Part III: George Washington and the Payoff


George Washington and the American Dollar We’ve looked at George Washington and the notion of foreign aid and came to this conclusion: Foreign aid is not about foreigners. Most often foreign aid is about the people and the nation that delivers the aid. We can see this in history and I’ve tried to show as much.

But is there something wrong with this with getting back something in return? At First Things Foundation our answer is an unequivocal no. There is nothing wrong with getting back when you give. True giving always comes with a payoff for the giver. If that upsets you or seems wrong I’d say you haven’t thought this through. I’d also add that you are a little naive.

The real question people in the “business” of aid must ask themselves is what kind of payoff do you seek? Look, you are going to get a payoff no matter what, so you might as well figure out what type of payoff is the right kind of payoff.

Is it monetary? In an earlier post I mentioned that there are some pretty nice cash payoffs in the development game. 1k a day! Cha-ching!

Is it political, like say, a brand new oil drilling contract in Iraq?

Is it prestige? Are you hoping your gift will bring you in contact with the cool people? This kind of thing happens a lot, just ask The Donald.

What if you give because your lost? What if your payoff is to be found? Is that okay? What if the reason you give has everything to do with theosis- becoming one with God? Too heavy?

Here’s a list of five people who are giving themselves and their money to various causes concerning poverty:

Fr. Themi Adamopolous Kathleen Colson Dr. Tom Catena Vincent Pannizzo Tsige Gobezie

We believe these people have the payoff right. Notice that some of them are “religious” people and some of them are not (I’ll use a future blog to explain the quotation marks around the word religious... ugh). Two of them are friends of FTF overseas.

We believe that all of them have a chance at true development because all of them have figured out that the best kind of payoff is the one that transforms the gift giver as much, if not more than, the gifted.

George Washington and just about every other president until JFK decided it might be better to skip development gifts to Africa and “the heathen nations.” In some ways we respect that. In some ways a gift withheld may be better than the payoff of a gift given.

May all of us who aim to help others think hard about the payoff.

BlogJohn HeersComment