Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Friday, December 16, 2005

To Gift Or Not To Gift?

Just Don't Call It Charity...

This is not a gun post, so non-shooters don't need to be scared off by the next few sentences!

I've noticed that the Gun Guy has morphed his site again. It's now "The Other Side", and there's a weird split between the old and new forums that I've not figured out yet.

Kim & The Mrs. spilled the beans about the recent changes to the old site and the Nation Of Riflemen replacement this past fall in a post the other day. It clears up a lot of questions about the relative chaos over there, and lays out (in more detail than I'd be comfortable divulging!) exactly how deep a hole they're in. It's pretty farookin' deep, and for the life of me, I have no idea how they'll manage to keep the dogs in shoes and the kids in kibble unless money falls from the sky.

They'll manage somehow, I'm sure. I've never met them, but I've talked with lots of folks who have and by all accounts they're genuinely decent people. That type tends to stay afloat no matter how heavy the storm.

Their idea is to form a not-for-profit organization to promote shooting sports and the 2nd Amendment, goals that I support wholeheartedly. Problem is, I'm feeling kinda burned about giving money to bloggers, due to two specific circumstances which I'll get to eventually.

As far as charitable donations go, I've gotten a lot looser with my spare change since my extended unemployment ended back in '04. I won't say I was a skinflint beforehand, but after the years of pedestrian-level poverty in college, I was more concerned with acquiring stuff than I was with spreading the wealth. I've always been good about dropping wads of cash on family and friends, but not so much with the anonymous public.

When I became re-employed, I was immediately hit up for a paycheck deduction donation to various charities, as part of a drive for 100% departmental participation. I resented having my arm twisted that way, but managed to find suitable organizations amongst the list of charities so that I didn't begrudge the money spent.

I've donated a good-sized chunk of money to various causes since I started blogging. Whether you look at it as El Capitan just being a decent person, or whether he's casting bread upon the waters just to keep karma at bay is a matter for debate. I dunno what turned up my donate-o-meter, but I really don't miss the cash, and I like knowing that someone's life is made a little easier as a result.

Now, let's talk about where the money goes. First, there's the big charity drives like the Bloggers For Boobies, Spirit Of America, and the like. Professionally run with low or no overhead, they're the type that eventually turns your cash over to the needy who have no way of ever knowing who it came from. They're just glad you donated. I don't expect any sort of recognition or even acknowledgement for that sort of donation. It's like dropping your change into the Salvation Army bucket, just doing it gives you all the reward you need.

Second is for surprise gifts. Every so often, someone will say "Hey! So and So needs this! Let's all chip in and buy it!" Staying anonymous is fine here, too. Sometimes you get a thank you note posted on a website, or mass-emailed, but sometimes not. It's a group effort for a specific task, though, and I wouldn't expect the recipient to track down every last donor that gave 50 cents to the cause for personal thanks.

Then, there's the unapologetic plea for cash. Sometimes people get in a jam, and they post a message asking for whatever help people can provide. Unlike the first two examples, there's rarely any accounting for the money at the conclusion of the drive. Lots of times there's no end to the plea, it's just a constant outstretched palm. For all you know, it's being spent on liquor and whores.

Now, according to El Capitan's Rules Of Order, when you make a request for cash on your blog to help foot the bills ("blegging"), and someone drops a wad in your Paypal account, it's not an anonymous donation. You should know to the penny who donated what, and you also have contact information and a way to get a message back through the pipeline. Seems to me some form of acknowledgement is in order.

No, a universal "Thanks, everyone!" post doesn't cut it. Not for me, anyway. I'm parting with my dollars to support your personal needs, based on my regard for you as a person, as evidenced on your blog. The very least you can do is say thanks. Hell, make it a form letter, just acknowledge that you received it if nothing else.

Last year sometime, at a point when I was still hip-deep in my personal money hole, a blogger posted a bleg that was sufficiently dire that I parted with cash that I really couldn't afford in order to help out. This blogger was known to be a stand-up guy, and I looked forward to an email of thanks so I could add words of encouragement that wouldn't fit in the Paypal comment box.

One was not forthcoming, though. That really chapped my hide, given my own financial situation. Now, it's entirely possible that 500 people sent cash, and emailing each one individually would take a year. Fine. Extract all the email addresses, slap 'em all in the BCC field of your favorite email app, then do a mass mailing. At least you've acknowledged the support. It's what I'd do, anyway.

The second time I feel that I got burned was earlier this year. An unnamed blogger's shit wasn't wired tight, and I happened to have an extra shitwire tightener back at the house. I volunteered to donate it to the cause. Hadn't used it for years, so it was no sacrifice to me, really. All that needed to be done was to locate it and ship it. When the "shitwire tightener" couldn't be located, I was a bit peeved. I had promised to deliver the item, and even though I'm sure the recipient would have understood if it was lost in the caverns of the garage, that's not the way I operate. I might drink up all your booze, teach your parrot nasty words, and then pass out on your lawn, but if you need something badly, I'll rupture myself in an effort to get it to you ASAP.

So, I go online, find the only vendor of shitwire tighteners, order a new one, then remail it as soon as it arrives. We're not talking a great deal of money, either.

Know what I hear back from the recipient? Dead silence. Nothing. They knew it was coming, and would have asked about it if it didnt' arrive. Again, I'm not looking for flower bouquets or fancy linen envelopes, just a quick email saying "Thanks".

Once bitten, twice shy. Twice bitten? Screw it. I'm keeping my damn cash.

Am I being unreasonable? If you're not able to thank a person face to face, or by a reciprocal gift, is a note (or email) of thanks just no longer deemed necessary in today's culture?

Your thoughts are welcome.

Oh, yeah... I most likely will end up donating some $$$ to KDT's venture, though I can't say how often or how much. I bitch a lot, but find that I usually end up putting my money where my mouth is!