Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Is Conspicuous Giving

Charitable giving is a side interest of mine, so much so that I am currently writing a book on how philanthropy is not out of reach for those in the middle class.  So, this article caught my attention.   A play on the phrase "conspicuous consumption" (buying to get attention) springs the term "conspicuous giving", whereby donations of time or money are made to get positive attention.

Oddly, my family has walked away from the conspicuous consumption associated with the winter holidays; except for a few small gifts for our small children, we write checks to non-profits that touched our lives that year.  We are not giving to seek approval. In fact, we upset quite a few people with the decision.  Comments like "you are robbing your children of Santa....it's horrible" filled the holiday air.

The one time I felt pressure to give was when I worked for the Wisconsin Government and it was the combined campaign.  Essentially government agencies competed with one another to see which could have the highest percentage of giving to the United Way with direct payments on pay day.  I opposed this type of giving and opted out.  I caused a wrinkle in the office, and my Director was not pleased.  I give.  I give on my own for reasons I want.  Giving so that an organization can "win" a competition doesn't work for me.

Why people give interests me.  Why do you give?

  • habit
  • makes you feel good
  • support a cause that is important to a friend or loved one
  • recognition
  • tax break
  • other?
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