How do I explain this in simple terms?
June 22, 2012 1:40 PM Subscribe
Please help me either articulate why a certain position is unethical - or help me understand how I am wrong. Is it right to charge someone more for a service based on their
success in monetizing that service?
posted by Tennyson D'San to work & money (37 answers total)
I run (Executive Director) a charitable organization that hosts events. For the sake of anonymity I'm just going to label it a "Community Center." We have lots of big rooms and many community groups meet at our community center.
One of the groups is a bridge club.
When the bridge club first approached our community center, they offered to handle set up, tear down, and room maintenance entirely on their own. They meet in an otherwise unused room, at a time when the building is unlocked and "open for business." They have a spotless track record as a guest of our community center (set up on time, tear down on time, the room is totally spotless.) They are a model community organization and since they have basically no footprint in our community center I decided not to charge them anything. I feel that it's good for our community center for the bridge-playing-community-members to feel welcome here. This has been the status quo for 12 months now. All is calm and quiet. Bridge club is wildly popular, fifty or so of them gather weekly. They make a nominal donation to the community center - $100 a year.
Until about two weeks ago, when the members of the board of directors for our community center discovered that the director of the bridge club was collecting a $5 donation from each player, each week. The money is used to underwrite various bridge-related outings, field trips, that sort of thing. (It is not a for-profit, private enterprise.)
At our recent board of directors meeting, a few of the board members demanded that we beginning charging the bridge club rent. When I asked why, they said that it's because they're "earning" $1000 a month so "they can afford it."
I said "no" to that and there was a small spat. "They're raising $1000 a month using our facility! It's not like it would hurt their business. We need the money. We can't just go giving space away."
I again said "no" and when pressed as to why I just said that "it's not right to just start charging someone because you know their finances."
I feel it is unethical to charge somebody the use of a community good simply because you've learned that they can afford to pay for it. I can't quite figure out how to articulate this in a very simple, straightforward way. The bridge club - who has no reason to expect us to change the rules on them - is rapidly being made into a nefarious, capitalist bugaboo.
In my opinion, the bridge club shouldn't be financially punished just because they found a good way to raise some funds for their organization. We wouldn't do that to the girlscouts if they had a bumper year on cookie sales.
Is there a simple way to explain this sort of thing? I think it is related to avarice. How can I explain to my board of directors that it isn't fair or just to start charging rent (even though we technically could) based on another organization's success or failure?
(Perhaps, however, I am totally wrong and we should raise the rent from basically $100/year to something more substantial since the bridge club can actually afford it.)