Friday, August 21, 2009

Charity for Free

You know, I've been thinking.

A dangerous pastime... (been a while for this one)

We just received in the mail an envelope full of 'gifts' and an offer for more 'free' stuff if we would consider supporting this particular charity. In fact, the personal/form letter included in the document spent more time talking about the neat 'free' things we could receive if we would only send them a check to support their cause. Oddly enough, very little of the letter focused on what the charity does/has done other than the generic introductory level drivel.

Basically, they are using the guilt approach.

See how nice we are? We have given you nice things in the mail. We will give you more nice things for 'free.' We are an organization that does good things for X. Obviously, you do not want to see X in danger, harmed, sick or some other various nasty issue. You would be a bad, nasty, evil person if you wanted that. So, while we are at it, it would be rude of you to ignore us because we are good, we do good things and we sent you 'gifts.' So, if you want to improve your karma/go to heaven/name the thing that is good to you - you'd better reply with a check in the amount of $25, $50, $100, other. Otherwise, we will assume that you are a nasty, no good, evil person who wants bad things to happen to X.

Since we are good, we will continue to send you 'gifts' in hopes of converting you to a 'good' person. If you do respond and send us money for our organization, we will continue to send you 'gifts' and remind you that you need to keep sending us money - because the world is full of people who were good once and have gone bad since.


I understand that charitable organizations have to use marketing efforts in order to keep their names and missions in front of those who would support them. And, there are numerous such agents to whom we send support. But, it is the gift we are giving, not the one we are promised to receive that interests us. And, I expect to see evidence that the gift given is being used wisely to do tasks that are part of the stated purpose of the agency.

To make matters worse, these gifts help fill our landfills, use up resources that can be used for better things and are often provided by companies that treat workers poorly and/or provide inferior product. All in the interest of giving potential donors a 'free' item that must be cheap in order for the organization to have any money left over for...

It may not be as blatant as elephant tusks from a 'save the animals' foundation, a club from the 'prevent the abuse of X' group or some such thing. But, are we asking too much for charitable (and other) organizations to make sure any promotional item stays consistent with the states ideals of that agency?

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