By Brandi Savitt – September 29, 2011
The Price Tag of Paying It Forward
Have you ever been to an event, your place of worship, or even a museum where you’ve been asked for a “suggested donation” that you can’t or don’t want to pay? This week we’ve had two friends share donation stories that left us thinking… When giving to a cause, does feeling more pressure up your ante — or crush your giving spirit?
Samantha’s Montessori Story
Last week Samantha’s son started first grade in a renowned Montessori school in Chicago. Tuition is far from cheap, but Sam and her husband feel that this school is the right place for their little guy. Entering the private school scene, Sam expected there to be a couple fundraisers and donation drives throughout the year to help supplement the growing school. But as she sat in parent orientation, Sam was shocked when she was handed a slip of paper that said: SUGGESTED DONATION PER FAMILY: $2,000! Didn’t she just pay a tuition bill?
Sam was not alone in her reaction, but many parents felt pressured to pay so the school didn’t look down upon them and their kids. Sam didn’t know what to do. Isn’t a suggested donation just that – a suggestion? If the school couldn’t function without the extra funds, shouldn’t they raise the cost of tuition? Or they could at least more politely state the fundraising goals of the school for the year, so parents and kids could plan events and have something to strive for during the school year?
In the end, Sam and her husband gave the school another $300…And even though that was a stretch for their family, she confided in us that she felt cheap for not being able to give the “suggested” amount of $2,000!
Colleen’s Museum Mayhem
Last week, Colleen took her grandmother and four nieces and nephews to Boston’s Museum of Fine Art to see the Chihuly Exhibit. Every Wednesday evening, the museum opens their doors for free to encourage local patrons to enjoy the arts – no matter their income – and this week it seemed like everyone in Boston came out for a little art and culture. However, on free Wednesdays, the museum still suggests art lovers donate $17 (the cost of regular admission) to enter, even though it is not required.
After waiting 2 hours in line, Colleen (who was on crutches) and her family were just about to be let in when the museum closed the the Chihuly exhibit for the night because it was at capacity. However, then museum employees came out to work the crowd and get people to pay to become members of the museum. If they paid, they’d get into the exhibit. At that point, many people took out their credit cards and paid the suggested donation to get in the door. Colleen was outraged and decided that she will not be renewing her membership next year!
Feeling Bullied to Give
Giving to charity is a generous and honorable act. Those who can afford to give typically budget for the amount they want to donate each year. However, often times the organizations we love to support make us feel like we can’t do enough – even if we can’t afford to give more. And when it comes to our kids, the peer pressure of what other parents donate really can weigh on your conscience – rational or not.| Print
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