Monday, August 12, 2013

Vent: The Neverending Charity

Have you noticed the slew of retail stores that ask customers to "round up" their bill for charity? I've been asked to donate by grocery stores, the KMart, the plant nursery, eBay, and even the thrift shop! I don't say yes if it's a charity I've never heard of.  I like to research new non-profits, and donate to those I feel will do the most good with the least expensive bureaucratic infrastructure.

The plant nursery, for example, asked me to donate to a fine-sounding but obscure organization. I asked the clerk what the charity did. She replied, "The charity provides organic food, even to those who can't afford it." Isn't giving food to the people who need it the job of a food bank? I already donate to the food bank. So why is this charity (with a different set of directors and paid officers) better than a food bank? Because the food is organic? And you can't mix organic with chemically treated? Because possibly, maybe, if they are lucky, once in awhile, a poor person will get some? I'm not convinced this organic food charity even had a distribution plan. So yeah, I said no to the request to donate.

The stores pimping for charity are getting more brazen. "Rounding up" isn't good enough anymore. Last week the clerk at the Ross store requested my donation only in dollar increments. The charity was unknown to me, but it had children in the name. You can't say no to helping children, right? Yeah, well, I did say no. In the meantime, Ross crows about how they are "giving back".  Is Ross really giving back? Isn't the customer who responds to the request the one giving back?

I prefer the more generous approach of Kohl's, a dry goods type of store, similar to Ross. Kohl's sells adorable stuffed animals and high-quality, classic children's books near the checkout counters. All of the money goes to charity. I've bought tons of the toys--for my children, of course. Kohl's is truly investing in the charity. Kohl's does give back.

Colorado has frequent local tragedies, all of which require spur-of-the-moment giving. And I do. But I am pretty well sick of third-party, institutional begging.

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