Giving, the Hungry Beast

“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”

-Ben Carson

He’s not wrong. A lot of my happiness comes from me getting purses and shiny things after giving a store my money. Don’t get me wrong. I do my own fair share of giving my time and money (that I don’t have because I’m usually spending it on food and purses). But as I’ve become a more active giver, it seems like the nature of giving has snowballed into this heap of emails, snail mail and posts asking for more. People need more blood and bone marrow. Food banks need more food. Little Timmy could really use my donation to fight his Leukemia. Don’t even get me started on all the animals that need saving.

I #werk here

My current job is in marketing for an office that handles charitable giving, volunteerism, and internal employee programs. Each year, we ask our employees to fork over their hard-earned cash to seven organizations who (as deemed by our Board) make a difference in the local community. These organizations focus on homelessness, saving babies, saving the environment, battling disease, health research, increasing education, and more than I can type in one post. They’re pretty all right in my book, and I even give to a few of them via payroll deduction.

Ah, and that clever, recurring beast: payroll deduction. Our employees contribute more than $1 million annually to these different organizations. We recently opened our payroll deduction campaign to allow our employees to elect organizations to be added to what we call our Charitable Giving Portal. This portal allows our employees to enroll themselves in monthly deductions that are then sent as donations to the organization(s) of their choice, free of charges and admin fees. Each organization is verified by financial records and vetted as legitimate 501C3s by the IRS before they are added to the portal.

Sounds great, right? As the applications pour in to our office, we take a look at the different causes supported by each charity, and they span from the likes of Special Olympics and Children’s Hospital LA to local churches and disaster relief services. Sure, employees could just give to the charity they elected, but what if they wanted to give elsewhere and decided to peer into the abyss that is the dropdown list of more than 50 charities?  Enter the paradox of choice. Too many damn salad dressings.

At least in this vain, our employees have a choice, and we restrict the organizations in the portal from accessing our contact database and unleashing a barrage of “Give to me because” emails, calls and post cards.

My #bloodsweatandtears

Record scratch- let’s get back to me and my giving, in which I am beginning to feel smothered. I currently volunteer for the Special Olympics, and in the past, I’ve volunteered for Autism Speaks. I donate money to these two organizations as well as Variety, the Children’s Charity, Community Health Charities and Operation Smile because who can resist Zach Levi’s smile, kindness and beautiful speaking and singing voice? These are my norms, and surprisingly, they don’t flood me with multiple requests on the daily to give.

Tell MCI to cut the phone calls…

It’s the one-offs that really get under my skin. A friend of mine is a teacher and had a campaign under Donor’s Choose to help raise money to buy his volleyball team much-needed equipment. I donated ONE TIME, and all of a sudden I’m supposed to care enough to donate to Ms. Marcy’s class. Oh, don’t worry, her school is in the city where I live, making it more important than other schools. A.k.a. I should give more shits for this one.

I love clothes. Sevenly sprints into the frame. Giving while shopping? Well why the hell not? Because now I feel like an asshole as a scroll past the daily emails asking me to support the United Nations, adoption, empowering girls and the next charitable flavor of the month. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, the Red Cross needs blood like all the time, your blood, my blood, unicorn blood, give it all. *Whispers: That 52 day waiting period in between is probably just a suggestion anyways*.

Could I turn off the email notifications? I sure the fuck can, but the perplexing question is, why am I in the position to HAVE to turn them off? If I subscribe to a newsletter and updates, why is that an open door for a charity to email vomit into my inbox at such a rate that they just become part of the background noise? What’s wrong with a simple graphic once a week with a fundraising update and, here’s a novel idea, a THANK YOU? That for once, we’re not asking you for money or time, but instead, we just want to thank you for your efforts, whether time or money.

I give to my choice organizations because I have a younger brother with Autism and a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease. I believe that the efforts I put forth now will help improve Ryan’s life and maybe my own when it comes time for me to face the demons of aging. Should you give? Hell yes. Should you feel an ounce of guilt scrolling past a Twitter post pleading for a donation? No.

I understand the nature of the non-profit business world, but, whether intended, it has turned giving into a voracious beast that, despite all the time and money it’s fed, is never satisfied.

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