Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How the WSPA lost my donation

Yesterday I was on my way to grab some lunch when I was approaching a corner where there was a young person and a clip board.  If you live or work in a city you know the type.  One of dozens of charities who solicit youths to stand on the street during peak hours in an attempt to elicit your donations.  I should start by saying that I'm not against this.  Organizations need to get their face out there, engage with the people.  In fact, my wife and I give to several organizations on a regular basis because:
A) We support what they are working towards
B) The tax receipts come in pretty handy around February of each year

So I often walk right by with a friendly smile, letting them know I've already given.  Sometimes it's true, that I have given to their organizations, some times it's not.  But I have given, and I can't afford to save the world. 
So yesterday I was approaching a corner near Spadina & Adelaide where I had no choice but to engage the binder holder.  (as a side note, they really need to have some kind of term - maybe they do… I suppose that binder holder will do for now…)  I've debated over whether or not I would list the name of the organization, and I think I have to.  WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), for those who don't know I've been a vegetarian for nearing five years (technically I'm a pescatarian since I still eat fish).  If you're ever bored enough to know why I'll be more than happy to tell you, but I won't waste your time here.  At any rate my wife and I are quite aligned with a lot of what the WSPA stands for.  So when this young man stopped me I was more than happy to listen and engage.  We had a nice long conversation about the troubles currently being faced in different parts of the world, and when the time came around for the inevitable, I simply told him that I go over all my major donations with my wife so that we're on the same page.  That I'd love to take any literature that he had and I'd pledge online.  And that's when the tides turned.  That wasn't good enough.  He explained that a lot of people say they'll do that, but then they don't.  Which, I think, is their right to do so.  I get pretty annoyed when it comes to high-pressure sales people - my instant reaction is almost always to say no just on principle.  But the problem when you're representing a charity is that you're selling me something that I don't actually need.  It's not like if I walk away I'm going to miss out on something that's going to improve my day to day life - I hope I'm not coming off terribly by saying this - but if you're going to put pressure on people, there has to be a reason.  There has to be a consequence to me saying 'no' for me.  Otherwise, there's no pressure, and you're just being rude. 

So me explaining that the finances in my home were equal weren't enough for this young man.  And the fact that I didn't have my credit card didn't stop him either.  He was willing to call my bank and set up an automatic withdrawal.  At this point I was feeling pretty uncomfortable by this young man who just wouldn't believe that I would actually look into the matter on my own time.  I eventually just had to put my foot down and say that under no circumstance would I be giving him money on the street.  So he arranged to have someone call me that evening and gave me a little slip of paper as a reminder.  Then, as I continued to go about getting my lunch (twenty minutes later), I came upon another group from the same organization, and approaching them I showed them my slip and one of the girls replied in a ridiculously snarly fashion, "Oh, well congrats on getting a phone call."  It was a really shitty thing to do to someone who was seriously considering making a donation.

I got back to work, looked up the organization, and found that I agreed with much of what they had to say and what they do.  I'd pitch it at home and we'd figure it out.  We're in the process of moving and so we don't want to just throw money around right now, we generally wait until the fall and make all our donations at once, but I was almost feeling like I wanted to get the better of these two people and make the donation just out of spite.  I can be that kind of person.

And then the phone call came.  We've got two small children and so bedtime is either heaven or hell, last night it was closer to hell.  And so in the middle of it the call came in, and I explained to the person that I was putting my kid to sleep and could I please call them back.  They insisted that it would only take a moment, and I explained that I didn't have it.  I'd call THEM back.  And then another snarly response, "Yeah, I'm sure you will sir."  And that was enough.  And here's the shitty thing about it, because of all their negativity about me contributing they became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I'm not going to give to their cause because the people that represent them made me feel shitty.  And when you're asking people to give you the money that they work hard to earn, you shouldn't make them feel shitty - you should make them feel good about it.  It's the least you can do.  So if someone from WSPA reads this, I apologize, but my money will be going to another charity.  I'm still going to give, just not to you.  The world is full of problems and it's impossible to rank which is more in need than another - but I've got to feel good about the organizations that I give my money to, and I can't say I feel that great about yours.

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