Dinnertime, peaceful evenings, and just when I thought it safe to sit down in front of the television--the phone rings. Caller ID tells me its a charity. Sometimes they hide behind "unknown" caller. I always know who it is.
Fireman's Fund, Policeman's Fund [never mind the lack of PC, you know who I mean], Special Olympics, Democrats, Republicans, Kidney Foundation, Cancer Society, the calls keep coming. How to decide who to give to? Give them each a few dollars and they'll call in a month. One wants to be charitable, but at the same time, one hopes to offer money to the the group that will spend it well.
Frankly, I find the calls annoying. When I say, "Please send me something I can look over. And if I like what you are doing, I'll be happy to make a donation." The reply is always something to the effect that they'd like to send something but budget demands they ONLY send something if the prospective donor has agreed to make a donation. At this point, I could say, fine, $5, send it. And when it arrives, I could trash it or send $5.
One day, I realized that the Rockefeller Fnd., the Rasko Fnd., the Gates Fnd., and the A-Busch Fnd. among others have a process. Why shouldn't I have a process?
Now I tell the charity caller, "My family meets once a year to review all proposals for charitable giving. Please send me your information, I will present it to our Family Invitational Non-necessary Expense board (FINE). We invite you to submit your plan for taking care of your part of the world, and we will consider a donation from our earned income that we have budgeted for non-essentials this year." To which... they argue and complain and whine and say they want to know NOW. I keep calm and speak slowly and repeat the same invitation. Usually, they say thank you and hang up. The Policmen's Fund just hangs up. The caller NEVER says thank you.
These funds have hired folks who are gifted with, let's call it, persuasive gab. Yak yak yak, he says, crime rising, drug dealers on the street, protect your family, he says. he tries to make me very afraid. Persuasion by fear. A common tactic, often heard in church's and political rallies. I wholeheartedly agree with him and invite him to submit the proposal to FINE. He hangs up.
None of them have ever agree to send me anything to submit. They want money. They don't want to prove to me that the money will be spent on those who need help. Who's paying the persuasive gab caller, by the way? Why do people give them money when they call? That's why they keep interrupting our quiet dinners. Just like the SPAMMERS who use the same rational because some people, even just a few, buy Viagra and who knows what else in response to the email spam.
If you want to be as generous as Bill Gates, you need to give to charities who are willing to request money respecfully, as they do when they submit to the Gates Fnd, or any other group. Like my family fund. And we will meet and we will donate. We did this year, and we even had fun reviewing the mailed requests.