UPDATE 11-12-2012: Lance Armstrong has stepped down from the Livestrong Board and has formally severed professional ties with the group in order to spare any negative repercussions/press of his recent notoriety.
In light of the recent Lance Armstrong debacle, how do you trust an organization?
Fans and supporters of Lance Armstrong, champion cycler, were shocked and dismayed when evidence of a massive doping ring recently came to light. Doping is a highly unethical and dangerous method of using blood transfusions to boost your red blood cell count prior to an athletic event. The practice is banned by most sports. Although Armstrong denies the allegations, supporters are still backing out and many who donated to cancer research causes through his Lance Armstrong Foundation – affectionately and commonly known as Livestrong, are requesting a refund because they simply no longer trust the organization.
This recent scandal raises a very important question to those who want to support causes: how do you trust that an organization is acting in the best interest of the donors and the cause? How do you know that your money is going to the cause that you donated to? While there is no evidence to suggest that the funds raised through the Lance Armstrong Foundation was used in illegal activities, many donors feel the entire organization was based on a lie. The person who started it may (it hasn’t been proven) have been living a lie that goes against the honest principles of fundraising.
Although a spokesperson for the Lance Armstrong Foundation maintains that donors support the cause, not the man behind it, it’s hard to deny that Armstrong himself was the driving force behind the foundation. A cancer survivor himself, his recovery and subsequent successes inspired people to donate. Armstrong made history when he won the Tour de France shortly after his recovery, and then six more times over the years that followed. His organization not only raised funds for important cancer research, but also in support of legislation to further the fight against cancer, and provides free cancer support services to those in need. Sadly, regardless of whether or not the funds raised were used in an unethical manner, the entire organization is tainted by the doping scandal.
The Lance Armstrong doping debacle affects more than just his Foundation, it effects donor confidence towards other organizations as well. After all, if a superstar athlete could turn out to be a fraud, how do you know other organizations won’t fall to scandal in a similar manner? There are thousands of legitimate, honest causes out there, though, and they need donations to thrive. Of course, huge organizations are not the only way to help those in need or support your favorite cause. Many smaller organizations and individuals work hard to raise money for a myriad of causes, ranging from cancer research to providing education to undeveloped nations to simply helping the neighbor who lost his home to a disaster.
How can you trust an online organization when scandals like this occur?
One of the easiest ways to support your favorite cause is to donate online. While fewer people carry cash or feel comfortable giving a check to a stranger, many have credit cards, bank cards, and other methods of donating online. Of course, that comes with a whole new set of trust issues, because it is very easy to get scammed or misled online.
Donating through a third-party organization that fully vets every cause on their site is one of the best ways to give to causes both large and small online. Having an unbiased platform in which to donate helps ensure that your funds are going to the cause that you want to support. Knowing that someone unrelated to the cause has taken the time to do the research for you can help increase your confidence and make it easier to help those in need.