Beware charities bearing gifts. Guilt as a fundraising tool; don’t give in!


Charity_giftsTimeo Danaos et dona ferentes – or as we say in English: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”. It’s from Virgil’s Aeneid and refers to the old soldiers-in-the-big-wooden-horse trick. But it’s also a good idea to keep in mind when it comes to fundraising techniques.

With Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween over, the gears of consumerism ramp up into Christmas mode. The decorations are up and retailers are hoping for a dusting of snow, just enough to create the right atmosphere for the spirit of spending, but not so much that people can’t get out. And right alongside the stores are the charities. Last year I ranted about Chuggers, those street corner charity workers in their red vests who just won’t take no for an answer. This year my charity rant came to me, I didn’t even have to go outside.

It would seem that the current method of choice for many fundraisers is guilt. I’m referring to those charitable organizations that send you something – greeting cards or address labels – right out of the blue, before you’ve even made a contribution, trying to strike at your sense of responsibility. But don’t fall for it. There must be thousands of return address labels with my information on them at various points in the recycling process. They keep arriving, totally unsolicited, and as I rarely, if ever, use snail mail, I just plunk them right in the bin.

By all means donate to reputable charities this holiday season, but do it out of the kindness of your heart, not because you’ve been coerced by a group trying to make you feel indebted because they sent you something first.

As was the case with Chuggers, it seems Britain is well ahead of North America as reported in The Guardian in 2008 – Crackdown on charity ‘gifts’.

Lest you think I’m some sort of Scrooge, let me assure you I have my causes to which I contribute regularly.  So these attempts to make me feel guilty for not replying with a donation to cover the cost of the “gifts” fall flat. And even if I didn’t request them, I don’t throw away all of those goodies, nor do I tie-up the mail service by returning them to the sender: tote bags, birthday cards, calendars and even the occasional shiny nickel would cost the charity a significant amount in return postage, so I keep them. And yes I use them, they were given to me after all.

By all means donate to reputable charities this holiday season, but do it out of the kindness of your heart, not because you’ve been coerced by a group trying to make you feel indebted because they sent you something first.

Daily Post

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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6 thoughts on “Beware charities bearing gifts. Guilt as a fundraising tool; don’t give in!

  1. There used to be a time in Britain when old Xmas cards were taken down from the Xmas tree and sent to children’s hospitals, so sick children could look at them. Those were the good old days.

  2. And, may I add … make sure they really ARE a charity and that the money they collect goes to help others and not to line their own pockets. You might be better off just giving money to people you know who need help. You won’t be able to deduct it from your taxes, but no one actually gets helps from these supposed charities. Not me nor anyone else who desperately needs help with medical bills!

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