Users of Reddit, many of whom viewed the pictures, started to make the donations after the idea was floated by one or more users as a way to atone for their sense of guilt.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation came to mind as the users believed Lawrence previously donated to the charity.
How I See It
Vicky Browning, director, CharityComms
The Prostate Cancer Foundation said it rejected the Reddit donations because it "would never condone raising funds for cancer research in this manner".
Its refusal was squarely in the ‘polite but firm’ bracket: "Out of respect for everyone involved and in keeping with our own standards, we are returning all donations that resulted from this post."
Certainly the motivation behind the donations seems clear – it's an attempt to absolve the donors of a grubby act by 'laundering' it through philanthropy.
Some fundraising colleagues I’ve spoken to shrugged it off: money is money, so take it for the cause, they said. I sympathise to an extent (isn’t furthering the cause the ultimate point of everything we, as charities, do?). I also recognise that it's easier to take a moral stand rejecting $6,000 than it might be to turn down $6m.
But I disagree. Brand and reputation are inextricably entwined. The Prostate Cancer Foundation is not a charity I’m familiar with, but even the briefest look at its website shows it to be a serious, science-based organisation whose brand values would not sit comfortably with the background or motivation of the Reddit donations.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation believes its reputation is not for sale. That's a stance worth respecting.