NROP: Money runs the world. Who decides what to spend it on?

If you are a Christian, last week might not have been your favorite. Chances are that even if you are not religious, the past week might have proven difficult. The (Holy) Week started with the Notre – Dame fire and ended with terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.

The death toll in the attacks on Sri Lanka has now reached 290 people…

After taking a moment of silence, I would like to talk today about money. 

As soon as the flames of the cathedral’s fire were extinguished (or maybe even sooner), millions of dollars were pledged for the rebuilding of the damaged building. First, it was Salma Hayek’s husband – François-Henri Pinault, who pledged 100 million euros ($112 million). Soon after, Bernard Arnault vowed to give twice the amount Pinault donated. The Bettencourt Meyers family matched Arnault’s pledge, and Patrick Pouyanne matched Pinault’s donation.

That is 600 million euros from 4 people/ families. I am aware of the difference in wealth between an average Joe, and the rich, but such events just remind you how distant their reality is from ours. If you were to ask me what I would do with such an amount of money, chances are I would not know what to do with a big chunk of it. And somewhere out there, some people see it as an amount they can donate. What?

Suddenly, a couple of dollars to a homeless person here and there does not seem so noble anymore.

Such numbers did not spark any jealousy in me. They just reminded me of the rift between them and myself. Between their lifestyles and mine. However, it did not depress me. It just shook me back into reality. Life is not fair. Some will always have more than others. I am grateful for what I have.

Notre – Dame (translation: Our Lady) is a medieval cathedral, which was placed on UNESCO’s world heritage list in the year of 1991. It is the symbol of French history and culture. A prime example of Gothic architecture. Its construction started in the year of 1160 and was mostly completed a hundred years later. it got desecrated during the final years of the 18th century during the French Revolution. It was rebuilt in the following century.

It is too early to know how much money will be needed to rebuild such an iconic building. However, I somehow feel that there will not be any issues with fundraising. The Venice Opera House needed 60 million euros to reopen eight years after a fire. The Windsor Castle needed almost fifty million dollars to open five years after the fire[1].

Because it shocked me to see how quickly the money came pouring in for Notre – Dame, I knew that it would cause some friction in the world. Before I knew it, people started complaining about the cause for the donations. All of a sudden, different groups came out with their own goals in need of donations.

The “Yellow Vesters” speak the loudest. It is a group of demonstrators protesting against France’s economic trends and social inequality. They have been taking it to the streets since November of last year. Even though they say they are impressed by the solidarity illustrated by pledges to Notre – Dame, they are also very disillusioned with the inequality and lack of fairness. The pledges show that there IS money to help.

“In just a few hours today, 650 million euros was donated to rebuild Notre – Dame,” South Africa-based journalist Simon Allison tweeted. “In six months, just 15 million euros has been pledged to restore Brazil’s National Museum. [2]” The disparity is tremendous. The reality, however, is that we will always be more worried about our own neighborhood than that of a different continent. Of course, French businessmen will spend more on their own country than on a place they have no sentiment towards. It might sound cold, but that is human nature – taking care of ourselves and our own first.

Many people asked why poor people are not being helped with similar zeal that Notre – Dame is. Some feel like the money should be directed towards reversing, or halting climate change. I think the Culture Minister – Franck Riester summed it up nicely: “of course, there is need elsewhere […]. But Notre Dame is not only a collection of old stones. It’s a part of our identity.”

The theory of effective altruism urges us to look at three factors when considering donating money:

  1. importance (to affect many if a big way)
  2. easy to control (your input will have an impact)
  3. not too popular (when not many others donate)

However, the truth is that our pledges are governed by a multitude of things. Chances are you are donating to a specific organization, because they helped you and your family, or YOU hope to help someone and their families because you could not help your own. We give towards something we are passionate about. And that passion can be seen in different aspects of our lives.

Ultimately, how would you feel if someone told you what to spend your money on? I know I would not like it. And although I think some money would be better spent somewhere else, I cannot fathom spending other people’s money. Their money, their pledges. Whether I like it, or not.

Did you know that there are bees living on the roof of Notre – Dame? They survived the fire and are expected to recover.

How do you decide where to donate your money?

Have you been to Notre – Dame?

Stay golden,



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29 thoughts on “NROP: Money runs the world. Who decides what to spend it on?

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  1. When I read the title and your first sentence, I immediately concluded that you were referring to April 15 – Tax Day. Yes, someone IS telling us where our dollars are being spent.
    I have three criteria for giving:
    1. It must advance the gospel. Otherwise we’re just making people more comfortable on their way to hell. (Excuse the bluntness.)
    2. It should help people to get out of whatever pit they are in and eventually be able to help themselves. I am not as likely to give to a charity that just hands out food as I am to support an organization that trains farmers and helps the poor to start their own businesses.
    3. I look for organizations that can do the most with what I give them. So far the best investment I’ve found in Compassion International. I can sponsor a child (provide food, education, school uniform, books, medical care, spiritual training, and translation of our letters) for about $1.50 per day.

    PS There is an independent organization called the ECFA (Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability) that researches how responsibly ministries spend their money. I always look for their seal of approval on any fund-raising letter I get before even considering a gift.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Agree, everyone has the right to decide how best to spend their own money. I thought it was a great thing that people were so quick to pledge money to re-build the Notre Dame Cathedral; this is a piece of history, culture and art that can be enjoyed by many generations of people well into the future. To me, the arts are the pinnacle of human creativity and culture. The arts and preserving the natural world are the two most worthwhile things I can think of to spend money on. Without the arts, we as human beings are nothing. Without the natural world, we as humans cannot survive. So I can see why these very rich people decided to give their money to an artistic endeavour rather than to the rioting ‘yellow vesters’. I can only hope that people in the fortunate position of having huge amounts of money would also donate to helping preserve the natural world as well…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A great point regarding art and culture. I think that’s exactly what those who pledged so much money thought about. It actually warms my heart that with today’s trends in art (selfies), some still appreciate the real deal.
      And we definitely need to preserve our natural world as well.


  3. Mark 12:41-44 New International Version (NIV)

    The Widow’s Offering

    41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

    43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

    A few dollars to a homeless person may be a greater gift than the millions that others give.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hello Goldie, I enjoyed this post and had similar thought process as yours. You summed it up nicely.

    —“And somewhere out there, some people see it as an amount they can donate.” I thought about this as well. Here I am, working towards just attaining financial freedom and there are people who can donate 100s of millions. No jealousy here, just a jolt of realizing the reality of the world we live in.

    To answer your questions:
    – i never donate to big institutions that I know are going to have operating expenses and most of that will go towards paying someones salaries. I personally like to just give someone that is working for example as a construction jobs or parking attendant or waiter/waitresses a few bucks here and there often not as to make it seem like a donation but more like “here’s a few bucks for you to get some coffee.” They can do with it as they please but the point is to give directly to someone I believe needs it.

    – Yes, I have been to Notre Dame. Just last year actually. It was beautiful and it is a big part of Paris’s identity and their national pride.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Regarding the institutions and how much they spend on “operating expenses,” etc. – This is why I shared about the ECFA (Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability). They do the research for you, and only give their seal of approval on organizations that spend responsibly.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Well said. Too many people seem to think that the public should have access to pocketbooks larger than their own. It’s too easy to judge those better off than us as being uncaring because they don’t put their dollars where we think they should. The money any of us make is ours to do with as we see fit – period. That doesn’t change whether you make $20K, $200K or $2MM per year.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have no money to donate. When I did, it was to a few charities that had admin. fees below 10%…Texas Maps, Peregrine Foundation, Service Dogs and Operation Homefront. If I hand it over, you better show me where it goes.

    I have no control over the IRS rape.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I believe it’s all about the impact our money can make. If I donate to Notre-Dame and I watch the cathedral being rebuilt, I see the result. If I give my money to the poor children or to homeless people and I see that they’re still poor or homeless, it discourages me to give money as I know the problem isn’t solved. If I could see my money make a difference somewhere or change someone’s life, probably I would give more and more. As I don’t see what is going on with the money I gave, I doubt if they’re used for the purpose they meant to be spent.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “Life is the Best Coach,” that’s what I love about Compassion International. I get a report once a year on how each of the children I sponsor is doing, and I get letters written by the children themselves several times a year, with translations and photos, sometimes pictures the kids drew for me. ❤ They even have trips where sponsors can go see their kids, but I can't bring myself to spend the money for the trips, when for just $43/month I can fully support the child.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I give to my church and to Compassion International. The older I get, the less money means to me. The thing that makes one rich isn’t money. To me, the loss in Sri Lanka far outweighs the loss in Paris. One cannot place a value on even 1 human life.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi there! I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award and would love for you to take part, if you’re interested. Either way, thanks for always being a source inspiration and interesting new ideas for me in the blogosphere. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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