Giving Fatigue

Only two months into the new year, and I’m already tapped out on charitable contributions for a while.

Facebook has instituted an interesting new policy: they offer the opportunity for people to put up a post soliciting donations. This is a worthwhile endeavor to be sure, but the speed at which it’s spreading through my friends list is somewhat alarming. At the high water mark (so far) I had 17 friends with charitable campaigns running on their pages in one week. Not only that, but I got frequent reminders for a month about EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM, plus all the new ones that popped up in the interim.

Please don’t misunderstand my intention, here: I’m not for a moment saying people shouldn’t do this: what I am saying is that there’s only so much money in the pot – even less now that my day job is (by choice) vastly more irregular. I just don’t have the disposable income I once did. I have to be much more selective with my charitable donations now.

Add to this that every org in the yellow pages seems to have my email address. I get bombarded with requests for money — particularly from political action committees and candidates running for office, or just plain trying to get money out of me by talking about the crisis du jour and insisting that my $5 donation will make a difference. It’s overwhelming.

One of the worst organizations for this was, sadly, the American Civil Liberties Union. They are a fabulous organization and do good work. Their fundraising arm was so aggressive, however, that after donating to them once, I will never again do so unless my donation is anonymous. And it’ll be in cash so they can’t find me by my check or credit card.

Time was, the government would help fund a lot of charities. Now, we’re so busy funneling our taxes to the super rich — so they can buy another 180 million dollar mega-yacht — that there’s nothing left for support organizations that help make life worth living for millions of people. Our system is not only broken, it isn’t even a system any more.

It’s more important than ever that we vote, and know who the candidates are and what they stand for BEFORE making your mark on the ballot. Just because they’re affiliated with one party or the other doesn’t mean they’ll do what’s right for the average American. Now more than ever we need to pay attention to what our elected officials are doing in our names. If we aren’t more careful about who we put in office, we will find ourselves in a world of hurt, and soon.

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