It may come as a shock to those who know me but I'm not a particularly giving person when it comes to charities.
My donations are usually limited to things like throwing some change in the Salvation Army buckets, giving a check to the local Volunteer Fire Department, and buying Girl Scout cookies.
One of my pet peeves is when people ambush you looking for donations. Whether it's the March of Dimes laying in wait at freeway exit ramps, or homeless fiddle players at bus stops, I just end up getting annoyed.
And unfortunately, perhaps because of people like me that don't go around throwing money at strangers, the trend of active vs passive donation seeking is increasing. I'm sure the proliferation of credit and debit cards, and the resulting lack of cash-carrying, has something to do with it as well.
This trend reached its highest level for me the other day at a Taco Bell drive-thru. A damn drive-thru window. When I drove up to pay the guy asked me if I'd like to purchase a star (or maybe a tree) with my name on it to help some organization or another. I didn't really pay attention, I just reflexively said "no thanks" while feeling shocked that now even drive-thru windows weren't safe.
I know that there are a lot of organizations out there that do good things, and that these organization need money to function, but if I gave money to every group that had their hand out I'd need to start soliciting to feed myself. I have to prioritize, and one of the measurements I use to do that is - How annoying is the group in question?
Unfortunately that annoyance factor is becoming less and less useful as more and more groups are relying on the ambush method of fundraising.