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The Politics of Giving – Opportunism or Selflessness?

Unless you’ve spent the last week in a cave, you know there are people really hurting not all that far from our borders. Many of us have contemplated how we can those in Haiti and those in need in our own everyday lives. Those decisions are not easy and often those decisions have consequences. Within our families and our businesses many of us wrestle with those issues. Is it possible to give back, set a positive example and not have it be seen as blatant opportunism? Does helping others publicly to any degree have a place in our business or is the risk of consumer cynicism just too great?

Written By

Realtor, Speaker, former Indianapolis radio personality. Least prettiest person ever on HGTV. Crashed in a helicopter and a Cessna 182. Seven lives left. Blessed by an amazing family!



  1. John S

    January 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    There are people who are going to question any action you make. I think it’s important to learn who to ignore. “Mike” can bite me as well. Most people can tell when an someone is doing something for a sincere reason and when it is a blatant attempt at self promotion.

    Six months ago, my brother was diagnosed with lymphoma. That’s a pretty shocking diagnosis for someone to get on his 23rd birthday! Things like that have an effect on everyone. While my brother and parents were in the initial “freakout” stage, I poured over material online to see what we could expect from treatments, to survival rates, possible complications, etc. I needed to find all the information I could to be able to ask smarter questions of my brother’s doctor. I was the “calm and rational” one through out the process.

    Fast forward to today and my brother is cancer free and getting back to a normal life after 6 months of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant!

    My family got a lot of emotional and some financial help from places like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Now, I’ve made it a priority to give back some to those that have helped. A portion of anything I make will go back to LLS, Live Strong, or some other organization that needs it. I’ll talk about it on my blog. Yeah, it’s a real estate blog, but it’s MY blog and I want people who read it to learn more about ME. If I want to talk about doing something good for someone else, I will. And I won’t let any “Mike from Westfield” stop me.

    I’d probably publish his comment and let the rest of my readers respond to him. An internet smackdown is fine if you’re not the one smacking them down.

  2. Ken Montville

    January 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    My first thought was, “Wow! There are a lot of trophies behind that guy.”

    Seriously, being a good corporate citizen is nothing to be embarrassed about. Regardless of whether we’re General Electric or we have an obligation to help when help is needed. We’re all humans behind the “corporate veil” and values like compassion and generosity do not disappear as soon as we put out our “Open for Business” shingle.

    The larger question of priority is more perplexing. There are many causes that tug at my heartstrings. The need for assistance to a country devastated by a 7.0 earthquake is obvious, though. That was, indeed, a “biggun”.

    You’re doing good. Keep on doing good.

  3. Misty Lackie

    January 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I am glad you posted this. Just think if even 5 people click on the link and donate, it did some good. It doesn’t bother me when businesses or professionals publicly show or promote that they are giving to or support a cause. Why? Because the end result is the people in need benefit from it and that is what’s really important. Just my 2 cents on the topic.

  4. Ruthmarie Hicks

    January 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    There is always SOMEONE who will be a naysayer. There is plenty of room in the private sector to do unto others. If by default, you profit from it, that was not the point. The point was that you tried to do the right thing and you have the readership to make it work. Go for it – and no- don’t get baited into an argument. People like that are looking for a fight for no good reason. Although I did like the “bite me” comment at the end.

    On a really tiny scale – with a ridiculously trivial issue by comparison – I got baited the other week. 90% of my readership is local and there was a local coffee shop that had permission from the health department to allow dogs (properly restrained) in their shop. The reason being that they don’t do food prep there. One complaint – the first in 7 years- took away that permission. Now this has been part of their business model for a long time and we are in the worst recession since the Great Depression. The shop was very well managed and I felt badly that this could impact their business. So I blogged about it. They had a facebook page up to gather support and I linked to that page so people could express support. Sure enough, a malcontent comes on board and starts up and baits everyone. I kept my trap SHUT! The end effect was that eventually when no one responded – he went away. not fun to play alone I guess.

  5. Matt Johnson

    January 17, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Mike is a nutcase… business can and should certainly be mixed with being a good citizen. It would be ludicrous otherwise. Keep doing what you’re doing 🙂
    Warm wishes

  6. Karmen Smith

    January 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Thank you for your excellent post. I made the same decision to make similar posts on Facebook, blog or wherever.

    After being slammed on my blog for suggesting that we could all be helpful to those who cannot help themselves, I initially felt that maybe I shouldn’t have made the post and go back to not expressing my opinion or position on anything. Working through those feelings however, I reasoned that it was my website, my blog, my facebook page and that I would continue being the decisionmaker regarding what was posted there. I was not compelling anyone to do anything, nor judging anyone else by the standard I set for myself but rather, was expressing what I felt would be a good thing to do. Subsequently I have been comfortable ignoring or deleting nasty comments, hiding or even deleting “friends” from Facebook, and am less confrontational in commenting either on my own or on other sites.

    It is disappointing, not only in times of disaster (e.g. Haiti), to see statements that are mean-spirited, disrespectful or condemning. I feel much closer to the ‘human family’ when seeing posts such as the one you put on your page that show concern for others, unselfishness and regard for the needs of others. We will all be in need at some time.

    Thank you for caring.

  7. Greg Cooper

    January 18, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Thank you all for your thoughts.

    Ken…do not underestimate how long it took me to gather all of that hardware up from around the office.

    Ruthmarie….your passion and purpose are always something I learn from. Thank you.

    John, Misty, Matt, Karmen….much appreciated that you all took time to add your points. At some point no matter our general beliefs, one of those must be to always have a level where we are willing to help our fellow human beings. There are limits for all of us but keeping ourselves from becoming too cynical is something I hope to hold onto.

    I actually had someone tell me that because the Haitian people left Baby Doc Duvalier in power instead of staging a coup, that they in fact had some responsibility in the level of suffering. Don’t tell that to the thousands buried under the rubble…or the families grieving for them.

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