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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Give me Money......

Call me old fashioned, but have you noticed what I have noticed? It is the trend these days to fundraise or ask for money for yourself.

It just makes me uncomfortable to see it, and I haven't worked out why.

Many blogs have a permanent "donate now" button on their pages. Needs range from wanting a trip to go play, to raising money for a trip with the band club, to money for fertility interventions,medical bills, household expenses and many more.

In the "good old days" a fundraiser for a family was usually established by what we deemed as a community leader. Perhaps a Senior member at the church, perhaps a long term trusted volunteer with any given program.. Until recently, fundraisers were hosted by respected community leaders not by one's self.

This has really bothered me and I am trying to figure out why it bothers me.

Fundraising for schools, clubs, Drs, associations, non-profits, churches, football, band, health issues, fertility treatments.. we are surrounded by a million hands always asking, Give me Money.

40 years ago, there just weren't as much fundraising, and never for oneself(unless homeless and begging) Collecting pennies at Halloween for UNICEF was a big deal, it was one of the few fundraising activities I was exposed to as a child. Honestly, I don't even mind the fundraisers where they are "selling" or exchanging an item for money- I think it is the concept that "work" or "goods" were exchanged. To simply give money with no exchange of goods? Not something I was taught to do.

Today, starting in kindy kids are sent to the streets to fundraise for their schools. (Even though we give them 3x as much tax money percentile wise).

Yet, how many times have you been told, "DO NOT give money to homeless people". Granted odds are they are likely to spend the money on booze or drugs, but what if they are fundraising for an apartment? Or for new clothes to go on a job interview? Or what if they have children in a car somewhere who want to have some school supplies without having to take freebies from the school? Having a sense of pride is certainly a concept important to me and I went out of my way to save money by cutting spending to make sure the girls could have school supplies they were proud of to start each school year. Are any of those reasons for begging any less valuable then asking for money for an association? For oneself because of complex needs? I don't think so.

Unfortunately, another potential issue with self fundraising is trust as it is with the homeless folks. How do I know you are using the money for what you said you are going to? When fundraisers were driven by our community leaders(and many still are) we felt far more comfortable that the money we gave was going to be spent as promised. When I give a couple dollars for a cookie, I am no longer "giving money" like I would with homeless, I have instead "purchased" an item and feel no further involvement, because I got what I paid for..

What are we buying when we give to individuals with "donate now" buttons?

We have many friends who's parents are incredibly generous with their adult children. From paying for the grandchildren's college, to extravagant christmas gifts, to amazing traveling opportunities and even to down payments on homes, or buying them a car- Today this is rare. Most that are raising children are on their own to get by.. as a parent who has opted to stay home over the years vs working, I commiserate with the tight budget. The only having one car, or no cellphones. No cable or no new clothes.. I get that realistically we live in a material world and with one of the worst recessions heavy in America, life isn't as easy as used to be.. still a heck of a lot easier then 50 years ago. When to be poor or in need would mean true hunger, no medical care, no housing vouchers, no free cellphones.. as American's we have a come a long way to at least trying to help our poor feel less deprived and often provide them with things like health insurance that many that pay taxes have yet to afford.. Social guilt? Class warfare? Many emotions drive these programs.

My daughter was telling me that many of her starving artist friends have blogs with "donate now". She does opt to donate, but she said they always write her a lovely poem or create some digital Art to "earn" and exchange with her. This I approve of or I am more comfortable with.. I recognize times have changes. We often no longer depend on family as in the past. We often don't know our neighbors as we did in the past.

On the other hand, again and again there are scandals of people saying they have cancer and begging for handouts.. we have too many non-profits up to their ears in corruption to count..

I am still not sure how I feel about "donate now" on a persons blog. I won't do it, but I hesitate to judge.

I am one of those people that always has 10 dollars for the homeless person. If buying a beer gives him peace for a day, I gave a grand gift.

Admittedly, I am far more likely to support someone who is like my daughter's friends and are industrious with their needs, gifting a homemade bracelet, a piece of art- they are no longer beggars, but hardworking American's working to get by, not just saying Give Me Money!


Stacy said...

Great post Diane! There is a website called go fund me that allows people to ask for money for specific causes. A friend of a family member has a request on there to take her 12th grade daughter on a trip to Disney World for a graduation gift. I was a little put off by it, but then I felt bad for judging. The daughter has had to overcome quite a few obstacles due to ridiculously poor choices her parents have made so I definitely think she deserves it, but I couldn't imagine asking someone to fund a vacation for me! I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who feels weird about it.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't sure how to feel when a family member sent out info about her daughter's college "fundraiser". It was a website like go fund me or something similar. It just seemed a bit strange to ask for money for college, especially right after having sent out high school grad announcements to which people usually respond with gifts/money. Maybe this is the face of things to come, and I'm just old! But it just seems odd. But then I was also really uncomfortable when my daughter's high school cheer team required them to send "fundraising" letters to family. Asking for outright donations just seems weird to me.


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