Make one gift now and we’ll never ask for another donation again.
Sorting through my junk mail pile tonight, I was actually struck and stopped by this postcard… strangely, its offer was for me.
We will give you relief, one avenue of escape from the onslaught of knowledge about the suffering out there in this great big world… one place that you can buy your way out of first world middle class guilt.
Forget how we got your address in the first place, it’s too late now… now you know… and you know that for $250 you could permanently fix a person’s disfigurement.
We can add it up for you in cups of coffee, sandwiches, phone bills; however you want to quantify the guilt that you now must live with. Or you can encourage that callous sensibility that says… out of sight out of mind, haven’t thought about Haiti in at least a month… tossing out one more scrap of junk mail will be a piece of cake.
A philanthropy blog was quick to pick up on the new marketing tactic and provide the inside scoop on how effective the campaign is.
In fact, he told me, the “one gift” offer, as the solicitation is called, proved so effective in 2008 tests that it’s now used in all of Smile Train’s mailings to recruit donors. He declined to provide specific figures but says the appeal is a “significant improvement” over the charity’s previous approach to winning new donors.
~The Chronicle of Philanthropy
I can’t blame them for the tactic, it makes perfect sense. They got me cornered as a relatively well to do westerner with expendable cash reserves. I could afford to buy my way out of this guilt trip for $250, that would be about 5 months of my morning coffee habit.
There it is, I could even sacrifice one thing I love to give someone else something they need… instead of putting it on my credit card and going further into debt.
See, that’s the thing… I don’t really have real money. It is a nag that never gives up nagging, I have a steady income, but it is all accounted for and then some by a mortgage and a leftover school loan that I will probably be paying off for another 20 years. I used to have a 401k, but then I happened by 2008… and like so many, the rest is a depleted history.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it.
One thing I have demonstrated over and over again is that I have the power to go into debt… now a budget that I stick too… that’s another story.
But that is all a bunch of excuses, I afford all sorts of daily luxuries in the form of books, movies, food, and air conditioning that could certainly take care of a good few cleft palate surgeries every year. But I usually don’t give to the charities, well… I do sometimes, but I say usually because I feel that I am aware of at least 500 of them (today alone)… all more worthy of my coffee money than I am.
“Empathy burnout” it’s called, and the modern marketing machines are well aware that the new globalized guilt conscience, powered by ambitious millennials with free time on their hands (because they don’t know how to work) and the social media explosion, could be reaching its saturation point.
Everyone knows about the woe’s of everyone, how do you choose who you are going to help?
We are supposed to help others out of our abundance, which we have, but still America can no longer afford to send mail and the national debt is now over 14 trillion dollars. We have an abundance? Still, we live better than most… and we get to carry our debt whereas most countries just get crushed by it.
It’s like we are all bent over carrying some huge treasure chest on our backs, and occasionally we can reach out with one free hand and give someone who has fallen down a hand up instead of shutting our eyes and just stepping on them. We still got the legs for this situation, but it is crushing our spirits nonetheless…
Who can fault a savvy marketing company with a plan to help children get a much needed surgery? For sure, if we all gave up on Starbucks and Ikea we could redirect our funds and probably solve a good number of hankering world problems.
I just watched “The God’s Must be Crazy” for the first time in my adult life. It was an amazing film, funny and profound… but first very funny.
The Gods Must Be Crazy
Director: Jamie Uys
I identified perfectly well with the Andrew Steyn character and his hopeless yet faithful clunker of a vehicle, I too must put rocks under my tires to keep my truck from rolling away. I also identified with the female lead that left the big city to try to do some practical good out in the bush… in search of simple fulfilling work that is not all caught up in the quagmire of modern life.
And then you have the bush man Xi and the mysterious gift from the gods, a coke bottle. I love this movie most of all because it depicts African’s that do not need my help. In fact, I probably could use their help in trying to figure out a way to live that had less needs and made more sense out of the daily opportunities afforded to all humans. Well beyond the relief that one could experience in the “one time gift”, this movie offers the vision of people that are perfectly happy without my money or assistance. If I gave them anything at all, there is a good chance that I could foul up the whole works and ruin what exists as a very good way of life.
The quote escapes me at the moment, but I remember reading a Lewis quote in which he characterizes women as being better fitted for charity since they naturally see the way to help others by getting involved where as men naturally see the need to respect people by leaving them alone.
This is the true freedom that every globally aware westerner will be longing for… the freedom to let things and other people be.
But no, they must all be vaccinated and evangelized…. so we go to help. As we should I suppose, but if they don’t need coke bottles; chances are there are many other things they don’t need as well.
So we settle on some simple ideas; Coke bottles, clean water, health (requires fixing the cleft lip and palate), freedom from oppression, and Jesus… more and more in that order.
The Coke bottle serves mostly as a humorous MacGuffin to move the plot along… but I think all of the critiques that are made on the double edged nature of modern technology is right on. They get the Coke bottle, but do not use it for its intended purpose… indeed it has outlived its intended purpose as soon as it arrives. It could be a musical instrument, but it works just as well as a bludgeoning weapon. It could be a food processor, but it works so well that everyone wants it and again it becomes a source of strife and not solace. The hero in the movie has a truck, but it is always broken and needs lots of attention. There are bandits with guns, but they use them to fight a war that nobody is capable of winning. Plenty of fun commentary on modern technology and its arbitrary uselessness as compared to an agreed way of life that is enjoyable to live out in community, albeit with limitations.
The Coke bottle introduces a problem, the solution is not more bottles for these people… the solution is to destroy it, much like Frodo and the Lord of the Rings.
The strange thing we live with now, is that we have seen the promise of technology fulfilled. There really seem to be very few problems that we could not fix with enough smart people and a ton of money. Some day there will be a civil rights movement for the cloning rights of the poor, they deserve a second and third chance at life as much as the rich.
I read recently that Bill Gates wants to solve malaria by killing off all of the mosquitoes… but what about their rights, maybe the universe is more about mosquitoes than humans in the end?
Now that is where my empathy ends, kill them all Bill, kill every last one of them…