I want to preface this post by saying that I have nothing against the concept of fundraising. Many charities receive little or no regular funding so donations are essential for them to be able to carry out the wonderful support and services which they provide. It is also helps to raise awareness of issues such as medical conditions of which many people have limited knowledge.
I am bothered by the amount of stuff generated by fundraising for good causes. The past 25 years has seen exponential growth in this type of fundraising. Almost every week there is some designated ‘day’. We have pink ribbon, white ribbon, blue ribbon, red nose and daffodil days to name but a few.
There are several issues around this whole concept that bother me:
The amount of unnecessary stuff which is generated in the name of merchandising. These include ribbons, lapel pins, pens, medallions, mugs, teddy bears, silicone wristbands, keyrings, bandanas, fake flowers and caps. This is not an exhaustive list but it gives you an idea of the sort of stuff that has become part of the push for the donation dollar.
This stuff is:
Mostly made in overseas sweatshops and imported
Has to be purchased initially by the charity which reduces the money available for use in provision of services and support
Is rarely of any real use to the purchaser
Takes up space, gathers dust and eventually is consigned to landfill
Possibly the earliest proponents of giving away something in exchange for a donation was red poppies on Armistice Day. I believe they used to be handmade using red crepe paper but then progressed to mass produced. Now there is a choice of poppy themed merchandise.
The next forays into a designated ‘day’ that I am aware of were ‘Daffodil Day’ (Cancer Fund) and ‘Red Nose Day’ (SIDS and Kids)which began in 1986 and 1988 respectively. They both began with a single product and quickly expanded into a range of merchandise.
Since when did the need to buy stuff rather than simply make a donation become the accepted norm? Do people feel that they need to ‘advertise’ their support? Or is it simply designed to raise awareness rather than funds? Whatever the reason I disagree with the waste that is generated by the selling of merchandise on these special ‘days’.
My strategy to avoid the stuff is simply to select those charities that I wish to support and make a regular donation directly from my pay or at at time of my choosing. On the rare occasions that I make a donation on a specific ‘day’ I give money with the express wish that I do not want any merchandise. This is usually met with a strange look or comment but I simply say, “No thanks” and leave.
How do you feel about this issue?
Remember, this is not against individual organisations but rather the mass marketing of ‘stuff’ in the name of fundraising.