Donating What You Want, When You Want

Donation boxAs most of you know, Brody (my dog) has bone cancer. During each of his chemo treatments, I was a complete mess. Mind you this was merely weeks after his horrible accident and amputating his hind leg so I shouldn’t have been allowed out in the real world.

At his second chemo appointment, I decided to run an errand instead of waiting. The treatment itself was going to be about 45 minutes. Instead of waiting there and panicking, I decided to run to PetCo to pick up some of his new food.

I gathered my items and went to check out.
After my items were scanned the teller woman asked me:
“Would you like to donate to the Pet Cancer Awareness Fund?”
“No thank you, I am already quite aware”, was my curt response.
She looked at me with a disappointed grimace. I grabbed my things and left.

As I left the store, I was surprised at how angry I was. I am using most of the energy I have to hold myself together, I just wanted to run a simple errand and I was again bothered to donate to another cause. She obviously had no idea where I was coming from, or what was going on in my life but it felt like some type of invasion.

How many other people have been made to feel this way as they check out of the super market, at a movie theatre, while at an event? Why are we pushing issues and causes at people while they shop?

I bet these campaigns are really successful. Catch people in public, where they will be judged by their peers if they say ‘no’. Catch people when they are spending money and they might be willing to lose their change or one dollar more to help a cause. Yes, I bet they work – but they are uncomfortable too.

I am not rich, not even close, but I actually donate a good amount of time and money to causes that are important to me but I do them on my own time. I also love to donate to friends who are running a race, completing a triathlon or a bike race for a cause. Not just for the cause to but in support of my friend’s effort.

Shameless plug: Feel free, if you are in the mood right now to donate to my ‘bail’. I am being ‘arrested’ this Wednesday and need to make my bail to get out. Proceeds go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association to send two kids to Pine Tree Camp. Not a bad cause.

Should we be able to donate what we want, when we want?

In a better world, yes. As I said before, I bet these at-the-checkout campaigns are effective but what do you know about these organizations and where is your money going? Like the Pet Cancer Awareness Fund I was hit up for at Petco… what the heck is that? Is it to educate owners on getting xrays more regularly? Where would my money go? To making pamphlets about cancer or to making more boxes to put at more checkouts?

Should you donate? Of Course! If you have something, you have more than someone else. I am a firm believer in donating to an organization in need. If you don’t have money, you at least have your time and talent to give and everyone has blood… you can always at least donate your blood 🙂 But what I like to do is select my cause, my amount, and how and when I donate it. What I have decided I don’t like is being asked at the checkout to donate to mysterious causes.

Donor’s Choose

If you are new to donating or if you are wary because you want to know where your hard earned money is going, you should check out Donor’s Choose. With this special organization donor’s choose what public school projects and supplies they want to give to and how much. They also get updates from the student on what their contribution did for these children. Pretty cool ‘eh?

My friend Marc Pitman told me about donorschoose.org. I thought this was a great idea. No more wondering where your money is going when you write that check – now you can choose exactly what you want your money to be used for. There is a short video below with some more information.

Should I have been so abrupt with the poor girl at PetCo? Probably not but for the first time the cause that was being shoved in my face at a checkout was something I was way too close to and it made me think about how many times this has happened to other people. Should you donate to causes and funds and nonprofits and charities etc., of course you should and maybe if they all meet their quotas they will stop bugging us when we are buying our toilet paper.

If you do want to make a donation, I would still recommend going straight to your cause and researching them and what they do with donor dollars. Something tells me when you cut out the middle man at the check-out line, the organization gets the funds more directly.

Obviously this is my opinion spurred by an uncomfortable situation but I would love to hear from more of you on your thoughts on the matters I brought up… my mind can always be changed.

Photo credit: Mindful One

6 Replies to “Donating What You Want, When You Want”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Checkout donations are probably a great way to reach people who aren’t usually engaged with charitable giving, but I find that particularly among people our age who tend to be very involved in some cause or another whether financially or through volunteerism.

    I also think it’s almost counterproductive to generating real engagement. When giving to a cause is presented in a pressurized environment with little information, it equates charititable giving with money spent but not with any real sense of involvement with the cause. In the Petco example, for instance, it seems like an organization looking to do outreach is missing an opportunity to do exactly that by soliciting money without connecting it with, well, some kind of outreach effort that would maybe I’m turn lead to more support then the random dollar the shopper was willing to plunk down for something that probably registered as an abstract good deed they probably won’t remember until they’re back at the Petco register, if then.

    A dollar’s great, but the name of the game ought to be attracting people to your issue in a deeper, more lasting way.

    1. Thanks Meghan! I love the idea of engagement for your cause.

      Actually spurred another thought about superficial giving. Say a person has the desire to volunteer and then they reach the checkout and donate their change to the cause-of-the-day they may get a superficial sense that they have done some good. Perhaps that action filled their need to donate. The cause may have actually lost out. A person could get the warm, fuzzy ‘I helped’ feeling by donating their change when before they may have volunteered at an event or send a larger lump sum to the cause that is important to them.

      I would rather see $20 go to a cause someone actually cares about versus twenty $1 donations to the cause-of-the-day at the check out.

  2. You should avoid intermediary organizations when you donate car Cancer charities need the maximum money from your donation. However, these intermediaries take 50 – 60 percent of the amount that comes from the sale of your car. …

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