Suppose the request is referred to the manager of the board of this denomination, and it transpires that there are many good reasons why a new hospital is not badly needed at this point, and by a little good management the need of this missionary can be met by another hospital in its neighbourhood; whereas another missionary in another place has no such possibility for any hospital facilities whatever. There is no question that the money should be spent in the place last named. These conditions the managers of all the mission stations know, although perhaps the one who is giving the money never heard of them, and in my judgment he is wise in not acting until he has consulted these men of larger information.
It is interesting to follow the mental processes that some excellent souls go through to cloud their consciences when they consider what their duty actually is. For instance, one man says: “I do not believe in giving money to street beggars.” I agree with him, I do not believe in the practice either; but that is not a reason why one should be exempt from doing something to help the situation represented by the street beggar. Because one does not yield to the importunities of such people is exactly the reason one should join and uphold the charity organization societies of one’s own locality, which deal justly and humanely with this class, separating the worthy from the unworthy.
Another says: “I don’t give to such and such a board, because I have read that of the money given only half or less actually gets to the person needing help.” This is often not a true statement of fact, as proved again and again, and even if it were true in part it does not relieve the possible giver from the duty of helping to make the organization more efficient. By no possible chance is it a valid excuse for closing up one’s pocketbook and dismissing the whole subject from one’s mind.
Surely it is wise to be careful not to duplicate effort and not to inaugurate new charities in fields already covered, but rather to strengthen and perfect those already at work. There is a great deal of rivalry and a vast amount of duplication, and one of the most difficult things in giving is to ascertain when the field is fully covered. Many people simply consider whether the institution to which they are giving is thoughtfully and well managed, without stopping to discover whether the field is not already occupied by others; and for this reason one ought not to investigate a single institution by itself, but always in its relation to all similar institutions in the territory. Here is a case in point:
A number of enthusiastic people had a plan for founding an orphan asylum which was to be conducted by one of our strongest religious denominations. The raising of the necessary funds was begun, and among the people who were asked to subscribe was a man who always made it a practice to study the situation carefully before committing himself to a contribution. He asked one of the promoters of the new institution how many beds the present asylums serving this community provided, how efficient they were, where located, and what particular class of institution was lacking in the community.