It’s official, the 500 finalists for Toyota’s “Cars for Good” program have been selected. The list of finalists will be posted in Toyota’s Facebook account next week. Not surprisingly, Alpha didn’t make the list.
The give-away is commendable, and was billed by Toyota as being help “… for do-gooders who really need a new set of wheels…” But the list of finalists doesn’t include small, struggling agencies like ours who actually help people at the ground level, and do so without government or foundation funding. As far as I can determine, Alpha Mobility Mission is the only registered 501-c-3 Public Charity operating in the US which provides financial and logistic support to disabled and disadvantaged travelers… who could use a “new set of wheels” more than a charity which has as it’s mission the transporting at no cost of disabled and disadvantaged Americans?
The list does include huge multi-million dollar charities who do receive grants from the government and private foundations… is it really going to make a huge difference to the poor in my community if there’s one more “staff vehicle” in that fleet? Nope. Would it have made a difference to us? Oh, yes! We pay third-party providers because we don’t have a single “company car” right now and of course we can’t borrow a quarter from the bank to call the fire department if our office was burning down (ok, weak, but you get the drift). I mean, are there really 500 charities in the US who transport homeless people to be nearer supportive families? I haven’t heard of them. The rules of this contest included things like, the vehicle cannot be sold off or raffled, and must be used in the direct fulfillment of the charities’ mission… is having a car to go get the mail more within the scope of “direct fulfillment” than having a vehicle to take a blind senior to get her weekly meds (at no charge)? Ah, well, as I mentioned in previous posts, the world of philanthropy seems no different than standard business with it’s politics and buddy-system. Maybe we weren’t viewed as being able to generate enough “good press” or something, I don’t know. But under the guidelines that Toyota published as their criterion for this give-away, we should have been among the top 50, and didn’t make the top 500. Another reality check.
The Red Cross and the Salvation Army refer people to us every day for help that they themselves don’t provide, yet we don’t receive even a tiny percentage of the grants and donations those organizations take in every year… they do good, of course, but a huge amount of donated funds go to administrative costs. (Parenthetically, we actually haven’t received a single grant yet except the “in kind” marketing grant from Google which we deeply appreciate, and private donations for 2010 totaled less than $5k… we spent nearly $30k, so you can see our dilemma.) There’s an agency here where I live which has several handicap vans just sitting in their parking lot which they don’t even use, but they have to keep them in inventory otherwise they’ll have their grant money reduced. (I know, right?) I know of one charity right off the top of my head, in which the CEO pays himself a $2.3 million salary ( I haven’t drawn a salary since last September, and even when we DO have payroll mine is about the same as I made driving trucks for the past however many years). No wonder charities in America have such a bad reputation.
Let me finish with these two thoughts: First, I don’t want anyone to think I don’t support other charities. In the same way that every player on the team is happy for the MVP, I’m glad Toyota chose to recognize the efforts in this economy of “do-gooders”, and wish the finalists good luck as they “compete” for the cars (500 finalists, 100 cars, you do the math); Secondly, yeah, I’m being whiny-bitchy but that’s what blogs are for…. but DO NOT send me a million emails dragging me over the tracks for being somehow anti-philanthropic. Just letting off a little steam… now I have to get back to work, trying to figure out how to turn copper into gold (all I have left is pennies lol)… Einstein was right: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than everybody else.”
Starting May 9, go to Toyota’s Facebook page and select “Cars for Good”, and vote for your favorite or most deserving charity. There will be 5 per day, the top vote-getter wins a car, the other 4 receive a small cash award. And if there is even a tiny bit of “awww, poor baby” for us in your heart, go be our friends and vote for us (donations not required but appreciated), by visiting our website at: