Monday, January 11, 2016

Complaining About the Good Deeds of Others: Fundraising 101
Each year around early November, office break rooms around the country turn into Willy Wonka’s Site B. One possible explanation is that deals were cut with the chocolate magnate to store all of the candy that couldn’t fit in the Chocolate Factory proper until room cleared. Another possible explanation? A more likely one? The candy influx is the result of health-conscious parents trying to keep kids from eating their weight in Halloween candy.
                The thing is, Halloween rolls into Thanksgiving which then rolls into Christmas, each holiday bringing more and more treats. All the while, fitness-focused parents are siphoning sweets off from their kid’s stash and leaving them in the break room for adults to gorge themselves on. This never-ending supply of free candy makes every trip to the water cooler or microwave an extreme test of self-control. This dance occurs every year, but this year I discovered a new wrinkle. 

                At some point, I’m not entirely certain when, someone left a box of full-sized candy bars in the break room at my job. I walked in one day, saw this and marveled at the generosity. Full sized candy bars don’t come cheap and this person had left behind a whole box of them. Name brands too, no generics. Hershey’s. Reese’s. Twizzlers. Then I saw a note saying that, in order to get a candy bar, you need to leave a donation of a few bucks.
                This floored me. For one thing, there’s still a wide-range of free candy options available in the break room. I mean sure, maybe to some people this is just about giving to a good cause. What they get out of it is irrelevant. Except, the box is very light on details about what we’re giving to exactly. There’s no images of sick kids or abused pets or un-built homes. No text explaining it either. Without any emotional component, the whole transaction is built on me wanting candy and ignoring the bounty of free stuff.
                Secondly, who still wants candy? The amount of candy people have been faced with since November 1 is dizzying. I’m at the point now where I go catatonic for 20 minutes if I accidentally eat a plain M&M.
                There’s a bigger question to be answered: Why would you go with a candy fundraiser at the time of year when the Earth’s people are most inundated with candy? Now’s the time to be offering people something that they don’t have a metric ton of at home, in their car cup holders, and in the pockets of their coats.
                While it’s too late to prevent this particular fundraising gaffe, here are three suggestions for anyone who may find themselves trying to collect a little money near the end of next year:
  • Magazines – People have been forced to interact with their loved ones multiple times over a few weeks. They desperately need something they can stare at absently and, most importantly, silently.
  • Coffee – This one is more sinister, but hear me out. It’s built around the idea that people have been contributing to this candy fundraiser in lieu of the free stuff. So, you put a box of K-Cups or whatever in the break room with the donation envelop. You add in the requisite, heart-string-pulling pictures and text. Then, you hide all of the free coffee you can find and just wait until 2:30 rolls around. People will be desperate for caffeine and suddenly little Johnny and his gaggle of too-skinny puppies are the only game in town. That’s how you fundraise.
  • Health food – Those of us who are tired of candy but need something to supplement our lunch are an agonizingly under-served community at this point. If you throw some granola or a bit of lettuce or a handful of almonds in a box with an envelope, fit people will come. They will be grateful to give you their money. 

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