How do I write this blog without coming off as a complete jerk? This is basically a rant about donor fatigue. I hadn’t realized June was hit-up-everyone-on-earth month for starving children, uneducated children, children needing Bible studies, mother’s against drunk drivers, mother’s against pedophiles, mother’s against pedophilic drunk drivers, people with cancer, people with MS, people with diabetes, 15 people with an incredibly rare disorder that no one can pronounce, a foundation that gives free books to poor people, a foundation that gives free shelter to poor people, a foundation that gives free food to poor people, a foundation that gives free manicures and pedicures to poor people. This month I’ve had four fundraising drives come to my door, three robocalls, not to mention the cashier at the Safeway, the Co-op and Old Navy that asked in front of the attentive ears of people lined up behind me if I wanted to donate. I felt like an asshole every time I said no. At this point, I’ve begrudgingly accepted my fate as the lady-who-won’t-donate-to-save-poor-orphans-in-a-country-no-one-has-heard-of-until-it-hit-the-news-last-month.
I do donate. Not the hearty 10% of our income stipulated by tithe. We opted to insert money into the kids’ RESP (registered education savings plan) because we don’t want our kids to be a charity case when a Bachelor’s degree costs $1,000,000 in the future. Also, I bought a really comfy swinging basket chair that someone in India weaved together. We send a few thousand a year to whatever charity tugs our heart strings or to the fundraising page of one of our family, friends or coworkers that could totally afford to donate their fundraising goal but are blackmailing themselves into running, walking or biking to their ideal weight. I, infrequently volunteer in my community or for an organization whenever I am called to do so but I volunteer full time raising my children. Yes, I volunteer. No one is forced into being a parent – just ask deadbeat moms and dads. My priorities don’t play well on social media. LinkedIn tells me future employers more readily hire people who list their volunteerism or ’causes.’ Polishing your brand entails a sheen of non-profit or at least a few stretched contributions in that direction. Hell, I can play that game too. I volunteered at Habitat for Humanity for one whole day painting a play house they were auctioning off back in 2002. I guess that means I now volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Who’s going to check attendance?
I’m tired of the barrage. I can’t approach a street corner without some idealistic twenty year old giving me their most toothy grin and expounding on the virtues of goats or water wells or microloans in third world countries. I can’t go to the grocery store without the cashier plugging for the corporation’s charity of the month. Even purchasing a $20 soccer ball I am asked by the cashier to fund youth sports for the disadvantaged. Do I give 10% of my purchase price? 20%? That would be a lame $4. Or do I give them $20 because that seems like a half decent donation amount. That means my soccer ball just cost me $40. If I keep this up, I won’t be able to afford the new swimsuit I so desperately need. Should I forget swimming altogether (cause saggy swimsuits with no elastic support are so not cool – you know who you are) so I can give some poor disadvantaged youth the $80 instead? I’ll get fat and unhealthy but at least I’ll have given some kid the chance to run around in a shiny new jersey instead of running around in a cotton shirt. Hell, I can’t even get drunk anymore without a guilt trip. All the outings with friends seem to involve charity balls or a fundraising event that someone scored free tickets. No one scores free tickets to a fundraiser. They are handed out like candy and you arrive to not dinner but hors d’oeuvres that run out in the first ten minutes and then you’re paying $15 for a glass of boxed red. They get everyone liquored up on empty stomachs and suddenly your bidding $500 on a Fitbit. The next morning you feel dirty and used except you didn’t get laid just f**ked.
Having school age children opens up a whole universe of fundraising activities. They send leaflet after leaflet asking to please sign up for meat orders, chocolate orders, Christmas plant orders, spring plant orders, coupon books (which I forget to use), book orders, frozen cookie dough orders and any other business scheme that relies entirely on school fundraisers to turn a profit. I would happily write the school a check that would be equitable to all the money I spend on fundraisers our family is socially pressured to commit. We’d unfortunately cut out the middle man economy which I suspect employs thousands of people. When I lost my job and I was attending career transition meetings with similarly forlorn people, the coaches kept telling us uplifting stories of people who had found their true calling in the non profit sector. I kept thinking it was strange there was a large employment sector for non-profits. I’m still trying to find a job in the pillage-the-earth for-profit oil and gas industry so I guess I’m the fool.
Now what? Well, if you’d kindly donate to my blog I can sustain myself on Oreo cookies and Cheetos so I can continue to write these pithy and astute essays. You can feel oh so good knowing you helped support a starving writer or at least a writer starving for unhealthy snacks. Or, I can just forego the snacks. It’s up to you.