I watched the insert on TV, dressed for the winter storms; expensive winter jackets, beautiful scarves and branded beanies! Snug as CEO bugs, the social scene that played out on a street, safe and secure, where they all came to meet!
In excess of R23 million was raised for Boys and Girls Town, one of the largest NPO’s focussing on childcare in South Africa. A worthy cause indeed.
I, however, had a chill running down my spine, watching the CEO SleepOut insert, the media report! CEO’s sleeping on the streets for one night, not even a glimpse of what it is truly like for a homeless person on the street . . . Will some of these funds be used to build shelters for the homeless, the people rejected by society? How many homeless people will reap the benefits of this social occasion that “mirrors” a night in a life of a homeless person?
This event, in no way highlighted the very REAL plight of the countless homeless people on our streets. The people we turn a blind eye to every day! A night on the streets offer NO safety, NO food, NO jovial chats with mates, NO warmth. I know this, I see it every day! The harsh realities of street life, being caught between the rights of all citizens and the social divide and lack of resources, funds and “suitable” land to address the need for shelters in ALL communities!
Can the CEO now “relate” to what it is like to live on the streets? NO! Can the CEO “relate” to the fears and human degradation of sleeping in the wet dark night? NO! Can they relate to needing to defecate at 3am, identifying the side of the road/the nearest bush as the only accessible toilet facilities? NO! Have they raised a significant amount of money? YES!
Will some of the funds raised go towards addressing the needs of the homeless persons on the streets? I DON’T KNOW! From what I’ve read, the SleepOut’s objective was not to create awareness of the homeless people on our street, but rather to create awareness of vulnerable children, some of whom may also be homeless, living on the streets.
The SleepOut marketing, however, creates the perception that the CEO’s are sleeping on the street to better understand the needs of people living on the streets. The need for Shelters in South Africa.
Did any of those CEO’s have to personally, find their own cardboard box, their bed for the night. No. Everything was branded and provided; safety, food and a dry place to sleep!
The REAL and GROWING challenge of homelessness was used as a CSI marketing exercised from which the corporate brands will continue to benefit for years to come, while many more people continue to die on our streets! Homeless people who are turned away from shelters – space, the demand far exceed the bed space available; some shelters only take males or females, some don’t take children, etc.
I don’t have a solution. I don’t want to take away from this fundraising initiative, it is a brilliant way to generate donations for a worthy cause! However, no matter how media and PR professionals spins it, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
The clips of jovial CEOs; lights, camera, action, smile! A stark contrast of the realities of street life, let’s “sleep under the stars”.
I don’t even know how to articulate my feelings about this SleepOut. I honestly don’t like the way this event was branded! WHY SHOULD IT EVEN BE AN EVENT! Sleeping on the streets is NOT an event, it is a SOCIAL TRAGEDY!
This morning I spoke to my dad about this, and he’s response “the bottom line is at least the CEOs tried to do something” So what have I done? Nothing, but blog, so who the hell am I to question the integrity of this CEO SleepOut?
More than R23 000 000 was raised for children, and that should count for something, right?
Will I regret publishing my thoughts on this? No. Will I get flack from you for voicing my thoughts? Maybe. Did this post provoke further thought on the CEO SleepOut and the plight of the homeless? I hope so.
8 thoughts on “Thoughts On The CEO SleepOut”
Well said. I completely agree.
Phew! Melanie, now I know that I’m not the only one.
Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes!
My feelings about this whole thing are so mixed. When I first saw the images on Facebook, I was enraged. How can these extremely privileged people think that what they are experiencing is homelessness. I think this kind of charity is like the ice bucket challenge. It’s “for the fun of it” and doesn’t really address the actual issue. Then I saw they had raised over 25million rand and I changed my mind. I worked as a Fundraiser before becoming a full time blogger and it is extremely hard to get money put towards worthy causes. So instead, I’m looking at the situation from the point of view that if that money changes something and maybe somehow opens the eyes of some of those CEO’s then there is even more chance that future change can happen then maybe it’s not all bad. I don’t agree with only throwing money at issues of poverty and inequality we have in this country but it would be naive to think that they don’t need money put towards them – money that is really hard to come by. So instead, I’m thinking about the silver lining of this ignorant and stupid event – the good that will come from it instead of the negative (which is very clearly what the PR person did not think through). Interesting post.
Jonelle, so true, there is a silver lining, the funds that were raised, but I can’t help but question whether some of those funds will at least go towards the homeless people (building a shelter), since the event “PR” clearly tried to “highlight” the plight of the person living on the streets.
I also worked as a Fundraiser many moons ago, and hear you on how challenging it is to secure funds for NPOs. It is quite a balancing act to maintain the integrity of the cause without exploiting it. I think perhaps, this was the fail of this event?
This CEO sleepout was a replica of what is held in other countries and is simply a way of raising money for a particular cause, in this case Boys and Girls Town. I don’t see it as any different to all the golf days, charity balls and other PR fundraisers which raise funds for specific causes. Yes, it was a well oiled PR machine and it is sad that it has to be this way. There is always the element of “what is in it for me?” Publicity/tax deductions etc.
I would have liked to see the funds coming from the CEOs personal funds. Less than 1 month’s income.
What is even worse is that less than half the funds raised at many of these events is donated to the charities. The rest gets swallowed up in costs.
You don’t see the poor or sick being invited to these events either.
I do believe that all these funds raised on this particular event was going to the Boys and Girls Town organisation. I could be wrong on this though.
We live in a sad society where the disparity between the haves and have nots is huge.
Thanks Trish. The difference between the other golf days and charity balls do not depict a night in the life of a homeless person sleeping on the streets. It is wonderful that so many millions were raised, but the event itself still leaves a bad taste in my mouth; a very real social issue has been exploited here. I know my reaction to this would be very different if the CEOs weren’t fed, didn’t pose with steaming hot coffees, dressed for the winter chill, branded boxes to sleep on, etc. It was a corporate camp out on secured streets. Yikes, I should stop now; R25 000 000 was raised, and it will benefit children in need.