Last week, at my local shops in Canberra, I was asked if I was able to donate to a charity that assists children in Africa. When I told the girl I couldn't, she looked me straight in the eye and said: "So you would prefer them to die?"
I'm sure we'd all like to be Robin Hood every day and donate to everyone all the time, but the rent is due, food isn't cheap and we have our own lives to live.
I feel bad writing this because most people in most charities are awesome, but that doesn't entitle them to harass, shame and bully others because they're 'doing good', or because they've got their own incentive or commission-based targets.
Still a bit shocked and bemused by what happened, I asked "Has anyone else been shamed by charity?" on my Facebook page and radio show and I still can't believe the responses.
One woman said:
I had a guy try rope me in but told him I couldn't make any financial decisions without talking to my husband... he then asked me "what so your husband wouldn't be interested in saving sick kids" and then went on to say that if I gave up a coffee a week my husband won't even know!
They wanted my bank details for monthly donations and when I said I couldn't afford it the guy started calling me a rich snobby girl. I told him that once inside the store I would have to choose between toothpaste and shampoo because I could only afford one til I got paid again.
Often I need to tell them 2 or 3 times that I really can't afford it, after the first time it becomes reallllly awkward and I feel guilty when they say things like 'its only $60, are you sure you can't afford it?' I often find myself justifying why I can't afford it (4 kids, single income some weeks are tight) I don't think any charity should be like that.
Not to mention...
After I said no one guy yelled out, "well you enjoy your lunch while kids are starving won't you".
I know, I know. It's the most first world of first-world problems.
If we're being really honest, as well as helping those in need giving to charities actually gives us -- the giver -- a sense of pride, feeling like we've done a good deed.
I think most people totally accept a charity's right to ask for donations. But I think that, in return, the charities have to accept our right to say no.
Shaming people who aren't in a position to donate not only won't get you you quotas and commissions; it's actually hurting all other charities because you're giving 'charity' a bad name.
Giving charities a bad name because you're not hitting your own personal quotas? Now there's something to be ashamed of.