Everyone Wants My Money By Alice Herb
I’ve been steaming for a long time now but yesterday’s outrage finally made me explode. I’ll get to that event in a bit. But I think I speak for all of us who are being shamelessly exploited. The basic problem is FUNDRAISING for anything and everything. Just think about it: Children, refugees, the homeless, the environment, national parks, scholarships, cultural institutions, political campaigns. You get my point.
My mailbox is stuffed every single day with pleas, demands, or invitations to fund a most important project. Some of the senders mail me multiple times a week. If I just donated, the rate of requests/demands simply increases. I throw 95% of my mail directly into the trash can and think sadly about all the trees that have been wasted in making paper. I get so many e-mails a day that it takes endless amounts of time to screen them and delete them. Unsubscribing is useless as they come back with a new name.
Then there is my phone. I no longer answer any calls unless the number or name is one I recognize. Robocalls ruin my concentration on whatever I am doing and I see this as an invasion of my home and my privacy.
FUNDRAISING has become a major industry. Being a fundraiser takes talent. Charm, a golden tongue, inspired creative writing and foremost, I guess, people skills. BUT now the industry has gone too far. Polls, surveys, and almost any communication are instantly coupled with a DONATE demand. Most of it is truly purple prose – imminent disaster, illness, loss of hearth and home, etc. And the demands are becoming ever and ever cheekier; e.g. legacies to libraries, colleges, museums, civic-minded organizations. Or, on a lesser level, automatic monthly donations for possibly eternity. All of these innovative and creative ideas to part me from my assets may seem praiseworthy given the causes they represent. And many people are gainfully employed. Yet as we now know, fundraiser percentages of donations can be quite steep and most of us are not interested in supporting fundraisers’ salaries but rather the charity in question.
Now to my outrage of yesterday. I was responding to pleas for contributions to political candidates whom I did want to see elected. They are in trouble because of the huge amounts of money given to their opposition. And so I donated – not much, but with a promise that there would be a quadruple match. When the receipt came up, I realized that half of my contribution would go to the entity running the campaign and that it was recorded as a monthly contribution forever to that entity. I immediately canceled the monthly part, then found a way of canceling my actual contribution and finally unsubscribed with a heated comment about their deceptions.
The point of my rage was not what they hoped to achieve but the way in which it happened. Most of us are too busy or too impatient to read every piece of mail of whatever kind, word for word. We assume that the charities or campaigns that we are willing to support are being straightforward and not playing “3 card Monty.” By posting or writing confusing instructions and by rarely supplying telephone numbers so that questions can be answered quickly, we are being wrongfully exploited. Even more painful is that the seniors, who are often donating at the cost of withholding from their own needs, are really being damaged.
How can we change this? I do have ideas but do let me know yours. Email me at email@example.com with your suggestions!
Alice Herb is a retired attorney, journalist, and bioethics consultant. Having reached the age of 85+, she’s more than ready to share her experiences and opinions with agebuzz readers. Want to comment on something she’s said? She welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
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