Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Charity Scams Start At Home

The other day I got a call from a fellow raising money for the local troubled teenagers program run by the county sheriff. I thought this was a worthy cause, so I agreed to give $20 - won't change the world, I know but I am a bit short these days - (see previous post).

My fund raising fellow then brought a lady on the call who proceeded to read me the fine print of the terms of my donation, the most relevant part being that only a portion of my $20 would find its way to the charity. After she had finished speed reading her legal mumbo jumbo and had left the call, I asked my fellow just how much of my $20 would wind up helping troubled youths. His answer floored me.


Just $2.00 of my $20 - or 10% would be given to the charity. Now I understand that it takes money to make money, and there are expenses - but seriously. If it had been $2.00 in expenses and $18 going to the charity, that would have been jolly good by me. As it stands, the charity cited in the phone call is what I would call "pretense expense" for a company whose main line of business is phoning up folks and asking them for money. When people do this in person, it is called "panhandling".

The moral of this story? Know your charity - find them before they find you, and give directly to them - do not respond to random requests for money, by phone or by mail (no matter how many nickels they send - keep 'em.) Money is tight these days and the need is bigger than ever - distribute your donation dollars wisely.


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Case Of Aggressive Panhandling

What is the proper way to deal with aggressive panhandlers? If somebody asks you for money, are you obligated to fork it over? What if that somebody is demanding $50 from you, to pay for something that you have already given money to pay for?

Does one just smile and write out a check, figuring that $50 is a small price to pay to keep the peace and harmony in one's life? This is the situation a friend of mine is facing at the moment. In the end, she pulled out her checkbook and paid up, because she wanted to protect her son who has to spend his days with the panhandlers.

No, she doesn't send him out on the street to beg for money, his elementary school is demanding the money in the form of a pledge drive in which 100% participation is mandatory. A parent has taken it upon himself to harass all the other parents of the children in the class until they too, pledge money.

First there were multiple emails, then the phone calls started. One message informed her that a certain member of the office staff was waiting for her to bring the envelope by containing her pledge. She finally gave in when her son came home and told her that his parents were one out of three sets of parents that had not yet paid up. Don't think for a moment that he learned this in any sort of private setting - all of his classmates are wise to this bit of information as well.

Am I wrong to think that this is a few steps over the line? Especially these days, $50 can be a substantial amount of money - it can mean having water or electricity for the next month, or being able to pay that little bit extra on a high interest credit card to finally start to attack the principle. There were a few months there where all our bills were turning red and I didn't have $50 extra dollars. Not to mention the fact that my friend and her husband pay boom market property taxes which are supposed to pay for the schools.

My daughter went to private school and the administration there looked over our shoulders the entire time when we started fund raising for the senior prom to make sure we didn't put pressure on anyone or put them in a tight spot (Just call me Guido...).

I dunno, is this normal now in elementary school? Has anyone else had this kind of experience at a public school? I am interested to hear what people think, so by all means say your piece!


PS... More "Diary" later today, after I get some sleep.

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