Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Reflecting on the bad guy

So I'm feeling like I'm a bit more on an even keel today and was thinking about my post from the other day.

First off, I realized that there is actually an exception to my No Money For Phone-Callers Rule: students raising money for school programs, specifically, my high school and college, the college fencing team in particular. I remember the days we had to do an annual "Phonathon" for the fencing team. I hated it, but it was something we had to do (along with other unpleasant activities like getting up at 8am to clean up parking lots after football games) to raise funds, presumably because we didn't have that much funding -- I think the phonathon and gruntwork was actually built into the budget. I never stopped to wonder whether the football or hockey players ever had to do that kind of thing. For some reason, I doubt it (at least the early morning cleanup crew business), but you never know. Anyway, I always remember how awkward it was for me to call up random alumni asking for money so I try to make the process and simple and painless as possible.

The other thing I was thinking about was the whole checkout fundraising thing. I have come to realize that when it comes to people asking me for money, I really would prefer to be left alone altogether. I don't like phone calls, I bitch about spam and I complain about junk snail mail. I guess I find the least obtrusive of them to be the snail mail, but I can understand how that's not a good option for underfunded local organizations. And really, the number of trees that die for junk mail is just absurd and depressing.

So how do these organizations raise money? Certainly my preference would be that they be publicly funded, but I recognize that it's reasonable to be concerned about a government that grows too comfortable spending other people's money, but what often seems lacking in that debate is properly making the distinction between charity and the investment in infrastructure and projects that benefit society at large and as a whole. But the question remains, how does an organization reach the right people who are interested and able to give to the cause?

I was thinking about this when I was checking out at the local Hannaford's where they had little coupons that you could use to donate money for breast cancer research. (apparently it's for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation which supports research and community outreach.) Frankly, scientific (and specifically medical) research does seem to be a perfectly appropriate place for the government to be spending money (seeing as the drug companies seem perfectly happy spending their own resources developing meds to help you keep your hard-on), but that's neither here nor there. The main point is that maybe supermarkets (and other businesses) are the right place to reach people. Certainly, it's a good place to provide information and help develop awareness of causes that are in need of funding. My personal preference would be that they just provide information that I could take with me so I could decide whether or not I wanted to write out a check once I got home rather than hit me up for a buck at the register, but perhaps I'm just not your average bear.

But in the meantime, I may need to rethink my default phone response.

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