Ch 25: Helping Locally and Globally

Charitable Protest: I’ll Give 4 of 8, Thanks

A group I participate in and volunteer for has organized a fundraiser.

To attend, I would be required to spend:

  • an hour driving
  • $5-$7 on car fuel
  • four hours of my free time
  • an immeasurable amount of my sensory capacity, AND
  • $30 for access

Again, I already participate, volunteer, and market with the group all year long.

That’s a total of eight different asks.

I max out at four.

So, I am instead staying home, enjoying my free time and sensory recovery, and writing a cheque for $750 for my year’s financial contribution. That’s the amount I’ve assessed to be optimal for the organization and for me, all things considered.

I don’t want to spend all those other things over and over again. I’m curious about whether the people organizing the fundraiser do. Is it more effective than just asking for the amount needed? Or is it more fun to spend a total of 860 volunteer hours to raise the same amount?

I’ve largely stopped supporting fundraisers that bring in, say, $1.50 per volunteer hour. I prefer to donate hours from my direct work that paid much better, and that land within my normal life rhythm.

I now use the following approach:

  • Look at the organization’s annual budget.
  • If I assess the planned expenses to be reasonable, divide the organization’s budgeted need by the number of people involved. (This works well for local schools and churches, for example, and not well for agencies serving the impoverished. The latter calls for a different method.)
  • In my fun financial planning program, designate my “share” for the year.
  • Throughout the year, as an organization demands fees, ticket purchases, and so on, pay for those from my designated line.
  • At the end of the year, write a cheque for the difference.

For example:

  • My son’s public school felt it needed an additional $43k/year to run.
  • In my fancy community, my income is among the lowest.
  • $43k divided by the school’s 100 students is $430 per student.
  • The spaghetti dinner is intended to bring in $20 per person, so I pay the entry fee for my child and me and deduct $40 off my planned annual contribution.
  • The chocolate bar sales are intended to bring in a minimum of $30 per family, so I buy a bar, throw $30 into the box, and deduct $30 off my planned annual contribution.
  • This continues, for a total of 28 fundraisers per year.
  • At the end of the year, I still have $153 available, so I write a cheque for that amount.

Could the school have just asked me for the $430, more or less according to my ability? Yep, and I would have given that, or more on behalf of families with less.

But it doesn’t ask. It sets a goal for spending, then hosts 1-3 fundraisers every month. Buying tickets allows us to participate in the social events. Deducting their cost from my annual contribution means we end up giving our “fair share” but not unnecessarily more.

With many nonprofits I’ve learned to wait for the year’s asks to be done, then write a cheque for the amount they didn’t require me to “donate” or spend in order to participate. This system is working well!

Does it sound too cold, too calculated, too logical? It does to me! Yet it has proven to be an excellent antidote to both my previous habit of overgiving (to the point that I was impoverishing myself) as well as to my fear-based counter-response of withholding.

Finally, I am giving an amount that feels balanced and healthy, while simultaneously generous and fair.

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