The donation conundrum: to give, or not to give?

Over the years, I have received probably hundreds of cheap inducements to donate to “good causes” (bad causes rarely ask for money). You’ve all seen them — address labels (I still have address labels from about five years ago, since I send maybe five letters a year), note pads with your name on them, key tags from the War Amps, and that charity that includes a nickel in the envelope.

I never know what to do with the nickel. I could pocket it, but how cheap is that? So I usually remove the nickel, throw out the other stuff, and leave the nickel out somewhere to be absorbed into my change. Makes me feel a little less cheap.

I admit that I give very little to charity, mostly because once you give them even a few bucks, you’re their BFF. Also, I’m very cheap, which is probably the main reason I don’t give. Generally, I need all the money I have just to keep myself in yellow label groceries.

Today, the all-time topper in charitable inducements came in the mail. It’s from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and it was so huge it hardly fit in my puny little super-mailbox slot. The package included the following:

•  a dozen large “holiday” cards, complete with envelopes;

• a skinny little notepad (the cheapskates didn’t personalize them like the MS people do):

• a page of shiny foil “holiday” stickers;

• a small gift bag, suitable for sticking unused “holiday” cards into;

• another set of stickers, to use on “correspondence with family and friends”

• a pen.

I have to say, the Heart and Stroke Foundation people really went all out. The cards are quite nice, although a dozen cards is about, oh, 12 more than I need. The stickers are shiny and cute, and the pen actually writes. So now, my options are

a)    use the stuff, not give them anything, and feel guilty about it;

b)   use the stuff, and give them something (but not their suggested donation of $40; it’s nice stuff, but not THAT nice);

c)    don’t use the stuff and throw it away, which is terribly wasteful;

d)    return to sender.

They’ve really got me. I’m sure (at least I hope) the Heart and Stroke Foundation does good work; if noting else, they’re very good at making me feel guilty. If I send them money, it will only encourage them to send me more stuff, which will lead to more guilty donations. It’s a vicious circle.

So, what am I going to do?

I’ve decided to take the nickel approach to this package of goodies. Just like that nickel I keep getting in the mail that I can’t throw out, I’ll put it all in a drawer to “think about it” for later. Gradually they will be absorbed into all my other unused address labels, unused notepads, and unused key tags.

Or … I could send them a nickel. I’ve got one around here someplace.

2 thoughts on “The donation conundrum: to give, or not to give?

  1. See if your neighbours got the same package. Gather them up and give them to your local early grade school. Shred anything with your name on it. Don’t give them anything. Feel no guilt. Support the causes you support because you think it’s a good idea, not the one that tries to guilt you into it.

  2. I actually found your blog while Google searching “heart and stroke mails holiday cards.” I just received my package and I was overwhelmed with all the goodies. Thy also sent me address labels last time and by far, are the nicest. Plus, none of their stuff are branded so they’re not screaming “I’m free!” Except, I feel so damn guilty, so much so that I think I might. My conscience is eating away at me, and the holiday spirit gets the best of me every time. I’m pretty firm with rejecting people and not donating, because I’m also cheap. Sorry, but I am a full time university student and education ain’t cheap. But you’re right Maurice, it’s a vicious cycle and I know I’m feeding into their guilt trip donation plan. At least I don’t feel so alone now!

    P.S. some parts of your post made me laugh, because they sound so much like me haha and brutally honest!🙂

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