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Friday, March 20, 2009
The Ramirez ProvisionEvery office I've ever worked in -- and it's a list that keeps growing longer and longer for some reason -- has had a perky person in charge of the United Way fund drive. A couple of times a year they host a "kickoff" meeting at which ice cream and forms to debit money from your paycheck for the charity are passed around, and entreaties to push the office up to 100% participation are repeated over and over.
I'm pro charity, but these things bug me for two main reasons. First, I have some issues with how the United Way and other chairty clearinghouses spend their money, so I prefer to spend my charity dollars more directly. Second -- and it's kinda tied to the first reason -- I can't shake the suspicion that there's some lavishly wasteful insider party thrown for the people who get their offices up to this magical "100% participation" standard, because that goal is repeated like a mantra, usually divorced from any philanthropic impulse and sentiment. Like it's the end itself. Sure, charities are being helped in all of this, but I question the incentives and motivation and can't shake the feeling that, within the office, the United Way drive is more about networking and allowing the organizers to buff the "community activities" portion of their resume than it is about helping people in need.
Rather than the semi-annual fundraising push, maybe my employers should just insist on Ramirez provisions:
Manny Ramirez's presence will be felt long after his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers ends. The slugger's recent signing has inspired the club to institute a so-called "Ramirez provision'' in all of its future contracts.
Look, I have nothing bad to say about the Dodger Dream Foundation, and I realize that requiring a donation to it isn't going to preclude most players from engaging in other charitable activities. But I'd much prefer that if a team is going to mandate charitable donations by its players that they at least give the players the choice of how to spend their money.
UPDATE: I didn't see this before posting, but there is a discussion about the United Way and other forced-charity fun over at BTF this morning.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 9:10am
Jack Marshall said...
The principle you articulate, GBS, is one I absolutely support, but I don’t think that’s what happened with Manny. He rejected the 45 mil. deal and pissed off the owner. He came crawling back. The owner said, OK, we’ll go ahead and make the deal, but you have to accept less money. Or, if you want the same figures, then you have to give a million to charity, because this whole drama is making you look like a greedy ass, and that’s bad for business. And Manny could have walked away.
Giving to the charity became a contract provision and a term of employment. What’s wrong with that? Manny can “choose” to play third base, too, but not if he wanted to sign with the Dodgers. As long as it’s part of an equal bargaining context, requiring a donation to a specific charity is no different than adding a weight requirement, a dress or grooming code, or requiring the player to make public appearances. I have no problem with it.
Posted 03/20 at 03:52 PM
My understanding regarding the “100% participation” thing in corporate America re: the United Way is it’s a metric that a business can brag about. Rather than measuring dollars contributed (wouldn’t be fair, some businesses are bigger, have more money, etc.), they just measure the percentage of employees contributing. The higher your percentage, the better you look compared to other local businesses in terms of your “community involvement” (even though I know from the information I got earlier this year that you don’t actually have to contribute ANYTHING, you can fill out the form and put in 0 and you still count toward the participation metric). It’s a bit pathetic, but at the same time, it’s not nearly as bad as having a wasteful celebratory party as the incentive for hitting the magic 100%.
Posted 03/20 at 07:42 PM
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