Saturday, December 12, 2009

A different kind of don't ask, don't tell

With the holiday season upon us, charities are approaching us through the mail, telemarketing, email and on the Web. Representatives are in front of grocery stores and in shopping malls.

Now, I don't mean to sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, but it seems to me that a lot of these organizations assume that people don't make donations all through the year, and that unless asked, people wouldn't make donations at this time of year either.

That kind of goes against the reality of philanthropy and charity in the United States, which has one of the highest rates of giving of any country in the world. To prove the point, check out this story in Forbes.

Back in the "good old days," many people gave to charity anonymously, especially when significant contributions were made. But now, it's almost as if more money is spent on publicizing donations, particularly from companies, than in the actual giving itself.

I wonder if the ubiquity of the Web has fostered this profound change, because so much information is available, both accurate and inaccruate, that companies and high profile individuals feel that they have to "promote" their giving in order to combat various bits of information that may not be so positive about their companies or themselves.

So in other words, if it's not on the Web, then people assume that you or your company are not participating in charity or philanthropy. In the old days it was the opposite; you weren't asked and you didn't tell.

This is one of the many ways our culture is being influenced by the Web. My native approach is the old school way, don't ask and don't tell. But maybe the Web has made that go the way of the Model T, or Netscape.

Regardless, charity and philanthropy remain virtuous.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One word.