Do you know what it’s like to be rejected hundreds of times in just a few short hours? I do, because I conducted a field experiment for my undergraduate thesis. Gathering data totally sucked, and once I was finished I vowed that I would always help out anyone conducting research by participating in their study. However, I feel totally different about people soliciting money for charity on the street: I absolutely hate it.
Charitable giving, like someone’s salary or budget (if it exists) can be a touchy subject. I absolutely am the biggest advocate for being open about your finances, but I do agree that charitable giving should be kept quiet for good reason. In the sense that talking about your charitable giving will make others think about theirs, that’s great, but it definitely feels backwards to me to brag about something that’s supposed to be self-less. Self-promotion can be great: I’m always thrilled to hear a friend got into a top graduate program or got a raise at work. Especially for women, it can be hard to fight cultural training that you should smile and be quite and not cause any waves due to your ambition. It’s definitely important to make sure you get credit for your great work – and it’s totally on you to make sure people take notice.
I’d welcome a discussion about charities people give to, or how much, but I would never be the first to bring it up. When it comes down to it, giving more or less money doesn’t mean much – donating your time is even more honorable. Your choice of charities is pretty personal – which is why I’m so annoyed when I get solicited for donations on the streets. It happens ALL THE TIME when I go out to grab lunch at work. I am a big fan of being polite and (despite my general un-PC-ness) I think etiquette has its place in making people comfortable in social situations, which is why this solicitation is really aggravating: it’s incredibly rude to assume that you have any right to my time (and money). As far as practical matters go, most people would want to do some research about the charity and how effective they are with their money before donating. Not to mention, pulling my credit card out on the street does not sound like a good idea. I mostly resent the harassment (well-intentioned as it may be) and intrusion to my personal space.
I often hear that New Englanders are polity but not friendly – is my aversion to solicitations cultural/geographic? Friends from other areas, feel free to weigh in. Maybe I’m being too crotchety – how do you all feel when charities solicit you for money on the street?