I am all for charity. I spent my 18th birthday completing a 50 mile walk for charity, and am always happy to donate any loose change in my pockets to the collectors I see in the street or those that come to the door.
However, that other day just as we were leaving the local supermarket, one of these collectors approached us. I cannot remember what the charity was, and to be honest is isn’t really important, Charity is Charity after all.
Bearing in mind, this lady was clever and had come into the supermarket to do her collecting. This bordered on my limits, as I am more than happy to give, but don’t like to be pestered and harassed into doing so.
As it happened, I had no change on me, and I checked every pocket to make sure. Otherwise I feel guilty. My wife did the same but also had no change. We had just bought the groceries with our debit card. The non-cash checkouts in this supermarket an overlooked flaw in this ladies collecting tactic.
I apologized to the woman and continued walking, however, rather than move on to the people behind us, she jumped ahead of our stroller and shook the tin again saying. “It’s ok, I can take card transactions from as little as 50 cents.” As it happened we didn’t have 50 cents left in the bank to donate, but I would not have done so out of a matter of principle.
To stand in a supermarket or outside of popular high street shops and ask people for their spare change is one thing, afterall collecting is a tactical operation. Yet the public always had that one get out of jail free card to play. It showed that you cared, but covered you in case you didn’t want to give at that point in time. Often there are several collectors in one place and maybe you had already given further up the street.
To take away that line from the public, is in my view to take away the very act of charity. It stops the ordinary man from make a donation out of the kindness of their heart, to being forced to cough up their hard-earned cash to at the very least protect them from public humiliation. To walk away with a polite, sorry I’ve got no change is one thing, but who could pull off a ‘Sorry, I’ve got not change or cards on me’ especially when trying to push a cart full of groceries to the car you just filled up at the gas station outside.