Helping Ferguson, part 2

I talked before about the challenges in supporting causes like Ferguson, where the best work is being done spontaneously and you have very little information.  It turns out I do have a little bit of a connection- a good friend’s little brother goes to college in St. Louis, and he has a professor he considers a local expert on the subject of activism in St. Louis.  I realize that readers as smart and informed as my own will give “blogger’s friend’s little brother’s professor” very little weight as a source.  But sharing this information is better than not, so here it goes:

So after a bunch of back and forth with Bob Hansman, a professor here who is probably the person in St. Louis I trust the most to know how various charities affect people on the ground here, we decided that the best place to donate is the United Way of Greater St. Louis’s Ferguson Fund.

If you’re curious, I looked at various people on the ground and activist groups to see how to (or if we should) get them money. The problem was that many of these groups are not super active or transparent and that they advocate their own solutions to the complex issues at play here. For example, the most recent cause one of these groups organized for was a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers.

I wanted to send out a recommendation that was more broadly applicable. United Way seems to be pretty transparent and post a lot of updates on where this money is going. They also are supporting independent groups who are trying to figure out how to solve the problems in Ferguson, like the Ferguson Commission appointed by the governor. Hard not to get behind that.

I found this surprising.  United Way is often held up as everything that’s wrong with charity: a big, lumbering organization more concerned with their own status than the people they are helping.  And yet, they seem to be doing good work here, including supporting more nimble organizations.  I think I will be putting some money towards this.