Every week I receive at least a couple of e-mail notices circulated by friends, organisations or even from people who don't know me at all asking for my money. Round the office someone is always collecting for something, raffle tickets, bake sales, barbecues, you name it, we have one or more going on. There is always a good cause, and they all want something.
I have bought bricks, paid for people's kids to walk around the savannah, supplied free services, cleaned out my bookshelves and closet, baked, written cheques etc. We all do it. But I've noticed that the number increases every week. Having been away from the office for a week my e-mail piled up, due to a glitch in the system I couldn't go in remotely and delete so it was all here when I got back. Going through and tossing I found quite a few "begging" notices, the average going cost for any one, $100.
Now we all know how little a hundred TT dollars will buy you these days, if I added up all the requests, just over a five day period, it was $500 and that was just from the office inbox, that does not count the inter-office notice board, my alternative e-mail address or nice ladies who go around collecting. And you know what, I'm tired of it. I fully support that charitable organisations have to solicit funds to do their work and I support a number of causes, giving my time and my resources. This does not bother me, I think it's the right thing to do. But I realised something fundamental about me, I'd prefer it if you come and ask me to give you $50 for your charity as opposed to saying pay $100 for a film or soup lunch or whatever.
You see, I know that you have to pay operating costs for the movie theatre, to supply wine or whatever for the opening, the fact is, most charities only get a portion of the actual money, the rest goes to covering costs. I've always wondered why people think they should have a dinner to raise money for the starving and other such. Wouldn't we be better off just giving them the same percentage of money that they would have gotten from the sale of tickets without the added costs of having a benefit. The cost in time and energy is also huge for most of these things.
Now I know you might be shaking your head at my naivete or supposed Scroogeness, I know people like to be seen to be doing "good works" hence the need for big gestures. People also want to say they did something good and they want a reward for their efforts at being good but how is this really helping the charity? Oh yes, I forgot, raising awareness, except that twenty years as a communications practitioner has taught me that awareness does not necessarily equal action or even interest. So where does that leave us?
As my disposable income is rapidly eroded by those luxuries of having a roof over my head, a means to get to and from work each day, food for my dog, feeding the utilities, I find that I vaguely resent being made to feel guilty when I say, no. Sadly I need that hundred dollars too. Not to go clubbing or buy clothes, makeup or shoes, but to make sure my health insurance is up to date, my retirement fund is added to so that I am not a burden on my ever shrinking family.
So don't take it the wrong way when I have to politely decline, please forgive me when I cannot squeak out a few more pennies for you, I'd like to, really.