Can we please have more non-profits that explicitly refrain from trying to do good?

At Oshkosh I attended a dinner for members of a “type club,” i.e., people who enjoy flying the same type of airplane. I had hoped for a talk about aviation. Maybe just someone in the club who had taken a trip to an unusual destination and had a slide show to share and a few stories. Instead, however, we were “entertained” with a PowerPoint regarding a new scholarship program that the type club had started and how we would all be better off if we donated money to this do-good cause. There were some children in the room and they were plainly not engaged by this righteous effort.

One of my favorite non-profits, on the other hand, is nearly 100 years old. The charter explicitly forbids the organization from trying to do good works. The purpose of the club is social/fellowship. Prices for gatherings are kept low so that few will be excluded due to lack of means. Nobody will feel bad that they can’t afford to donate $X to a worthy cause that is highlighted at a meeting (since a person who pitched that cause would be pitched out!).

Readers: What do you think? Do we need more non-profits that don’t try to justify themselves with attempts at charity or reform?

[Separately, a friend told me about an older rich guy who’d previously advised him “If it Flies, Floats, or F**ks, rent it.” The friend had been stunned to discover that the guy had agreed to a third marriage, after having previously been sued by Wife #1 and Wife #2. After going through all of that litigation, what was the rationale for not taking his own advice and renting? “[Johnny,]” said the old rich guy, a pillar of the non-profit in his home city, “you can’t take a hooker to a charity dinner.”

13 thoughts on “Can we please have more non-profits that explicitly refrain from trying to do good?

  1. >One of my favorite non-profits, on the other hand, is nearly 100 years old. The charter explicitly forbids the organization from trying to do good works.

    The best work is done by sticking to the discussion topic and explaining what they’re talking about, not pitching a scholarship. There are other ways to do that. Don’t bore the kids, talk about the planes.

  2. I wouldn’t legislate it by the way, but I would advise people at Oshkosh in the future that if they wanted to keynote a discussion, they should stick to the topic or ask for another topic to be included elsewhere. There are lots of ways to accompish that and people must always have freedom to choose.

  3. Instead of making everyone declare themselves a non profit to avoid income tax, what if the government just didn’t tax anyone?

    • I assume lion was suggesting a system of consumption and property taxation, as in countries that have no income tax.

    • @NoTaxesHmm

      Look, Tom Brady just put his $40 million dollar house on the market in Massachusetts. It’s the most expensive real estate listing in the Commonwealth. He’s anticipating the price falling and he’s trying to sell it before it loses half its value or more (that’s my conjecture.)

      https://patch.com/massachusetts/medford/s/gt4da/tom-brady-dont-read-into-house-going-on-market?utm_source=alert-breakingnews&utm_medium=email&utm_term=sports&utm_campaign=alert

      The recession isn’t coming, it’s already here, and what happens in the aftermath is now a completely open question. Joe Biden doesn’t know anything because nobody does. We’re going to wind up being in a war with Iran. We have open borders (all the Democrat candidates for President want them even more open, and one of them is going to win), a redistributive welfare state that keeps growing, fiscal discipline is an idea that nobody can even countenance, our economy is based on clicks and likes, casinos, porn and the rest. Our country outsources F-35 circuit boards to China. Millenials are deeper in debt that doesn’t create wealth than any other in history. Oh, and Hong Kong is finished. Anybody have a ticket to New Zealand? Can I get a free ride on one of Jeff Bezos’ rockets?

      2019 is the Year of the Earth Pig.

      Look, we’ve done all the wrong things for about 40 years now. At one point America was a promising country, people here still want to believe it will be again, but it won’t happen any time soon and between now and then, nobody knows what’s going to happen, because they’ve never seen it here before.

  4. Shouldn’t not-for-profits have a specific mission which fulfils a need for society?

    Wouldn’t that logically fill the gap during a charity drive? The mission is there because of the shared need.

    ‘Do good,’ isn’t specific enough.

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