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The dark side of non-profit TV

The story of Malika Chalhy, the girl expelled from home because she is a lesbian who has raised 140 thousand euros opens a disturbing window on the world of charitable donations that proliferate on TV. From support for malnourished children to help for the homeless, from safeguarding dozens of endangered species to saving abandoned villages, what lies behind the wave of solidarity?

By Gianfranco Gatta

The recent story of Malika Chalhy, the girl from Castelfiorentino expelled from home by her family because she is a lesbian opens a window, in its own way disturbing, on the world of donations for charity.

The girl collects solidarity funds for a total of about 140 thousand euros, part of which she had assured that she would in turn give them to charity but she saw fit to buy a Mercedes. 

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Un post condiviso da MC (@malikachalhy)

Already the fundraising campaign by the Civil Protection, in the first months of the pandemic, was judged inappropriate, if not scandalous by the whole population: “But as we are in total lockdown, no one or almost no one works, the State must support us instead do you ask us for money as a contribution?”.

In fact it was stinging to see those commercials, which were withdrawn after a month.

An autogoal due to a bulimia of fundraising campaigns that for a couple of years has been raging in all the national networks, by non-profit humanitarian associations.

To plan a fundraiser it takes from three to five months, the time to find agreements with telephone operators, to open the various iban with multiple credit institutions, to quantify the related commissions and in addition, to prepare the commercials, find the testimonials , spread advertising on televisions and print media.

Rai must pass the scrutiny of a strict structure, called the Social Secretariat, which checks the seriousness of the operation before giving the authorization.

All these non-profit associations are registered in a Register that proves their business name but not necessarily their seriousness; a bit like the companies that distil grappa, all of them have the permanent presence of the Guardia di Finanza to which you must contact when you want to go to the storage cellars of the barrels.

The presence of the financier serves to check that the alcohol content is not altered, because the Utif tax is paid based on the alcoholic strength of the product; but there is no obstacle to not serious companies from altering grappa with toxic substances, such as methanol. Due to bureaucratic practice, the Guardia di Finanza has no control over sophistication.

In this new marketing trend aimed at asking for charity, it is clear, there is nothing illegal indeed it is a necessary help that makes up for a structural gap in Italian research towards other countries, especially Anglo-Saxons, which benefit from a total tax deduction for contributions to universities and research.

We have legislation that regulates the 2, 5 and 8 per thousand depending on the categories, which is decidedly insufficient.

The fact remains that the continuous bombardment, where a commercial in question is presented in every advertising block during the day, in the end irritates the viewer who is not well disposed to witness this commodification of pain; it is a strategy that risks being counterproductive.

Now there is everything: from confessions to the search for rare diseases, from support for malnourished children to help for the homeless, from safeguarding dozens of endangered species to saving abandoned villages.

A continuous request for money that can be donated in various ways: testamentary bequests, the aforementioned 2 5 8 per thousand, 9 euros per month, 10 euros one-off, up to just the toll-free number to call.

“Thinking badly makes you sin but often you get it right”, said the wise man, so it is reasonable to assume that in the midst of such a flock there is a black sheep that takes advantage of the good faith and generosity of the public at home.

How many cases of fake gas and electricity collectors who cheat the elderly, have we read in the news? The next question is: who is responsible for checking the seriousness and correctness of all these requests for money?

And again: are the media and their advertising agencies complicit or do they still have legal responsibilities in the event of proven intent?

Because, returning to the example above, it is one thing to produce grappa and another to sophisticate alcohol.