2019 Grateful 31: Community Involvement

If I ever got to have a dinner with the dead, one of my invites would go to the economist Milton Friedman. His 1970 essay for the New York Times The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits – would make a fascinating discussion over the roast lamb entrée.  Friedman has said (and said repeatedly)

There is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.

At my dinner, I’d be arguing in favour of corporate social responsibility (or even corporate social opportunity) and Friedman would be asking me:

What does it mean to say that “business” has responsibilities? Only people have responsibilities. A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but “business” as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense.

And we’d go around the houses because I think the world would be a better place if companies (big and small) got a little more involved in their communities. Indeed, people (big or small) could well do the same. I’d like to think that he’d stay for dessert, but who knows.

Speaking of community involvement, the boys at 6:3 borozó are giving me another reason to like what they’re at over there. Last month it was a fab wine tasting with fresh Hungarian wines. This month it’s getting wet for the good of the locality. Not me. Them.

Andy and Martin are taking part in a swimathon this coming Sunday, 16th June at Kőér utca baths. It’s a sponsored event with all proceeds going to support social projects in Ferencváros, Budapest’s IX district, 6:3 Borozo’s neighbourhood. The lads are swimming to raise money for FIX Pont, whose goal is to connect local private donors, SMEs, and large companies to the local NGOs and communities as well as help local NGOs and communities with their projects for the betterment of the Ferencváros people.

Sponsored runs, sponsored swims, sponsored head-shaves – these are all an innate part of the Irish fundraising scene. Not a week goes by without someone at home asking for donations for some worthy cause they’re doing something for. But this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this in Hungary. They call it ambassador fundraising. Those doing the sponsored swim, i.e. Martin and Andy, are ambassadors for the programme. They tell their mates and punters about it, raise the money, do the swim, and everyone wins. They get the exercise and that sense of doing something worthwhile; those of us who sponsor them get that ‘did well’ feeling that comes with contributing to a worthy cause while enjoying another summer fröccs; and the community benefits from having more resources to do more good. 

So far the swimathon campaigns have raised 41 million HUF for 17 different communities – not bad for a country new to sponsorship. And the organisers seem to know what they’re doing by adopting fundraising methods already tested abroad. I make a habit of checking charity patrons to see who else is supporting their efforts – my sort of due diligence. The Péter Zwack Memorial Fund was all the reference I needed.

The aim of our Foundation is to mobilize people living in Ferencváros, workers, learners, and those connected to the city district for a liveable, lovable district, for the betterment of the locals and for strengthening their common identity. Our main tasks over the past 8 years since 2011 include fundraising from local private individuals and business partners, support distribution to local civilians, and community empowerment events through our own programs and the national adaptation of successful community donation programs worldwide.

It’s not my district. I’m not one of the locals. But it is home to my local when I’m in Budapest and that’s enough reason for me to support the swimathon. I’m grateful that someone is out there is doing some good while I’m chained to my cherries. It’s nice to see social responsibility’s alive and well in District IX.

G’wan the boys!

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