Charitable Transactions: A Step Too Far?

I am all for charity. I spent my 18th birthday completing a 50 mile walk for charity, and am always happy to donate any loose change in my pockets to the collectors I see in the street or those that come to the door.

However, that other day just as we were leaving the local supermarket, one of these collectors approached us. I cannot remember what the charity was, and to be honest is isn’t really important, Charity is Charity after all.

Bearing in mind, this lady was clever and had come into the supermarket to do her collecting. This bordered on my limits, as I am more than happy to give, but don’t like to be pestered and harassed into doing so.

As it happened, I had no change on me, and I checked every pocket to make sure. Otherwise I feel guilty. My wife did the same but also had no change. We had just bought the groceries with our debit card. The non-cash checkouts in this supermarket an overlooked flaw in this ladies collecting tactic.

I apologized to the woman and continued walking, however, rather than move on to the people behind us, she jumped ahead of our stroller and shook the tin again saying. “It’s ok, I can take card transactions from as little as 50 cents.” As it happened we didn’t have 50 cents left in the bank to donate, but I would not have done so out of a matter of principle.

To stand in a supermarket or outside of popular high street shops and ask people for their spare change is one thing, afterall collecting is a tactical operation. Yet the public always had that one get out of jail free card to play. It showed that you cared, but covered you in case you didn’t want to give at that point in time. Often there are several collectors in one place and maybe you had already given further up the street.

To take away that line from the public, is in my view to take away the very act of charity. It stops the ordinary man from make a donation out of the kindness of their heart, to being forced to cough up their hard-earned cash to at the very least protect them from public humiliation. To walk away with a polite, sorry I’ve got no change is one thing, but who could pull off a ‘Sorry, I’ve got not change or cards on me’ especially when trying to push a cart full of groceries to the car you just filled up at the gas station outside.


8 thoughts on “Charitable Transactions: A Step Too Far?

  1. Blimey I have not yet come across that sort of charity collecting before! It really is going a bit far I think. I can’t walk down my local high street in a neighbouring town without being accosted by several people trying to sign me up to regularly donate to their charities. Nowadays I simply tell them that I can’t do it anymore and that I will donate to my chosen charities in the future when I do have spare cash.

    1. I am lucky living in Holland I can just say I don’t speak dutch and they leave you alone. I am all for charity but sometimes you can be too forceful. It started with direct debit subscriptions. You couldn’t just give a few quid, but sign up to give a few quid every month. Now its direct from your bank. Where are the boundaries?

      Thanks for reading and commenting. It is most appreciated.

  2. I agree things can get out of hand.
    One that always drives me crazy is at grocery stores or walmart they ask at check out if you’d like to donate a dollar (or two or five) for x cause to be added to your purchase. At first I said yes, but getting hit up a few times a week continually for months is crazy. Now I just say no thank you. Honestly, I don’t even feel bad about it anymore, and don’t care what the people in line behind me might think. I KNOW what I’ve donated to various charities throughout the year, and that is good enough for me.

    1. Oh we don’t have that over here just yet, but I am sure it is only a matter of time. As you say Jen, I don’t mind giving to charity but there are limits. You can’t give to everyone, and I give what I can whenever I can, and have coordinated several chairty events so I know that I both have and will continue to do my part. Of course there are certain charities that are closer to home than others, and those are not always the ones you see on the street with buckets.

  3. Charity is a matter of personal choice. Everyone has their reasons to give or not to give, and should not be judged either way.
    To be pushy about it, regardless if it’s 50 cents, turns the transaction into something less about charity and more about ‘selling.’ You have become another number. Though I agree with supporting causes that are important to me by donating, I will not be coerced into donating to others that I don’t know enough about. To give to everyone is meaningless if you cannot support yourself — for that, I have no guilt at all.

    The old adage that “charity begins at home” is not selfish — it’s a realistic view of helping others. After all, becoming a burden to someone else just adds to the problem.


    1. Eden, you capture everything I have been feeling and thinking. I will not bankrupt my own home to give to others as all that does is perpetuate a circle that these collectors are trying to break. Kind of a Catch 22 situation.
      As you say, it is not the size of the transaction she was pushing for, but the very fact that she was pushing, and indeed selling the donation to me.
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. It is most appreciated.

  4. WOW. That’s horrible. In the US most businesses have policies that forbid the solicitors from doing so inside the store and I’ve definitely never seen one that takes CREDIT CARD transactions…

    1. This was the first collector I have seen that takes cards. I was so shocked by not only the possibility to do it but by the brazen attitude with which it was pushed on us.

      I think it is a dangerous game to start with the collectors. I mean, the ones in the street can be avoided if neceesary but we get a lot of collectors going door to door. If they start taking cards, then they really have you over a barrel.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

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