former iniquities are being transformed into opportunities for positive growth. Given the recent turn of events, the situation with the Make-A-Wish Foundation is undoubtedly more controversial.
Nevertheless, we are brought to the question...Should a charitable organization reject donations based on the means by which these funds were acquired? Do such rejections hinder the ability of the organization to effect positive change?
Check out the NBC coverage: