In the run up to Christmas 2011, in a moment of weakness and against my better judgement, I opened my checkbook and actually Gave To Charity.
I fell for it because it was a children’s charity. My thinking is that if you’re an adult in need of charity, barring an act of God or geopolitical concerns you may have brought it on yourself, but kids are different because they’re not the ones in charge, or so I reasoned and when I saw the ad on the side of a bus stop, I dunno, maybe I was in a schmaltzy frame of mind in the run up to the holidays but I said to myself, ‘Ah, look at this poor little toe headed pike! This is something I really can and should do something about.’
I’m not going to say which children’s charity it was for reasons that will be come clear in the next paragraph or so. So I sent them a check, not a huge check, less than a decent bottle of wine in fact, but something and then something else a week or two later. Then the thanks rolled in. Now I’ve worked in direct mail, I know what these packages cost to produce. A tri color multiple page piece of mail with a tchotchke in it might run to 75 cents or more. I did not appreciate getting an expensive ‘thank you’ in the mail because the cost of it just took a bite out of the money I had just sent them. I understand that whatever it is they send you after a donation has been proven to produce repeated and better giving, but not from me. I’d already set them up as an electronic payee on my online backing, so I didn’t have to sit down and write the check out. I had a plan to give in small increments over and over again, in the long hall perhaps making a difference.
Then the deluge came. Of course they had sold my info! I was a tried and tested giver. How much for? I have no idea. Pennies? Dollars? So they made a bit of cash to put toward what I’d already given. But then I stared getting expensive please from all kinds of charities, all worth while and noble, but how could I possibly send money to all of them? I felt guilty. With each new glossy pamphlet or sheaf of mailing labels my initial donation was getting smaller and smaller. In comparison my net giving was slipping into the red. I was now uncharitable! The cost of all this direct mail was eating away my donations. I was now actually taking money from the needy by not consistently keeping up with all these expensive pleas. I either had to up the ante or stop altogether. If I sent money to all of them would the volume of this costly mail on my mat then increase exponentially? Ah! Then I hit on the solution. Anonymous giving. Word to the wise. Efficient giving is anonymous giving.