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Attention nonprofits: What NOT to do

November 22, 2008

Never turn away a donor because he wears a turban – check out the story here. 31015-turban_charity-400x300

Gary Khera was trying to make a donation to the Union Mission, a Christian homeless shelter, when his check was refused because he would not take off his turban in the mission’s office. Gary is (a U.S. citizen and) Sikh, you see, so religious beliefs prevented him from removing the turban. Gary had made donations to the mission before, but had always mailed his check. This year, he wanted to “see where his donation was going.” All I can say is the mission should be ashamed of itself.

As you’ll see in several of the reports on our Resources page, religion often plays a role for South Asians in deciding where to give… but I imagine it’s rare for religion to play a role in where we are barred from giving.

What do you all think? Where should Gary give his money? And what role should religious affiliation play in accepting donations – or for that matter, hiring employees or engaging volunteers?

(Hat tip to Seth…)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. sendhil permalink
    November 24, 2008 11:34 pm

    An entirely non-South Asian, but similar situation (involving another Gary, as it happens) occurred recently when a major gamers’ convention tried to donate to the Christian Children’s Fund and was apparently rebuffed (though the story is perhaps a little more complicated than just that; see here and here for details).

    I hesitate to say that a charity should accept any donation, regardless of the affiliation of the donor, but these two refusals both strike me as quite unwise.

  2. November 25, 2008 2:48 pm

    I totally agree that charities should not be forced to accept all donations – these are two great case studies of when the donor’s affiliation matters. We’ve all heard of charities that refuse tobacco money, but I think that rejection based on religious affiliation – or D&D affiliation – is more a sign of prejudice than principle. Great post – thanks!

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