Would You Like to Donate? A Brief Rant

I’ll bet you’re not anxious to read this, with that headline. There’s something about that phrase that irritates a bit, isn’t there?

Then why are stores making it a lot more common practice to ask you for a donation as you check out? I’m noticing it more and more these days. Publix asks for a donation for one of its pet causes all the time now. RadioShack has it built into the pad that you slide your credit card into: would you like to donate to Lance Armstrong’s charity? (I suppressed my urge to ask if the money would be going to his defense fund.)

I am definitely not against charity, find and I think it’s admirable that corporations are showing a social conscience about certain causes, but I wonder if they’re not doing damage to themselves in the attempt. Stores do everything they can to make your shopping experience positive, cheap and the last impression usually sticks longest in your mind. When they ask you to donate, it is the last impression you leave with.

And that impression is not usually a positive one. They ask you out loud if you would like to donate, and of course when there are other people standing in line you feel like a schmuck saying no. I used to say yes once in a while, but candidly the irritation of feeling pressured lingered longer than the glow of doing a good deed. (So, their motto: “Where shopping is a pleasure”, becomes “Where shopping is a pressure.”)

At least they’re not (yet) making a donation the default choice, so that you would have to opt out. It’s probably a matter of time before some genius comes up with that one. That’s when I’ll take my business elsewhere.

Maybe I’m overreacting. But if I am, I think I can trace it back to another related experience, being hit up for money by kids to support their school activities. When we tailgate at Dolphins games, little girls dressed in cute cheerleading outfits walk up to us and ask for a donation to send them to cheerleading camp, while their parents hover protectively (and expectantly) nearby. Or, my nephew (I’m sure I‘ll get in trouble for writing this, but it wouldn’t be a rant without a little indiscretion, would it?) who goes to high school in one of the wealthiest school districts in the nation, sends me multiple emails asking for a donation to subsidize his football uniform and equipment. Here again, I suppress the urge to speak to the parents directly and say what’s really on my mind: The money’s really for you so why don’t you come up and ask me for it directly? Why should I subsidize you? Is this what you want to teach your kids, that the way to raise money is to beg for it, or to put on a show?

If you agree with me, then let’s work together to stop this disturbing trend! Just click below to make a small donation…

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