Problem Management โ€” examples

Sometimes solutions to problems are counter-intuitive. Sometimes it is best to do something that seems bad in order to achieve good. Or is it?

One example of this is the way in which many charities raise funds. From a larger perspective, what they do seems bad, but from their view and for their purposes, it is good.

Suppose a charitable organization has a yearly fund-raising drive. Hundreds of volunteers spend countless hours soliciting donations, and each year they raise about $25,000.

Now suppose someone makes them an offer: forget about your yearly drive, tell your volunteers to do something more useful with their time, and let us raise your money for you. We'll pay you $50,000 a year, twice what you collect now, if you simply give us the right to collect in your name.

The offer seems too good to refuse, so most organizations accept it. And it is legitimate; each year they receive the money as promised.

It's a good deal for the fund-raising organization too. Using the charity's name they can collect far more than $50,000 each year, the excess being their profit.

Viewed from outside, the situation seems bad: people are willing to donate maybe a hundred thousand dollars to this particular charity, but only half that actually goes to it. But from the charity's view it is good: they now get twice as much money as before, and without having to do any work.

Similarly, candy machines bear labels indicating that a portion of the proceeds goes to charity X. This does not mean that the more you buy the more they get; the charity simply gets a flat rate (typically 50ยข a month per machine head) for allowing the vendors to use their name.

The worst examples are those that have open boxes of after-dinner mints in restaurants (as opposed to coin-operated machines that take exactly a quarter per purchase). Many patrons believe that they are giving to charity and leave more than the suggested price.

But you shouldn't blame the individual vending machine operators. They often have to work hard to make only a little money, having to cover the cost of supplies, driving, repairs to machines, etc. It's the charities and the people that sell the vending machine businesses to the private vendors that have the sure deal.