Do You Have 'Charity Fatigue?'

From the ubiquitous red kettles to the option to round up to the nearest dollar at the register, there are many requests for consumers' charity this season.

It's rare to go through a checkout line without being asked for a donation. At PetSmart it's for animals; at Wendy's it's for adoption; at the Dollar Tree Store it's toys for military kids. And, let's not forget the jingle of the Salvation Army bell that sends many of us digging into our pockets.

It's true, needs are increasing yearly. One viewpoint is that if you're out shopping anyway, parting with an extra dollar here and there likely has little affect on your wallet—and if others do the same, the sum of all the small donations can make a big difference. 

But how do you decide when your donations are enough? Do you have to give each time to feel like you've helped? How do you walk through the cold past that kettle and the ringer of the bell one Facebook fan of Patch referred to as "the bell of guilt," and not feel like a cheapskate?

Donations can add up and some are tired of it.

Facebook user Adam posted this earlier in the week: "I'll go on record as saying that I hate this. After all, they are the ones making money on the transaction yet I'm the one being asked to donate. The snarky part of me wants to ask them if they'd like to donate the profit they just made from me to the charity in question."

Another Facebook user, Jess, said: "Everywhere I go they ask. It's overwhelming at times."

And it's not just on Facebook that people are complaining or questioning these in-your-face fundraising tactics. Columnist Sean Gonsalves wrote in the Cape Cod Times recently that he is starting to wonder if his "empathy muscle has atrophied."

Gonsalves said he is being bombarded in snail mail, email and most recently at his trip to the drive-thru. He refers to his feeling as "charity fatigue."

What do you think? Are you suffering from "charity fatigue?" Tell us in the comments.


Vivian Merrill December 13, 2012 at 06:31 PM
From a contributor's viewpoint, I can certainly relate to the sentiment here. Sometimes the power of "no" is a useful tool. On the other hand, one way to control what you give is to look at the wide array of charitable orgainizations that are out there, donate to the ones you want and not every single one. Over the past decade, there's a charity for every need out there. Or explain that you've already donated to the cause. Another explanation I hear is "Not today, next time". Cash donations are easy and quick to give, but when you are on a budget, they may be difficult. Instead of monetary donations, you can donate things, or your time. I manage a charitable organization, and have been able to organize entire events around things people have given me. Having people with ideas they want to do also helps other events come together. Athough cash donations are convenient, my philosophy leans towards giving the donor something for their money. Having lots of people to help and share their expertise is a great thing that I appreciate very much, and it has brought our group a long way.


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