Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Charity Extortion

My daughter and I saw "Mama Mia" last night (which, BTW, was fun; I discovered I am not as familiar with ABBA's music as I thought, but the man next to me was - he kept singing along almost under his breath) but it turns out I paid $60 a seat to be hit up for a donation. At the end of the show, the actors pitched their AIDS charity from the stage, then collected money in the lobby as we exited.

A similar incident occurred at work, during Breast Cancer Awareness Week. For a $5 donation, an individual could wear denim to work the following Monday. If you wore denim, you were also to wear a pink ribbon, I guess so the Charity Police could identify those who cheated and wore denim without making the designated donation.

Now, I believe that those of us with more should share with those less fortunate, and I support several (of what I deem) worthy causes, but this latest fad of what I call charity extortion is putting me off. Instead of feeling generous, I feel manipulated. Instead of feeling good, I feel obligated. Instead of feeling special, I feel trendy. I still give money, but I'm not comfortable about it.

And there seems to be a social stigma if one is not particularly interested in the current Hot Charity. AIDS and breast cancer are popular right now, and yes, it is important to develop treatments and cures. However, I would rather fund research in the prevention of AIDS and the prevention of breast cancer. Prevention usually involves personal responsibility, though, which is not hot.

Once again, I am out of step with the rest of society.

P.S. Here are some of the organizations I send money:

P.P.S. More info:
Think Before You Pink
AIDS Task Force

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