Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Don’t Be Fooled into Buying for Charity

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom

What do all these things have in common?

  • Buy (Red): 10 to 50% of the proceeds of which go to eliminating AIDS in Africa.
  • Book Sale: 20% proceeds go to your child’s school!
  • Would you like to buy some wrapping paper to support our band trip?
  • How about a beautiful $200 beaded bracelets that supports JDRF? An undisclosed portion of the proceeds are donated to the organization.
  • Rubber bracelets for sale for every cause possible. Typically $1 each.

Obviously, these are all ways of coaxing a donation out of you; that is, providing a rationalization for a purchase that you might not have otherwise made. A blunter way of saying it: These sales feed on people’s desires to get something back for their donation or circumvent our reluctance to make a donation in the first place.

The book sale example is from my own life just last month. My daughters’ school sponsored a book sale at a local book store, and 20% of the proceeds went back to the school. As you probably know, I rarely buy books and certainly not new books. But there I was, shelling out $65 for four children’s books. (Yikes! Thus reinforcing why I prefer the library.) The return on my investment to the school? $13.00. They would have been way better off if I’d just handed them $65. But, quite honestly, I wouldn’t have, because my husband and I just made a large donation to the school for our annual fund drive. The book fair was really fun – there were special readings and meet the author events, the honors orchestra (including my eldest) played, and it was a great opportunity to socialize. Also, a lot of the parents at our school do buy books and lots of them. I was surprised my friend G could even carry her basket of books it was so loaded up! Nonetheless, for me, it was really a moment of buying something I did not particularly want or need in order to make a donation to the school.

One of the things I like about our school fundraising gala, which happens in the spring,  is the “fund-a-need” auction. The Head of School selects something that the school needs (last year, a bus), and at the gala, you can bid in any amount toward the purchase of the need, but you get nothing in return except knowing that you contributed to the school.

Dan and I tithe bi-weekly to our church. The bottom of the form that we receive tallying our donations says something like “No goods or services were exchanged for these donations except spiritual ones.” I like that.

So next time you’re confronted with the opportunity or desire to buy something to support a charity ask yourself

  1. Do I really want and need this item?
  2. What portion of my sale is really going to the organization?
  3. Wouldn’t this charity be better off if I just handed them the amount of money I intended on spending anyway?

Today’s Declutter Item

During my recent reshuffle of the garage due to space opening up on my shelving units I decided that this bin is really not needed. We don’t generate enough trash in the garage to warrant keeping it especially since the outside bin is so close by. That’s one more large item that isn’t taking up space.

One too many garbage bins

Something I Am Grateful For Today

My parents made it home safe and sound after their visit. It was a trying trip for them as my mum was really not well, but they are home now and can recuperate in the comfort of their own abode.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. Yes! Once again you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head!

    My personal favourite example is the charity bake sale. By the time I use my ingredients, my electricity and my time, and then buy someone else’s baking as I’m dropping mine off for sale, I could just hand over my ten or twenty bucks to the cause and call it a day!

    • One of the groups in our church runs a no-bake cake sale occasionally.
      They hand out envelopes with a poem on it and you just place your money inside and the sale is done. I think it is a brilliant idea.

    • Indeed. Especially if you’re making AND buying, it’s not a good deal.

    • This is especially so for the one who do all the organising for these things. Not only do they have the same monetary outlay as the folks who just show up on the day but they also have the hassle of the logistics of organise it all.

  2. Colleen, I do hope your mum is feeling better soon. As my parents get older, I find I worry about them just as much as I used to worry about my kids when they weren’t well…

    • Don’t say that Jo, I worry far too much about my kids already. This visit really has highlighted the fact that they are starting to get less mobile that’s for sure. My mum usually has more get-up-and-go than my dad these days but he has old injuries that have come back to haunt him. Oh well, that is life I suppose. Old age will visit me one day as well.

  3. I could not agree more! My son’s school just had a book sale, and we completely skipped it. The fundraisers we do love are ones that give money back to the school for every purchase you make at certain grocery stores. Since groceries are always a necessity, I like knowing that part of that money heads to the school, and I didn’t have to buy something I don’t need in order to help the school as well!

    • Absolutely Megyn. I bought mulch this year from the Boy Scouts. It was the same price as at the nursery, and the boys delivered it to me and stacked it where I pointed. Since I have a huge garden, I buy plenty of mulch anyway. I also use my grocery card faithfully, and all the the popular uniform stores have school loyalty programs where they give a percentage of your purchase to the school. Since I’ll be buying uniforms anyway, it’s a win-win.

  4. I make a donation to my PFC (School Parent Faculty Club) at the beginning of the school year and then don’t feel obligated to participate in all the fundraising events. I do the same with the school library, so I don’t have to purchase new books. As you said, this way they get 100% of my donation, not 10% or 20%! It saves money, time, and it is better for the environment.

  5. My son’s marching band director quickly figured out that all those fund raising merchandise things are scams, with over priced items and most of the money going to the middleman as the poor students have to peddle the items. Instead, every year, he writes a nice letter, has each of the students submit how ever many names they can (relatives, etc) and the letter is sent to them requesting funds–as much or as little as the person feels they can afford. 100% goes to the band. I love it!!

    And no unnecessary junk for me to feel guilty that I have to buy!!

  6. Love this post and all the responses. It is so true that for the most part it would be easier to make a donation than end up with less money and more clutter where these silly buy to donate fundraisers are concerned. On daffodil day when the sellers approach me at the mall I give them a donation and tell them I don’t want anything in return. They are often stunned that I would not take the items they are “selling”. For one I don’t want the item and for two I don’t need to parade around after advertising the fact that I donated.

  7. This is something I worked out long ago! (I’m chuffed that I found it out whilst young!) Though, I realise that many other people haven’t and that’s why other events for fundriasing happen.

    At the moment, it’s Movember – you grow a mo to support mens health. My work is HUGELY behind it (not many woman work there), and anyone who emails me for a donation gets $10 without another word. And in return, I get an emailed reciept. Then on Tuesday we had a BBQ, and you could buy raffle tickets – no one asked me to, but had they, I would have just donated. There’s nothing I wanted in the raffle, so it would have been wasted on me. (I curse that BBQ, I have had food poisioning overnight, and can only attribute it to that, as my lunch was all from open mass produced packets)

    • I hope you are feeling better now Snosie.
      We always say my husband should shave his mo off for Movember because he has always had one. But he never will. It has become his symbol, the kids love it.