December 07, 2009

Red Kettle Campaign Boycott

It's that time of year again...when the jingle bell beggars stand outside the doors of every major retailer and beckon you with their siren song of guilt.

Here's the thing about The Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign. I really love the charity work the Salvation Army does. But, I'm wired to be obsessively self-aware. And I feel completely judged by these bell-ringers when I don't give. Especially because they know nothing about me except for that one action. They don't know whether or not I gave to the basket 3 stores down just an hour ago. They don't know whether or not I have prioritized charity causes I feel more passionately about than theirs.

And I refuse to be motivated to give by guilt alone. Note: this is one of the main reasons these are manned stations and not just stand-alone baskets...and another reason why most churches pass the offering plate down the aisle rather than having a basket in the corner where you can give discretely...more on that one another time.

In fact, I will even go out of my way to enter or exit the store through an unmanned entrance. And if this isn't possible, I will slow down my stride and use someone else as a full-body shield to eliminate a personal encounter.

Do you have a strategy, or are you just fortunate to be someone who could care less what these people think about you?


Meghan said...

I totally agree - I feel guilty every single time I walk by and don't put something in the kettle, even if I have just donated the day before or sent a check to my charity of choice. I will walk out of my way to avoid a bell ringer-manned door too.

I definitely agree about the collection at church too - they actually prefer if you commit to donations at the beginning of the year and our church even lets you set it automatic payments online, but even still it's hard to pass the basket and not feel guilty!

Eric Olsen said...

yeah, we do online payments for our church, too. I should start wearing a shirt that says "I paid online" so the ushers stop having my imaginative bad thoughts about me.

LizM said...

Today when I passed by the elderly bell ringer in front of my grocery store, she stopped me and said "Get me a Pepsi while you're in there, will ya?." I not only bought this woman a Pepsi, but I also put $3 in the kettle. My question: Did she see me coming or what?

Eric Olsen said...

well see, i love that story. because, that was more than an act of guilt-compensation. you genuinely made that women's day.

Bobby Hum-bug said...

I would have told her to get a job.

Eric Olsen said...

for some people, living in the city helps them gain a whole new empathy for the non-privileged. for bob, it reinforced the prejudices he's had all along.

Justin Elder said...

Doesn't it happen both ways. At church when I sit in the pew I feel guilty when it passes by and I don't put anything in. Yet, as an usher I'm concerned about the pace of the basket, keeping up with my partner and thinking if people are looking at me and saying, "he's doing this wrong". My mind is so far away from thinking about who is giving and who is not. So even though I've been in both situations I never think about what I hope other's aren't thinking about me, if that makes sense.

Though I've never stood outside at one of those kettles, aren't those people thinking, "What does this person think of me? or "Why am I doing this for hours in cold weather when I could be home doing anything better" instead of who is or who is not giving. Why then do we think these thoughts? Is it truly our own insecurities?

Eric Olsen said...


great analogy.