Hot on the heels of the piece I wrote for Politics Respun about detrimental fundraising and elementary school, I’ve found myself angered and annoyed by another form of fundraising that uses the school as a vehicle for driving charitable giving. While I have no problem with fundraising for registered charities, or even registered charities being supported by schools, I’m loathe to give props to an organization that asks children to run around soliciting funds from people via cheque, pledge or online donation. Especially since this amounts to parents feeling obliged to solicit, beg, harass and demand donations at work, from friends, family members and out of their own pocket. Again.
It’s not as though we are able to give freely, of our own volition because we’re supportive of the cause. We’re being asked to give in order to meet status quo and keep up with Aiden and Jaiden Jones. It’s a form of hostage taking, and after being accosted for funds by the teller at the bank, the check out woman at the grocery store, the children in front of the liquor store and 46 different solicitations in my mailbox, I’m jaded and bitter. I’m tapped out, and I’m no longer giving from my heart. I’m giving out of guilt or desire to make people shut up and go away.
We were not intended to give out of anger or guilt.
I had never felt this way about Unicef’s orange Hallowe’en box campaign that had been a part of our lives for decades. Being given a small orange box, asked to take it out with us while Trick or Treating, and to bring back our pennies was an unobtrusive way to learn about helping and free-will giving while having fun. It was not a burden. When I knocked on doors for tooth ravaging loot, people knew that kids would be coming with Unicef boxes, and always had a bowl of pennies and nickels ready. If we didn’t have a box, they often asked why we didn’t have one. It was one night, for one cause, without a high demand, and donation could be made freely without expectation.
I have not had school aged children prior to this year. I am not a teacher. I do not play one on television. (Yes, I AM sure I’m not a teacher, even though I may look like one.)
I had noticed that nobody had come to my door with a box in the last few years, but assumed it had something to do with the schools electing not to participate.
So, when the Big Kid’s school sent me a permission slip (which perplexed me, because they have no problem asking me to hawk magazines and wrapping paper on behalf of my kid) to ask if my kid could drag a box around this Hallowe’en, I didn’t hesitate to sign off and send it back. I have a gigantic penny jar that was ready and waiting for visitors on Hallowe’en, and figured people in the area would be doing the same.
This is the redacted (ineffectively) the form I filled out. Note that it CLEARLY states they’re sending a BOX home with my kid:
Box. They’re sending a BOX home. Yes? I read that right, didn’t I?
I didn’t get a box. I got an envelope.
An envelope asking me to set up an online account for my kid to fundraise on behalf of Unicef. To ask friends/family/neighbors/coworkers to donate ONLINE or via cheque. In funds large enough to warrant a tax receipt.
Really? WTF, Unicef?
Sadly, my scanner is evil and cut off some of my pithy commentary. This is what kids get from Unicef in 2010:
No box. No collecting on Hallowe’en? The logo is still utilizes the box in it’s imagery.
Interestingly enough, the box embargo is only in Canada. Americans are still using boxes.
The bigger surprise, to me, was that boxes were done away with by Unicef in 2006. So, why did the school think that boxes were on their way?
After making an angry tweet on Twitter about the death of the orange box, Unicef had this to say to me about the box:
“The orange box evolved into a month-long campaign, allowing more Canadians to take part. The spirit of the box still lives on.”
Spin, spin, spin.
I’ll tell you why they did away with the box:
- Overhead required to purchase and distribute the boxes was costlier than a paper envelope
- Anonymous donation at the door doesn’t allow for databasing givers.
- Rolling pennies, nickels and dimes + logistics of it = time consuming.
- Requires fewer donors at higher giving levels (gifts of $20, $30) to make campaign effective, rather than dozens of boxes containing handfuls of pennies.
- Likely problems with people collecting with the box, but not turning in the box or the collected funds.
- You cannot repeat solicit someone who gives anonymously.
- Children asking for large donations en masse are more effective than adults doing it.
This is no different than the other solicitations my children were asked to make over the past few weeks.
It’s now the 5th one in 40 days, and I’m fed up.
Unless Unicef wants a paper envelope filled with pennies, they’re not going to be meeting with my credit card or my labor any time soon.
Viva the orange box, baby.
Viva the orange box.