by Dr. Gerhard Falk
in our community some well meaning people who are constantly collecting money
from other members of the community for projects which the collectors regard as
important contributions to one or another cause.
generally done by calling, visiting or writing to those regarded as legitimate
targets for such demands. “Legitimate” means someone who has committed to
the cause for which money is sought or someone who, in the opinion of the
collectors, should be concerned and seems to “owe” the collectors his money.
no doubt that some success is always attained by these collections. Otherwise no
one would try this anymore. Nevertheless, much of the effort at collecting fails
or raises far less than could be expected. There are several reasons for this
the sheer volume of demands on the paychecks of the average American. Not a day
goes by on which we do not receive demands for money in the mail. Those of us
who have an office and a home address find so many demands for money for all
kinds of “causes” that the total exceeds our income for the month. Last year
I saved all demands for money for one month and found that these literally
exceeded my income.
I use the
word “demand” because the collectors seldom ask but generally demand.
Collectors are so convinced of the importance of the “cause” that many of
them use the most aggressive language in approaching possible contributors. This
is particularly true of those who collect money by calling on the ‘phone or
visiting their “targets” in person. I have repeatedly been accosted by
pushy, arrogant and loud individuals who sought to “embarrass” me and others
into giving them what they wanted. The motivation is easily discerned. We cannot
normally make financial demands on others nor become obnoxious in our demands.
However, in the name of “the cause” some of us believe we can use any gross
method since “I am not asking for the money for myself.” That isn’t quite
the case, however. The collectors gain a good deal of “psychic income” from
collecting for “righteous causes”, including praise from the recipients,
i.e. the numerous bureaucrats in the agencies who benefit from the collections.
reason why our efforts at collecting money for various purposes is often
ineffective is that the contributors do not know where their money is going.
Advertisements, of course, depict starving children
or old folks in rags. However, the money collected really doesn’t go to such
individuals. It goes to “agencies” and pays the salaries of the employees of
such agencies. Many of the executives of such agencies earn upward of $200,000
and more. Then there are assistant directors, department heads and a whole
litany of lesser deities who work in such agencies. In short, almost all the
money collected for charities is collected for the payroll. Moreover, many a
collection is undertaken by a collection agency, which pockets upward of 50% of
a good number of would-be contributors to many causes who recognize that they
cannot compete with the contributions of the rich and the super-rich. For
example, it is widely advertised that Mr. X or Mrs. Y has given $1 million or
even $2 million. This means to those with lesser funds that their contribution
would be negligible and no doubt ridiculed.
Consequently, many who could at least give something will give nothing because
their puny contribution is evidently meaningless.
another reason for the failure of some to contribute anything to numerous
“charities” is experience. There are those who sought at one time to be on
the receiving end of numerous welfare organizations only to discover they were
on their own and that the large welfare agencies would not give them so much as
a nickel. Then, when these same erstwhile destitute people gain income and
community status, the same people who would not “give them the time of day”
suddenly arrive at their doorstep demanding money. The erstwhile poor, now
affluent, then ask, “where were you when I was down and out in the street?”
Knowing they were ignored when they needed help, these fortunate few who “made
it” cannot believe that those who need help now will get any more help than
they received when they needed it. In short, nothing.
In view of
all this, there are a good number of people who will not contribute to organized
“charities” but who give directly to the poor and the needy. That insures
that those who need it the most really get help.
of course reason enough to make contributions to various “causes” because
those on the payroll of these “agencies” would undoubtedly be unemployable
if they lost their current jobs. Therefore the money which is earned as salaries
by the collectors and their friends may well prevent these “earners” from
having to be receivers of charity themselves.
Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications,
A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002),
Ascent to Reason (2003).