Guest Post: Why I’d rather give to Leisure Suit Larry than to charity

Guest post by Prashan Paramanathan

It was the mid-90s and personal computers were starting to find their way into every home. Dial up modems were still screeching and the Y2K bug lay on our doorstep, ready to destroy all that was good. Our family had just got its first PC (with its top-of-the-class 128MB hard drive) and I, the typical 13 year old boy, was just discovering computer games.

Adventure games were the hot genre of the time and alongside Police Quest, Hugo's House of Horrors and Bubble Bobble, stood - I'm a little embarrassed to say - Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of Lounge Lizzards. Larry was a dodgy, balding 40-something lovable-loser type in Las Vegas and you were trying to help him pick up. It was more comical than raunchy.

Larry has lain dormant for well over a decade now, so I was more than a little surprised when he re-emerged a few weeks ago on Kickstarter, a US-based crowd funding site. The creator of the Larry series, Al Lowe, was looking to raise $500k to remake the Larry game, and strangely, well, disturbingly, I felt myself compelled to give to the ‘cause’.

Now, despite working in the non-profit world for over 4 years now, I’m not very good with giving money in general. And so, as I was clicking the donate button for Larry, it suddenly dawned on me what I was doing. Did I really feel more compelled to give to Larry than I did to, say, World Vision?

Disturbingly, the answer to that question felt like a yes.

It made me ask around my friends – did they give to charity and how did they decide whom to give to?

The response I got was oddly contradictory: they wanted to connect, interact and contribute to the non-profit world but also had a healthy dose of distrust, distance and disillusionment with “charities”. I heard a lot of “I don’t really know how they spend their money” and “I don’t know if they’re any good”.

As I pondered this some more, I realised that what I was really hearing was this: “If I’m a young, 20- or 30- something professional, the traditional benevolent ‘charity’-model doesn’t really speak to me”.

So, what should you do if you’re a socially-conscience young professional wanting to connect to the non-profit world?

Here are two really simple things:
  • Be trendy, eat social enterprise-style: Social enterprises are essentially businesses run for a social purpose. For some reason, the most common types seem to be food-related. Two of my favourites for the Melbournians are STREAT (coffee/food carts run by homeless youth and Scarf (borrows restaurants to train marginalised young people in hospitality). 
  • Find your tribe: There are plenty more people like you out there. In Sydney, they hang out at many places, but three of my favourites are Emerging Leaders for Social Change (ELSC), Think Act Change and Young Social Entrepreneurs. It’s pretty simple, just turn up and see if you like it.
To make it even easier for you, I’m working with a mate (that I met at ELSC) to create Chip In Australia, a site that profiles some of the best Australian non-profits and social enterprises to make it even easier for you to connect to them.  You can check us out here.
STREAT's Stop Homelessness the Delicious Way campaign
And, if it all goes well, who knows, I might even be able to find something better to give to on there than Larry.

During the day, Prashan Paramanathan dons his non-profit consultant outfit but after five he spends his time writing for The Education Report and tinkering at Chip In Australia.

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  1. Prashan ParamanathanApril 19, 2012

    Thanks Danz!!

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    good article! (even if i would love to see leisure suit larry make a comeback!!)

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