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A generation with its hand out...

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by p51, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. p51

    p51 Practically Family

    I got a bunch of emails from various groups on Tuesday on what is called, "Giving Tuesday". I quit counting once I passed two dozen. If the phrase “Giving Tuesday” was in the title, the email went right to the e-trash can.
    I’m at a threshold when it comes to such things. In recent years, I’ve been barraged by mail and email to give to every single cause in the world.
    It reminds me of a day I was in Chicago a couple of years ago. I was walking down a street to catch up with my wife at a store. A woman, begging for change and tired of being ignored, voice the concern out loud by yelling, “Why is everyone ignoring me?”
    I just couldn’t resist. I live in a place where there’s someone with a cardboard sign with what they think is a clever appeal for money written on it. I turned around and yelled right back, “IT’S BECAUSE THERE’S ONE OF YOU ON EVERY BLOCK! We’re all sick to death of being asked for money by those who won’t work for it like the rest of us do!” People stopped walking for a moment, and several applauded. If looks could kill..,
    This is where we are now. There’s one on ever block. Too many causes, too many asking for money, too many replies of, “I don’t care, MINE is the cause you should care about,” responses when you tell them there’s too many hands out to give something to everyone.
    When I have donated money, foolishly, I now think, they’ll spend ten-fold that amount trying to pry more money from me. I’ve even called a few asking to quit sending me stuff as they’re wasting other donor’s money by doing so. I even mailed back a hat I was sent as a thank you for a donation a few years ago (which was mailed with a plea for more money), citing that I no longer support a cause that is so wasteful with their donations. I would have loved to have seen the looks on their faces when they read that.
    Maybe “go fund me” types with their hands out to get money for stuff they should have worked for killed it for me. Maybe as I approach my 50s (two years off, but I can see it in the distance coming fast) I’m just getting a head start on being a grumpy old man. Maybe there really are too many causes, but no matter what, I’m sick TO DEATH of it all.
    Sorry, but I had to get that off my chest. Seeing this thread was that final straw.
    Bugguy, belfastboy and M Hatman like this.
  2. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    I think "Giving Tuesday" started because of all the excess of Black Friday. It's rather ironic - or sad - or both to be thankful for all that you have and count your blessings on Thanksgiving, and then on the very next day (and sadly, now ON the day of Thanksgiving) fight people in the parking lots and the store to get MORE MORE MORE.

    So I understand why they started Giving Tuesday. I don't have a problem with it, though I get where you're coming from. Everyone asks for money. I get lots of requests in the mail and there are a few charities I've supported over the years. But I can't donate to everyone, especially with my limited budget. There are some charities that now say they're going to spend 100% of donations for the cause. For example, a celebrity started a charity for those affected by the Houston hurricane who made sure to tell people that 100% of their donations would be put to helping the folks in need. I get, though, that there are some charities with administrative costs associated with getting the money to where it needs to go. Others definitely need to re-evaluate their strategies and marketing campaigns. On the other hand, some may actually see an uptick in donations if they give away free t-shirts (the ASPCA does that) because that drives more people to give, and the t-shirt cost is worth it.
    Feraud likes this.
  3. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    I don't know how you could run anything but a tiny organization without administrative costs. Someone has to run the office and someone has to vet clients to make sure they really do have cancer, or lost their home, or can't afford day care.

    Personally, I have a few vetted charities I donate to. (See https://www.charitynavigator.org/ to screen organizations.) To everyone else, I say, "I'm sorry, but I've already planned my charitable giving for the year."
    Feraud likes this.
  4. My bitch is the pleas at the checkout. Seems every store has a charity du jour and the poor cashier has to ask if I want to donate today. The answer unless I have been drinking and my guard is down is firm No.
    MisterCairo likes this.
  5. p51

    p51 Practically Family

    That was my point. Nobody accepts that, just like the panhandler doesn't accept you just gave a few bucks to someone 3 blocks before you got to them.
    "Don't care; give to ME!"
    There's an insane amount of it anymore. You can't even watch TV without being inundated with it, the internet, too.
    As a culture, we've achieved critical mass on begging for money, it seems. I'm not even hearing it anymore.
    Nor am I donating anymore. I've had it with donating and seeing the money blown on more begging for more money.
    I tried to donate in cash once last year, without my name added to a list, at a museum. The lady there said they had to have the info to track where the money came from for the government. I put my wallet back in my pocket and said, "Sorry, you just lost out on the money then," and walked out. The look on her face was unforgettable.
    I haven't even considered giving to anyone since then.
    Dear Lord, YES. When I go to the counter sometimes, I'll rattle this off before they say anything:
    "No, I'm not a member, don't want to join your club or donate money to whatever cause you have going on." I've had people ask the questions immediately afterward anyway. I just stare at them with a, "What did I just say?" look and won't say anything until they start ringing stuff up. Once, it went on for a moment too long, so I left what I had on the counter and left without saying another word.
    No, I'm normally not this cranky. It's just a hot button for me anymore.
    M Hatman likes this.
  6. We went non-profit three years ago, and I hate to panhandle for funds. But I have to do it, and am *required* to do it, because if I don't I don't have a job. Simple as that. A lot of people who are sending out those solicitations and making those requests are in the same boat. Such is life in the twenty-first century. In my town, the majority of white-collar jobs are in the nonprofit sector, and I'm too old to go back to work in a factory. And if anybody thinks they've got the balls to tell me we don't work for what we get, they're welcome to follow me around for a week. Bring your overalls, it gets dirty.

    Generally, I try to do the panhandling in a fun way. And when someone doesn't want to hear the shuffle-and-grin routine I put on, I shrug and walk away. I'm just doing what I have to do to earn a living. And if they're obnoxious about it, I shrug and walk away and mutter "g-d a**hole" under my breath.
    vitanola, Dnewma04, Edward and 4 others like this.
  7. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    That's really bizarre. At our non-profit art museum, where there is no admission, we have a donation box where you can donate cash and checks. Could just be a difference between non-profit or privately-owned museums.
  8. "It reminds me of a day I was in Chicago a couple of years ago. I was walking down a street to catch up with my wife at a store. A woman, begging for change and tired of being ignored, voice the concern out loud by yelling, “Why is everyone ignoring me?”
    I just couldn’t resist. I live in a place where there’s someone with a cardboard sign with what they think is a clever appeal for money written on it. I turned around and yelled right back, “IT’S BECAUSE THERE’S ONE OF YOU ON EVERY BLOCK! We’re all sick to death of being asked for money by those who won’t work for it like the rest of us do!” People stopped walking for a moment, and several applauded. If looks could kill.., [sic]"

    I count myself among the fortunate for being among those able to "..work for it." Damned fortunate.
  9. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Au contraire. I had a hard time finding an organization to will my house to. (I'm trying to keep my estate out of probate and keep my house from sitting vacant for a year when I die.) My favorite organization (whose mission, among others, is breaking down barriers to earning a living) didn't say "don't," but made it clear it would be difficult for them, with their staff of two, to deal with a house in another state.

    As for panhandlers, many of them are mentally ill or too obnoxious to reason with. One of them might rob you or assault you the next time you have a smart answer. "I need what little I've got" has always worked for me.
  10. p51

    p51 Practically Family

    As for panhandlers, I have zero patience or tolerance for them. In college, I worked at a photocopy place almost full-time, taking a full class load, and taking Army ROTC. I didn't get a scholarship either, because of the age I was when I was done with the program.
    Anyway, the business was wedged between the Catholic church and the rescue mission down the street. We would get hit up by panhandlers every single time any of us walked outside. Here we were, making just a little over minimum wage, working our Collective butts off, and people that we knew were professional panhandlers, going around asking us for money literally every time we turned around.
    We had heard every single sob story you could possibly imagine, countless times over. That was a long time ago, but I never forgot it. Sympathy and empathy? I leave those at the door.
    Where I live, there's literally a person with a clever saying on a cardboard sign on every street corner everywhere you go. People flock to the part of the country I live in, from other places, because they're treated like royalty around here. No one will tell them to leave, and I had better rights than some of the people who work really hard.
    Generally speaking, I don't bother responding to them. But every now and then, something snapped. Like that day in Chicago, here was a person who literally thought the world owed her living. And I just couldn't take it anymore, because I had just walked by about two dozen exactly like her.
    I'm not lucky, I've worked darn hard to get where I am in life. Sure, there are some things you're born with you just can't escape, like issues with your health. But to degree, we make our own luck in life. I've had to do some pretty unspeakable things along the way, but they were the things I had to do to get where I am now. I have neither the patience, the empathy, Ori even feel that obligated have any, for those who choose a life of expecting everyone else to do things for them.
  11. I've been on the receiving end of charity. I, quite frankly, would not be alive if it wasn't for the strangers that helped me.

    I have not forgotten what it's like to need the help of strangers, or the fact that I'm a stranger to someone else.
  12. Bugguy

    Bugguy One of the Regulars

    Looking up at these posts, it's clear there's no short answer for how and why we give. In my youth I benefited considerably from a non-profit charitable organization. As a result, when presented with an extensive list of organizations that can be supported, that is the organization I choose. However, if that's not the charity my employer is supporting the pressure is considerable to contribute something, just to make a participation target. The hypocrisy of that expectation makes me crazy.

    Given the rules of the contribution game, a colleague at a sister non-profit and I fell into an arrangement whereby we floated $5000 between us for years. My organization would make an annual contribution to his fund raiser and later in the year he'd make a comparable contribution to mine. On paper it looked pretty good for each of us to have this nice contribution. To the outside world it was just a coincidence that the gifts matched. In fact, our in-kind support for each others organizations was considerable, but the game has rules.
    vitanola, M Hatman and scotrace like this.
  13. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

    There’s a difference between registered Charities and the often fraudulent beggars who sit dejectedly next to cash machines. I donate to the former group but not the latter.
    My weekly visits and donations of unwanted stuff to Charity Shops is fun and keeps me in ‘wanted stuff’
  14. Panhandling is big in NYC and - based on many studies and articles - runs the gamut from truly needy to outright scams, so you give at your own risk. Also, as noted above, depending on the study, 70-90% of the homeless in NYC is related to addictions or mental illness, but of course, homeless and panhandling intersect but aren't the same. It is difficult to for society to strike a balance on policing all this as hard-working taxpayers have some rights to not be harassed every half block for money, but freedom of speech, freedom in general allows for a lot that none of us probably want to give up.

    My girlfriend and I have been scammed several times, for example we bought two sandwiches and juice for a guy asking for money for food or "just food - I'm hungry -" only for him to angrily tell us he'd prefer the money and all but turn down the food he had been asking for. But we also bought breakfast for a guy who lived on the street and, as I was buying it, my girlfriend got to talking to him and we learned a lot about his life and him. He was someone we got to know a bit and helped a lot (probably not that much really, but he made you feel like it was a lot) - and the reward to us greatly outweighed the times we've been scammed. So I have no answer re panhandling - you make your call based on your own judgement and skipping completely and going through vetted charities is, IMHO, a perfectly logical choice even if that's not how we do it.

    As for organized charity - it's like everything else. It runs the gamut from ones that are legitimate and respectful of every dollar to ones that are outright scams. The funny thing is, non-profit economics don't really look that different from "money-grubbing" businesses - they need revenue, need to control cost, need to show a return on investment (as shown in metrics like percentage of dollars raised that go to actual charity and various measures of "success" for the charitable efforts) to attract new donors (investors if you like).

    And non-profits like Lizzie's are very close to businesses as they - I'm guessing here, please correct me Lizzie - need to be run efficiently, generate revenues (donations) that exceed costs (which means business-like ruthless cost management), attract customers (theater goers, just like for-profits). It's been a long time, but I remember studying non-profit economics in college and they were all but that same as for-profits mainly because profits are such a small percentage of revenues for most businesses (single digit percentages when averaged across all businesses - i.e., your average business is lucky to make 5 cents out of every $1 of revenue) that taking out the need for profit doesn't change the economics much at all.

    Culturally, I do think there's been a shift to a more aggressive stance on the part of some charities and fund raisers where they believe their good intentions / there virtuous cause provides some kind of moral halo the allows for aggressive (sometime very aggressive) solicitation. It's as if they've decided a priori that their cause is more worthy than your needs on the money you've earned - it's obnoxious. Raising money for charity is a fine thing to do, but one should never lose sight that one is asking for something for free and it knows nothing about the person it is asking to be a donor - a little humility and respect would go a long way.

    And I have no interest in all this "check-out" charity where a company tries to raise money to, yes, help a charity, but also, to promote the company - let the company do that from its earnings (from the stockholders' or owners' money), not my pocket.
  15. That's pretty much it. Those annoying "annual appeal letters" that people so flippantly flick into the garbage can and those incessant "Become a member" promotions are the difference between keeping us a going concern and keeping eleven people employed and just another boarded up empty building.

    We make about 70 per cent of our income from ticket and concession sales, the rest is donations. I like to think we give full value for every dollar given, and I really resent implications that organizations such as ours just have our "hands out" or that somehow we don't work as hard as "real businesses." My experience has been that we have to work even harder. People can ignore that all they want, but these are usually the same kinds of people who bitch and moan the loudest that there's "nothing to do" in town when places like ours have to shut down.

    As far as empathy goes, I think the biggest problem in the world today is that there's too little of it. Who are any of us to assume that we won't ever wind up pusing a rusty grocery carriage full of bottles down the street someday? There were an awful lot of self-satisified upstanding people in 1929 who were living under a tarp in a hole in the ground in 1932, and who's arrogant enough to say that won't ever happen again? Who of us can say with full confidence that there isn't some off-center bit of brain chemistry in our own heads that might misfire some night and leave us delusional and incapable of holding a job? All of us are just one bad twist of fate away from potential homelessness.
    Edward, vitanola, Dnewma04 and 4 others like this.
  16. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

    This is certainly not a "generational" thing. That rather raises my ire.

    I write a lot of stories about non-profits seeking funding. This week the main one was about a group that provides actual home environments for developmentally disabled adults whose family is deceased or not able to look after them themselves. They would all be institutionalized were it not for this non-profit group. They are trying to raise money to provide a little Christmas for their clients. They have "their hands out" as well they should, and must.
    This stuff is heartbreaking. There are surely disreputable groups seeking your money (no small number of them are preachers with best sellers and mega churches), but there are also plenty of folks all around you who NEED your help.
    Choose a good one and do all you can, Scrooge.
  17. In the cases of many of those adults, they'd likely end up in prison, homeless, or dead without the support of the charity you mentioned.

    I don't mean to be over dramatic, but the space in institutions is lacking significantly. When the Kennedy administration started the process of moving individuals out into the community, the idea was that most individuals would be moved into community based homes or if living independently, in highly scaffolded apartment settings.

    While the draw down of institutions happened, the community based settings were never built. Case in point: a local developmental center near where I lived as a kid had close to 1,000 patients in the 1980s. They built 6 residential homes by 1992 which housed 20 people each. In 1992 the developmental center closed.

    That means about 880 people were out on the street when they closed the developmental center.

    They turned the campus into a prison, revitalizing old building's long since shuttered.

    How do you think they fill a 3,000 bed prison?
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  18. From my experience, the work ethic isn't any different: most businesses and most non-profits have hard working employees - some small but significant number of each, don't. As a hard working employee with a team of hard working employees, your resentment at the perceptions of some is understandable, but it is part of the challenge of the non-profit construct.

    One might or might not like the local coffee shop or dry cleaner - or Walmart or Exxon - but those organizations only survive if people willing give up their money in return for getting something they perceive as having equal or more economic value (let's put corruption and "let's all just support this mom and pop" mentality aside as most businesses aren't corrupt and most don't survive on a charitable mentality from their customers). But a non-profit which needs 30% of its revenue from donations is implicitly saying our customers won't pay enough for what we offer to keep our lights on.

    So while the community might want us - and will lament if we are gone - they aren't willing to part with enough money in direct sales in the here and now to keep us going. Hence, we have to ask for money in return for the amorphous feel good a donor gets, but we can't argue that our existence is based on being a successful business or offering absolute provable value to the community - or we wouldn't need you donation. Let me emphasize, I am not saying in any cosmic sense that any non-profit isn't valuable or doesn't deserve to exist - I'm just saying that its definitional construct puts it on its heals as it needs to ask for charity as it cannot just sell something directly of value in a voluntary exchange (as profitable businesses do) to survive. As the Boys From Marketing would say - it's a real perception issue.

    I agree with the part of this that none of us knows what tomorrow brings; for the reasons you note and for many others any of us could wind up in need of charity to survive. But I don't know how to judge the world as I see a lot of greed and a lot of goodness, a lot of venality and a lot of kindness and charity.

    I live in a city that taxes its middle class (Fed, State, Local combined north of 40% -50%), plus one pays FICA, sales tax, fees and licenses for various services (some estimates say a middle class New Yorker pays over 60 cents of every dollar to various governments) which support many necessary not-social-net services and many social-net services. Additionally, many - not all - make charitable contributions of time and/or money on top of that. Is that enough? Is that person greedy because they provide decent food, shelter, clothing, medical care and eduction to their family after the 60 cents is gone and after they've done something more in their personal life to help others while others literally sleep in the streets?

    Of course, there are many, many examples of tax cheats, of people who defraud cancer victims (there has to be a special place in hell for those) and many, many other scams, schemes, and corrupt or selfish acts to fill the papers and courts everyday.

    And then there is fraud at the gov't level / fraud and gross waste in many gov't programs (many safety-net programs) - those stories too come out regularly - which dissuade people from the belief that more gov't is the answer.

    The net of it all leaves me, personally, unable to judge humanity. I see much good and much bad.
    M Hatman likes this.
  19. OldStrummer

    OldStrummer One of the Regulars

    This year, "Giving Tuesday" was a great reminder for me. I have two causes/institutions that I support charitably (aside from my church, that is). I had been meaning to make a contribution to one (Hillsdale College, if anyone is interested -- because they refuse to take any federal or state money) and the reminder was all it took for me to get off the schneid and write a check.
  20. Well, there's also the argument that by being a nonprofit, institutions like Lizzie's allow for lower ticket prices opening the venue to many who otherwise cannot afford it.

    I imagine the theatre has significant historical value, and that value is best maintained and preserved through a non-profit. A for-profit theatre has a duty (particularly if it has shareholders) to make profit. If the aging old decor isn't profitable, a for-profit publically held company is ethically required to change it to maximize profit, or has to argue why it is not acting in the best interests of its shareholders.
    vitanola likes this.

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