Last year I posted about how I choose charities to support in My Charity Action Plan. This year I am giving to the same charities, but I want to do a little better. I met my goal this year of giving away two weeks’ take-home pay, and I would like to maintain donations at the same level in 2014, despite increasing my personal savings.
Since I give to 5 charities annually and turn down all other requests, I get Charity Refusal Fatigue sometimes! One day it occurred to me, “Why not just say yes?” I tried it out to see how it felt and how much I spent.
My self-imposed rules were:
- I would give a donation if someone asked me. This included co-workers asking to be sponsored for a run, a cashier collecting at the cash register, a panhandler asking for spare change, etc.
- I would buy things people were selling, if they asked me directly. First of all, I would ask the cause. If they were selling something to make a side income, I wouldn’t feel obliged. But if they were selling to raise money for a school trip or a tournament (etc.), I would buy a small “something”. Likewise, if I chose to attend a flea market, bake sale or auction for a charity, I would buy something.
- If it was something I would have bought anyway, I considered it a purchase and not a donation. So, if a Scout troop was selling apples or light bulbs (as they once did!), I would just consider them as household expenses.
- If I attended an event that asked for donations for a charity, I would make one. For example: a free lecture whose sponsor would “appreciate” a donation, or an event that asked attendees to bring an item for the Food Bank.
- If anyone asked me to attend a fundraising event with them, I would go, and pay the admission fee or make the expected contribution.
- If I decided to go to a dinner or concert for entertainment’s sake, and some or all of the proceeds went to charity, I wouldn’t count it.
- The one thing I don’t do is participate in games of chance – I don’t buy lottery tickets or raffle tickets, play bingo or keno, or anything similar. I’m not opposed to charities who get money that way – I just don’t want to buy chances of winning “stuff.” I’d rather make a donation.
What all of these have in common is that I respond to a direct ask. I got that idea from Craig and Marc Kielburger, in an article they wrote about panhandlers. I don’t reply to pleas via mail or email, ads on TV or on web sites, canvassers standing on street corners or in malls, fundraising catalogues left in the staff room, or candy boxes on the counter at the bank. If someone takes the time to ask me – in person – and is waiting for a response, that has an impact on me. It’s not just guilt or embarrassment – their asking motivates me to want to give.
As you can probably tell, I am not constantly hit up for donations on all sides. In fact, I rarely go shopping at malls or on “high streets,” so my contact with donation seekers is somewhat limited. Over the course of this year, my total was:
- A cashier at a store asked me to add a charitable donation to my total payable: 8 times for a total of $15
- I attended a free lecture but donations were welcomed; $10
- My mom asked me to go to a charity fashion show with her: $25
- Food Bank donations were requested at events: 4 times for a total of $16
- A library customer asked me to sponsor her for a walk-a-thon: $5
- My workplace asked for contributions toward a group donation: $10
- I made a memorial donation: $50
- I “overpaid” $20 for snacks at a Movember event
- I paid for admission to 2 charity fundraising sales: $7
- I bought 5 items I didn’t need, but wouldn’t go to waste: a package of lollipops ($6 from one of those Dragon’s Den kids!), a large assortment of flower bulbs for $24 (twice what they were worth, but for a good cause), a fir wreath for $15 (because baton twirlers were selling them and I was amazed baton twirlers still exist!), a wind-up robot toy for $15 (because I would) and a little embroidered wall hanging for $10.
What did it cost to Just Say Yes?
For a year of saying Yes – a year of feeling relatively guilt- and shame-free. And happy to have given.
My 5 charities of choice remained the same as last year: