One day, a few months ago, there was a knock on my door. Little did I know, when I opened that door, I got dragged into a vortex of emotional manipulation. I was charity mugged.
The girls at the door were lovely, charming. They chatted with me, fawned over my dog and were friendly in every way. They tried to make connections with me and compliment me. But it was all fake. They were doing it so I would give the charity they represented money.
The work done by this particular charity is good work, and ultimately they do just want to help people. But that costs money, and so soliciting donations by knocking door to door, running raffles and stopping people in the street or in shopping centers to ask for money ends up being the most visible face of charities that most of us see.
These tactics aren’t fair. They aren’t fair to the people trying to do shopping or walk around town or even just sit in their homes without interruption. These tactics are not fair to the people who are hired to try and coax money out of unwilling donors and who are probably being exploited. They’re not fair for the people who already donate to charities and are made to feel like unfeeling monsters because they can’t support every valuable organisation out there. These tactics are especially not fair to the face of the charity and their reputation for doing good work.
I want to be generous with my money, along with my time and all the other resources at my disposal. But I don’t want to encourage these shady tactics and I don’t want to feed the cycle of emotional manipulation as the only way charities get money out of people.
So I’ve decided to be deliberate about it. To plan out my generosity. To investigate charities and pick which ones I will support for the rest of the year. Then, when I get ambushed by those wanting my money, I can politely but firmly inform them that I’ve already decided where my charity donations will be going this year.
As well as giving to my church, I’ve chosen one local charity and one global charity to give money to for the rest of the year.
Locally, I chose Micah Projects because my church has partnered with them on a bunch of things, I think the things they do in the West End are valuable and worthwhile, I see the results of their work regularly when I visit their Hope Street Cafe and the ways they approach raising money for various projects fits with my ethics and doesn’t resort to guilt to pry money from people. Check out their current campaign for an example of how they raise funds.
Globally, I chose TEAR Australia, who describe themselves as a movement of Christians in Australia responding to the needs of poor communities around the world. I especially like that their work is centered on the belief that God loves all people, and so priority is given to those programs that strive to involve the most marginalized and exploited members of each community, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.
Charity is essential to functioning as a society that’s not only successful, but compassionate. But deliberate and thoughtful generosity will always be better than generosity instigated by guilt and emotional manipulation. How can you be deliberate and consider in your approach to generosity?