I Dare You To Care…After the Show
The 2014 Shaggy and Friends show is concluded. The Twitter campaign has wound down. Money has been raised, awareness has been sharpened, and a large audience saw, by most accounts, a good show.
Well, the next logical thing step that there should be a full report on the amount of money raised for 2014 Shaggy & Friends. (This would merely be a continuation of the reports given by the Shaggy Foundation.) Along with that, there should be a detailed comparison to previous years’ fundraising efforts. That’s how we’ll begin to measure the Tessanne Effect and it’s how we’ll measure the #TeamShaggy4Kids Effect. Plus, there was apparently a 100% increase in the number of attendees to the show. That’s huge. If so how does that translate, if at all, into money raised given the complementary ticket controversy? How can that increase be maintained? That is, how must Shaggy and his friends work to keep our attention so that next year’s show is at least as popular? It might also be helpful to share the actual costs of putting on the show, that is, share with the public the true value of a show like the one we saw on January 4. In a way, quantify the gift being given to the Bustamante Hospital for Children. And this pesky topic of complimentary tickets: what is the value of sponsorship received vis-à-vis the complimentary tickets provided to the sponsors? Were other complimentary tickets given to, say, certain well wishers? I’d suggest identifying this number and its value separately from those offered in exchange for sponsorship. This gift to our children’s Hospital…how much is it worth?
Yes, a full and thorough reporting must be issued to the general public. Shaggy’s fundraising effort, one of the most visible and honest causes in recent memory, has a unique opportunity to set the standard for local charity events. No longer should we see “part proceeds in aid of…” on every other event poster. Instead, show us the money trail. Show us that the money raised was used for and in aid of that charity; show us that you kept your word. Quite simply I believe these kinds of analyses are necessary because this is about more than raising money through a benefit concert. I think this kind of full disclosure is central to the implicit bargain that non-profits, such as charities, churches, and foundations, strike with the public when they solicit the public’s help with raising funds for a cause meant to address the public’s benefit. The bargain is: help us raise money for a cause and in exchange we will share how much money was raised and how it was spent (i.e., on what, when, and in what proportion to the charity’s operational costs). Consider the example of The Charity Commission in England and Wales, or services like Charity Navigator in the U.S. Each of these is meant to ensure that charities do not abuse the public trust or the benefits bestowed on them, usually in the form of some tax exemption. The U.S. tax regulator, the IRS, annually requires charities to disclose careful details about how the money they fundraise is spent. Form 990s are publicly available for anyone to read and analyze, and, in the U.K., any member of the public may request a copy of a charity’s “most recent accounts” in accordance with the 1993 Act. This fair exchange of information and reporting for cash and interest can only help the fundraising organization, the public, and the cause or entity that the organization has worked so hard to engender interest in.
This applies to any organization, but especially to charities and public organizations.
It’s called transparency.
We’ve already seen the tangible benefits of the positive relationship between the Shaggy & Friends show, the Shaggy Foundation, and the Bustamante Hospital for Children. I want that relationship to be maintained and strengthened. Transparency is necessary for that to happen.
But there’s another, corollary relationship that needs to be developed, maintained, and strengthened. It is the direct relationship between the Jamaican public and the Bustamante Hospital for Children. How are we showing our interest in the well-being of the Hospital? Shaggy is not and must not become the benefactor of our public Children’s Hospital; it is not his personal service. Therefore, don’t cede responsibility for its care and functioning to him simply because he’s been brave enough to work on its behalf.
I’ve asked (albeit only on Twitter) whether the Bustamante Hospital for Children has any sort of Capital Development Plan or Report. Such a Plan is the sort of thing that details over the short-term (about 5-10 years) the equipment and building (i.e., the big things) needed for an institution. These costs should, I think, ideally include not only the purchase costs but also the maintenance costs over the life of the equipment and buildings. The Plan should also detail how those costs will be met — donations, tax apportionment, fundraising, fees? Even for a public hospital this kind of planning is necessary. For a country like Jamaica tax revenue is not enough. Actually, for any country tax revenue isn’t enough; there has to be a plan for diversified financing. Shaggy mentions on his website that part of the proceeds were used to pay for an “audit to be done on all medical equipment (working or otherwise) at the Bustamante Hospital (June – July, 2011).” Good: what’s needed? What are the next steps now that an audit is complete? It cannot be that this man and his friends are expected to fulfill the needs identified by the audit…right?
What’s the plan? Without this kind of thinking and planning — situated within broader long-term public health and national development policy goals and planning — then I guarantee that all the kind and hard work by Shaggy and his friends will mean nothing.
At this moment of high engagement and effervescent euphoria we have to seize the opportunity to focus above and beyond that euphoria so that our engagement is actually meaningful. That’s requiring accountability…of ourselves and of our public institutions.
This is an opportunity to actually lift the Bustamante Hospital for Children up and toward the standard of care so desperately needed for our children in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
I dare you to care after January 4, 2014, after the show lights are dark. I dare you to care today, January 13, 2014 and the day after and the day after that….
After the show is when the real work begins.