“He freely gave to charity, he had the common touch. And they were grateful for his patronage and they thanked him very much. Then they sold all his contact information to a whole bunch of other charities.” (With apologies to Paul Simon).
Every year I try to make donations to charities I think do the most good and have the least overhead. I hope most of us do. But lately it seems my good deeds are not going unpunished.
Let’s say I give a sizeable donation to a worthy charity that helps feed the poor. They send me a very nice thank you note with a letter that can be used for tax deduction purposes. So far, so good. But then I start to get, in the mail or through e-mail, solicitations for similar charities. Amazing coincidence? Don’t think so. What I am pretty sure is happening is the charity I gave money to sold my contact information to several other charities that now have identified me as a potential softy for feeding the less fortunate. And while that may be true, it feels like an invasion of my privacy.
Furthermore, let’s say I send a more modest donation to, for example, a religious charity. They also send me a thank you letter. But they also keep sending me more and more requests for money. At what point will they have used up my entire donation by asking me for more money?
All of this will not stop me from giving. I think we are called to give. But I’m sure I’m not the only person who questions some of the tactics involved.
Speaking of donations, I’d like to thank the thoughtful people who come to my neighborhood every weekend to donate money to the city parking enforcement office. It works like this: visitors want to come to the beach. Where I live, they are required to park in metered spaces and pay for their time used. If they cannot find a space they like — or on really busy weekends, any space at all — they simply park on one of the neighborhood avenues where the signs clearly state you may not park without a residence sticker on your vehicle.
They do anyway, and eventually get a ticket. I once asked a visitor about the ticket on his windshield and he simply shrugged and said it was the just the price of a day at the beach. It didn’t seem the time to point out that he had inconsiderately taken away a parking spot in front of a home whose owner now had to park blocks away.
The big problem here is that the tickets are too inexpensive. I have been told the most the city can charge for illegal parking is $30. It’s true that the cars can be re-ticketed every two hours, but with so many illegally parked cars and so few enforcement agents, that rarely happens. The solution, at least to me, seems obvious. Find a way to raise the fine to $100 for parking on a residential street without the proper sticker. I’m guessing that will make Uber a much more attractive beachmobile than the family mini-van.
So, freely give to charity to show your common touch. But don’t park on our side streets and we’ll thank you very much.