The Costs of ‘Charity’

I am sitting at an outside table at a Starbucks overlooking one of the busiest intersections in our city.

“Working” this intersection are several people who purport to be collecting money designated for care to the homeless. Each red light cycle, they stream through the stopped cars with their flyers and buckets soliciting contributions.

Such means of raising funds has always bothered me. What am I supposed to say when someone puts a bucket in front of me when I leave Walmart and they say, “Would you like to help crippled kids?” “No” just doesn’t seem like the right answer to such a question. “Not now” seems softer, but it masks my true answer, which is, “I’m not giving you anything.”

The leader of this crew retreated to the shade of an umbrella on the porch near me here to handle a couple of cell phone calls. I don’t intentionally eavesdrop, but she did nothing to keep the call quiet. What I learned was that each of the workers gets to keep 35% of what his bucket contains.

Not a bad gig, I suppose. If in an hour I collect $100 for the homeless, $35 goes into my own pocket.

The moral of the story for me is to keep refusing to help crippled kids, as awful as that looks, and to direct my giving to known and reputable agencies.

One thought on “The Costs of ‘Charity’

  1. Anonymous

    Yeah; know what you mean. The cashier at that store you mentioned asks, "Do you want to contribute to _____?" – whatever it is; can't remember exactly now.I've thought of saying, "We give at church," but that's not strictly true at least for the named charity. However, our church does help the needy through a reliable local organization staffed mainly by volunteers – certainly not people who pocket a good percentage of contributions.

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