September 22, 2005

Donation or Extortion?

It’s that time of year again. Not fall, even though today is the first official day. No, it’s that time when companies across the country try to extort money from their employees to donate to the United Way. Why do companies force this issue so much? It’s because then they can say they raised so many dollars for them and get a special mention in next years drive. It’s all marketing that they don’t have to pay as much for… they make their employees do it.

I don’t mind charity drives, but I hate feeling forced into donating my time and money. Is it a donation then? Not in my mind, if forced to pay then I’m not donating money I’m a victim of extortion. I’ve worked for companies that keep track of donations to the United Way and if you don’t donate so much you won’t get a promotion or good review. They went so far as to tell the employees that. My current company is not that bad, however they do put a frown on a lack of participation, especially if you are management level. They do however hand out a sheet telling you what the recommended donation is based on your salary level.

My company makes a huge deal out of this drive. They put on shows, hold raffles, have fundraisers, and do what they call “Supervisor Stunts”. The Supervisor Stunts starts with a drive for money. They have cups set up with various peoples names on them and employees in the company drop money in to the cup to vote for which supervisor has to do a stunt. The four with the most money are the “winners”. The stunts are usually unimaginative things stolen from pop culture. A couple years ago, they did a fear factor take off where the individuals had to eat something safe, yet disgusting. In all actuality there was nothing all that disgusting about what they ate. Last year they did a take off of the old Nickelodeon show Double Dare. Each supervisor had to go through an obstacle course that was only designed to get them covered in slime, condiments, ice cream, pudding, etc.

This year they decided to open it up to all management and some of the support staff. I was strongly encouraged to participate in it this year. Why? Because with my position I am easily one of the top two people in the office that the employees would like to get revenge on. Thus, I would bring in a lot of money. Unfortunately, for them I had a different idea. Mine was more along the lines of, “I’m not donating one damn cent to the United Way and I’m not doing anything that might help raise a dime for them.”

See the extended entry for my reasons.

Some of you may wonder why I won’t donate to the United Way. It’s because I hate them. Actually, hate isn’t the right word; I loathe and despise them. I have no problems donating to charity; in fact, I donate my time and money to various organizations all through out the year. It’s just these arseholes that I can’t stand. As many of you may know, I’m a huge supporter of the Boy Scouts of America. I am an Eagle Scout with a Bronze palm. I’ve spent time as a leader and volunteer. Right now, I fill in when I can, but I donate money directly to them. However, the United Way in various states has started pulling their funding from the Boy Scouts, because of their position on homosexuals as volunteers.

Fine, they don’t want to help fund the Boy Scouts because of that, it’s their right. I agree with the Boy Scouts and will just give my money directly to them. However, I don’t think they have any right to try to dictate policy in these organizations they are funding. The money that was given to them was given with the belief that it was going to be spread amongst the various organizations they list, which still includes the BSA. However if they pull or cut their funding then they are misrepresenting where that money is going. Many of the people I spoke with here didn’t even realize the United Way was doing that.

The other reason I don’t like the United Way is that I know too many people that needed their help, swallowed their pride and asked only to be turned away. The excuses being anything from they made too much money to they weren’t in a dire enough position. The problem being is that every one of the people that was turned away all needed it badly. These weren’t short hardships, but long ones, including the loss of homes and family. Then I hear the stories from people here who did receive their help, including some of my minions, these people where in better conditions then the others I know.

I don’t know what their criterion is to receive help, but I’m thinking they may be a little bias. IE if you had a good job and life was good, then you where laid off, haven’t been able to find a steady well paying job in 2 years. The Department of Child and Family Services comes knocking on your door to take your kids. Not because you abuse them, but because you can’t make ends meet. You’ve given up every luxury you used to enjoy just to bring home food and cloth your kids. That wasn’t enough to keep someone for reporting you for neglect because little Johnny isn’t the healthiest looking kid in school. So finally in the last bit of desperation after being turned down for all the other assistance programs you turn to the United Way only to once again be declined… because you once made too much money. Does this story sound like BS? I thought it was, except I know the person it happened to and it is true.

I’m not even going to go into the mishandling of donations and funds that have been associated with the United Way. The first two were enough for me never to want to give them a cent. I’m not telling others not to donate to the United Way, that is your choice. I’m just telling you why I don’t like them and why I won’t. I believe that is a choice each individual person has to make.

Posted by Contagion in Rants and Raves at September 22, 2005 12:54 PM | TrackBack

See we are from the same family. I too loathe the United Way and refuse to give when they come around (however I always go to the kickoff lunch cause there is usually a Steeler speaking). Anyway, I feel the same about the United Way and I have an aversion to feeling forced to give to an organization I do not support. I give my money to the Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts and whoever I damn well please - without the overhead taken by United Way and the opportunity for mishandling that entrusting your money to them engenders!

Posted by: oddybobo at September 22, 2005 12:23 PM

"The other reason I don’t like the United Way is that I know too many people that needed their help, swallowed their pride and asked only to be turned away"

I am sooo in agreement with you on the United Way, I wish a pox upon them.

Friend of the family a couple decades ago was dying of Lukemia, they went to the United Way to try to get some help with stuff and they were told (I swear upong my fathers grave that they used these exact words) "He's dying, there are others that are living that can use the help more".

From that day forward I swore I would never in my life give one penny to the UW, and I was only 12 years old then.

Fucking Leaches is what they are.

Ford Motor is a big one for forcing employees to donate and the year I married my hubby I told him I do not want him to ever donate to UW, told him the reason and he has never donated again. When asked at work why he tells them and they leave him alone now.

The United Way can kiss my ass.

Posted by: Machelle at September 22, 2005 12:25 PM

Bastards. I hate them too. For all those reasons.

I would make a point of giving a LARGE donation (as big as I could afford) to a REPUTABLE charity and bring in the receipt, and tell whoever was in charge for my department, "Sorry, I already gave at home. Too bad you all chose a scam. We could have been the #1 department, see?"

If my employer ever said that promotions were based on charitable giving I'd be in court so fast their heads would spin.

Posted by: caltechgirl at September 22, 2005 01:46 PM

I did not know that about the United Way. And yeah, it sounds like extortion to me.

As far as the DCFS--- they need to be disbanded. That whole system is so messed up; it does more harm than good;did the family ever get their children back?

Posted by: Rachel Ann at September 22, 2005 02:48 PM

My old company it was known that you would not get promotions if you didn't play the game. The game was giving to UW. I'm at my new company... I don't play the game. I give where I want and UW is not one of them.

Posted by: Bou at September 22, 2005 08:01 PM

A company I worked for 3 years ago (fuck it, it was Valspar) was HUGE in UW; they'd make us go to the manditory meeting, bribe us with candy bars and cookies (which of course, I stocked up on) and sit there while some yutz tried to brainwash and/or guilt us into giving money, and at first I did. Now, I was never a Boy Scout, but I was a Cub Scout as a kid, and I've always had the greatest respect for the B.S.A and the values they continue to uphold. I stopped giving to UW when they pulled funding to the Scouts.
After I was laid off from this same job, The Wife and I went to them for temporary aid, thinking, this is what they do, "help" people. We were denied. We made too much money, blah, blah, blah.

(And if we had "too much money", why in the fuck would we be needing HELP!?)

So fuck the United Way. Give directly or to some REPUTABLE charity, but not those bastards!

Posted by: Wes at September 23, 2005 04:57 PM

See all above comments... I do not give to UW either. I also know someone turned away from them. Sucks. I give directly to the charities I want.

Posted by: VW Bug at September 23, 2005 06:13 PM

Ditto on not giving and knowing they turned people away! I won't give mostly because when I worked at Blue Cross I handled their insurance for a year so I reviewed their annual reports very carefully to see where their money went. their operating expense percentage is one of the highest of charitable organizations out there. Upon further examination I was able to see that it was because of the salary given to their execs.

Therein lies the waste of the beast. So today my money goes primarily to 5 places: American Red Cross, Cancer Care, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and my church. All of these org's I've worked with, know their inner structure, get the annual reports from and have much smaller operating expenditures (even though their global) than UW (which is natiional). Mismanagement and misappropriation doesn't begin to cover the sins of that beast.

Thanks for sharing your reasons with us and for letting us vent as you have.

Posted by: Michele at September 26, 2005 09:32 PM