Counterpoint: Do your intentions matter when giving to charity?

Aaron Bialer, Copy Editor

Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher of the 12th century, detailed the eight levels of giving, ranking various charity-giving situations by righteousness.  He emphasized the importance of selflessness, ranking double-sided anonymous donations as some of the highest value due to the fact that the giver will not feel especially good without knowledge of the benefits provided and the receiver will not feel indebted to the giver.  Donations given with selfish motives in mind were rated the least righteous.

In the end, charity is charity.  Selfish motives do not lessen the value of a given sum of money to a family in need.

“I think all charity is in one way or the other selfish.  One may be genuinely concerned about others and may generously give charity, but even if one is not looking for any return or benefits from such action, one feels content and self-assured in one’s ‘goodness,’ which can in some stretch be just as selfish, as one may only do it to feel good about oneself and feel as though one has done one’s part in the society,” said senior Helen Kim.  “I’d say that because the needy still receive help through one’s actions, whether it be from selfish motives or not, charity is still charity.”

Health teachers often offer extra credit points for those who provide personal care items or food during various drives throughout the year.  Additionally, some clubs, such as the National Honor Society, offer credits to those who donate to those in need.  In the end, the act of providing students with such ulterior motives undoubtedly increases the gross gain of such drives.  Whether or not students go through as much moral growth, needy people, those which the drive is truly about, are sure to more greatly benefit.

“I donated clothes for National Honor Society credits,” said senior Ben Pan.  “I got credits.  Needy people got clothes.  It’s a win-win.”

Students benefit and so do those that receive donations,” said health teacher Ms. Patricia Kosiba.  “It also helps to establish charitable ideals in students at a young age.  Nobody loses.”

One must acknowledge that there exist some people who favor selfishness over selflessness.  Such individuals would not donate their time or money at all if they were not to benefit.

“Students are driven by self-interest,” said senior Kahaf Bhuiyan.  “You need to be the best at everything so by donating to drives in school, not only can you tell colleges that you like to help people out, but you may also boost your GPA with extra credit points.”

One may even go so far as to argue that selflessness in itself is driven by self-interest.  Selflessness makes people feel moral and, thus, good about themselves.  Additionally, it may provide moral or personal growth.

Though less apparent, these benefits may be thought of as roughly equivalent to those provided by other seemingly more selfish motives.  Ironically, those acting in selflessness may also be looking to subtly reap benefits themselves.

In the end, it comes down to the gross benefits of donation.  The receiving end will obtain the same satisfaction no matter how immoral the giver’s motives were.  So, the greater the giver is able to benefit without harming others, the greater they should.  Selfish motives overall simply increase the gross benefits, especially if they increase people’s propensity to donate.