A note from the World Bible Society  advises us of two new affiliates, one dedicated to supplying anti-malarial bednets and one to providing personal water-purifying straws.  But the Nonprofiteer isn’t inclined to support either one because the World Bible Society is in the business of conducting Christian ministry and conversion throughout the world, an activity the Nonprofiteer regards as equal parts wasteful and culturally intrusive.

UNICEF supplies bednets and water purification services without those drawbacks; but perhaps people whose interest is in evangelism wouldn’t be moved to assist poor people without exacting a pound of conversion in return.

Which raises another, larger question: when we see that a huge hunk of individual donations goes to religious organizations, should we celebrate because religious organizations provide social services or mourn because they do so inefficiently, that is, only after siphoning off x percent of what’s given for the operation of the church?  Is that any worse than a secular nonprofit’s siphoning off operating expenses from its donations?

Or any better?

Regardless: pure water and bednets are a good idea.  If you’d like to supply yours with a side of Bibles, contact the World Bible Society; otherwise, UNICEF will be happy to direct your money so it provides clean water and malaria-free sleep to the maximum number of people worldwide.

imageKelly Kleiman, who blogs as The Nonprofiteer, is a lawyer and freelance journalist whose reportage and essays about the arts, philanthropy and women’s issues have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and other dailies; in magazines including In These Times and Chicago Philanthropy; and on websites including Aislesay.com and Artscope.net.