Tag Archives: Mary D Fund

The Advantage Of Private Charity Over Goverment Programs

I have several problems with government provided programs.  One being that I’m not sure it’s the role of government to perform those services.  Not withstanding, I don’t feel that the public programs work overly well.  Or, perhaps better said, they don’t work as well as a similar program in private hands.

Consider an example:

Donnelly is the island’s state nurse and administrator of the Mary D Fund, a charity she created to provide year-round residents with much needed financial help during the harsh winter months. Last year, the 85-year-old mother of seven gave grants totaling $50,000 to roughly 30 percent of the island’s 1,000 residents.

The charity takes no government money, relying instead on individual donations and grants. By not taking taxpayer money or having government oversight, Donnelly says she is able to better manage where the money goes.

It’s not that I doubt the nobility of such government programs, although that might be easy to do in some cases, rather I doubt the incentives to care about where the money goes and how it gets there.

I especially like how Ms. Donnelly handles two issues that have frustrated me personally:

Recipients must meet three requirements: They must be year-round residents of Block Island, they must request the help in person or by letter, and they must give Donnelly the actual bill to pay. She also tells them “they have to take a money-management course” to help mininmize future financial squeezes.

1.  They must request help in person or by letter.

2.  They have to take a money-management course.

I really think that the idea of making the assistance people receive to be invisible is a wrong one.  I think that we would have fewer folks comfortable on government programs if they had to personally go to a meeting where the money was handed to them by a member of the community.

Second, I hate the aspect of the “fixing the result” aspect of government relief.   By the time someone has no food, generally the ability to help the individual has been largely missed.  I am convinced that successful programs are ones that resolve the reason someone has a need, not ones that simply provide the need.

Anyway, what a great story.