Notre Dame Donations: Good or Bad Intentions?


Image credited to Wikimedia

One of the most famous sites in Europe, the Notre Dame, caught on fire on April 15th.

Alisha G. and Ashima G.

The Notre Dame Cathedral has been an iconic symbol of Paris and stood tall for 856 years. Until now. On April 15, 2019, the famous cathedral caught fire, and a small spark grew into a flaming blaze. Priceless paintings burned, and one of the seven spires crumbled.

While everyone grieved for the iconic cathedral’s destruction, others immediately wanted to do more. Some wealthy French citizens decided to donate millions of dollars to the reconstruction. Francois-Henri Pinault, Bernard Arnault, and Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers were just a few of these potential donors. Although the French government gratefully accepted the money, others weren’t so sure the donations hold good intentions.

Some believe that there are other charities that take precedent over the reconstruction of Notre Dame.  

“If they can give tens of millions to rebuild Notre Dame, then they should stop telling us there is no money to help with the social emergency,” Philippe Martinez, who leads the General Confederation of Labor trade union, said on Wednesday.

“In just a few hours today, 650 million euros was donated to rebuild Notre Dame,” South Africa-based journalist Simon Allison tweeted. “In six months, just 15 million euros have been pledged to restore Brazil’s National Museum. I think this is what they call white privilege.”

Others think the historic cathedral is very worthy, and donors are being extremely generous by providing so much money for the estimated 5-year repair. While charities in America received a record-breaking amount of $410.2 billion in 2017-18, the U.K. doesn’t have such luck.

In the U.K. the wealthy have not been as generous…doubling their donations would make a big impact on numerous good and worthy causes and not dent the lifestyle of the very wealthy,” said writer Stephen Pope.

Along with donations to good causes, Paris’s people will benefit, too. A beloved piece of culture will still live.

It’s a symbol of faith. It’s an architectural masterpiece. It’s a cultural place. It’s a tourist attraction. It’s so many things,” said Robert Kissane, Chairman of CCS Fundraising. In this type of situation, wealthy people are put in a tough position. They are attacked if they do donate for trying to look good while the city has suffered riots in response to social issues. And donors are attacked if they don’t donate because they aren’t supporting a worthy cause. When someone is scorned if they do either option, they can’t win no matter what they choose to do.