Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No Thank You For Your Donation

Weeks later, I remain grateful that a charity accepted my donation of generic-brand toilet paper. It really was the worst toilet paper I've ever used. I can't stress that enough. My quality of life improved dramatically once it was out of my life.

I've made other donations to other organizations since then, none as urgent as that one was, but donations that were also necessary. I recently moved, and to make the transition as easy on myself as I could I decided to part with some stuff I'd owned for a long time and had outlived its usefulness to me.

A couple of the items weren't popular with the local charities. How any non-profit could turn down my used VHS copy of Jerry Maguire is beyond me. Cuba Gooding, Jr. won an Oscar for that movie. You're telling me that not one person in New York City would want to relive his performance as it was intended to be watched, on a VCR? Highly doubtful.

This tape can cost up to $2.99 on eBay, and I was giving it away for free.
How can anyone reject such an amazing offer?

Or how about my copy of Street Fighter II for the PC? Arguably the greatest fighting game of all time. And anyone can play it. All you need is a CD-ROM, six megabytes of hard drive space and DOS 3.3 or higher.

I had an especially difficult time finding an organization willing to take my TV. It was one of those tube sets that are wide and heavy. Having carried that TV around my old apartment, I can say I know exactly how the athletes in the World's Strongest Man events must feel when they're competing. You should've seen my facial expression. It was not unlike the expression I made when I was using the generic-brand toilet paper.

I should've hired him to take away my TV.

I eventually found a thrift shop that accepted these items. I was relieved, partly because it was one less thing to worry about before the move, and partly because I still feel a little dejected from this one time when I offered to make a generous donation to charity and was turned down.

Years ago, I published a book titled Shaneanigans. It's no longer available in print, so, fortunately for you, you won't find any cheap plugs for it here. (Though if you are interested, you can read this post about Scantron tests and doctor visits, which is loosely adapted from a chapter in the book.)

My intention was to donate the proceeds from the sales of Shaneanigans to charity. I'd poured years of effort into the book, and I wanted to see something positive come of it, beyond the personal satisfaction I'd feel as a newly published author. Why couldn't it entertain readers and raise money for a worthy cause? That was my goal. That is what I wanted to happen.

There was one small problem I did not foresee: the non-profit I contacted wanted nothing to do with me. I reached out to a charity that I've long supported to gauge its interest in my idea. All I asked was that I be able to openly advertise to readers that all profits from the sales of Shaneanigans would go directly to the organization.

I followed its instructions to submit a formal marketing plan and eagerly awaited a response. Days later, I received an answer: No.

Let me say that the representative who emailed me was very nice about it, explaining that my book did not fit the organization's strategy. Which made perfect sense: I was just a blogger sharing my weird life experiences. What about that says "charity"?

Still, I was caught off-guard. Here I was, offering to raise money and seeking no assistance in return, aside from the use of the non-profit's name and perhaps its logo. And that was strictly forbidden, under threat of legal action. Legal action! If being charitable with my book meant the possibility of being sued, I wanted no part of it.

I heard the organization's message loud and clear: Yes, we could really use money to help those in need and make the world a better place...but we're not that desperate.

Still, the experience obviously hasn't deterred me from being a giving person. While I haven't made a financial donation to charity since then, I am more than happy to hand over the rest of my VHS collection to any thrift shop.

(I'm just kidding. I've made plenty of financial donations to charity since then. But I really do have VHS tapes that are available.)

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