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 this week 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.

Nancy Whalen December 06, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Whoa Dan, that's a little harsh.....Low?? Your last line is just crazy, hurtful and insulting. Over and out.
Anonymous December 06, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Hard to do when you can't make your own ends meet....
Dan B. December 06, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I believe that ultimately these charities need our help, and they do more good by asking over and over than they would by not asking at all. If you find that line of thought hurtful, I'm sorry, but that's what I believe.
Nancy Whalen December 06, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I don't find that line of thought hurtful in the slightest, I agree with you, (btw, where did your comment go?) but that's not what you said to me; what you said was hurtful. Ultimately, we agree.
Ron Goodenow December 07, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Sure, all the requests can be irritating....but there is another side to the story. The Rotary Club to which I belong recently collaborated with Stop and Shop, CVS and Roche Bros Supermarket to raise money for Rotary's huge international effort to eradicate polio. Our program has been supported with massive funding from governments, the Gates Foundation and international agencies and we are almost at the finish line. . What struck me, in the course of being at several different sites, was the overwhelming and kind support of so many shoppers, many of whom donated far more than the dollar requested by our members and helpful high school kids. As far as we could determine only two customers, out of thousands, complained to store managers. None complained to us with the exception of one very angry late middle-aged white male in a semi military outfit who accused us of being part of an international plot on the part of the black helicopter crowd at the UN to spread radicalism and destroy our country. Rotary is a founding member of the UN and we have worked with that agency's cultural and aid agencies on many projects since the years after WW2 (note: this 'patriot' was doubtless thrilled this week when tea party senators blocked an international disability treaty supported by G.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, vets, and many of us with disabilities - I am a polio victim -- who must now find ways to help millions of polio victims). So please try and see the other side of the coin.


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