Charity Starts At Home, A Dozen Times

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 21, 2018

(I am working for Concern, a very well-known charity in Ireland that focuses on famine relief and aid for developing countries. I go from door to door, asking people to sign up for a small monthly donation. It’s quite a gruelling job; I have a list of a hundred doors to knock on in a day, and am only expected to sign up two or three people. The rest will all be no-answers or refusals, sometimes very unpleasant refusals. I’m at the end of a long, tiring day of knocking on doors and giving my pitch over and over. I genuinely care about the work our charity does, but when you’ve said a thing dozens of times in a day it’s hard not to sound like a robot, and though I never resent a simple refusal, some people really are shockingly rude about it. I approach one of the last houses on my round, trying to pluck up my energy, and knock on the door. A slightly scruffy-looking young man in his late twenties opens the door and I start my spiel. He holds up his hand to stop me and I’m expecting a refusal, just hoping he’ll be polite and won’t shout at me.)

Guy: “Yeah, it’s okay. I’ve been expecting you guys; I saw you going around the neighbourhood earlier. Come on in.”

(Surprised, I follow him into his kitchen.)

Guy: “Here, sit down and show me how to sign up. Oh, do you want a beer?”

Me: “I… uh… Thank you so much, but I don’t think I’m allowed to drink beer while I’m working. So, you’d… like to sign up?”

Guy: “Yeah, sure. I know about what your charity does already. How much would you like?”

Me: *not believing how easy this is* “Well, the minimum is €11 a month, but if you could manage to make it €21 a month or over, the charity gets an extra tax break from the government, which would increase the value of your donation to us.”

Guy: “Let’s round it up to €25 a month, then.”

Me: “Wow, thank you!”

(I start walking him through the donation forms.)

Me: “You know, I’ve never actually met anyone who had already decided to sign up before I came to their door!”

Guy: *nonchalantly* “Yeah, well, I’m already signed up to twelve others, so…”

Me: “Twelve?! I have to ask, is this okay for you financially? We don’t want anyone to feel pressured to do more than they can.”

Guy: “Don’t worry; it’s no problem. I came into quite a lot of money recently, and I’ve enjoyed donating to charities ever since. I like to spread it around to lots of different organizations rather than giving a lump to just one, you know?”

(We finish up the forms and I go to leave, thanking him profusely all the time. He caps everything by saying:)

Guy: “No, thank you for coming around today. I might have forgotten to include your charity if you hadn’t come to the door. Keep up the good work.”

(I was so touched I nearly cried. I hope that if I ever get rich, I’ll enjoy generosity as much as that guy did. For now, I just do what I can, and try to remember how much pleasure there can be in giving.)

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