Thursday, February 18, 2010

Give generously...and meaningfully!

We all know about the disaster that took place in Haiti in January when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the country killing 200,000 people and rendering at least a million people homeless. I must really commend the people that are on the ground in Haiti right now helping out with reconstruction, tending to the injured and needy etc. I firmly believe in humanity and that people come through for you in the time of need. In cases like the Haiti disaster, nuances of human empathy and generosity were clearly evident with online and offline NGOs reporting a record a number of donations worldwide.

Of course, for every right, there is a wrong as I like to remind people some times. In this case, there are a certain bunch of people who exploit the situation to make the most of it. My gripe in Kuwait is that although many organizations across the country have volunteered to help the Haitians by collection/donation drives etc, it appears that most of the organizations are doing this solely because it is the "in" thing to do. They're doing it because George Clooney and his friends are doing it and they think it's cool if Hollywood stars do it. They’re doing it because corporate social responsibility is a big thing nowadays especially among the corporate elite and it is compulsory for large companies to adopt CSR practices.

The point I am trying to make is; it's easy to lose sight of the big picture when you think of petty gain. What's more important is that the people who really need the money and aid get it before it is too late.

So I say to all you people who want to have a fancy looking collection box outside your reception areas, do not do it because it may impress visitors to your company; do it because someone, somewhere needs your help! Make sure you announce the drive within the company and your network of contacts. Make sure someone monitors what is collected and finally make sure that the collections no matter how large or meager are sent to the NGO you’re dealing with.

After all, what good is the effort if the end benefactors don’t benefit?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Annoying Online Promotion

Have you received an email from "President Nelson Mandela" at "S.A. 2010 WORLD CUP PROMOTION" saying you won their promotion or lottery promo and to contact "MR.OWEN DOUGLAS" to collect your winnings? It is a scam. And don't get too excited if the names are different; the scammers make many versions of this scam!
It is actually a very simple scam. They claim you won a promotion, which is giving away millions of dollars based on a randomly selected email address. The scam is obvious: it's simply preposterous to think that any company would randomly give away money to encourage you to buy their product. That would be self-defeating.
There are many other signs that this is a fraud that we have highlighted in the email below, not the least of which are:
- Email address ballot: There is no such thing as a "computer ballot system" or "computer email draw". No one, not even Microsoft has a database of email addresses of the type or magnitude they suggest.
- Terrible spelling, punctuation, syntax and grammar - Scammers apparently don't know how to use spell checkers. I assume they dropped out of school before that class. They use almost random CapItaLiZAtion and often can't even spell "February" or know that "22th" ought to be "22nd". These scammers usually write at the 3rd grade level.
- Using a free email account: The scammer is writing to you from a FREE email account (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.). Don't you think a real organization would use its own email, its own domain and website? Wouldn't they want to promote that?
- What are they promoting? No one promotes "world peace" or "use of the internet" by handing out millions to random strangers. And if they are promoting a product, then this must be the world's worst promotion, because no one has heard of it, outside of the email you just received.
- Pay a fee to collect the prize: Nope, it is illegal for free sweepstakes and promotions to charge you ANYTHING! Of course, in a scam, that is the whole point: to get you to send money to the scammer

So if any one of you receives this kind of email asking them to be a part of the promotion, you know what to do.