Contributions to Other Causes and Other Parties

 

I am frequently approached by others for contributions.  Obviously, many organizations focusing on human rights or fighting discrimination request contributions, and I have often supported them. Sometimes filmmakers ask me for investment or for contributions also. I wanted to state where I am with all of this.

 

Having “retired” at the end of 2001, I have much less income than I used to, and I have to be very careful with spending. At one time, for example, I was a Patriot Circle member for SLDN (Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network).

 

If I were to find more lucrative employment again or substantially increase my income, of course I would be interested in helping these organizations in a greater manner again. This raises a touchy point, however.

 

Many employment scenarios could force me to stop my own self-publishing and expressive activities (books and the Web), which have been very effective in communicating certain kinds of comprehensive political arguments. I have been my own voice until now, but in some more senior employment scenarios I would not be able to speak publicly for myself any longer. In an environment where I had relinquished my former speech rights, I would not feel very comfortable with the idea that another organization could represent me. I say this understanding well that this is how a lot of lobbying and politicking works. Most people pay someone else to speak for them and represent their interests (and particularly of their families). (I’ve even heard well-intended organizations demand, “Give more than you can afford!”, especially at convention center dinners where they pass the hat after the dessert course.) I am not willing to do that.

 

Therefore, in some scenarios, my ability to contribute to major organizations would still be compromised. I think SLDN would be the first to keep my loyalty, considering what issue got me into this. Generally, I would not get involved in publicly raising money for other causes (I can see being a table captain in some cases). I have worked once in “development” (calling for contributions to the Guaranty Fund for a symphony orchestra’s education programs) and I am somewhat familiar with the public side of the business.

 

Some employment could involve union membership. I would join a union if required by law or preferred by the employer, but I would not become involved in union activity.

 

It is common for artists and filmmakers to request contributions from others, especially for not-for-profit ventures related to civil rights. Let me first say that I have not done that. I would be more interested in finding investors for the film projects that I anticipate. I would want to sell the idea that intellectually mature content can actually make money, and that is indeed a challenge in today’s culture. However, sometimes non-profit filmmakers request contributions because larger 401C3 organizations make grants partly based on the contributions that they can collect, and grantors may take into account the number of different contributors (as evidence of widespread public interest in a particular problem to be shown in film) as well as the total amount.  That presents a legitimate need for fundraising.

 

As a general rule, I would be more interested in merging of interests to attract investors than in making significant contributions just because they are needed. Where this becomes touchy with me would be if I am no longer able to control my own presence in public (as through the Internet) because of an employment conflict of interest. Again, someone else’s project probably cannot speak for me. I would add that I was approached to invest in (not just contribute) a very interesting short film in 2001. I declined, but partly because of the confusion around 9/11.  The film was successful.

 

The tone of this discussion emphasizes my insistence in choosing goals chosen by me. That seems to be a luxury in the minds of a lot of people, who in a practical world must serve goals mapped out by others in order to meet their needs.

 

Note on free content (discusses employment issues further)

 

Return to special topics

Return to home page