Every 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.
Players signing with the team will be required to donate a portion of their salary to the Dodgers Dream Foundation, team owner Frank McCourt said Thursday.
“Every future Dodger will be asked to fill in a blank line,” he said in remarks to Town Hall Los Angeles. “They’re making a lot of money, these players. We won’t tell them how much to contribute, that wouldn’t be right.”
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.