Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Four reasons to fight donor fatigue

I have donor fatigue. I admit it.

We have our children's school fundraisers, the various public awareness and fundraising days (Daffodil Day, Red Nose day etc), our family's own regular giving and my husband's work-arranged giving.

I am all donored-out. I've even avoided the kind-looking Salvation Army person stationed with a collection bucket outside my local supermarket. I slowed down until I saw a few other people entering and I blended in with them, pretending not to notice him in the crowd. And felt terrible about doing so.

There are so many good and needy causes, and we have so little resources, I tell myself as I close the door to another person collecting for charity.

I can't help them all, I say as I hastily put the phone down on another.

I would like to but I'm too busy...we're saving for a house...we have to put our own family first. Charity starts at home right?

Yes. Yes it does begin at home. That is, it begins with me. And how much I am willing to give up, to live more simply, so that others can simply live.

I have donor fatigue but I have to fight it. Here are four reasons I think I should:

Giving money to a worthy cause is good for me.
It makes me less self-absorbed and more aware of others. It makes me grateful for what I have, and happy that I can do something good for someone else.

It is good for the receivers
It provides for their necessities - be it funding to help fight cancer in Australia, rescue orphaned orangutans in Borneo, or provide food and shelter after a natural disaster anywhere.

This point is so obvious but people obviously forget it, especially when the issue is some distance away. For example, right now Africa is seeing its biggest famine, in Somalia, in 20 years. Although the need is great and aid organisations have sprung into action the response from donors has been slow.

It helps me save money. 
If I'm giving a little bit more than I am comfortable with to my favourite charitable organisation then I'm inclined to spend money a lot more carefully. I think twice about getting something I really don't need, like another pair of casual shoes for the school run. I find myself shopping less in general, and giving more, while our bank balance grows. I call that a win-win.

It's a good example for my children.
I want the children to grow into thoughtful, engaged and generous adults. The way to show them how to be like that is by being that way myself.

I recently read a gorgeous article in one of the papers I write for, The Catholic Weekly, about a 99-year old pensioner who loves giving money to a number of charities and organisations. He said he enjoys writing the cheques each month.

"I just live a humble life, and I give what I can. I don't deny myself anything," he said.

Now that's inspiring and I want to be like that when I am old. But why wait until I'm old?

Some organised types allocate a portion of their budget to charitable giving. What is your approach to giving to charities or fundraising appeals? Is it haphazard like mine (sometimes generous, other times not so much) or more organised?

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  1. I remember thinking a couple of years back each time someone asks me for money, say yes, even if it is just $1.00 or even $0.50. Since making that decision, I find it easier to give. The only time I say no is when it is some immoral cause.

  2. I think I'll do that too from now on Therese, I felt bad about just giving a coin or two, but it's better than nothing isn't it?


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